The Turkey Housewife
The last few weeks, it’s been so hard to hang on to God, at least in my neck of the woods. Amidst the rising tide of rainbow flags, goyish music with terrible lyrics being blasted at break-eardrum volumes by my teenagers, piercings, piercings and more piercings, arguments about Rav Berland being hezkat Moshiach, mounting frustration at all the rabbinic fakers online, and the whole terrible flood of Epstein-induced spiritual tumah, evil and smut, I was about ready to hoist up the white flag again last week.
I told my husband for the millionth time,
I can’t have the internet in the house!! We have to get it out. It’s just non-stop tumah and spiritual poison, and I can’t take it anymore.
I also told my kids that I was banning goyish music from the house again, and that from now on, they could listen to it themselves via their headphones, without inflicting it on me.
I led the way, by taking the few goyish songs I’ve been carefully collecting from my own childhood onto a USB, and symbolically drowning it in cup of water, before throwing it away.
(I’m into high drama, what can you do.)
I bought longer socks, I’m trying to make more of an effort again to keep more of my hair under wraps, which is always way more challenging as you’d think as my hair has a life of its own, and my kids have forbidden me from getting it buzz cut a la Meah Shearim.
But despite all this, I already knew:
Sooner or later, it’s all going to fall apart again. The internet will have to come back, the goyish music will creep back in again, the efforts at better tznius will stall again, and I’ll be back at square one.
I know that already, going in. I do my husband’s invoices, and I need to be online to send them and do the books every month. I have a blog to maintain – three, actually. I have emails to answer, things to research, people to contact, and all that has to happen online.
I’m holding out as long as I can, but I know I’m doomed to failure.
So, what do I do? How do I deal with the profound spiritual disappointment of knowing that I don’t want all this internet tumah and immoral modern culture in my home, but that there is really nothing I can do to keep it out, at least long term?
While I was pondering that question, I opened up Sichot HaRav, a collection of some of Rabbi Berland’s conversations, and I found this, which I’m translating for you, dear reader:
The Tale of the Turkey Prince
The message that Rabbenu (Rebbe Nachman) is teaching us via this story.
Rabbenu tells us of a person who decides that he’s a turkey, and who sits under the table, and doesn’t eat human food or wear human clothing. Until along comes a wise man, who joins him under the table, until slowly, slowly, he manages to get him out from there.
The turkey is us. The wise man who comes to him is Rabbenu. Rabbenu came down from the heavens, and showed us: See, I’m eating, I’m eating in holiness, I’m eating letters [of the Torah]. It’s possible to eat, I’m eating letters. I sleep, and I grasp more concepts than when I wake up.
Rabbenu says, I act exactly the same as you, but everything is holy letters, and Divine revelations.
This is what Rabbenu revealed to us. He showed us a personal example.
It’s possible to grasp Divine revelations and to be a servant of Hashem, you don’t need to insist on living like a turkey. We’re kind of stubborn. But it’s still possible to do everything, and to be big tzaddikim and to experience Divine revelations. It’s possible to achieve everything.
A person thinks that either he has to be different from everyone else, or to be a turkey and fall into despair. Rabbenu shows us that we can be like everyone else. We can be like all the rest, but together with this, we can still reach all the [spiritual] levels in the world.
But this is only on condition that we connect ourselves to the True Tzaddik.
I pondered on this deeply when I read it, because it’s really the answer to my current dilemma, and perhaps yours too.
It’s so hard to keep trying to go after Torah and mitzvoth at the moment, because modern life has mamash been designed to keep us far away from any hint of holiness and real spiritual awakening.
In these dark days, my yetzer starts whispering at me: Do you think Sarah Imenu would ever be seen dead working out to an exercise video like this? Do you think Rivka Imenu ever ate a bar of chocolate for lunch? Or that Rachel Imenu would spend hours a time bingeing on Youtube videos about high-level underworld figures?
What can I say to this? I know the answer is no, no, no, a million times no.
So then, what’s the obvious conclusion my yetzer wants me to draw from all this?
Give up, Rivka. You can’t do this. You’re not holy enough, you’re just not there. Like it or not, there is nothing you can do to permanently get away from the internet, and you lack the will power to only stick strictly to business when you’re online. Give up, my dear, and come check out those Friends reruns…
Sometimes, I’ve felt so down about all this over the last few years. I can’t blog without the internet. I can’t connect without it. I can’t even do my part-time job for my husband without access to Dropbox, so what can I do? I’m totally stuck in tumah land.
That’s why I found this message from Rabbenu and the Rav so heartening, because it’s effectively telling me – and everyone else – don’t give up!!
You can still be a turkey housewife, and do your hitbodedut every day. You can still spend too much time surfing, and say a tikkun haklali. You can still watch ‘Thriller’ and pay your 10% to charity… All is not lost, Rivka. As long as you hang on to the True Tzaddik, all is not lost.
So, that’s what I’m doing.
And this is a special message for my male readers out there (including my husband):
Guys, I know you’re all struggling with your guarding your eyes, I know how hard it is, especially when you have to be online. But don’t give up on yourselves! Online, be a turkey, earn your parnassa, what can you do. But as soon as you’re off, glue your eyes to the pavement, and don’t look up.
This isn’t hypocritical, this isn’t pointless. It’s all part of the tremendous difficulty we’re all having to really connect to kedusha and Hashem, whilst effectively being buried deep, deep in the tumah.
Every little bit you can do, do! And don’t beat yourself up about the rest. Do your best, do you bit, then leave it to Rabbenu and the Rav.
Our True Tzaddikim are going to extract us all from the dungheap somehow all other.
All we need to do is just to keep wanting to leave it behind, and to keep believing our tzaddikim, when they tell us that even turkeys like us can eventually become holy Jews.
You can read more of Rivka’s musings on her blog, at rivkalevy.com