A few months' ago, I had a really vivid dream. (I know, other people's dreams are usually really boring, but I wouldn't be writing about this one if it wasn't a bit out of the ordinary…)
I dreamt that I was in an 'anglo' city somewhere in Israel, and it was Succot. There was a huge, enormous succah that had been built in the courtyard outside, and it was like a massive outdoor hall, all decorated with streamers.
It was packed full of people, and everyone was dancing around very joyfully. I assumed Moshiach must have come, for everyone to be this happy.
All of a sudden, this big, solid silver chest appeared on the floor next to me, and I stuffed a huge wad of money into the 'slit' at the top.
That's when the old man showed up. He was speaking in French, and I was finding it really hard to understand what he was saying to me. He had a very stern look on his face, and he kept saying over and over: 'Tu te croire que tu es fahima.'
Above: Baba Sali's holy gravesite in Netivot, Israel - image courtesy of Emuna Outreach
In the dream, I had no clue what he was saying, but what he said made such an impact, that I remembered it even after I woke up.
Then, the succah started to fall down on the big party happening below - I knew it was the 'end', whatever that means. Just then, one of my siblings showed up, and they also stuffed some money into the big silver chest.
The old man reappeared, and started giving this sibling a tremendous blessing, that they should be a tree with many, many fruit. It was again in French, so I was trying to translate what he was saying. Then I woke up.
Who was that old man? At first, I thought maybe it was Rav Kaduri, but while the face was similar, it didn't 'fit'. Then it struck me: it was the Baba Sali.
I had the dream Wednesday night. I called my husband on Thursday morning to tell him I really wanted him to visit the grave of the Baba Sali, in Netivot, the next day, on the Friday.
My husband called me back a few minutes later, quite excited: "Did you know that it's the Baba Sali's hiloula (anniversary of his death)?" No, I didn't. I started to take the dream a lot more seriously.
There were two things I felt directly from the dream. The first thing was that moshiach-induced upheaval and chaos were imminent, and that the only thing that was going to save us was giving a lot of charity. The other thing I felt was that a lot of people weren't going to make it. I woke up very sad that out of my whole family, only one other person had 'made it', and even they only showed up right at the end, when it was already getting hairy.
For the next couple of days, I was very preoccupied about what the Baba Sali had been trying to tell me. In English, it translated as 'you believe yourself to be fahima' - and I had no idea what the message was.
I decided I should go and visit the Baba Sali myself, to ask for some guidance from Above. It was still in the middle of all the hiloula excitement, so the tomb was full of ululating women and food. It was a very sephardi experience, lots of colour, noise, praying, and strange women trying to force me to eat stuff.
I really liked it, and actually felt quite at home, even though it wasn't my usual 'gravesite of a holy person' experience.
I stayed for hours, praying for my husband's new business; praying about a lot of other very draining issues we were facing at the time; praying that my family would make teshuva, and get to Israel before things kicked off.
At least some of the prayers were answered very fast, and very noticeably.
But it was only a couple of days' later, when the penny dropped, and I realized what the Baba Sali had been telling me.
My maiden name is Fhima (silent 'h'…) It's a Moroccan name, which means 'clever-clogs', or something similar (family members who moved to Israel translated it as 'Navon').
The Baba Sali was telling me off for thinking I was clever, or to put it another way, for thinking I was a 'Chacham',as in Rebbe Nachman's tale of the Clever One and the Simple One.
As you know, I've been trying to dump all my 'clever' baggage for at least a couple of years already, and to live life a lot more simply and happily. Sometimes I was getting there, sometimes, I really wasn't.
At the time of the dream, I'd got stuck trying to work out how to 'be' simple - and was tying myself in intellectual knots.
The Baba Sali was telling me: you want to be simple? Stop thinking that you are clever enough to work out how to do it! Just keep giving your charity, listen to our holy people, and put all your 'clever thoughts' on hold!
I also realized why it's been so hard to stop being 'clever' - it's been such a strong, pervasive family trait for so long, it was actually my surname.
This problem didn't just start with me, or my generation. It's been going on for centuries.
That was the Baba Sali's specific message to me. The message more generally, is that the people who give as much charity as they can afford are the ones who are going to make it through the coming hard times.
I see this playing out even in my small circle of people. The people I knew from the old country who were renowned for giving a lot of charity, are the people who have subsequently moved to Israel. Whatever other flaws, failings or issues they had, their tremendous dedication to giving charity is what gave them the merit to move here - often, against all the odds.
I had the dream a few months' back, so why am I writing about it now? Last week, I was telling someone a bit of the dream, and that the Baba Sali had been talking in French. This person has ties to the Baba Sali's family, and they told me that French is what the Baba Sali spoke in his home.
"Your dream was real!" they said.
It certainly feels as though it was real. And that's why I'm sharing it with you now. Things are moving, things are really happening, we are heading in to a time of such joy - and such heartache. Of tremendous building - and tremendous destruction. A time when families will be permanently reunited - and permanently torn apart.
The only way to get through it in one piece is to give charity, to stay simple, and to listen to what our rabbis are telling us - even if it seems like Moshiach, redemption and everything that goes along with it is really just a dream.