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Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

A cave dweller from Purim until Tu Bishvat

It was Purim in Jerusalem that I decided that being outside is too dangerous because of the coronavirus epidemic. And this week, the day before Tu Bishvat, I had my vaccination (four and one week ago) and I’m free to walk the streets, go shopping, go to meetings, have guests, hug people, travel to Tel Aviv, and be singing in the rain (hopefully still).

I missed spring, I missed summer, I missed autumn. I missed shul for the first time in 40 years, day after day, week after week, Shabbat and Yom Tov after Shabbat and Yom Tov. I wasn’t there for Torah readings, for Kaddish, for Barechu, for Kol Nidre, for Hallel, for predications, and being part of the prayer quorum. Yes, we did a few Minyans on our balconies but the less-scared wanted to sit together again and left the more-cautious ones alone. Yes, a friend came to blow the Shofar under my balcony. I learned to celebrate Shabbat utterly alone — and enjoy it. Praying and sleeping and learning as it worked out or when I wanted.

I missed circumcisions, weddings, and funerals. Demonstrations, fancy dinners, and concerts. Trips and outings. Hugs and handshakes. So much!

But, I started paying more attention to cooking. I became braver in trying to compose new recipes and was awarded success. I found out that I can have extensive health-supporting meals with few shopping requests for my grown kids. I learned to say no to zoom sessions five times a day.

I began to enjoy being in my cave. Nasty people existed only virtually — one press on the button and they were gone. No more waiting for a bus. I gained so much time that I started writing new books, some long overdue.

And slowly but surely, I began to like being a recluse, solitary life. I never knew that that side of me could be so large. When I start to reenter public life, I will look back in nostalgia on the ten months that I stayed a hermit.

I understand that for someone who’s 20 and remembers the last 3 years only, a year of disrupted life is heavy. For me, with 60+ years of memories, and (hopefully) at least the same time span ahead of me, what’s a year?

I understand that the economy lies in shambles. But I never saved so much money not being able to go shop and buy stuff I don’t need. I feel for people whose livelihood was (almost) killed and I’ll try to play my part in vitalizing prosperity in exchange for some luxuries and goodness.

I understand that sadly, so many people died and fell sick and still are, many through no fault of their own, way before their time. So many more fell victim to a lack of proper information or understanding of the dangers.

With the epidemic ended, if only in Israel, so much good will bloom again.

But although I will again enjoy all the good things I missed out on, I won’t forget all the good that this staying put has given me. In the beginning, I’ll be upset by rudeness or challenged by uphill climbs. Let me take earplugs with me whenever I leave my cave. Some Israelis shout terribly even when they’re close to you. Plugs just take the edge off of it. And I hope to re-find my old/new balance but now enriched with a new introverted calmer self.

Tu Bishvat is such a nice holiday to go celebrate. It’s full of traditions, fun, and meaning without much shoulds and musts. It’s really a celebration.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is generated by the new bore on the block, AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. Or not at all because he doesn't claim G^d talks to him. He gives him good ideas—that's all. MM doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe too, here: https://mmvanzuiden.wordpress.com/ or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (https://diethylstilbestrol.co.uk/studies/des-and-psychological-health/), born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here: https://www.amazon.com/s?i=stripbooks&rh=p_27%3AMoshe-Mordechai%2FMaurits+van+Zuiden&s=relevancerank&text=Moshe-Mordechai%2FMaurits+van+Zuiden&ref=dp_byline_sr_book_1
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