From my column in Ynet: “School for Emotions: Hatred Becomes Love”
The religious and secular in Israel can’t stand each other. Secular Jews in Israel would rather their child marry a Christian spouse than an Orthodox partner. That is what came up according to the latest survey published by the Pew Foundation, and it reveals what all of us already know. Is there a way to bridge the separation and hatred? Rav Laitman teaches how love will cover all crimes.
Israel has an impressive list of achievements: a strong military, economic stability, advanced agriculture, first place in Nobel Prizes, and we are thriving in almost every aspect, except for one thing which is precisely the most important: the relationships between us. In all the years of our existence, we have not succeeded in building ourselves as one connected nation, and if we don’t learn to do this, we may soon be erased from the map.
Last week, the results of a comprehensive survey conducted by the American Pew Foundation were published. The survey conducted over six months involved in-depth interviews of 5,600 Israelis, and presented a disturbing picture about the crisis in our society. According to the study, relationships of alienation and separation exist among the four main groups in Israel: secular, traditional, religious and ultra-Orthodox. Members of the groups rarely connect, almost never marry each other, and are divided in their positions on a wide range of subjects from religious and national issues to their political positions.
The survey results are hardly surprising. The extreme tensions and disunity, the implicit and explicit hatred, the trampling of anyone who thinks differently, and the exploitation of others are egoistic expressions that are leading to the destruction of our society, and respectively, also to the denial of our right to the land and the destruction of the nation of Israel (1).
The Ego and its Punishment
The main factor dividing us and destroying every good relationship is our egoistic nature. The negative force burns in all of us and makes us reject and even hate anything that is different and foreign to us. The ego dominates us so strongly that it hides from our eyes the tight link that exists between us in spite of all the differences.
We can create countless agreements and compromises that apparently will assure us of social order, but the experience of many years proves, and is also expressed well in the latest survey, that we only are going and dividing into many factions and sectors.
We could dismiss all of this by saying, “This is sad, but not really that bad. There are more serious problems than these,” but according to the wisdom of Kabbalah, all of nature has a plan that differs from ours which causes all of its various organs, meaning us, to act as a perfectly harmonious body. In contrast to the still, vegetative, and animate levels that function in a perfectly coordinated manner with the laws of nature, the human species is the only one that is motivated by pure egoism, pushing every person to provide himself with the most pleasure at any price, even at the expense of others (2), and this, as was said, is against the laws of nature. We can wait for nature to urge us and push us toward the desired unity, but it would be better for us to march forward on our own initiative and flow with it according to the same lawfulness and in the same direction (3).
Unity, not Uniformity
The first time we worked together with nature was about 3,500 years ago in the days of ancient Babylon. We shared a common destiny then. When the negative power of the ego suddenly broke out, it divided the Babylonian empire into a collection of tribes who were strangers to each other (4). Those divided groups rarely intermarried and were divided in their opinions, as is happening with us today. However, some of them were smart enough to gather around the Babylonian priest Abraham. That is how we managed even then to receive from the mouth of the father of the nation the method that eventually connected us as one people, the wisdom of connection between people—the wisdom of Kabbalah.
Abraham did not try to hide or blur the differences or the gaps. By virtue of his attainment of the depths of the laws of nature, it was clear to him that the matter was impossible. Every sector, community, or group in a unified and rich society is significant and must be protected and nurtured. What must be done is to bridge all of the gaps that hurl society into the abyss (5).
The unique position in nature that makes it possible for two opposites to coexist and live in peace with each other is called “Love covers all transgressions” (6) in the wisdom of Kabbalah. It means that it is up to us to maintain two floors simultaneously. On the first floor are the gaps between us that divide us with severe hatred, whereas on the second floor, we cover them with love. No feelings disappear. Rather, specifically within the gap that intensifies between the plane of hatred and the plane of love, a new space is discovered, a place in which the Higher Power connects and includes both of them as one (7).
The Wisdom of Kabbalah – The Way from Hatred to Love
Today, we are “separate people united against their will by a ‘common enemy’” as Achad Ha’Am said in his time (8). Since then, we immigrated to the land, remained a group of exiles, and have not succeeded in becoming a people (9). The only thing that does succeed in uniting us is that blazing hatred from the side of our enemies, whether it is the Intifada that is raging in the streets or the winds of anti-Semitism that are blowing through the enlightened world in our direction. However, the script just keeps getting worse. The moment that the hatred of our enemies weakens, the contempt among us increases, and it will not be long until the fires of hatred will reignite and spread to depths we have never known. It is even liable to develop to extreme points and lead to civil war (10).
This is precisely the reason for the revelation of the wisdom of Kabbalah in our time (11). Kabbalah doesn’t come to preach to us to be good to each other. Rather, it is a special method of connection for the people of Israel, and it is the only thing that can unite us to rise above the gaping rifts between us.
The goal of the wisdom of Kabbalah is to stabilize human society so that it will be able to continue to maintain unique and separate parts and simultaneously be connected like organs in a single body. The power of the wisdom of Kabbalah is in strengthening the unity between us until we feel the general power of connection, the Higher Power (12). When we connect among us, we gradually will be able to radiate this power to all of the nations of the world, serving as an example and model for them and becoming “a light of nations” (13).
From Ynet article 3/14/16
(1) “Most of the people have lost their ancient spiritual form, and a few have even sunken into a pursuit of all the vanities of life, fake factions and false Kabbalists, brawls and squabbles and unfounded hatreds, and their spiritual form is even worn externally without any internal Light” (Hillel Zeitlin, Safran shel Yechidim).
“And here is the main sign of the illness of the hour—the terrible internal disintegration, the disputes between factions, the hatred of brothers that are consuming all of us here, destructive acts and the internal destruction and ruin of the extremist parties” (Hayim Nachman Bialik).
(2) “But the equal side in all the people of the world is that each of us stands ready to abuse and exploit all the people for his own private benefit with every means possible, without taking into any consideration that he is going to build himself on the ruin of his friend” (Rav Yehudah Ashlag [Baal HaSulam], “Peace in the World”).
(3) “…nature, like a skillful judge, punishes us according to our development. For we can see that to the extent that humankind develops, the pains and torments surrounding our sustenance and existence also multiply.
“Thus you have a scientific, empirical basis that His Providence has commanded us to keep with all our might the Mitzva of bestowal upon others in utter precision, in such a way that no member from among us would work any less than the measure required to secure the happiness of society and its success. And as long as we are idle performing it to the fullest, nature will not stop punishing us and take its revenge.
“And besides the blows we suffer today, we must also consider the drawn sword for the future. The right conclusion must be drawn—that nature will ultimately defeat us and we will all be compelled to join hands in following its Mitzvot with all the measure required of us.”(Rav Yehudah Ashlag [Baal HaSulam], “Peace”).
(4) And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make ourselves a name, lest we be scattered upon the face of the entire earth.” And the Lord descended to see the city and the tower that the sons of man had built. And the Lord said, “Lo! [they are] one people, and they all have one language, and this is what they have commenced to do. Now, will it not be withheld from them, all that they have planned to do? Come, let us descend and confuse their language, so that one will not understand the language of his companion.” And the Lord scattered them from there upon the face of the entire earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore, He named it Babel, for there the Lord confused the language of the entire earth, and from there the Lord scattered them upon the face of the entire earth (Genesis 11:4-9).
(5) “There has never been any kindness as there was with Abraham…and he brought peace between one person and his fellow, for after all he was the father of many nations, because of this he unified and made peace among all the created beings” (Gevurot HaShem, Chapter 6).
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” That charge implies that whatever you would like other people to do for you, you should do for your comrade in the Torah and mitzvot.
“The reward one receives for accompanying guests is greater than all of the others. This is a statute which Abraham our Patriarch instituted and the path of kindness which he would follow. He would feed wayfarers, provide them with drink, and accompany them.” (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon [Rambam], Mishnah Torah, Sefer Shoftim, Hilchot Avel, Chapter 14:1-2).
“Now Abraham was forty years old when he comprehended his Creator.
“…and [he] began to stand up and to proclaim with a loud voice to the whole world, and to reveal to them, that there was but One God of the whole Universe, and that Him only it was right to serve; and so he continued preaching and assembling the people from city to city, and from kingdom to kingdom…
“…and so thousands and myriads assembled around him, who constituted the men of the house of Abraham; and (Abraham) planted this great and radical principle in their hearts, and also composed books…
“And thus the thing was continually gaining strength among the children of Jacob, and among those that joined them, so that there grew up in this world a nation who knew the Lord…” (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon [Rambam], Mishneh Torah, Sefer HaMeda, Hilchot Avodah Zarah, Chapter 1).
(6) “Hatred arouses quarrels, but love covers all transgressions” (Proverbs 10:12).
“…the heart of the vitality, persistence, and correction of the whole of creation, by people of differing views being included together in love, unity and peace” (Rabbi Nathan Sternhertz, Likutey Halachot [Assorted Rules], “Rules of Tefilat Arvit [Evening Prayer],” Rule no. 4).
(7) “The essence of peace is connecting two opposites, so don’t be afraid of your ideas if you see a person who has opinions that are the complete opposite of yours, and it seems to you that it is impossible in any way to maintain peace with him; and also when you see two people who are really opposites, don’t say that it is impossible to make peace between them, for on the contrary, this is essentially the whole of peace, to try to have peace between two opposites” (Likutei Etzot, The Value of Peace).
“We are not neutral when we claim that for consolidation, there must be consolidation of common responsibility, of mutual responsibility, of mutual influence. We claim that we must not blur the boundaries between the unions, circles and parties, rather a shared recognition of the common reality and a common position in a test of common responsibility. Separation between hearts is a disease that afflicts the peoples in our time and following its cure by way of coerced union is nothing but a mistake. Unity is lacking in the organizational structure. At the moment there is no remedy for this except that there will be people from different circles of opinion who need one another with a pure heart and take the trouble together to discover the common foundation” (Martin Buber, “Education and Examining the World”).
(8) “This Zionism sees where the Jews are – separated people who are united against their will by the ‘common enemy’, but it does not see Judaism – a single unit that aspires to exist in its unity even without all of the external compulsion. This is its main deficiency, revealed in all of its ways and deeds” (Ahad Ha’Am, “The Congress and its Creator”).
“Historically we are a group of people who belong to each other with clearly recognized relevance and whose consolidation is firmly maintained by the existence of a common enemy” (Theodor [Binyamin Ze’ev] Herzl, The Jewish State).
(9) “In the end, all we have here is a gathering of strangers, descendents of cultures of seventy nations, each building a stage for oneself, one’s spirit, and one’s leanings. There is no elemental thing here that unites us all from within into a single mass.” (Rav Yehudah Ashlag [Baal HaSulam], “The Nation”).
(10) “It is a shame to admit that one of the most precious merits we have lost during the exile, and the most important of them, is the loss of the awareness of the nationality, meaning that natural feeling that connects and sustains each and every nation. The threads of love that connect the nation, which are so natural and primitive in all the nations, have become degenerated and detached from our hearts, and they are gone.
“And worst of all, even the little we have left of the national love…exists within us on a negative basis: It is the common suffering that each of us suffers being a member of the nation. This has imprinted within us a national awareness and proximity, as with fellow-sufferers.
“This is an external cause…
“And most important, it is completely unfit for its task. Its measure of warmth suffices only to an ephemeral excitement, but without the power and strength with which we can be rebuilt as a nation that carries itself. This is because a union that exists due to an outside cause is not at all a national union.
“In that sense, we are like a pile of nuts, united into a single body from the outside by a sack that envelops and unites them. Their measure of unity does not make them a united body… The fault is that they lack the inner unity…” (Rav Yehudah Ashlag [Baal HaSulam], “The Nation”).
(11) “I am glad that I have been born in such a generation when it is permitted to disclose the wisdom of truth. And should you ask, ‘How do I know that it is permitted?’ I will reply that I have been given permission to disclose…
“…and this is what the Creator has given me to the fullest extent. We deem it as dependent not on the greatness of the sage, but on the state of the generation…” (Rav Yehudah Ashlag [Baal HaSulam]), “The Teaching of the Kabbalah and Its Essence”).
“Turning the hearts and occupying the minds with noble thoughts, whose origin is the secrets of the Torah, has become an utter necessity in the last generation” (Rav Raiah Kook, Mist of Purity, p. 65).
(12) “The wisdom of the truth teaches us about the global unity, the side of equality to be found in the whole of existence through the very top, at the parity of the form with this Maker, and how to walk without obstacles by the path of this Light” (Rav Raiah Kook, Orot HaKodesh [The Lights of Sanctity],” 2 p. 393).
(13) “Israel brings Light to the world as it is said, (Isaiah 60:3) ‘And nations shall walk at thy light’” (Midrash Rabbah, Shir HaShirim, Section 4, Verse 2).
“…the Israeli nation had been constructed as a sort of gateway by which the sparks of purity would shine upon the whole of the human race the world over.
“And these sparks multiply daily, like one who gives to the treasurer, until they are filled sufficiently, that is, until they develop to such an extent that they can understand the pleasantness and tranquility that are found in the kernel of love of others. For then they will know how to shift the balance to the right, and will place themselves under His burden, and the scale of sin will be eradicated from the world” (Rav Yehudah Ashlag [Baal HaSulam], “The Arvut [Mutual Guarantee],” Item 24).
“When the Children of Israel are complemented with the complete knowledge, the fountains of intelligence and knowledge shall flow beyond the boundaries of Israel and water all the nations of the world…” (Rav Yehudah Ashlag [Baal HaSulam], “Introduction to the Book, Panim Meirot uMasbirot,” Item 4).