The History Of The Jewish People

Dr. Michael LaitmanThe Four Exiles of the Jewish People

The Jewish people passed through four exiles, which formulate the gradual development of the desire to receive, of all of the matter of creation: Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey. All natural phenomena develop according to this formula.

The first exile was not felt as an exile, meaning that the people didn’t feel that they were slaves during the period of slavery. Since the desire to receive was very small and if the person were to satisfy it somehow, he would feel good. So everyone agrees with that.

The more that the desire to receive continued to develop, it needed more and more independence, more independent involvement in life, in development and in communication, until nature, according to its formula, transformed the entire world into an absolutely integral connection. And we humans are not yet in an integral connection, we are late with respect to the conditions of nature that wants to develop us to a state of general connection.

An infant who is born does not communicate with its environment and has no group, societal, or human tendencies, but the more that he matures, he begins to feel that he needs a family and a society and cannot live without them. So we also need to reach a state of connection between us. So the beginning of our advancement is the gradual understanding that we are within our original egoistic nature, in exile from our higher state, from a higher level.

In nature there are four stages of development: still, vegetative, animate, and speaking. We are now gradually passing from the animate state to the speaking state. This is the next level that we have not yet reached. In the meantime, human development is still on the animate level because it is concerned only with existence, nourishment, raising children, and so forth. And all of this is done in a very unattractive way because the person is not an animal that develops instinctively according to the balanced laws of nature.

The four stages of ascent on the steps of the ladder are compulsory, and the transition from the previous state to the next state is implemented according to ten Sefirot, which we don’t feel or according to the four letters of the name of the Creator, Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey, that include all of nature. So the passage between the levels and between each level must go through four levels of development (no matter how small they may be).

In nature there exist four states of advancement. The first state is departure from the state of the animate level to the level of man, in which there is already advancement towards solidarity, connection, the characteristic of bestowal and love, but in the meantime in an embryonic state.

This happened in the days of Babylon, when Abraham took 5,000 people out of there and organized a group from them that could be called the first communistic or Kabbalistic group. This was a spiritual brotherhood in which everyone participated according to the principle of equality and concern not for themselves but only for one another. Abraham united all of those who were interested in living according to this principle and took everyone who was ready to go towards this ideal out of Babylon.

Three stages of development of the Kabbalistic society are symbolically called the Forefathers: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or the right line, left line, and middle line. Continued progress was contingent upon additional development that was made possible only on condition of the discovery of a greater ego, its correction and rising above it.

So Abraham asked himself how it would be possible to reach the characteristic of absolute bestowal and love. He investigated and discovered that this requires constant development of the ego, upon which his small nation rose.

So the next stage in development required the growth of the ego in the group of Abraham, the discovery of the second level of the ego (the first was discovered in Babylon) and rising above it.

But this is not just rising above it; rather, it is passing through a process of the development of the ego where everyone receives understanding, everyone delves into it and begins to work with it. Then various egoistic impulses begin to awaken and arise in people that push, influence, and dominate them. But people trying to rise above their ego act according to the method of Abraham based upon mutual concern, where possible, and not for themselves.

The Torah talks about the states through which the people of Israel passed in Egypt. In the beginning they fought among themselves and together against their ego, and after that against Pharaoh, who symbolized their new ego that was always discovered in the relationships between them. The Jewish people were in Egypt for 210 years (a symbolic period). Just as there are four phases of the Direct Light, which are the source of the four-letter name of the Creator, the formula that includes four components that develop gradually, so also Egyptians, or the ego that was revealed then in the people, included four levels. So the time of the Egyptian exile is called 400 years. Yet, in fact, it continued for only 210 years, and the remaining 190 years were divided among the rest of the exiles.

The names in the Torah: “Egypt,” “Mount Sinai,” “The Sinai Desert,” and “The Land of Israel” symbolize the inner states in the people. This is not talking about geography but about inner changes that happen within a person. When the ego grew, it was more and more difficult for people to remain on the level of love, brotherhood, “and you shall love your friend as yourself”; they fell and were elevated, fell and rose in the connection between them, until they understood that they had to be disengaged from the ego that grew to immense dimensions. In the Torah this is described as the ten plagues of Egypt.

This means that the ego expanded so much that it was impossible to remain in it and work with it. It was necessary to begin to discover it in us gradually, to go out from it, and so to rise. But it was impossible to rise above this mountain all at once, but only gradually, discovering the ego only to the degree that it was possible to use it, to rise above it, and thus transcend it.

Even though negative characteristics are constantly discovered in a person, he is not afraid of them because he understands that thanks to them he will rise, if he uses them correctly, for this is his spiritual ascent.

This is exactly how the group of Abraham disengaged from its ego, called Egypt, and began to work on itself. When they rose above the ego, they began to organize attitudes of mutual help between them, at the least they tried not to harm each other, for before then they were ready to annihilate each other so great was the hatred that was discovered between them. The symbol of this hatred is Mount Sinai. It is possible to call the states through which the people of Israel passed the Sinai desert because the work for the sake of bestowal doesn’t bring any fulfillment to the ego, for they don’t feel any taste in it. That is how they worked on themselves for forty years until they rose to the level of Bina. Forty years in the desert they searched incessantly for the characteristic of Bina (bestowal) within the ego that was continuously rising.

After the people passed through all the levels, and as a result of this, all of the vessels that they took with them from Egypt (the gold and silver vessels and the jewelry), meaning all of the egoistic characteristics in them, died (the generation of those who left Egypt died), they got the opportunity to reach the next level called the “Land of Israel,” a desire that is directed only towards bestowal and love. Land (Eretz) is desire (Ratzon), and Israel (Yashar-El – straight to the Creator). The Creator is the power of bestowal and love which is the essential power in nature and all the rest are its parts. The program according to which this power acts is intended to transform the person to independence where he wants to be only in a state of bestowal and love.

The group of people who entered the land of Israel fought for it because it was inhabited by “other peoples,” meaning various disturbances that were discovered in their character above which they had to ascend. This is called the “conquest of the land,” the conquest of the land of Israel. So gradually they reached a state in which from all the desires that were discovered among them, they created one shared vessel of mutual bestowal and love in which they discovered the higher power, the Creator, and rose to His level. This is the perfected state. But the moment that they attained this state, an even greater collective ego began to be discovered in them on the next level. This is because after leaving Babylon they took the entire enormous ego with them that didn’t really belong to them (to the characteristic of bestowal and love), but to all of humanity.

As Rambam writes, when the 5000 people who went out of Babylon reached the land of Israel they were already three million people, at the time when there were millions of people in the whole world. This is talking about a situation that existed 2700 years ago.

But this small nation built a so-called Temple, meaning that they built a condition in which the Creator, the power of bestowal and love, was revealed among them, and they existed in this form and were found in spirituality.

After that a new, more internal level was created that hadn’t belonged to them, the stony heart, which at that moment they could not correct. This level belonged to the whole world. The people of Israel didn’t succeed in holding onto the position of the level of bestowal and love, it began to fall apart and fell from its high level of mutual connection, from the level of equivalence of form with the Creator to a condition of separation that is called the second exile, the Exile of Persia and Midian. This is not mentioned in the Torah but in the Prophets, the Book of Esther and additional sources.

The people of Israel were in this exile for 70 years. 7 or 4 and 400 or 70 are symbolic units of ascent or descent that are expressed in differences in time. Everything operates according to the original formula, for the creation of the desire (the ego) was according to the four phases of the Direct Light, under the influence of the Upper Light (the characteristic of bestowal and love). From here this formula spread over everything.

A descent to such a low level was dangerous for the people of Israel in that they were liable to forget completely on what level it had been found previously and what happened to it. There was danger that they would become like the rest of the peoples, but at the same time a spontaneous awakening happened. On the world map appeared the evil leader Haman, who like Pharaoh, awakened in them the awareness of their situation. They did very great work among them, were forced to rise above the level of Haman, to kill him (their ego), and in this way they rose to the next level called the level of the second Temple.

This level was lower than the level of the first Temple because the bestowal and love here was not as on the level of the first Temple. If the first Temple existed on the level of “and you shall love your friend as yourself,” so the second Temple descended to the level of, “Don’t do to your friend what is hateful to you.” Specifically it is the connection between people that is called the Temple and not the stone walls that were erected in Jerusalem.

The people of Israel continued to work on themselves, they tried to do everything possible to remain on at least that level, but the ego grew because the ego of humanity had not been corrected.

Meanwhile, humanity developed egoistically and this influenced the Jewish people so that they didn’t succeed in holding on to the level of mutual help; they went through internal struggles between them that were materialized in our world as wars against the Romans and the Greeks.

That is how the fall of the people happened under the influence of the inner egoistic desires, the “Greeks” and the “Romans.” The desires of the “Greeks” received ideological expression, and the desires of the “Romans” were realized in action. This is speaking only about the inner states of the group of Abraham.

In the end, the nation fell from the level of the second Temple, “Don’t do to your friend what is hateful to you,” into absolute disengagement, from the level of cooperation to the level of regular people. This means that the people didn’t fall into the captivity of the Egyptians or the Babylonians but into the captivity of the wider public who were completely disengaged from all spiritual levels.

The difficult times of the third exile of the Jewish people had come, which was characterized by absolute disengagement from the spiritual state. But the disengagement from the spiritual state was gradual, continuing for many years and ending in the 16th century, in the days of the Ari or a little before him. A method for departure from spiritual exile called Kabbalah began to develop then. It also existed before this, for the students of Abraham clarified, completed, and documented it. They were great ideologues. But in spite of the many books that were called the sacred books of the Jews, a precise method for the world was lacking that would teach a person how to depart from the state of the ego, for at that time, the ego had not yet been discovered; it began to be discovered only from the time of the Ari.

The Ari was a great Kabbalist who laid the foundations for the method of correction. After him, Kabbalists appeared like the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid of Mezritch, and many other spiritual leaders who described the same method in various styles and worked with people on various theoretical and practical levels.

But the development of this method, that began in the 15th to 16th centuries and continued until our times, stopped in our days. The last of the great spiritual teachers was my teacher, Rabash. He and his father Baal HaSulam founded and developed the actual method of correction. And we follow them with the help of the method that they developed; we hope to leave the last spiritual exile in which all of humanity is found.

This is a unique exile, for the descendants of the group of Abraham were dispersed through all of humanity; they lost all of the experience that they had gathered morally, spiritually, and ideologically.

Part of this group changed the entire method, meaning that they took upon themselves the mechanical practice without thinking that they had to integrate with its interior through their wholehearted desire. This is the essential problem in leaving the last exile.

We are now in a state of clarification of all the conditions in order to rise to the last level of development, because after leaving Babylon, Egypt, and Persia, the time has arrived for going out of the state of the present global crisis into which humanity has been thrown.

Today, modern global plagues are beginning to be discovered in humanity. They have not been completely revealed yet, but we have already begun to gradually recognize them and feel their approach. The threat of a tsunami is approaching, natural disasters, wars, and disruptions of order. People are beginning to understand that through stupid, barbaric, and egoistic actions, they have opened a terrible Pandora’s Box.

So we must activate this method. I am happy that I am part of this activity and can explain, tell, and reveal to people the situation in which we are found, what kind of a world we are living in, what we can expect, what possibilities are available to us, and what we must do.

I am very happy that we are found in a situation in which we can actually discover the method about ourselves, like in a laboratory, and after that to bring it to the whole world and to actively show how we work with it. It is up to us to be an example for all of humanity and to return it to the state of the higher power, meaning the characteristic of bestowal and love, in the best and most rapid way possible.

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The Destruction Of The Temple: Do Not Despise The Fallen
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