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My article, “Who Are You, People of Israel?,” published in The New York Times, Saturday, September 20, 2014:
Who Are You, People of Israel?
By: Michael Laitman
Time and again, Jews are persecuted and terrorized. Being Jewish myself, I often ponder the purpose of this relentless agony. Some believe that the atrocities of WWII are unimaginable today. And yet, we see how easily and abruptly the state of mind preceding the Holocaust is re-emerging, and “Hitler was right” shouts are sounded all too often and all too openly.
But there is hope. We can reverse this trend, and all it requires is that we become aware of the bigger picture.
Where We Are and Where We Come From
Humanity is at a crossroads. Globalization has made us interdependent, while people are growing increasingly hateful and alienated. This unsustainable, highly flammable situation requires making a decision about humanity’s future direction. Yet to understand how we, the Jewish people, are involved in this scenario, we need to go back to where it all began.
The people of Israel emerged some 4,000 years ago in ancient Babylon. Babylon was a thriving civilization whose people felt connected and united. In the words of the Torah, “The whole earth was of one language and of one speech” (Genesis, 11:1).
But as their ties grew stronger, so did their egos. They began to exploit, and finally hate one another. So while the Babylonians felt connected, their intensifying egos made them increasingly alienated from each other. Caught between a rock and a hard place, the people of Babylon began to seek out a solution to their plight.
Two Solutions to the Crisis
The search for a solution led to forming two conflicting views. The first, suggested by Nimrod, king of Babylon, was natural and instinctive: Dispersion. The king argued that when people are far from one another, they do not quarrel.
The second solution was suggested by Abraham, then a renowned Babylonian sage. He argued that according to Nature’s law, human society is destined to become united, and therefore strove to unite the Babylonians despite, and atop their growing egos.
Succinctly, Abraham’s method was a way to connect people above their egos. When he began to advocate his method among his countryfolk, “thousands and tens of thousands assembled around him, and … He planted this tenet in their hearts,” writes Maimonides (Mishneh Torah, Part 1). The rest of the people chose Nimrod’s way: dispersion, as do quarrelsome neighbors when they try to stay out of each other’s way. These dispersed people gradually became what we now know as “human society.”
Only today, some 4,000 years down the line, we can begin to assess whose way was right.
The Basis of the People of Israel
Nimrod forced Abraham and his disciples out of Babylon, and they moved to what later became known as “the land of Israel.” They worked on unity and cohesion in accord with the tenet, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” connected above their egos, and thus discovered “the force of unity,” Nature’s hidden power.
Every substance consists of two opposite forces, connection and separation, which balance themselves out. But human society is evolving using only the negative force—the ego. According to Nature’s plan, we are required to consciously balance the negative force with the positive one—unity. Abraham discovered the wisdom that enables balance, and today we refer to his wisdom as, “the wisdom of Kabbalah.”
Israel Means Straight to the Creator
Abraham’s disciples called themselves Ysrael (Israel) after their desire to go Yashar El (straight to G-d, the Creator). That is, they wished to discover Nature’s force of unity so as to balance the ego that stood between them. Through their unity, they found themselves immersed in the force of unity, the upper, root force of reality.
In addition to their discovery, Israel also learned that in the process of human development, the rest of the Babylonians—who followed Nimrod’s advice, dispersed throughout the world, and have become today’s humanity—would also have to achieve unity. That contradiction between the people of Israel, which formed through unity, and the rest of humanity, which formed as a result of separation, is felt even today.
Abraham’s disciples, the people of Israel, experienced many internal struggles. But for 2,000 years their unity prevailed and was the key element that held them together. Indeed, their conflicts were meant only to intensify the love among them.
However, approximately 2,000 years ago, their egos reached such intensity that they could not maintain their unity. Unfounded hatred and egotism erupted among them and inflicted exile on them. Indeed, Israel’s exile, more than it is exile from the physical land of Israel, is exile from unity. The alienation within the Israeli nation caused them to disperse among the nations.
Back to the present, today humanity is in a state similar to the one the ancient Babylonians experienced: interdependence alongside alienation. Because we are completely interdependent in our global village, Nimrod’s solution of parting ways is no longer practical. Now we are required to use Abraham’s method. This is why the Jewish people, who previously implemented Abraham’s method and connected, must rekindle their unity and teach the method of connection to the whole of humanity. And unless we do it of our own accord, the nations of the world will compel us to do it, by force.
On that note, it is interesting to read the words of Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company, and a notorious anti-Semite, in his book, The International Jew — The World’s Foremost Problem: “Society has a large claim against him [the Jew] that he … begin to fulfill … the ancient prophecy that through him all the nations of the earth should be blessed.”
The Roots of Anti-Semitism
After thousands of years of exerting to build a successful human society using Nimrod’s method, the nations of the world are beginning to understand that the solution to their problems is neither technological, nor economic or militaristic. Subconsciously, they feel that the solution lies in unity, that the method of connection exists in the people of Israel, and therefore recognize that they are dependent on the Jews. This makes them blame the Jews for every problem in the world, believing that the Jews possess the key to the world’s happiness.
Indeed, when the Israeli nation fell from its moral apex of love of others, hatred of Israel among the nations commenced. And thus, through anti-Semitism, the nations of the world prod us to disclose the method of connection. Rav Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of Israel, pointed to that fact with his words, “Amalek, Hitler, and so forth, awaken us toward redemption” (Essays of the Raiah, Vol. 1).
But the people of Israel are unaware that they are holding the key to the world’s happiness, and that the very source of anti-Semitism is that the Jews are carrying within them the method of connection, the key to happiness, the wisdom of Kabbalah, but are not revealing it to all.
Mandatory Disclosure of the Wisdom
As the world groans under the pressure of two conflicting forces—the global force of connection, and the separating power of the ego—we are falling into the state that existed in ancient Babylon prior to its collapse. But today we cannot pull away form one another in order to calm our egos down. Our only option is to work on our connection, on our unity. We are required to add to our world the positive force that balances the negative power of our ego.
The people of Israel, descendants of the ancient Babylonians who followed Abraham, must implement the wisdom of connection, namely the wisdom of Kabbalah. They are required to set an example to the whole of humanity, and thus become a “light for the nations.”
The laws of Nature dictate that we will all achieve a state of unity. But there are two ways to get there: 1) a path of world suffering, wars, catastrophes, plagues, and natural disasters, or 2) a path of gradual balancing of the ego, the path that Abraham planted in his disciples. The latter is the one we suggest.
Unity Is the Solution
It is written in The Book of Zohar, “Everything stands on love” (Portion, VaEtchanan). “Love your neighbor as yourself” is the great tenet of the Torah; it is also the essence of the change that the wisdom of Kabbalah is offering humanity. It is the obligation of the Jewish People to unite in order to share the method of Abraham with the entire human race.
According to Rav Yehuda Ashlag, author of the Sulam (Ladder) commentary on The Book of Zohar, “It is upon the Israeli nation to qualify itself and all the people of the world … to develop until they take upon themselves that sublime work of the love of others, which is the ladder to the purpose of Creation.” If we accomplish this, we will find solutions to all the world’s problems including the eradication of anti-Semitism.
Question: Why in relation to the recent developments in Israel, did the Jewish-American community become divided into two parts? Why do most influential Jewish individuals and organizations take an active anti-Israel stance?
Answer: The same thing happened in Nazi Germany. Jews living in other countries are trying to hide behind the alleged anti-Israeli, anti-Zionist policy. It has been this way at all times.
But it will not help them because the attitude not even towards Israel, but just towards Jews stems from anti-Semitism, and not from anti-Israel sentiments, not because someone is “for” or “against” the Arabs—it does not matter. The Jews will be always blamed even if they themselves take a clear anti-Israel stance. At the same time, nothing will help us but to show ourselves and to give the world the method of correct existence that it is waiting for.
Question: Why is what is allowed for any country in the world not allowed for Israel?
Answer: Of course! According to statistics, over the past few years about forty million people were killed in Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Libya, and Lebanon. But no one talks about it, raises the issue, or pays attention.
It is not about who is fighting whom, but the fact that the Jews who are supposed to bring the Light to the world are not doing so. Anti-Semites say: “You are the cause of all the suffering in the world.” So, it is not the Arabs because this was talked about before the establishment of Israel, before the war. In fact, this feeling is within a person who feels that he depends on our nation.
We need to understand them. Kabbalah speaks about this seriously, openly, because in a very short time we can completely change the attitude of the world towards us. We have no other choice.
Question: Recently, in the world and particularly in the United States, aggressive anti-Israel demonstrations have taken place. Are they a manifestation of the hidden, modern anti-Semitism?
Answer: I do not think that anti-Semitism is hidden; it is even more up to date. Anti-Semitism is in the program of nature because the group of people who left ancient Babylon and formed a community based on love and mutual assistance to each other should continue to exist and show an example of how we can arrange our world.
Please pay attention, we produce food in abundance, and half of the world is starving; we can cure all diseases, but do everything to aggravate them and make money on health care, and so on. That is, the world cannot continue to exist in this way, especially in the age of new technologies. Therefore, almost 90% of people will become unemployed. What can we do?
The world needs a method of unity. Of course, anti-Semitism will increase, especially in America, because, compared with other countries, the American society is much more egoistic, and the next wave of serious anti-Semitism, both national and public, will be mainly manifested there.
The first thing that you need to understand thoroughly is that all the evil of egoism is revealed only against unity. Only this is called the evil inclination in man.
Secondly, all this evil is already in us and only comes out. So do not worry, huge deposits of egoism are still hidden within us.
On the other hand, we should bless for all the bad revelations, as for the good one. After all, it means that this evil is initially hidden within us and we ought to be happy that it is revealed because in this case it can be corrected. As it is said, “Look at them and turn them into a pile of bones.”
If we weep together over our evil, then it is good. If we correctly ask for “forgiveness” for it, then we reach its correction, that is, we rise to the next degree—we come to the king, the beginning of the New Year. We proclaim the Creator as the highest, as the reigning, as the cause of all that is happening in the world.
From the 2nd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 9/7/14, Shamati #23
Suppose a thief with a guilty conscience expresses his regret and says: “I admit that I have committed the crime. Okay, cut off my hands, I don’t know what to do.” This means that a person really feels that he is guilty of something and in order to solve the problem that tortures him he comes to confess.
This state can be revealed in spirituality at any moment not necessarily on Yom Kippur, which is celebrated in the month of September or the beginning of October every year. As a result of great internal work and self-searching a person looks into himself and sees what terrible frightening layers float up in his internal swamp.
He looks at it differently because in his daily life he always justifies himself and doesn’t see anything wrong with his actions. But now he looks at his internal attributes from an outer perspective, he sees that it is better to die than to try to justify himself.
This terrible state repeats itself in phases in people who want to ascend in their attainment to the levels of revealing the Creator. Each time they experience the recognition of evil, its full revelation, and then understand how to work with the ego, how to atone and correct it.
Why is this process called repentance? Because we can go back to the uncorrected desires along the time axis. We work with desires and not with actions, since the actions have already been done, revealed, and determined, like a photograph that is ready. We take all desires and attributes with which we performed the wrong actions and correct them. It is in them that we receive the new spiritual level.
It is impossible to ascend to any spiritual level without clarifying and revealing inside us the wild desires, without seeing what I went through in the wrong way, without seeing how many mistakes I have made and without being ready to burn with shame because of them. Gradually I begin to realize that I didn’t do them, but it was the Creator who intentionally tripped me, and I thank Him for that since by that He revealed the evil in me.
I ask for the the Light to influence this evil. The Light corrects my attributes and desires with which I have seemingly sinned, and I begin to work properly with my new corrected attributes. This is called repentance.
This means that I receive an answer to the question: “What have I done?” The reply is that the Creator intentionally arranged this for me so that I will go through all the states and appreciate the difference between my current state and the initial state that He created in me, as it says: “I have created the evil inclination, I have created the Torah as a spice.” Now I ask that the evil inclination be changed to the good inclination.
The potential difference between these two levels is the intensity of my new soul that has just been born. In it I reveal the Creator.
Yom Kippur ends when I reveal these attributes inside me without correcting them. Then I begin with what we call the left embrace, the right embrace and the beginning of my cooperation with the Light, which we call a spiritual coupling.
The Light begins to gradually improve me as it enters me and works on me by raising me to the level of Hanukah when I become dressed in Hafetz Hesed, i.e., I don’t want to work with my previous desires and attributes since I see that they are all harmful. I correct them from Hanukah until Purim so that the evil inclination will not remain neutral but will become good.
All the holidays mentioned above symbolize actions in a Kabbalist’s soul because he really corrects his desires and attributes and does it with the help of the wisdom of Kabbalah, the method of drawing the Light. Thus the wisdom of Kabbalah is called the inner part of the Torah or the Torah of the Light, since only the upper energy called Light can change our attributes. It is said that at the end of correction all the holidays will gradually disappear except for Purim, which symbolizes the end of the correction of the soul that is filled with the Upper Light and the appearance of the Creator inside me.
From KabTV’s “Secrets of the Eternal Book” 3/12/14
From “Who Are You, People of Israel?”
After thousands of years of exerting to build a successful human society using Nimrod’s method, the nations of the world are giving up. Moreover, they understand that the solution to their problems is neither technological, nor economic or militaristic. Subconsciously, they feel that the solution lies in unity, that the method of connection exists in the people of Israel, and therefore recognize that they are dependent on the Jews. This causes them to blame the Jews because they possess the key to the world’s happiness.
Indeed, when the Israeli nation fell from its moral height of love of others, hatred of Israel among the nations commenced. And thus, through anti-Semitism, the nations of the world prod us to disclose the method of connection. Rav Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of Israel, pointed to that fact with his words, “Amalek, Hitler, and so forth, awaken us toward redemption” (Essays of the Raiah, Vol. 1).
But the people of Israel are unaware that it is holding the key to the world’s happiness, and that the very source of anti-Semitism is that the Jews are carrying within them the method of connection, the key to happiness, the wisdom of Kabbalah.
The complete text is here
Question: If all religions appeared after the destruction of the Temple, what did people worship before its destruction?
Answer: Anything and everything! In ancient Babylon, people worshipped various natural phenomena: trees, the sun god, etc. It is not considered religion.
Response: But nevertheless, the Temple itself was established by a particular religion…
Answer: No, the Temple embodies the non-religious zeal of people who were on the level of clear attainment of the upper force, the general force of creation, overall nature.
It is not what we understand as religion today. Our modern Judaism is a religion of exile from the spiritual world, exile from the Temple, exile from the land of Israel. It is a religion of exiles.
Kabbalists have a completely different view than religious people of the world about the challenges of the people of Israel, the challenges of humanity, and what we need to bring to the world.
Question: Can you share the secrets of Kabbalah with others?
Answer: In Kabbalah, there are no secrets.
From an Interview in Toronto with V. Kanevsky, 8/5/14
Genuine beauty of life, warmth, love, support, and a sense of security, all this comes to us from the mother, then from the family, then from our loved ones, and after that, from the environment, we build ourselves. We strengthen this environment, having once entered it as young couples, and secure it for our children.
All generations: grandparents, mothers and fathers, children, and grandchildren, all connect with each other, together forming the “fabric” of mutual agreement. In this manner we come to unity, to a feeling of wholeness and harmony, which liberates us from all misfortunes and problems. Moreover, it allows us to understand how to structure the entire human society correctly, within a country and in the world.
In the creation of a harmonious family, I see the recovery of a human being. And in order to sow this seed, we need a fertile soil: a caring and loving environment. Then let us all together start to “till the soil,” to learn how to build a society where we would feel good, on which we could lean in order to create strong families and to mutually support each other.
We will find everything here: confidence in the present and the future, health, education, culture, and good relationships. Here, everyone will be well and happy, because this form of human interaction is the closest one to nature.
The family is most closely adjacent to the central point, from which we evolved to become human beings and to build the rest of the circles more and more widely, ultimately embracing the entire world.
Only in this way will we succeed in handling all the challenges of modern times: the rehabilitation of a family will stimulate us to change other areas as well. We will start, at last, to make contact with our souls, to smile at each other with our hearts, and after that, we will live in a new way. A true bond with a beloved person will help each of us to extend threads of connection toward others.
Without this, we are flawed. This is why I wish for all of us to avoid theft – not to steal from one another the warmth, which a mother once bestowed upon us. We can maintain the fire in that hearth so it will warm our life’s partner, our kids, close and distant people, everyone without exception. Therein lies the secret of our common happiness.
From KabTV’s “A New Life,” 7/22/13
From “Who Are You, People of Israel”
These days, humanity is approaching a very similar state to that of ancient Babylon, a state of mutual dependence, on the one hand, and mutual hatred and alienation on the other hand. And because we are completely interdependent in our “global village,” Nimrod’s method of drawing apart is no longer feasible.
To achieve balance we are now required to use Abraham’s method; this is why it is the nation of Israel that must lead the healing of the pains of human society. Unless we, the Jewish people, do it of our own volition, the nations of the world will coerce us to do it, by force. On that note, it is interesting to read the words of Henry Ford, founder of the Ford motor company, and a notorious anti-Semite, in his book, The International Jew—The World’s Foremost Problem: “Society has a large claim against him [the Jew] that he … begin to fulfill … the ancient prophecy that through him all the nations of the earth should be blessed.”
The complete text of the brochure is here.