Listen to an Audio Version of the Blog
Download: MP3 Audio
Listen to an Audio Version of the Blog
Download: MP3 Audio
What Jews Owe the World
By: Michael Laitman
Buying Our Way to Heaven
The holiest day of the year for Jews is Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), when they fast and pray. A key part of the prayer is reading the book of Jonah the Prophet. Interestingly, many observant Jews believe that buying the privilege to read the book will make them successful for the rest of the year.
Naturally, only the wealthiest in the community can afford to compete for it. The sums vary according to the affluence of the community, and in some cases, the privilege is sold for well over half a million dollars.
Cracking the Code
What people are not aware of, however, is the real reason why the book of Jonah is so important. Kabbalists determined that this reading is the most important in the year because it details the code for saving humanity, and this, in the eyes of Kabbalists, is more important than anything.
Jonah’s story is special because it speaks of a prophet who first tried to dodge his mission, but finally repented. Another special aspect of Jonah’s story is that his mission was not to admonish the people of Israel, but to save the city of Nineveh, whose residents were not Jewish. In light of today’s precarious state of the world, we should take a closer look at this story and its meaning for each of us.
Shape Up or Ship Out
G-d orders Jonah to tell the people of Nineveh, who became very mean to one another, to correct the relationships among them if they wanted to survive. However, Jonah bailed out of his mission and took to the sea in an effort to escape G-d’s command.
Like Jonah, we Jews have been evading our mission for the past 2,000 years. And yet, we cannot afford to keep evading it. We have a task that was passed on to us when Abraham united us into a nation based on love of others, and it is our duty to set an example of unity for the rest of the world. Abraham wanted to unite all of humanity, but back then he only managed to establish a small group. (For more on that, see my article, “Who Are You, People of Israel”, published September 20, 2014 in The New York Times.)
That group, namely the people of Israel, must still become a role model to the world. Rav Avraham Itzhak HaCohen Kook (the Raiah), the first Chief Rabbi of Israel, put it poetically in his book, Orot Kodesh (Sacred Lights), “Since we were ruined by unfounded hatred, and the world was ruined with us, we will be rebuilt by unfounded love, and the world will be rebuilt with us.”
Sleeping through the Storm
In the story, Jonah’s escape from his mission by ship caused the sea to roar and nearly sank the vessel. At the height of the storm, Jonah went to sleep, detaching himself from the turmoil and leaving the sailors to fend for themselves. Gradually, they began to suspect that someone among them was the cause of the storm. They cast a lot and discovered that it was Jonah, the only Jew on board.
In many ways, today’s world is similar to Jonah’s ship: It has become a global village, as though we’re all in one boat, and the sea around us is raging. And the sailors—all of humanity—are blaming the Jew on board for all their troubles.
Like Jonah, we are sound asleep. Though we are beginning to wake up to the existence of hatred towards us, we have yet to realize that not carrying out our mission, just like Jonah, is the reason for the hatred. If we do not wake up soon, the sailors will throw us overboard, as they did with Jonah. In the words of Rav Yehuda Ashlag, author of the Sulam (Ladder) commentary on The Book of Zohar: “It is incumbent upon the Israeli nation to qualify itself and the rest of the people in the world… to evolve into assuming this sublime work of “love of others” (“The Arvut” [Mutual Guarantee]).
The Wake Up Call
The sailors on Jonah’s boat make a desperate attempt to calm the sea, and by Jonah’s order, they throw him overboard. Once he is in the water, the storm calms, but a whale comes along and swallows Jonah. For three days and three nights he introspects in its abdomen. He begs for his life and promises to carry out his mission.
Like Jonah, each of us carries within, something that is stirring up the world. We, the people of Israel, carry a method for achieving peace through connection. Unity is the very root of our being. This DNA is what makes us a people, and today we must rekindle it because wherever we go, this untapped power is destabilizing the world around us in order to compel us to unite.
The unity between us will inspire, even compel, the rest of the nations to follow suit, just as the current separation among us projects separation to the whole of humanity. This is the reason for all our troubles, including anti-Semitism. When we unite, it will endow humanity with the energy required to achieve worldwide unity, where all people live “as one man with one heart.” So the only question is whether we assume our responsibility, or prefer to be thrown overboard, only to subsequently agree to carry out our task.
Indeed, if we want to end our troubles and be rid of anti-Semitism, if we desire to turn judgment into mercy and have a safe and happy life, we must unite and thus set an example of unity for all the nations. This is how we will bring peace and quiet to the world. Otherwise the nations’ hatred toward us will keep growing. Now we can see why people are willing to pay so much for the privilege of reading the book of Jonah on Yom Kippur.
I’d like to conclude this essay with another quote from Rav Kook (the Raiah): “Any turmoil in the world comes only for Israel. Now we are called upon to carry out a great task willingly and mindfully: to build ourselves and the entire ruined world along with us” (Igrot [Letters]).
The first true connection between us will give us a feeling of the upper world. This connection will be called the ten Sefirot of the Kli, and the mutual shared feeling that fills us will be called Light.
The first Partzuf will be created within us, consisting of the Sefirot of Keter, Hochma, Bina, Zeir Anpin, and Malchut with the Lights of NRNHY in which we begin to feel the higher, eternal, complete, and true state. We will then understand that the present state we now exist in is like a dream that is given to us so that we will be pushed, and in thrusting ourselves away from it, we will be awakened and begin to work in a practical manner.
To attain this, we must carry out a multitude of activities. But for the purpose of the appearance of a yearning for connection between us, our single group of ten or even a group composed of many groups of ten, is not enough.
If we want our spiritual needs to develop constantly so that we will be obligated to yearn for each other and the Creator, we must feed our desires all the time.
They do not appear within us by themselves; in order for them to appear, we must go out to the wider strata of the shattered Kli, meaning to all of humanity, to try and find additional desires among them. We must attract them to us, and in this manner we cultivate within us a yearning for coming together and elevation.
It is forbidden for us to forget about this, otherwise we will wither away. People who don’t find themselves in dissemination outside of their group withhold an incentive and drive towards elevation from themselves. They will begin to sit instead until they lose the general common drive, and the group will be disbanded.
So in the movement from me to we, we must remember wider dissemination. This could be the wisdom of Kabbalah or the wisdom of connection (Integral Education and Knowledge). It is not important what we call it; the main thing is that this is a wisdom about the right connection and unity, the restoration of the same collective Kli, the only desire that was shattered and destroyed from the start, even before the creation of our world.
We know that the authors of The Book of Zohar, when they gathered together to write it in a state of unity, were always discovering such hatred within themselves that they were ready to burn each other. And these were great people in the attainment of the head of the world of Atzilut. In this exact manner the shattering of the Kli of the collective soul was discovered in them.
But they had no other way to disseminate other than describing their attainments to help us with our correction, and in this was their correction. In this way, they departed from their ego and finished the work with absolute love. They then succeeded in describing great levels of elevation in The Book of Zohar.
If we turn to other Kabbalistic sources, they all speak about one one thing: issues about connection and the laws and general rules of unity between people in our world, and after that, unity between the souls until the discovery of the only corrected state.
From the Convention In St. Petersburg “Day Two” 9/20/14, Lesson 4
A person faces many questions as to how to act, work, and speed up his development, that is, to speed up the revelation of the Creator. Revealing the Creator, the force that manages all of reality and our part in it, is the only thing a person does in this world.
In order to achieve it, we follow the advice of people who have already been through this process and who attained the revelation of the Creator. This is the reason that we study the wisdom of Kabbalah, which by definition is the method of revealing the Creator to the created beings in this world. All we have to do is to fulfill and implement what Kabbalists say.
Of course, the closer a Kabbalist is to our times, the more useful his advice is for us because he better understands us since he is lives the same lifestyle that and is as our contemporary.
Thus, we begin to study the system that includes, not only the system of concealment between us and the Creator, but also the system where the Kabbalists are, those who have attained the Creator. They revealed the Creator during their lifetime in this world, which means that they removed the concealment.
They are not in this world anymore, but the fruits of their work are not lost, and by using them, we can develop a special sense and recognition above our ordinary physical senses and mind.
Our physical perception of the world is even more limited than that of animals. All animals can feel a tsunami approaching three days in advance and flee to the mountains. It is only humans who don’t suspect anything. We don’t even feel nature and are the furthest from it compared to all the animals. However, it isn’t about the existence of the corporeal body but about our attitude towards the upper force.
The desire to attain the upper force awakens only in man and even that doesn’t happen in everyone. But in every generation since the existence of mankind there are people in whom such a need to reveal the Creator awakens and they fulfill this desire.
Besides revealing the Creator they also leave us their writings though books, letters, and articles. Each one writes in his own style about how to remove the concealment, the system of concealments, and how to use the system.
It is because it isn’t revealed all at once and not fully, but gradually. Thus we have to go through certain actions. Kabbalists tell us how to help each other do that if there are people in our generation with the same yearning for revealing the Creator.
There have been many generations of Kabbalists since the first man (Adam), who was the first Kabbalist to attain the Creator and who removed the concealment. We can use their legacy, and besides their writings, we can also use their help.
When we enter a system where the Creator is present, but invisible, we can use the help of Kabbalists who have already attained His revelation. They are actively incorporated within this system and sustain it on a certain level of revelation and attainment by bringing it closer to us and helping us become incorporated within it.
We only need to attain the sensitivity and the recognition needed to reveal it so that we can use the system correctly with the help of the Kabbalists.
We also have to carry out all their recommendations in this world. In our generation there are many people who want to reveal the Creator. We are living in a special time when there is permission to reveal the wisdom of Kabbalah to everyone. Anyone who wants to reveal the Creator can come and reveal Him.
Thus we have a unique opportunity. If we unite in our search for the Creator, it will be like looking together for someone who is lost in the woods. We can all go out together, many people, and search the whole forest. Everyone can go and cry out: “Hey, where are you??!” and so by helping one another, we will eventually find the one who is lost.
Similarly, we can look for the Creator together. Such a collective search is much easier than searching individually. It is actually impossible to find the Creator by one’s self, but together we will do it quickly and easily.
From KabTV’s “A New Life” 10/5/14
From the book The Essential Secret of the Jews, M. Brushtein
If you dig deeper in search of the perpetrators, the circle of suspects begins to narrow. Of course, it’s the Jews. Is there really a better candidate?
For example, famous Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis is sure of this.
Surveys carried out in Europe indicate this. In seven European countries, 3,500 people were interviewed. About a third of those surveyed, 31%, responded that the perpetrators of the financial crisis are the Jews. (Lenta)
Surveys, done in the USA have shown the same results.
“In order to assess explicit prejudice toward Jews, we directly asked respondents ‘How much to blame were the Jews for the financial crisis?’… Among non-Jewish respondents, a strikingly high 24.6% of Americans blamed the Jews a moderate amount or more, and 38.4% attributed at least some level of blame to the group.” (Boston Review)
A surprising paradox. On the one hand, the Jews are accused of all mortal sins, and on the other hand, “A Jew is a pioneer of culture. From time immemorial, ignorance was impossible in the Holy Land, even more so than nowadays in civilized Europe. Moreover, at the time when the life and death of a human being was worth nothing, Rabbi Akiva spoke against the death penalty which is now considered to be an acceptable punishment in the most civilized countries.” (Leo Tolstoy “What is a Jew?”)
“I admire the spiritual steadfastness of the Jewish nation, its manly idealisms, its unconquerable faith in the victory of good over evil, in the possibility of happiness on earth.
“The Jews—mankind’s old, strong leaven,—have always exalted its spirit, bringing into the world restless, noble ideas, goading men to embark on a search for finer values.” (Maxim Gorky, About Jews)
“Some people like Jews and some do not; but no thoughtful man can doubt the fact that they are beyond all question the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has ever appeared in the world.” (Winston S. Churchill, “A Struggle for the Soul of the Jewish People”)
Is all this coincidence? Was the crisis an accident? Are the Jews blamed for the crisis by chance? Are the laudatory remarks about Jews random? Maybe, a brick falls on someone’s head by accident?
“‘A brick is neither here nor there,’ the stranger interrupted persuasively. ‘A brick never falls on anyone’s head. You in particular, I assure you, are in no danger from that. Your death will be different.'” (Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita)
It could take a long time to prove that there are no coincidences, and it is a meaningless activity. Let’s focus for now on the compromise proposed by one of the greats. An accident is a non-understood regularity.