Question: What is the role of Israel today and of the Jewish people in particular?
Answer: The role of Israel was first discovered in ancient Babylon when one of the great sages of that generation, the Babylonian priest Abraham, provided an answer for what was happening there.
At that time, Babylon was undergoing the same processes that the world is undergoing today: a small society of three million people, which was almost the world civilization at the time, suddenly began to sink into mutual hatred because of the sudden eruption of the ego.
Until then, the Babylonians lived as a small society between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, and everything was fine. But when the great ego erupted, it turned out that, on the one hand, they were integrally connected to one another, and on the other hand, they couldn’t exist together egoistically. Therefore the term the Tower of Babel symbolizes the ego that literally grew up to the sky.
This is what is happening today. On one hand, we discover that people are mutually connected to one another and on the other hand, they hate each other. The two forces that mutually operate inside us require a solution, since otherwise we will reach a dead end.
One of these two forces, the force of nature, ties us together and shows us the globalization and mutual connection between everyone to everyone. This force closes us integrally and shows us that we are one whole body. The second force is the egoistic human force that tears us apart from the inside, separates us, and doesn’t allow us to be one whole.
These two forces were first studied in ancient Babylon and there were two answers to the question of “what should we do?”
The first answer was given by Nimrod, the king of Babylon, who decided that the Babylonians had no choice but to break up and move away from one another. He disintegrated his kingdom fearing that his subjects would begin to destroy each other. This is where the concept of building the Tower of Babel comes from and its outcome was the dispersion of the people and the mixing of tongues, which was a sign that people ceased to understand one another.
That was one way of solving the problem, but today we, the modern Babylonians, have nowhere to go since we have no other planet. Therefore, we cope with the question that we have to answer.
The second solution was given by Abraham, one of the leading priests in ancient Babylon. Abraham understood that the ego separates us from the inside, while the external forces of nature, which bring us closer, were given to us on purpose so that we will ascend above them and resemble nature. This means that we will work against our ego on the connection between us.
How can this be done? How can person oppose his own nature? Abraham suggested organizing small groups of people that would begin to connect, and in their attempts to connect, they would draw the external force of nature that would be revealed internally among them and correct and raise them above themselves.
The main goal of nature is to bring humanity to a state of “love thy friend as thyself,” whether we like it or not. The problem of our separation should be solved immediately, and only in this manner.
About five thousand followers joined Abraham. The great 12th century philosopher, Rambam, writes about this and it is also contained in earlier writings like in Midrash Raba and other sources.
The Sefer Yetzira (Book of Creation) is the only remaining book written by Abraham, and it tells us about the whole system of nature that affects all of human society.
Led by Abrahan, 5,000 people left Babylon and came to the land of Canaan, the modern land of Israel. Abraham taught them how to ascend above the ego in the connection between them according to the ancient Jewish commandments of “love thy friend as thyself,” “don’t do unto others what is hateful to you” and “be as one man in one heart,” etc. This group is known by the name Israel, which means Yashar-El, straight to the Creator, resembling nature. After all, the Creator is not a picture on the wall or a grandfather sitting on a cloud. The Creator is nature! All of nature is called the Creator.
The 5,000 people who left Babylon with Abraham were called the nation of Israel, stemming from the word “Yashar -El,” straight to the Creator. It is a nation that did not grow out of biological roots like all the other nations but according to an ideology, a purpose that defines where it is headed and how it is going to establish society.
Although we are the biological descendants of those people, unfortunately, we don’t resemble them at all because we have lost that ideology. Therefore our current state is called exile from the spiritual level they had achieved.
When the Jewish nation left Egypt and wandered in the desert, it constantly worked on its connection. Their ego kept on growing, just as the ego of humanity grows from one generation to the next (which is what makes us different from animals), and the people worked on it.
This continued until the ego suddenly erupted as it developed. It happened on the eve of the destruction of the Second Temple in the last year BC. People could not ascend above it in the good connection between them and they fell to the egoistic level.
A Temple refers to holiness, bestowal, love of others, and to the incorporation of everyone into one whole. When the Jewish nation fell from that level, it determined the rest of its history of 2,000 years of exile.
From the interview with V. Kanevsky in Toronto, 8/5/14