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From my column in Ynet: “Anti-Semitism in the US? History Repeats Itself“
Throughout history, the Jews have tried to hide their identity and assimilate, but they never succeeded. Hellenism led to the destruction of the Temple, conversion to Christianity led to the Spanish Inquisition and persecution in Europe. What can be learned from the rising anti-Semitism among American Jews? How much is Trump responsible for it? And how do we stop the rising tide? Rav Laitman offers a way to deal with a changing world.
Steve Bannon, chairman of the news website Breitbart News affiliated with the “Alt-Right” movement, served as campaign chairman for Trump and has been newly appointed chief strategist and senior advisor in the Trump administration, upsetting America in general and the Jewish community in particular.
On the one hand, Jewish Republicans who worked with Bannon throughout Trump’s election campaign say that he will indeed be “good for the Jews” and especially for Israel, and we are about to see before our eyes how Donald Trump will become the first “Jewish” president in the history of the United States. On the other hand, most of the Jewish liberals of the United States, around seventy percent of whom opposed Trump, attribute anti-Semitic and racist opinions to Bannon.
Bannon is just an example of a storm that is raging among American Jews. Whether a dedicated supporter of the nation of Israel or a distinguished enemy of the Jews, a good future in America is still not assured for the Jews. The Jews are a unique phenomenon in the world. They are a collection of people possessing a particularly well-developed ego, aiming to benefit maximally from every opportunity in all fields, all the time.
The first time that the Jews succeeded in rising a little above this deeply inherent, innate characteristic and consolidate into a single people, was around 3,800 years ago in ancient Babylon—a tribal society with an abundance of nations and cultures. A little like the America of our day.
The wisdom of Kabbalah recounts that one fine morning an egoistic nature broke out among the Babylonians, undermining the tranquility that dwelled among them until then, and strengthened the sense of “self” in each one of them. The egocentric surge created many conflicts and disputes that worsened the relationships between the Babylonians and threatened to break the society apart, similar to the crisis that American society is experiencing. The frustrated Babylonians searched for a way out of the social crisis they had been thrown into, and it arrived in the person of Abraham, a great Babylonian priest of his generation and a leader of public opinion who gathered them around him, taught them the wisdom of Kabbalah, and educated them about connection and love of others. The community of Babylonians who had once been alienated, connected among them “as one person with one heart,” and were called Yisrael, for their desire to directly (Yashar) resemble the Creator (El), the characteristic of the singular, whole and eternal power of nature. In another place they would be called Jews (Yehudim) because they were working to become united (Yichud) and in harmony with nature. From the moment the people of Israel were founded, they only had one purpose: to serve as an example of unity for the rest of the separated parts of humanity, to be a “light unto the nations” (Isaiah 49:6).
The Jewish people passed through many vicissitudes. After the destruction of the Second Temple, from the moment that brotherly love and the supreme value of unity ceased to illuminate the spiritual vision, the people were scattered for two thousand years of exile and wandered from place to place. However,right after the Jews settled as a small community and began to organize and earn everything that they needed for a good life, as befitted the egoistic nature that dominated in them, the social consolidation weakened and solidarity dissipated. None of them maintained its nature, its religion or its culture, in the best of circumstances, and they rapidly assimilated and returned to being the same Babylonians they had been. In the worst of circumstances, they lost their direction completely and even began to shoot arrows at their own people. That is what happened again and again throughout all of history.
When the Jews first met with Hellenistic culture in ancient Greece, many Jewish families rushed to become Hellenized and change their religion. First names and languages were exchanged, Greek customs were adopted, the Torah was translated into Greek, and a general cultural assimilation of the Jews into Greek culture began. Accordingly, the values of unity and mutual responsibility that typified and protected the people of Israel throughout the years were abandoned, and egoism, the worship of the “self,” and ambitiousness and aggressive competition were enthusiastically adopted. Tiberius Julius Alexander, the son of the head of the Jewish community in Alexandria, whose father donated gold plating for the gates of the Temple, became the symbol of Jewish anti-Semitism of that period. Tiberius was appointed advisor for Jewish affairs in the government of the Roman emperor Titus, the warlord who subdued the great revolt and destroyed the Second Temple.
A similar process began in Spain a number of years before the establishment of the Inquisition. Researcher of Jewish history at the University of Wisconsin Professor Norman Roth detailed in his book that “in the 14th and 15th centuries, thousands of Jews converted to Christianity, particularly of their own free will and not as a result of pressure. ‘The new Christians’ thereby aroused sharp hostility against them, that ultimately added up to a war. The anti-Semitic racism swelled, and for the first time in history, positions of ‘blood purity’ were established (distinguishing between those who had pure Christian blood and those who had converted Jewish or Muslim blood). Ultimately, the Inquisition was revived, many of the ‘new Christians’ were falsely charged and burned at the stake. Specifically for the Jews who continued their lives as Jews and their normal relations with the Christians as in the past, nothing happened. What this means is that as long as the Jews remained faithful to their heritage and didn’t try to integrate or assimilate into foreign cultures, they were welcomed, or at least were left to themselves.”
Precisely as in the last days of the Second Temple, Jews who had changed their religion, stood among the leadership of the Inquisition. It is known that the grandfather of Tomas de Torquemada, the “Grand Inquisitor of Spain” and the chief supporters and activists in the expulsion of the Jews from Spain were also Jews.
An additional example of the assimilation of the Jews and their rejection happened in Germany before the Second World War and during it. Beginning from the 16th century, along with the Renaissance, German Jews enjoyed relative quiet. They didn’t receive equal status or citizenship, but the authorities let them manage their lives relatively without interference and separate from the rest of German society. Even though life was comfortable, the moment they had the opportunity, the Jews began to mingle and assimilate into German culture, in a way similar to that in Spain that inflicted disaster upon them.
Toward the end of the 18th century, the Jews were eager to become an integral part of the Christian society and were ready to do everything to be accepted by it. The German Jews were ready to remove all references to the many years of longing for the old homeland in the Land of Israel from the prayer book. So Reform Judaism became a symbol for the readiness to trade in an ancient tradition in exchange for civil equality and social acceptance.
After the consolidation of Reform Judaism as a central force in Germany, it spread to a number of nations in Western Europe and to the United States. While in Germany, it was forced to defend itself constantly from the Orthodox establishment and interference from the government, in the United States there was no government supervision over religion and the Jews could operate in it as they wanted. Reform Judaism adopted the land of unlimited opportunity to become a leading and influential force in the areas of economics, entertainment, education, and politics in the nation.
The Jews became integrated into every corner of public life in the United States. They control the media, determine the public agenda, and influence the opinion of the world community. Considering the dominance of American culture throughout the world, for the first time in history, the Jews have taken perfect starting positions for the role for which they were chosen, and if they would only want to, they could lead the way to meaningful changes that would have the ability to influence the entire world.
The Hollywood: Up or Down?
America is still the greatest power in the world, and as such it dictates to the world the movies that are watched, the music that we listen to, the news that we consume, and even which websites and social networks we surf. Success in the American market is considered to be success in the world, and specifically American Jews, because of their high status, bear much responsibility for providing the world with what it must have, according to their role in humanity. Otherwise, the reminder will come in unpleasant ways….
Only this week we were informed about a number of disturbing incidents: a swastika was sprayed on a dormitory door in one of the universities, another swastika was painted on the entrance to a residential building in Manhattan where a Jewish senator lives, and in the social networks stream racist and offensive reactions to Jewish journalists and activists. The anti-Semites in America always hover like a black cloud, even before the Trump’s election to the presidency, as attested to by the prominent and worrisome data. A dramatic rise in the number of cases of attacks on campuses and colleges in the United States have been recorded since the beginning of the year.
Further anti-Semitism could lead the American community in two possible directions: coming closer and uniting as generally happens in times of adversity, or it could cause the Jews to distance themselves from their identity, to assimilate and to begin developing hostility and becoming critical toward the nation of Israel, in other words, to become anti-Semites themselves.
Throughout history we have seen that it makes no difference how much the Jews try to hide themselves; they never succeed in becoming detached from their identity. As soon as they assimilate among other peoples and sever the threads that connect between them and their role in humanity, they merit a tough response that directs them toward realizing their spiritual destiny.
There is no reason to wait until the next tragic event; we are at the last stop. Even if a small part of the eight million Jews living in the United States unites “as one person” and begins to radiate the values of mutual responsibility and connection upon which the Jewish people gathered, American society, which is today seeking a new vision, will behave like them. The spirit of unity could spread; the Jews would be a “light to the nations” and would lead to a new version of the American Dream.
From Ynet article 11/22/16
Answer: There are millions of people behind Trump, the whole “small town” America. These are the white Europeans, who once founded America and have started to lose it recently because of the flow of Muslim immigrants.
Problems with the African-American population are internal problems of the US and they must be resolved somehow. By the way, none of the Obama programs, including Obamacare, helped. The black population is living worse today than it did eight years ago when Obama became president. He was unable to do anything good even for his black brothers and sisters. He did well only for one group: radical Islamists, by opening the doors for them to enter the United States. His mind was preoccupied with this.
Question: Don’t the Trump plans against immigrants look fascist?
Answer: I don’t think that Trump will act thoughtlessly. He gives the impression of being an intelligent man. And besides, he is not alone; there are very strong, skilled assistants around him, both military and economists, with extensive experience.
Whether or not the world wishes to unite doesn’t matter, because it must progress toward unity in order to become a single society not separated by nationalities, religions and beliefs. Of course, there will remain black and white, red-skinned and yellow-skinned. Everyone can be themselves and mingle with others. Also, if someone wants to be gay, it is their choice.
At the same time, everyone should know that we belong to a single system called Adam, one family, where all depend on each other. The law of nature pushes us to this goal.
This goal is quite close, as indicated by the crisis that we are experiencing today. In all the areas in which humanity was engaged for thousands of years, we have come to a standstill: in science, family, raising children, human relations, international trade, and peoples’ attitudes to life.
We are gradually losing these values because, today, without positive social connections, it is impossible to control the human system. Humanity is increasingly closing into a single system, but people neither feel nor understand it. However, we must come to this if we want to develop in a positive direction.
Question: How does Trump’s victory contribute to this process?
Answer: Trump wants to eliminate the divide, disconnection, and separation of human society, at least in America. He says, “We are one nation” because he understands that nothing will work without it. Though he is white and of German origin, it is important to him that the American nation unites. On the contrary, left-wing Democrats, despite the nice talk, just split the nation.
Question: I thought that it is Trump who leads to the division of the society by hanging negative labels on entire groups of the population, for example, on the Mexicans. Isn’t this image directly opposite to this single, harmonious society about which you are talking?
Answer: This is how it looks from a narrow point of view. But, in fact, Trump declares very simple things, “Everyone should go back to his place, get out of someone else’s apartment and observe the order. First, we need to understand where we stand by returning America to its original state.
“We’ve made a few wrong steps and entered the global crisis: dramatically increased government debt, took our manufacturing abroad. Local people have lost their jobs because factories were closed. People can’t support their families. Look at what we’ve done! What for?”
It is wrong to give power to the government, the wealthy elite and banks. Trump goes against the establishment, which has the power and the money. He is a socialist.
Left-wing Democrats are not socialists. They are closer to the Nazis because they hate everybody but themselves, in their egoism. Therefore, I hope that Trump will be beneficial because he stands for a single nation against the domination of the establishment and banks. He wants to reduce the enormous government debt and give work to ordinary Americans. If he will stand firmly on these positions, he must succeed. I see that he understands where the problem is.
Question: Are you against left-wing Democrats?
Answer: I am not against the left-wing or right-wing; I am for the program of creation. Therefore, it doesn’t matter to me who will be a president; the main thing is that the program of creation will move us forward with as little blood and suffering as possible.
I just want us to be good! We still have to move forward; after all, we can’t go against the laws of nature. So let’s implement them consciously, with understanding, and then all of us will be well, all of us together.
From KabTV’s “A New Life” 11/10/16
Answer: Letters are directives from the Light so they are unchanged. Only the material from which they are composed is changed. The letters themselves, being similar to the Light, are not subject to change, whereas their substance, still, vegetative, animate, or Human, meaning the desire constantly changes.
From the Kabbalah Lesson in Russian 7/17/16
Answer: Development of the soul happens within very narrow and precise frameworks, when the person is included in a group and he begins to develop the characteristic of bestowal together with the members of the group until reaching the characteristic of love and his involvement with that develops the soul. A soul cannot exist in one person, but only in a collection of people.
The most optimal situation is when ten people gather and through the correct use of the ego they begin to build above it and among them the supra-egoistic characteristic of connection that is the opposite of the ego.
When they use it this way, in an opposite direction, a very interesting phenomenon happens among them. To the extent of their effort and not through suppression of the ego but through using it correctly, they create above it a characteristic of love and connection.
They begin to feel that they lack the power that will help them to rise above the ego and use it correctly. They get this power from the depths of creation. In the unity among them they suddenly discover that in the center of the connection between them, a force like a whirlpool begins to be discovered among them. But it doesn’t draw inward, instead it emits outwardly and the Upper Light, the power of bestowal, reciprocal connection, love goodness and cooperation rise up from there.
When that force completes the correct connection between them and fills them, then the common state that they attain is called a soul.
From the Kabbalah Lesson in Russian 6/9/16
The study of the Torah is often perceived as a simple study of the book’s text. However, we need to understand what is written in these stories. There are four languages in the Torah: Pshat, Remez, Drush, and Sod (a simple narrative, allusion, allegory, and mystery)—four stages of understanding the material.
The text of the Torah can never be perceived in the ordinary sense as a historical narrative.
This is a code that we must decipher. It has four degrees of understanding and the deepest degree is the wisdom of Kabbalah. Through it we reach the truth, and therefore Kabbalah is called the true wisdom.
Each one can decipher this code, but in order to do it, he must change himself, develop and expand his mind and senses. Then he will discover what is actually written in the Torah.
There are four stages of presentation of the Torah, and each of them is an additional development with respect to the level where we are born and live in this world. The Torah doesn’t imply that its text will be understood literally, as in any other book. It expects that a person will change himself and understand the writing on a more internal level.
Imagine that a child reads a fairy tale with his mother, how a prince met a girl, fell in love with her, and took her to his palace. The son only receives very shallow, primitive information from this story, and a mother understands it more deeply and sees what really happened there because she is familiar with the nature of people. That is, each understands the story according to the level of his development.
First, we need to understand that it is necessary to develop a person so that he will understand the Torah. The Torah itself prepares us for the understanding of it, if we study it correctly. Advancing to the love of others, the great rule of the Torah, to the extent of the expansion of this love within ourselves, we learn to understand the Torah deeper and deeper.
We perceive the reality where we live in a wider, deeper, and more multi-faceted manner. Then we really see all four degrees in it.
Love for others begins with close friends and extends to the nation and then to the entire world. If the entire humanity becomes as close to me as my own children and myself, then from this feeling I can understand what the Torah says; there is no other way.
Question: Who develops whom? Does the Torah develop a person or does a person have to develop to understand the Torah?
Answer: A person can develop only through studying the “inner Torah,” in other words, Kabbalah.
Love for others reveals new feelings in us that allow us to exit ourselves. Now I want to draw everything to me and to investigate it within me, only for my own benefit. But if I go out and begin to love my neighbor, I feel the reality that is outside of me. It already doesn’t depend on my relation to it and how much I benefit from it. It is the way it is by itself, as if I don’t exist.
Reality is not refracted in my feelings and mind anymore. After all, once I exit my own egoistic perception, I acquire the feelings and mind of the general system that the Torah provides to me. These are the feelings and mind of the upper system, and with them I can feel and understand all of nature in its true form.
Thanks to this, I reach eternity and perfection inherent in nature. I don’t bring interferences to nature as before due to my limitations, stereotypes, incorrect understanding, and perception in the material senses and the mind that I acquired during the life in this generation.
It turns out that the Torah raises me to the degree of eternity and perfection. I even cease to depend on my body. The body can suddenly get sick and die, and I will stay in the same consciousness, in the same mind and feelings that I acquired. Since the Torah is eternal, it makes me an immortal person—an eternal entity that is called the soul.
From KabTV’s “A New Life” 10/20/16
New Life 785 – From Political Correctness To True Equality
Dr. Michael Laitman in conversation with Oren Levi and Tal Mandelbaum ben Moshe
Why is political correctness contrary to human nature? What is the right way of coping with conflicts and how can we reach true social equality despite the differences between people?
Today it is impossible to speak openly about different social problems.
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Preparation for the Lesson
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Lesson on the Topic: “Ibur,” Part 1
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Lesson on the Topic: “Ibur,” Part 2
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