Listen to an Audio Version of the Blog
Download: MP3 Audio
Listen to an Audio Version of the Blog
Download: MP3 Audio
In my regular column in Haaretz, my new article: “Theresa May’s Effort to Eradicate Anti-Semitism Needs Our Help“
There is a good reason why anti-Semite Henry Ford said that today we would do well to look into our past society.
In a bold and gallant statement issued a few days ago, Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May declared, “The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is wrong; it is unacceptable, and this party and this government will have no truck with those who subscribe to it.” In reference to the 1917 Balfour Declaration, in which Great Britain pledged to help build in the Land of Israel “a national home for the Jewish people,” Prime Minister May concluded, “It is one of the most important letters in history. It demonstrates Britain’s vital role in creating a homeland for the Jewish people. And it is an anniversary we will be marking with pride.” But perhaps the icing on the cake was her assertion that the UK was now adopting an internationally backed formal definition of anti-Semitism in a “ground-breaking step towards eradicating anti-Semitism.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to take a “ground-breaking step towards eradicating anti-Semitism.”
I am very much in favor of defining anti-Semitism in a manner that allows everyone to see where he or she stands on the issue. That said, we cannot ignore the fact that Jews have been singled out for praise or condemnation (usually the latter) throughout the history of our people.
Hatred toward Jews has been around since the inception of our nation at the foot of Mt. Sinai. There, when we became a nation after having pledged to be “as one man with one heart,” not everyone responded favorably to the idea. Those who did not subscribe to it began to loathe those who embraced it. They remained outside the Jewish people, and thus began the hatred of the Jews.
The Talmud (Masechet Shabbat) writes that Mt. Sinai “is a mountain from which sina’a [hatred] descended unto the nations of the world.” The book, Kedushat Levi (Sanctity of the Levite), specifies, “that hatred came only after the reception of the Torah [which requires that we love each other as ourselves],” and the acclaimed Noam Elimelech adds that it is called Sinai, meaning “hatred,” because “miracles happened to Israel and sina’a descended unto the nations of the world.”
Consciously or not, Jewish unity has always been a sore in the eyes of some non-Jews. They argue that the Jews are using their close ties with one another to gain unfair advantage over people from their host nations. Others, such as Winston Churchill, sensed that the “corporate spirit, the spirit of their race and faith,” as Martin Gilbert quoted him in Churchill and the Jews, has a special role in Judaism. Churchill believed that this corporate spirit gives Jews a “special power which … nothing else would ever give.”
For the past 2,000 years, since the ruin of the Temple, we the Jews have not kept our vow to love our neighbors as ourselves. Yet, the hatred toward us has remained and for a very good reason. When we became a nation through our unity, we were also tasked with being “a light unto nations” by passing on that special “corporate spirit” to the rest of the world. As I wrote in “Why Do People Hate Jews,” even if we are not told so to our faces, the fact that we are neither practicing nor passing on that spirit is the reason for the hatred toward us.
When times are good, anti-Semitism stays on the back burner. But as soon as trouble begins, it reemerges and the Jews take the heat.
As crises change, so change the accusations. Over the years, we have been accused of everything you can think of, and then some. We have been blamed for manipulating the media to our needs; we have been accused of usury, blood libels, well poisoning, dominating the slave trade, disloyalty to our host countries, harvesting organs, and spreading AIDS.
Wait, it gets better: We Jews are often accused of conflicting “crimes.” Communists accused us of creating capitalism; capitalists accused us of inventing communism. Christians accused us of killing Jesus, and French philosopher, François Voltaire, scolded us for inventing Christianity. We have been labeled as warmongers and cowards, racists and cosmopolitans, spineless and unbending, and so on and so forth.
The only conclusion we can draw from the above is that we are to blame for everything that is wrong in the world. As Prof. of Quranic studies Imad Hamato put it: “Even when fish fight at sea, the Jews are behind it.” While it is tempting to snub such declarations as demagoguery, we should not be so reckless; they reflect people’s true emotions toward us. Israel’s international isolation and the disheartening results of the ADL’s international survey on anti-Semitism prove that Jew-hatred is not a whim; it is mainstream. Mrs. May, I regret to admit, is in the minority.
Sir Winston Churchill believed that the corporate spirit of the Jews gives them a “special power which nothing else would ever give
The Ball Is in Our Court
The good news is that the ball is in our court. If we want to abolish anti-Semitism, we can do it. In fact, we are the only ones who can. When the wickedness of human nature takes the helm, people seek a cure for it. However, they will not find it because that cure is the unique unity that our nation had achieved at the foot of Mt. Sinai and struggled to maintain until we lost it some two millennia ago. The memory of unity is still buried deep within us, but we cannot “switch it on” at will. Nevertheless, this is the cure for human nature that humanity is seeking, and deep down, or even openly, they know it and demand this of us.
The most notorious anti-Semite in American history, Henry Ford, recognized the role of the Jews in his book, The International Jew—The World’s Foremost Problem: “Modern reformers, who are constructing model social systems, would do well to look into the social system under which the early Jews were organized.” Ford did not stop there. Concerning the importance of ancient Jewish society, he added that the Jews are “a race that has preserved itself in virility and power by the observance of those laws the violation of which has mongrelized so many nations.”
To truly understand what Ford sensed, we need look no further than our own sources. The Book of Zohar writes (Aharei Mot), “And you, the friends who are here, as you were in fondness and love before, henceforth you will also not part … And by your merit there will be peace in the world.” In Tikkun (correction) no. 30, The Zohar, in one of its most blatant declarations about the responsibility of the people of Israel, unequivocally asserts that when we are not in “fondness and love,” as we just read, we “cause poverty, ruin, robbery, killing, and destruction in the whole world.” Indeed, as the Talmud tells us in Masechet Yevamot: “No calamity comes to the world but because of Israel.”
In light of all the above, it is easy to understand the moving words in the letter of the first Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rav Kook, who cherished the Balfour Declaration: “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.” Rav Kook knew that only if we restore our unity, we and the world will have peace. In Orot Kodesh [Lights of Sanctity], he went on to write, “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.”
The Surprising Benefits of Hatred
The most notorious anti-Semite in American history, industrialist Henry Ford: “Modern reformers would do well to look into the social system of the early Jews.”
Anti-Semitism is indeed hatred of Jews. However, as The Zohar, the Talmud, and all of our sages throughout the generations have been telling us, we are not hated simply because we are Jews, but because we are divided and therefore do not act as “a light unto nations.”
Having said that, we should know that the hatred between us is not our problem; it is in fact necessary for our success. If we did not hate each other, we would not be able to serve as a role model of overcoming divisions. Only when we rise above our hatred can we be an example. This is what the world desperately needs yet cannot find. We, who carry the recollections of our triumph in uniting above hatred, are the world’s only hope. Therefore, when we do not live up to the nations’ hopes, they hate us.
The more the state of the world deteriorates on the personal, societal, national, and international levels, the more anti-Semitic people will become. In an interview for Channel 2 in Israel, Thomas Friedman of The New York Times said that he recently asked Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, “What’s the most prevalent disease in America, is it cancer, diabetes, heart disease? He said, ‘None of those; it’s isolation.’” It seems that people simply cannot stand to be with one another.
Yet, if we the Jews unite above our divisions and animosities, the world, which constantly examines our moves, will find that there is an alternative to hatred. If we did not hate each other, we would not be able to serve as proof that we can rise above it. But now that the world is deep in hate and we are hateful of each other, this is our time to shine the light of unity.
“As Israel correct themselves,” writes the book, Sefat Emet [Truthful Words], “all creations follow them.” And as Baal HaSulam said, “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 love of others, which is the ladder to the purpose of Creation,” for all of humanity to be “as one man with one heart.”
Read the complete article.
The largest news source for English speaking Jews The Jerusalem Post recently published my article “Why Universal Basic Income can’t work on its own.”
On its own, giving “free money” is a terrible idea. But universal basic income can work if it’s part of a greater plan.
In my last column, “How Trump Can Save American Democracy,” I wrote of the importance of finding creative, forward-looking solutions to the unemployment problem in America, specifically of rural Middle America, that has been most affected by economic decline and deindustrialization. I stressed that this is paramount to directing the course of American society towards positive change and calming the currents of nativism that have been arising. I suggested that if Trump is to succeed in fulfilling the unattended needs of his core constituency, he must not rely on bringing back industry or trying to create new jobs where robots and machinery have been replacing working hands. Rather, I recommended a focus on education and personal development that would train those who have dropped out of the current job market, to lead the way into the creation of a new reality.
The same day the column was published, The Economic Security Project (ESP)—a coalition of over 100 technologists, investors, and activists—announced that it is committing $10 million over the next two years to explore how a “universal basic income” (UBI) could ensure economic opportunity for all in the US. In the face of automation, globalization, and financialization changing the nature of work, they believe that we are now urgently required to take bold steps to guarantee economic opportunity for all. With populist uprisings that are sweeping the Western world, many other people across the political spectrum are now considering UBI as such a step, which basically means giving everyone a guaranteed minimum payment as a means to, theoretically, reduce poverty and improve health and education.
It is very clear to me why people who understand the future of technology and how it will influence the work force and the economy, are deeply concerned and seeking breakthrough, out-of-the-box measures to ensure everyone is taken care of. They are absolutely right that we are at the brink of devastation, with growing worldwide unemployment and social upheaval leading directly to further escalation of tensions and eventually to war. However, the concept of giving away money for free is not the way to achieve balance. On the contrary, it is a mistake that will cost American society heavily if implemented on its own.
Free Money is Debilitating
Human beings and human societies need to continuously develop in order to thrive. We are naturally inclined to be in a state of constantly striving for increasingly greater goals and achievements. A person who is not committed to a purpose in life, who has nothing to live or die for, becomes numb. There is nothing worse than giving something to someone before they actually want for it, as it blocks their very will to act in pursuit of their desired outcomes.
We are pleasure seeking creatures. We all want to enjoy things on different levels: food, sex, family, money, recognition and knowledge; but each of us yearns for these different fulfillments to different extents. Most people have the basic desire for food, and also sex, though to a slightly lesser extent. Even fewer people are interested in having a family. The higher you go up this pyramid of desires, the fewer people you will find seeking to fulfill them. So if you take away the thirst for money, there will be droves of people out there who won’t have much to motivate them to develop themselves. Not knowing what to do with their time will make them miserable and drive them crazy. This can actually increase drug intake and violent mayhem.
UBI Is a Good Idea Only if We Induce Development
As many are beginning to sense, universal basic income WILL be necessary as machines take over more and more jobs. Only a few days ago, “Amazon revealed its latest plan to automate American workers out of existence” with its futuristic machine controlled grocery store. According to a study by Ball State University’s Center for Business and Economic Research, the use of robots and other manufacturing efficiencies were responsible for 88 percent of the 7 million factory jobs the US has lost since peak employment in 1979. With all of this evidence piling up, it’s difficult to ignore the future consequences. Elon Musk, the iconic Silicon Valley futurist, predicts “There is a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income or something like that, due to automation.”
But people should also be able to strive for what they are passionate about. They just shouldn’t have to work in order to pay for shelter, food, clothing, and so on; these things will be provided for. But that doesn’t mean people will be idle. Musk foresees that UBI will give people time to do other things, more complex things, and more interesting things. Others believe that without the uncertainty about being able to pay for rent and other basic necessities, people will be unmotivated to advance themselves, nor will they spend their free time productively. Research has corroborated these latter notions.
So how can the benefits of giving free money be maintained, while also making sure that people will use the money to actually better themselves, rather than buy alcohol and drugs, for example? We need to create alternative motivation that will keep people busy and developing. As I wrote in my previous column, replacing external monetary motivation with time filling educational activity and training, can actually turn this otherwise frightening change, into a blessing.
A New Deal
To effectively deal with unemployment, we need to help people spend their time constructively by creating programs that will enrich and develop them as human beings, upon which receiving basic income will be contingent. These programs should occupy people’s days with courses of their choice, helping them expand their education. They should be given tools to better themselves: personal skills, relationship and marital skills, psychology and parenting – everything one needs in order to live their life well. Today, we don’t educate people. We only give them knowledge. There is no one that leaves high school knowing how to educate their children, or how to treat a woman or a man. People don’t know enough about the world, about life. You are basically just taught to read and write, forced to learn things you will hardly remember, and then thrown out into the world. This must be corrected.
Another important aspect to having people attend public courses is that we are social creatures, and without being intermingled with others as we are at our jobs, we will lose our ability to relate to one another. On top of that, the American society, like many others, has become increasingly fragmented and torn by political and racial divides. And so, creating places for people not just to meet but also truly connect, through cooperation and cohesiveness enhancing workshops and seminars, is imperative. This can lead to gradual healing of the societal fabric. As a final result of this enrichment, people should be encouraged to reach out to society and give back, expressing themselves creatively while doing so. Just as we now have mediators, lawyers and police officers whose jobs are to prevent and treat conflict, people should be paid to spread their acquired connection skills onwards, creating further social transformation.
Along with the many positive effects of such a social-educational process, improving relations also has great economic benefits that could relieve the cost of UBI. With less stressful home and social environments- crime rates, violence and substance abuse will diminish, enabling states and municipalities to spend much less on policing and social services. The alleviation of loneliness and depression can greatly improve health and save the healthcare system billions of dollars. A general increase in mutual care and consideration can save a lot of the wasted resources we spend every day in efforts to regulate, enforce and organize our societies.
The Agenda of Happiness
Last but not least, when people spend their days connecting to others, expanding their skills and knowledge and serving society, they will become much happier. This should be the purpose of making any changes in our society. Alleviating poverty is part of the deal, but meaning and happiness are no less important. A new Landmark study found that most human misery can be blamed on failed relationships and health rather than money problems and poverty, and that eliminating depression and anxiety would reduce misery by 20% compared to just 5% if policymakers focused on eliminating poverty. It’s time for the race for increasingly unachievable wealth to be replaced with a much more feasible and healthy race for happiness.
This is what our societies need. After all, if we look at the way Western society has become, we can see that working so many hours has not made us happier; it’s been very taxing on families and children who hardly see their parents. We have become addicted to cell phones and the fake life on social media, while loneliness, depression and anxiety are skyrocketing. In short, we have created our life so that few actually enjoy it. We will have to change this because our societies are disintegrating. Instead of working ten hours a day only to see our children for a few moments before bedtime, we will finally be able to truly take care of them and organize our environment so that it will suit our personal and family goals. Let the printers and robots take care of necessities, while human beings get busy improving our relationships and our lives.
Read the complete article.
At the same time, no one is thinking about fair distribution. People are thinking only about how to adapt human society to a new era of mass unemployment, in the country, in international industry, and in the economy.
It is necessary to somehow contain this crowd of unemployed people. Otherwise, riots will begin, like in a Hollywood sci-fi movie where the future is so dark that it is impossible to live because people become worse than animals.
Obviously, each country is thinking, or at least must think, about it. Now is a perfect time to start making new calculations. The former elite—along with its control units, directors, and governments—are unable to understand what is happening. We are seeing a furious resistance caused by the proposed changes in America and Europe.
The wisdom of Kabbalah explains what is happening to the world and why, and what kind of future awaits us according to human nature. Egoism has exhausted itself and is completely burnt out. We have ended with the period of capitalism, the last system based on the use of egoism. In other words, during capitalism, egoism reached its maximal implementation.
At the same time, egoism is demonstrating its complete emptiness and inability to provide any fulfillment other than fraudulent. Someone could have billions of dollars in the bank that will just burst today or tomorrow.
Question: So, what is wrong with a world war? It will only bring benefits.
Answer: I don’t think so because war is not the road to correction. No one wants war. People will agree to war only out of desperation. Such a war would not be a conventional one, where the military would receive medals and stars on their epaulets. It would be a war that would send humanity back a few thousand years.
Thus, egoism will remain at the same level. So, if today there are eight billion people on Earth and only one tenth survive, then each will have ten times as much egoism in order to continue the correction of the world. I don’t think that it would be possible to advance toward the mandatory purpose of creation in a good way with such egoism. This means that we must suffer ten times more in order to make a choice.
Suppose a person makes his life one of stupidity. So, he is sent such a serious sickness that he immediately subsides and calms down. Sufferings correct him. It is possible to achieve correction this way, but this is very difficult way.
Therefore, I think that a person who claims that war is good simply doesn’t understand what he is talking about. Apparently, he has never been in a war, not even the most ordinary kind of war, much less a nuclear one. He has never found himself under fire in a situation where a human life is worth nothing.
From KabTV’s “A Talk About the Current Situation In The World” 12/2/16
Answer: For this you have to sense the Creator. Then you will sense how much He enjoys what you do.
In essence, you have to believe that if you are looking for Him, trying to find the source in everything that is happening with you, this already brings pleasure to Him. After all, you are searching for Him.
Whatever you do, whether you in your thoughts, actions, or aspirations, you should catch yourself at every thought, every action, and every desire even before they appear within you that it was an action from the Creator that triggered this consequence in you. Try to capture Him this way. Then you will start sensing.
However, this path will not result in success unless you do this in a group. This is because the increase of strength, search, and similarity can be achieved only through the connection with others.
From the Convention In Prague, Day One 9/10/16, Lesson 2
Question: What does the wisdom of Kabbalah say about the moment in which a person first recognizes the attribute of submission?
Answer: The feeling of submission stems from feeling of the impact of the upper force.
Question: Does humility occur at some point in each stage of spiritual attainment?
New Life #653 – Hanukkah: World Correction
Dr. Michael Laitman in conversation with Oren Levi and Yael Leshed-Harel
We are constantly progressing into greater darkness since the world is run by the growing strength of the ego. At present, we are about to end the period of the developing ego, the era of the ego has run its course. On the one hand, wars and suffering, on the other hand, education and awareness; either way, we are advancing toward the era of balance with nature.
It’s possible to continue to try to correct the world instead of correcting the person, but it won’t help. The darkness comes because we are not connected to each other, we don’t take advantage of each other, and our problems come from this.
Hanukkah symbolizes awakening; people are realizing that only connection can save them. The Greek perception tells us that we don’t have to correct ourselves but to correct the world, which is opposite to Judaism. How can we calibrate ourselves correctly? By connecting “as one man with one heart,” then you will see everything correctly. Today, the Greek egoistic approach has gone bankrupt and requires a new approach of connection and balance.
The wisdom of Kabbalah teaches us that we see the world through distorted glasses and these should be replaced. We need to kill the Greek paradigm that existed between us and move on to the perception of the world according to the wisdom of Kabbalah.
The answer to the problems with ecology? The Greek approach says “climate summit”; the wisdom of Kabbalah says education, closeness, and connection. Today, we are leading the world with the Greek concept—science and technology—instead of correcting the person. The essence of the war between the Greeks and the Maccabees was about who needed the correction, the world or man.
From KabTV’s “New Life #653 – Hanukkah: World Correction,” 12/1/15
| Video: Play Now | Download
||Audio: Play Now | Download|