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JPost: “The Secret To A Happy Year”

The Jerusalem Post published my new article “The Secret to a Happy Year

Jonah’s story tells us that when we avoid our task, prefer separation to connection, and spread discord throughout the world, there always comes a storm.

The High Holy Days are a time of joy, as well as a time of reflection. This year, it seems as though there is more to reflect on than in past years. The worldwide resurgence of antisemitism is growing increasingly foreboding with each year, and the rise of neo-Nazism in the US and Germany is bad news for the Jews wherever they are. So in the reflective spirit of the High Holy Days, let us examine our situation and find the opportunity in the challenge.

The past year has uncovered and deepened a chasm that exists within Jewish communities the world over, and primarily between the State of Israel and the American Jewish community. Often, the rift has become so deep that even some pro-Israel American Jewish leaders are openly reconsidering their support of the Jewish state.

But as long as we can talk about our problems, we can also make matters right, and Yom Kippur is the best time to reflect on our actions in light of the adverse worldwide developments toward Jews.

Avoiding Our Mission

The most important part in the Yom Kippur service comes after reading the Torah portion. It is called, Haphtarah, and in it, we read selections from the Prophets. On Yom Kippur, the text of the Haphtarah is the book of Jonah. In many communities, the wealthy pay hefty sums of money for the right to read this Haphtarah, as it is known to be a Segula (endowing power) for gaining (even more) riches.

Jonah’s story is special. It speaks of a prophet who first tried to “dodge” his mission, but finally repented. Another notable point about Jonah is that his mission did not concern the people of Israel, but rather the gentile city of Nineveh. Today, in light of the rising antisemitism, it is more pertinent than ever to reflect on the message behind Jonah’s story.

God orders Prophet Jonah to warn the residents of the great city of Nineveh that they have corrupted their ways. Put differently, Jonah must warn them that they have become so mean that their society is unsustainable. The prophet’s task was to restore the relationships among the residents of Nineveh, or they would all be destroyed.

However, Jonah decides to evade his task and tries to flee by ship.

As Jews, our nation was established on the tenet, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and our justification for existence has been our task to be “a light unto nations,” to spread that unity throughout the world. Yet, just like Jonah, we have been avoiding our mission for the past 2,000 years. We cannot afford to keep evading it.

For centuries, our sages and leaders have stressed the indispensability of our unity for our safety, and even for the safety of the world. They also stressed that when we fall into unfounded hatred, calamities and troubles soon pursue us and the world suffers, too.

But over time, we have lost awareness; we have grown detached and alienated from each other. Worse yet, we have come to ridicule such terms as “a light unto nations” and “a chosen people.” We have no recollection of what we were chosen for. But it still awaits, and when we run from it, there comes a storm.

We Are Asleep

In the story, Jonah’s escape from his mission by ship caused the sea to roar. At the height of the storm, Jonah went to sleep while the sailors remained on deck and struggled to save the vessel. Gradually, they began to suspect that it was someone among them who was causing the sea to rage. They cast a lot, which put the blame on Jonah, the only Jew on board.

Today’s plight bears many similarities to Jonah’s ship. The world has become a global village and we’re all in one boat, so to speak. The sailors—the nations of the world—are blaming the Jew “on board” (the Jewish people) for their troubles.

Like Jonah, we are asleep. We are beginning to wake up to the existence of hatred, but we have not woken up to our vocation. If we do not wake up very soon, the sailors will throw us overboard, as they did with Jonah.

Carriers of a Method

In the story, the sailors make a desperate attempt to calm the sea, and by Jonah’s order, they throw him overboard. Once in the water, the storm calms, but a whale swallows Jonah. For three days and three nights, Jonah introspects in the fish’s abdomen. He begs for his life and resolves to carry out his mission.

Just like Jonah, each of us carries within something that is stirring up the world. We, the people of Israel, are carriers of a method of connection, a method for uniting above the hatred, as King Solomon put it (Proverbs 10:12), “Hate stirs strife, and love covers all crimes.” This method of unity is the root from which our nation grew. It is what tied us into a single nation, and what today we must rekindle because wherever we go, this untapped mode of work destabilizes the world around us, which then blames us for its woes.

The unity between us will inspire is the light we must project to the rest of the nations, just as now the separation among us projects separation to the whole of humanity. This is the reason for all our troubles. 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.” Therefore, it is our choice to assume responsibility, or be thrown overboard, only to subsequently agree to carry out our task.

A Light unto Nations

Jonah’s role was to turn meanness and hatred into brotherhood among the people of the gentile city. This is also our role. Nothing has changed except the date and the names. Yet, instead of being “a light for the nations,” we are trying our best to be like the rest of the nations.

As more and more people and nations subconsciously sense that the Jews are not like the rest of the nations, that they are responsible for their misfortunes, they are beginning to treat us according to their feelings. People are reacting instinctively to what is happening to them, and subconsciously turn their anger and frustration against us. The Day of Atonement is our opportunity to make a decision to unite, and become “a light unto nations.” Only then will the global whirlpool around us subside, humanity will be at peace, and a canopy (Sukkah) of peace will spread over all of us.

In that Sukkah, we will all sit as one, without struggle or strife, and we will make unity our prime value. Now, as we recognize our role, we must begin to raise the tenet, “love your neighbor as yourself,” above all other values until it becomes a thatch that protects us from any trouble and affliction.

If we want to end our troubles, rid the world of antisemitism, and lead a safe and happy life, we must unite, and thus set an example of unity to the nations. This is will bring peace and quiet to the world.

Words from Our Sages about Unity, Love, and Israel’s Role in the World

Unity and Love

Our nation’s success depends only on brotherly love, on connecting as one family.

Rabbi Shmuel David Luzzatto

“Love your neighbor as yourself” is the great rule of Torah, to include in unity and peace, which is the essence of vitality, persistence, and correction of the whole of creation—by people of differing opinions merging together with love, unity, and peace.

Rabbi Nathan Sternhertz, Likutey Halachot [Assorted Rules], “Blessings for Seeing and Personal Blessings,” Rule no. 4

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 Raiah [Rav Avraham Itzhak HaCohen Kook], Orot Kodesh (Sacred Lights), Vol. 3

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.

The Raiah [Rav Avraham Itzhak HaCohen Kook], Igrot (Letters), Letter no. 726

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Everything that you would like others to do for you, do them for your brothers.

Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Shoftim, “Rules of Mourning,” Chapter 14

When is the Creator fond of creation? When all of Israel are bundled together without envy, hatred, or competition among them, and each thinks of one’s friend’s well-being and favor. At that time the Creator is delighted with His creation.

The book, Remember for Miriam, Chapter 11

When all human beings agree to abolish and eradicate their will to receive for themselves, and have no other desire but to bestow upon their friends, all worries and jeopardy in the world would cease to exist. And we would all be assured of a whole and wholesome life.

Rav Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam), “Introduction to The Book of Zohar,” item 19

The Role of Israel

The people of Israel must be the first nation to assume the international altruism, and be a role model of the good and beauty contained in this form of governance.

Rav Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam), The Writings of the Last Generation

The people of Israel, who are more capable of approaching the Creator than all the other nations, will then bestow the bounty upon the rest of the nations.

Rav Baruch Ashlag (the Rabash), The Writings of Rabash, Vol. 2, Letter no. 18

The Israeli nation had been constructed as a sort of gateway by which the sparks of light would shine upon the whole of the human race the world over.

Rav Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam), “The Arvut (Mutual Guarantee)”

It is written that each of the nations will hold a Jewish man and lead him to the Holy Land. And it was not enough that they could leave by themselves. You must understand from where the nations of the world would come by such a will and idea. Know that this is through the dissemination of the true wisdom, so they will evidently see the true God and the true law.

And the dissemination of the wisdom in the masses is called “a Shofar (a horn used on festivities).” Like the Shofar, whose voice travels a great distance, the echo of the wisdom will spread the world over, so even the nations will hear and acknowledge that there is Godly wisdom in Israel.

Rav Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam), “Messiah’s Shofar”

It is upon the Israeli nation to qualify itself and all the people of the world through Torah and Mitzvot (commandments), to develop until they take upon themselves that sublime work of the love of others, which is the ladder to the purpose of Creation, being adhesion with the Creator.

Rav Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam), “The Arvut (Mutual Guarantee)”

The construction of the world, which is currently crumpled by the dreadful storms of a blood-filled sword, requires the construction of the Israeli nation. The construction of the nation and the revealing of its spirit are one and the same, and it is one with the construction of the world, which is crumpling and awaits a force full of unity and sublimity, and all that is in the soul of the Assembly of Israel.

The Raiah [Rav Avraham Itzhak HaCohen Kook], Orot (Lights), Chapter 9, p 16

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My Thoughts On Twitter, 10/3/17

twitter

Let’s treat the root of our evil together and attain the good life. #Vegas #PrayForVegas

Happy Sukkot #Sukkot #Peace

Inevitable Consequences of Increasing Apathy of Unaffiliated American Jews #Antisemitism

GOP and Dems Can Share a Tent Without Calling Police http://www.newsmax.com/MichaelLaitman/empathy-tent/2017/10/02/id/817190/ … via @Newsmax

The core of our people is the force of unity, which will lead to peace and wisdom, and root out #antisemitism #RonaldLauder

From Twitter, 10/3/17

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The Day Of Remembrance Of Rabash

Laitman_917.01Baruch Shalom Levi Ashlag was the closest link to us of the chain of great Kabbalists through which the upper force is revealed to the world, and the Torah is passed down to us. He is the highest level and the only spiritual Partzuf that we depend on, and therefore, our study is mostly based on his articles. Rabash did everything to prepare the foundation for the next generation to come.

Although it was not easy, he found the strength to completely annul himself before his great father and teacher, Baal HaSulam, having absolutely no regard for himself. And because of that, he ascended through all the levels of spiritual attainment. We are yet to see from his writings just how high he reached. His essays are written in a very warm way, with great care for the reader, the student.

He had a huge burning heart full of love. However, if we are capable of grasping the depth of his writings, we would see that he was in the states of GAR of Atzilut or even higher, which is impossible to imagine.

Rabash paved the way for us by writing his articles and establishing customs that we try to adhere to. He gave us the framework in which a Kabbalistic group should exist, and we continue in this manner.

Baal HaSulam was like the ARI, creating the method of spiritual ascension, and Rabash brought it to a practical realization, and in that he resembled the Baal Shem Tov. In no other Kabbalistic writings have I ever seen such detailed descriptions of the spiritual work: how a person should organize himself in his immediate surrounding, in a wider environment, in the system of the worlds, and in his relationship with the Creator.

All these systems, that a person has to go through in order to achieve adhesion with the upper force, are not explained anywhere else in such systematic form as in Rabash’s articles. A person can take these articles and advance with them, for they will form the right attitude and the right concepts inside him.

There are no other books like these. In Rabash’s articles, not only do we get the commentary, but also detailed instructions of what to do, what reaction to expect, and how to move forward. He explains the whole process that we have to complete, the response that we get in return, and the internal states our soul goes through.

I have read these articles many times and will certainly continue reading them, and I can attest to them being concealed, and not revealed. After many years of studying, you will begin to uncover great depth in them.

You will suddenly see, that Rabash is writing about something you did not notice before, did not understand, and did not feel. These articles are not straightforward, but are quite multi-layered that become revealed in accordance with the reader’s level of comprehension. They offer such support and help to the beginners of the spiritual path, which cannot be found even in the writings of Baal HaSulam.

Baal HaSulam is a Kabbalist of the highest caliber, a scientist, a researcher, and Rabash is a spiritual coach: gentle and loving, who takes you by the hand and walks you through all the states. Only when we ascend in spirituality can we judge his true greatness.
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The Power Of Spiritual Society

 Baal HaSulam, The Last Generation: One who wishes to leave the society in favor of another must not be detained in any way, even if it is harmful to society.

We must realize that in the future society, toward which we are gradually advancing, the most important thing is the correct participation of a person in it.

He may be a great specialist in something but if he does not accept the framework of society and does not want to be equal with everyone, then he cannot remain in society just as a specialist. After all, first of all, we accept a person not because he is a specialist but because he is a friend.

Question: I would like to understand, what harm he can do to society?

Answer: He can impose his thoughts on others. There is nothing worse than that. Clever people with sharp minds and sharp feelings but with uncorrected egoism can seriously harm society.

Attainment of the Creator comes through connection among people, when everyone becomes equal, each one annulling himself and adjusting to the others. That is, the “biggest” one is the one who makes himself the smallest. These are two completely opposite qualities.

Therefore, people with a huge egoistic desire who constantly strive, even unconsciously, to come forward do not belong in such a society. They are presented with the condition: if they are unable to change themselves and be like everyone else, they will have to leave the society.

A person can be unremarkable, with average abilities, but he is a friend and not someone who, all the time, jumps out and tries to shine with his egoistic qualities. Individualists are not needed.

Only a cohesive mass of people can produce a spiritual result. There is no other way! The power of a spiritual society is in its center, in the union of everybody, and in the common aspiration.

Question: Can a person with a big ego annul himself before society? How did you do this?

Answer: I was a great egoist, disagreeing with the group in many ways. I am surprised how they tolerated me. However, at the end, through very difficult circumstances, I managed to understand that I must bend myself.

Comment: But you had a teacher Rabash. You were annulling yourself before him.

Answer: This made it even harder. When you have a teacher next to you, who supports you, then you need to annul yourself much more. It is very difficult.

However, there is nowhere to escape to. If a person is persistent and accepts everything that society indicates to him, then he gets help from above in the end.

Question: So, does this mean that it is somehow possible to work with the character and the qualities that are given to you by nature?

Answer: Only if the Creator will do it. If the Creator does not build the Temple, meaning the soul, then all the attempts of a person are in vain.
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From KabTV’s “The Last Generation” 6/19/17

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The World At The Crossroads, Part 2

115.06Beginning with the very first shattering—the so-called sin of Adam, “the first man,” which was planned in advance—humanity gradually began to realize that the reason for all its troubles was the separation caused by human egoism.

Although egoism was relatively small then, it still took a long time prior to Abraham’s arrival before they began to unite to overcome the crisis that had erupted in Ancient Babylon.

The broken ego that had divided the people showed them how destructive separation was and that there was no other solution besides uniting.

After Abraham had revealed that unification is the path of correction and had begun to explain it to the others, those who understood him formed a group, which was later called the people of Israel, which means directly to the Creator, or Yashar El. This group held on to unity as the only means of achieving salvation for the entire human race and, in general, for all of creation.

It took a lot of time—from the first man Adam all the way to Abraham—before humanity was ready to learn that unity is salvation. At first, the connection was natural and all the people lived together as one. But then suddenly separation began to develop and they felt how destructive it was.

They were able to compare how much better it had been living with the natural connection that had existed between them while egoism was still relatively small and the great state of egoism that led to many problems such as separation and arguments. It all ended in ruin. Therefore, they agreed to work for unity so that “love covered all crimes.”

However, it needs to be clear that the crimes being committed were small then and egoism was small too, so it was not as difficult for them to unite as it is today. But at that time, they already understood that there are two ways to the final unification, which humanity must eventually achieve.

After all, this is the purpose of creation, pre-programmed in the original design. But you can come to it in two ways: by the Light or through suffering. They had managed to understand this back then and had begun to implement Abraham’s method.

It is clear to everyone that egoism spoils our lives and that we need to do something about it. Every nation has its own way. There are methods of reducing egoism through special education as well as all kinds of oriental practices such as Confucianism and morality-based traditions. Religions also urge man to be humble and calm and they try to tame egoism by promising him heaven or hell.

All these methods worked for a while but, in the end, people are leaving religion. Egoism grows so fast that morality and religion are no longer able to restrain it. And the method of Abraham is a general method of correcting egoism, directed not at its destruction, but at its correct use. This method belongs to everyone, as Abraham said, “Who is for the Creator, come to me!”

That is, we need to unite and within this connection we will reveal the upper force that will support us and lead us forward, returning us to the purpose of creation and its foundations. This is a very special method that is only realized if people are ready for it. And, at the end of our development, everyone will be ready for it.
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From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 8/21/17, Lesson on the Topic: “Europe at a Crossroad”

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Daily Kabbalah Lesson – 10/4/17

Preparation for the Lesson

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Writings of Rabash, Vol. 1,  Article 2, “Concerning Love of Friends”

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Writings of Baal HaSulam, “Preface to the Wisdom of Kabbalah,” Item 122

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Writings of Baal HaSulam, “The Mutual Guarantee,” Item 21

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