The Times of Israel published my new article “Beyond Israel’s Nation State Law”
Israel’s nation-state law has clearly managed to touch a nerve for many around the world. My article about it drew a slew of both positive and negative comments.
I will refer to one which was characteristic of most comments and also raised an important question: “Perhaps you could provide practical steps to reach unity, or explain what it means to be in unity. I think there are many people ready to move to that stage but they don’t really know how, because after the wonderful article, the comments are full of conflicts and self-justifications…”
In order to understand how social change can take place in Israeli society, we have to reconstruct the unique birth story of the Jewish people. Keep in mind that much more than a piece of history, it describes the global purpose for which Israel was created, extremely relevant to our day and age.
About 3,800 years ago, in Mesopotamia, which is today’s Iraq, the cradle of human civilization existed in natural brotherhood and a sense of shared destiny, as a united universal family. The pagan society of those days didn’t aspire for much more than leading a peaceful life, and fulfilling their basic needs for food and shelter. Instinctively, treating each other like kin, they established a thriving agricultural society.
But then, a radical development of human desires took place in ancient Babylon. Humanity’s “egoism” began to grow and they suddenly demanded to get much more out of life. An outburst of egoistic desires violated the harmony that prevailed among human beings. Their ego began to separate them and urged them to put their personal benefit at the expense of others. Thus, humanity’s first social crisis transpired.
In the midst of the Babylonian crisis, one priest named Abraham was highly aware of what was happening. He began to investigate the reason and purpose for the growth of the human ego, and uncovered the natural system that all human beings are part of, and the natural force that binds them together.
Abraham discovered that in order to balance the negative force of egoism, humans have to make a conscious effort to awaken the positive force of connection inherent in nature. In other words, the common efforts to cultivate unity above the egoistic rejection uncovers a spiritual space between people, where they can sense the wholeness and harmony of nature itself.
Abraham formulated his discovery into a method, and embarked on an extensive campaign to spread it among the Babylonians who would follow him. His method was later to be called “the wisdom of Kabbalah.”
Those who gathered around Abraham were representatives from every nation of ancient Babylon. They were, in effect, a mini-model of humanity. And what brought them together was only their common spiritual desire to rise above their egoistic differences and find a higher level of unity. Abraham’s group would later be called the people of “Israel,” a combination of the words “Yashar” and “El,” which means directly towards the force that governs all of nature.
In today’s Israeli society, and even more so in global society, human relations are more broken and polarized than in ancient Babylon. And just as Abraham assembled the first people who identified with the message of oneness above differences, we, too, must come together and rediscover the concept of “Israel.”
First we have to spread awareness of a higher level of unity as a solution to all our troubles. We have to foster social discourse about our united future. These discussions must be conducted according to rules that maintain positive connections: we should express our opinions freely, we can argue, and we shouldn’t blur our differences, and yet, we have to do it like a warm and loving family that has a common goal: unity above the ego.
From one such discussion to another, we will necessarily begin to sense an awakening of the natural bond between us. This sensation is rooted in our spiritual DNA, but it has to be activated, and only a healthy and thoughtful environment will allow us to do so.
As we become stronger in our unity, we will muster the strength to bring about significant changes in society, and we will also be able to demand that state institutions contribute their part in this socio-educational endeavor.
But the effort to unite is mostly an effort of one’s heart. Alongside social and global stages that will gradually take shape, each and every one of us should relate to our society as a mini-model of the human family.
What happens with Israel radiates to all of humanity. This is how nature created the “people of Israel” and the reason for the gut-level feelings directed at Israel on so many fronts. We have to usher in the next degree of human connection. Anyone who feels it, is welcome to start now.