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Baal HaSulam

Dr. Michael LaitmanFrom My Facebook Page Michael Laitman 9/20/18

“I find a great need to break an iron wall that has been separating us from the wisdom of Kabbalah,” wrote Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag a.k.a. Baal HaSulam (“Master of the Ladder”) for his Ladder commentary on The Book of Zohar.

Today, on the 64th anniversary of his demise, we pay our respects to one of the greatest Kabbalists in the history of mankind. A unique soul that descended to our world to bring us the wisdom of Kabbalah, and bring us closer to a life filled with joy, peace and unity.

Indeed, he was the first to interpret the entire Zohar and the writings of the Ari, the first to adapt the ancient wisdom to every person, the first to publish a Kabbalistic newspaper (The Nation) and spread it publicly. His deep concern for the fate of humanity pulsated in his heart, a concern that dictated the entire course of his life.

Read more about Baal HaSulam in our new archive >>

“And The Land Of Israel Will Be Stretched To The Whole World”

laitman_944Question: Who are “the Jews” in Kabbalistic terms?

Answer: They are people who want to unite, who yearn to reach love in their relations, and through such love, reach love for the Creator. Such people are called “Jews,” (Yehudim)  from the word “Yihud” (unity).

Another meaning of the word “Jew” comes from the word “Avar” (transition), meaning: one who has crossed the border of our world and has entered the upper world.

Question: The members of our large world group have an immense yearning to move from the law of love for themselves to the law of love for one’s neighbor. Can we call them all Jews (Yehudim)?

Answer: According to the direction, definitely. After all, initially, the Jews were the ancient Babylonians from the 70 nations that inhabited Babylon, who decided to rise above their egoism and become one group, one whole.

Question: Does it mean that when the whole world begins moving in this direction, it can be called Yehudim?

Answer: Yes, as it is written, “And the land of Israel will be stretched to the whole world.”
From KabTV’s “The Last Generation” 3/15/18

Related Material:
The Torah Speaks About Everyone
Who Are the Jews?
Who Is Attracted To The Land Of Israel?

Medium: “10 Years To The Financial Crisis: What Now?”

Medium published my new article “10 Years To The Financial Crisis: What Now?

A decade after the global financial crisis, new research exposes how a small elite prevented a worldwide catastrophe. But what is the cost of keeping our increasingly unbalanced, profit-driven systems in place? What are the greater balancing forces from nature we’re up against?

A decade ago, the world was on the verge of collapse. A financial bubble in the U.S. mortgage market almost blew up the global economic system. A financial Armageddon was prevented only by unprecedented measures taken by the U.S. administration, and particularly by the Federal Reserve.

In his new book, “Crashed,” historian prof. Adam Tooze sheds light on the hidden corners of the financial crisis of 2008. Tooze uncovers the intricate financial network that stood at the heart of the storm, and how a small elite decided to inject trillions of dollars into the American banking system and the rest of the world, knowing full well that humanity would otherwise go on a downward spiral into a crisis worse than the Great Depression of 1929.

Since the crisis of 2008, the ties in the financial elite network have only tightened across the world, and today this group continuously employs financial juggling to rule the global economy. Like pawns on a chess board, they deliberately manipulate markets, consumers, interest rates, financial institutions and media, in order to perpetuate the current economic paradigm and prevent a 2008-style crisis from happening again.

So what has changed over the past decade? The economic system feels safer than before. Not because the system has become more stable or equal, but rather because it is more controlled.

The Pyramid That Rules the World

Analyses such as Tooze’s prove how the pyramid that rules the world became pointier than ever before. It is a pyramid based solely on power and money, from top to bottom. If the previous century pyramid still had some reserved seats for intellectuals, philosophers, scientists and ideological pluralism, today they are all enslaved by the power of money and its owners.

Scientists depend on funding that guides the objectives of their research; artists and cultural figures enjoy the spotlights as much as their show serves the interests of tycoons who own the media channels. Simply put, money runs the world and capitalism has become cannibalism, with a limited elite that has fortified its rule at the top of the food chain.

The Mechanics of the Global Crisis

But what’s taking place beneath the surface is the inevitable intensification of human egoism. The human ego is the natural energy that fuels the fusion of wealth and power into an unbridled force. However, this is just one side of the process.

Humanity’s development happens in two parallel and opposite trends. Alongside the constantly growing ego, there is a much less noticeable axis of global interdependence that is gradually binding together all people and manmade systems on earth.

We, human beings, are trapped in the egoistic axis and suffer from global shortsightedness.

The nature of human development requires us to tread with two legs: one leg progresses along the egoistic axis necessary for our growth, and the other leg progresses towards the sense of mutual connection between all of us. Just as we walk on both of our legs, we have to properly combine and balance the ego to channel it towards healthy and positive development for all.

Today we are lagging behind with regards to the sense of connection between us. The world is becoming more and more integral — and the human is not. How do we catch up? By raising awareness to our situation, acknowledging the interdependent global system we live in and the laws of nature that apply to it.

Nature’s Balancing Act

Nature — as an integral system that demands all its parts to be in balance and mutual connection — will require us to change. The global economy is no more than a reflection of the relationships between all people. Therefore, we must first balance our relationships, as parts of a single system who share a common destiny. When we begin to do so, we will rearrange all our manmade systems, including the economic and financial.

If we don’t raise our awareness and do this out of free choice, the balancing forces of nature will force us to do so in different ways. Shocks in the ecosystem, natural disasters or depletion of cheap energy are all examples for scenarios that will necessitate a painful change in the socio-economic order.

Interestingly, an annual Gallup poll that surveyed more than 154,000 people in 146 countries shows that “the global mood is at its gloomiest since the first such survey in 2006.” Ultimately, the 21st century will fill us with frustration and helplessness that will lead us to question the meaning of human existence. Then, from the bottom of our heart, a demand for a new world will arise.

The Times Of Israel: “The Meaning of Our Personal Yom Kippur and Its Connection to the World“

The Times of Israel published my new article “The Meaning of Our Personal Yom Kippur and Its Connection to the World

First of all, let’s create the context. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, does not exist. According to the wisdom of Kabbalah, it’s waiting to be built inside of each of us, and only afterward can it truly be realized.

Kabbalah explains that, beyond the fact that Yom Kippur is the most solemn holiday on the Jewish calendar, in truth, it refers to an inner inclination toward correction. How can we realize this internal development? We begin by judging ourselves, our corrupted egoistic desires and intentions in relation to others. Although I might regret my state and want with heart and soul to detach myself from it—the source of all pains, distrust and division—I am unable to do so alone because it is completely against my nature. At this point in my atonement, I cry out to the Creator for help, for correction. This internal process is the essence of Yom Kippur.

By rising above our personal egoism, we reveal the world as one unified system. Today, when the world desperately needs unity, the Jewish nation that is supposed to set the example for others to follow, is shattered into pieces. Power struggles between Jewish factions in certain occasions have ended up in violent brawls. In addition to the growing gap between the Diaspora and Israel, almost half of American Jews consider organized religion as meaningless.

What is the connection between our shaky Jewish foundation and the increasingly hostile pressure from the world compelling Jews to unite? The answer to this question is explained in detail in an article that I published in The New York Times (print edition) titled, “What We Jews Owe the World.” Four years have passed since its publication and the state of the Jewish nation, instead of improving, has become increasingly uncertain. Before it is too late, let us review then the solution to our ever-growing crisis for the sake of our children’s future and for our own sakes.

Buying Our Way to Heaven

The holiest day of the year for the Jews is Yom Kippur, when we fast and pray. A key part of the prayer is reading the book of Jonah the Prophet. Interestingly, many observant Jews believe that buying the privilege to read the book will make them successful for the rest of the year.

Naturally, only the wealthiest in the community can afford to compete for it. The sums vary according to the affluence of the community, and in some cases the privilege is sold for well over half a million dollars.

Cracking the Code

What people are not aware of, however, is the real reason why the book of Jonah is so important. Kabbalists determined that this reading is the most important in the year because it details the code for saving humanity.

Jonah’s story is special because it speaks of a prophet who first tried to dodge his mission, but finally repented. Another special aspect of Jonah’s story is that his mission was not to admonish the people of Israel, but to save the city of Nineveh, whose residents were not Jewish. In light of today’s precarious state of the world, we should take a closer look at this story and its meaning for each of us.

Shape Up or Ship Out

In the story, God orders Jonah to tell the people of Nineveh, who became very mean to one another, to correct their relationships with one another if they want to survive. However, Jonah bailed out of his mission and took to the sea in an effort to escape God’s command.

Like Jonah, we Jews have been inadvertently avoiding our mission for the past 2,000 years. And yet, we cannot afford to keep avoiding it. We have a task that was passed down to us when Moses united us into a nation based on the tenet, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and it is our duty to set an example of unity for the rest of the world. Our forefathers, Abraham and Moses, wanted to unite all of humanity, but back then the world was not ready (for more on that, see my article, “Why Do People Hate Jews?”).

That group, namely the people of Israel, must still become a role model to the world. Rav Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of Israel, put it poetically in his book, Orot Kodesh (Sacred Lights), “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.”

Sleeping through the Storm

In the story, Jonah’s escape from his mission by ship caused the sea to roar and nearly sank the vessel. At the height of the storm Jonah went to sleep detaching himself from the turmoil and leaving the sailors to fend for themselves. Gradually, they began to suspect that someone among them was the cause of the storm. They cast a lot and the lot fell on Jonah, the only Jew on board.

In many ways, today’s world is similar to Jonah’s ship. As Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, put it: “We are all in one boat, one global economy. Our fortunes rise together, and they fall together. …We have a collective responsibility—to bring about a more stable and more prosperous world, a world in which every person in every country can reach their full potential.” Yet, the sea around us is raging, and the sailors, who are all of humanity, are blaming the Jew on board for all their troubles.

Like Jonah, we are sound asleep. Though we are beginning to wake up to the existence of hatred toward us, we have yet to realize that not carrying out our mission is the reason for the hatred. If we do not wake up soon, the sailors will throw us overboard, as they did with Jonah. Rav Yehuda Ashlag, author of the Sulam (Ladder) commentary on The Zohar, wrote in his essay, “The Arvut” (Mutual Guarantee): “It is incumbent upon the Israeli nation to qualify itself and the rest of the people in the world to evolve into assuming this sublime work of love of others.”

The Wake-Up Call

Jonah tells the sailors to throw him overboard, as only this will calm the sea. Reluctantly, the sailors obey and the storm calms. A whale swallows Jonah, and for three days and three nights he stays in its abdomen, introspecting his actions and decisions. He begs for his life and vows to carry out his mission.

Like Jonah, each of us carries within something that is stirring up the world. We, the people of Israel, carry a method for achieving peace through connection. Unity is the very root of our being. This DNA is what makes us a people because we were declared a nation only after we pledged to be “as one man with one heart” and strove to love our neighbor as ourselves.” Today we must rekindle this bond because wherever we go, this untapped power is destabilizing the world around us in order to compel us to unite and reignite it.

Just as the current separation among us projects separation to the whole of humanity, unity between us will inspire the rest of the nations to unite, as well. 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.” So the only question is whether we assume our responsibility, or prefer to be thrown overboard, only to subsequently agree to carry out our task.

If we want to end our troubles, be rid of anti-Semitism and have a safe and happy life, we must unite and thus set an example of unity for all the nations. This is how we will bring peace and quiet to the world. Otherwise the nations’ hatred toward us will keep growing.

Now we see that when people pay so much for the privilege of reading the book of Jonah on Yom Kippur, they inadvertently state their support of the mission of the Jewish people toward the world: to be a light unto nations by showing an example of unity and connection. To conclude, let me quote once more the great Rav Kook: “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” (Igrot [Letters]).

Daily Kabbalah Lesson – 9/21/18

Lesson Preparation

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Lesson on the Topic “Entry Into The First Spiritual Degree”

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Talmud Eser Sefirot,  Vol. 3, Part 10, Item 1

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Writings of Baal HaSulam “A Handmaid That Is Heir To Her Mistress”

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