The Times of Israel published my new article “Sukkot: How Humanity Can Live in Harmony Under One Roof“
Home is now a relative concept for masses of people across the globe. Every day, the pursuit of better opportunities and jobs prompts many to migrate to new locations. Record numbers simply have no option and are forcibly displaced as a result of war, persecution, crime or natural disasters. Let’s see what the Sukkot holiday can teach us about creating a real sense of belonging and peaceful coexistence…
First, let’s get a perspective on the demographics. According to the United Nations, an estimated 258 million people worldwide are living in a country other than their birthplace, an increase of 49% in the last two decades. One third of these had to flee life-threatening conditions to look for a safe haven, with their eyes mainly set on wealthy countries.
EU leaders are unsuccessfully trying to solve what is considered the biggest refugee and displacement crisis of our time. Anti-migrant sentiments have rapidly escalated into deep social tensions in some European cities. Meanwhile, in the United States, there is an estimated over 11 million undocumented immigrants trying to enter, resulting in a humanitarian crisis along the US border.
In today’s world, it is hard to find examples of stability, constancy and empowerment. The dynamics of our global and interconnected world, where the movement of each individual affects others, constantly pressures us with instability and unpredictability. In a system of mutual interconnection, we all depend on one another. It cannot be good for one, if it is not good for everyone.
Natural Course of Development
The migration of millions from one country to another is part of nature’s evolutionary program. The same holds true for the changing global climate, another powerful cause of relocation and uncertainty. The most recent examples are the devastation caused by Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines, and Hurricane Florence in the US. The latter has left a trail of destruction estimated at $22 billion in damages and thousands of people displaced due to mandatory evacuations.
However, the fact is that we can prevent these blows. If, prior to nature’s blow, we understood nature’s defined plan of development, we could lead the entire human race to a bright, new horizon.
What, then, stands in the way of us creating a good life for all people?
It is none other than the human ego—the desire to enjoy at the expense of others. As part of humanity’s natural evolution, the ego has grown to grotesque proportions like a cancer within the system, while nature expects us to keep its basic law of balance between all its elements: still, vegetative, animate and human.
The sooner we comprehend the lesson nature is teaching us, the sooner we can transform our fleeting and fragile life into one that is positive, stable and peaceful.
Creatures of Habit
A person, like any other animal, aspires for comfort and security. Interestingly, the Sukkot holiday (The Feast of Tabernacles) is a call to come out from our comfortable egoistic “home” and build a new structure, a sukkah, the symbol of the new world that we can build for ourselves and transform our egoistic nature into the quality of bestowal.
Why is this reconstruction and relocation important? Also, what does it have to do with us?
As humanity has developed, it has striven to ensure a solid future, but the sad reality is that life has only become more complex over time. In the past, everything seemed simpler. Life seemed to have continuity, comfort and stability. Parents inherited homes and left them to their children. People felt secure in their professions and had few worries about a future source of income. But everything seems to have rapidly lost value in recent years.
Families are increasingly in shambles. Everything feels subject to change. One could generally say that yesterday’s comfortable home has become today’s temporary shelter from the storm closing in on us.
What is one of the most distressing ironies of our era? It is that, in a technological era when we have an abundance of resources to guarantee a good and safe life for everybody, we use our advancements to harm each other, engaging in wars, conflicts and constant struggles, and creating an atmosphere of increasing anxiety rather than one of increasing confidence. Our evil nature is overpowering our aspirations for a pleasant life.
Our safest bet today is to explore nature in depth and identify its ironclad rules. By understanding the trend of nature’s development can we ensure painless and rapid progress.
Knowledge about the inner workings of the system of nature is our only anchor in the changing world. We need to gain universal knowledge that includes recognition of the natural system, understanding how it works and where it directs our development as human beings. When we will understand this system, we will align ourselves with nature’s general law, the force that operates and controls everything in reality.
From Self-Love to Love of Others
The formula by which we can begin to hold on to this higher power is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” The observance of this rule requires exiting the ego with which we were created—exiting our permanent home of self-love and entering into a new dwelling of love of others. This is what the wisdom of Kabbalah teaches and this is the inner message of Sukkot.
Loving your neighbor as yourself is the means to discover a new home. On the way from love of oneself to love of others, our image of reality is replaced. Our senses are reversed, the mind and the heart change direction from inside out, and an opposite world is revealed to us. We suddenly see a higher, wider world in which the program of development and management of our lives is located.
Also, when our eyes open up to see that we are all one, we stop making mistakes and ensure a happy coexistence under one common, global roof. Happy Sukkot!