Listen to an Audio Version of the Blog
Listen to an Audio Version of the Blog
The Times of Israel published my new article “Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue massacre a call to unity“
“It is a tree of life for those who hold fast to it, and all its supporters are happy. Its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace.” (Proverbs 3:18)
As US flags fly at half-staff for 3 days following the horrific Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh—the killing of 11 people and the injuring of six others by a gunman wanting nothing less than to eradicate all Jews—it is time to unite above our differences and bow our heads not only for the victims’ families and friends, but to contemplate on why such a heinous anti-Semitic hate crime took place, and what we can do to prevent future attacks.
While the ADL called the shooting “likely the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States,” hate crimes in general were recorded as being the highest in over a decade in 2017, with a 12% increase in the US. Moreover, Jews accounted for around 54% of those hate crimes, despite being just 2% of the US population. Therefore, while we unite and pray for the victims’ families and friends, we need to understand that we are reacting to a symptom of an intensifying problem.
The Tree of Life is For Those Who Hold Fast to It…
In order to solve the problem at its root and not wait for mass shootings and other crises to temporarily unite us, we need to recognize the unity of the Jewish people as a force capable of solving anti-Semitism. When the Jewish people unite above their differences, love covers hatred, peace covers conflict, happiness covers all the emptiness in the world, and as if miraculously, from within, people feel a new kind of fulfillment in their lives. And when people are fulfilled, thoughts to eliminate an entire race stop popping up into their minds. How does this all work?
How is the Unity of the Jewish People a Solution to Anti-Semitism?
Historically, Jews are a living testament of resilience. Throughout history we have been persecuted by Romans, the Spanish Inquisition, the Russian Empire of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and of course, Hitler … and yet we have survived. Modern-day challenges will also not destroy us unless we sit passively by and fail to use this event in Pittsburgh as a wake-up call. To answer the call and make sure that such slaughter of Jews never happens again, we first need to understand who we are, why we are here, and what is our role and purpose on this planet. Only then will we be able to comprehend why we go through so many tribulations and struggles, and only then can we discover how to change to a positive course.
The originators of our nation came from different tribes all over Babylon and the Near East. The only thing that held them together was their belief that Abraham’s tenet of mercy and love of others was the right way to live. It transcended all other values and considerations, and so, they followed him.
We were established as a Jewish nation at the foot of Mount Sinai when all our members committed to unite “as one man with one heart.” Immediately afterward, we were commanded to be “a light unto nations,” namely to spread the light of unity throughout the world. That is what makes us unique. Since we once experienced brotherly love, we have the ability to once again unite above differences and set an example to others who so desperately need such guidance.
Rav Kook summed up the role of the Jewish people as follows:
“The purpose of Israel is to unite the world into a single family.
As long as we maintain our unity, we thrive and remain safe. When we abandon it, the world regards us as a negative influence and anti-Semitic manifestations resurface with a vengeance, as evidenced in the Tree of Life synagogue attack.
When our enemies strike they do not ask what denomination we belong to, or what our origin is, or whether we are right wing or left wing. They simply strike out against us, convinced that the world’s problems will be solved by erasing Jews off the face of the planet. These overriding forces of anti-Semitism constantly resurface in different ways to compel us to unite as we become increasingly distant from implementing our role of being “a light unto nations.”
How We Can Turn This Around
Instead of exemplifying unity, we radiate divisiveness to the rest of the world. In such a state, the world will always find reasons to hate us and feel justified in trying to destroy us. The point upon which our prosperity depends was succinctly expressed by Samuel David Luzzatto:
“The success of our nation depends only on our brotherly love, on connecting to one another as members of a single family.
It is my hope that we will use the choice we have in our hands to lead the world from darkness to light, chaos to unity, by rising above our differences. We don’t need to agree on everything, but we do have to connect our hearts above all that separates us.
It is said in Shem MiShmuel:
“When Israel are ‘as one man with one heart,’ they are as a fortified wall against the forces of evil.
By uniting, we will be empowered to firmly take root as a nation, realizing among each other and spreading to others the happiness, pleasantness and peace contained in the words: “It is a tree of life for those who hold fast to it, and all its supporters are happy. Its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace.” (Proverbs 3:18)
Answer: First, you have to prepare—understand what he would like to hear. You teach students in the same way: you feel what they would like to hear from you and what they would not like. You already understand them. This is how the love for the created beings and the love for the Creator are expressed.
You are between the Creator and the created beings, transmitting the knowledge about the Creator to them: how to get close to the upper force, how to start being filled with it, become similar to it, and attain the state of eternity and perfection.
You try to tell everyone about it. What can be better for a person than to understand that he can reach the level of the Creator and that he is given opportunities, tools, and the method? This is the most you can do for people.
From the Kabbalah Lesson in Russian 6/17/18
Question: Is a person who has a natural fear of losing his individuality not suitable for studying Kabbalah?
Answer: On the contrary, he is suitable for Kabbalah, he has something to lose. But his work is on his own individuality, only in inclusion in the group.
Question: What is a person’s “I”?
Answer: A person’s “I” is a measure of his inclusion in a group, his complete self-annulment at each moment of time. It is there that his true individuality is revealed.
Question: It is unclear: what is equality in a group?
Answer: Until we implement it, we will not understand. We must strive for it, and the upper Light, the Creator, will complete it for us.
From KabTV’s “The Last Generation” 4/12/18
The teacher’s-instructor’s remoteness from the students gives them a chance to get organized and build the group—take a step forward.
My remoteness is a possibility for our internal closeness, a chance to propel the group forward, the way a running deer turns its head back…
If the group doesn’t yet recognize the practical realization of spiritual rules by faith above reason, then it’s an amateurs club. But when they recognize the need to unite “against them” and together ask the Creator “to unite against their desire,” the group is then born.
It’s time to practically realize the knowledge received over many years. We can’t do it ourselves. These are the conditions the Creator gives us. We must ask Him for friends to desire His qualities of connection, bestowal, love. It’s time to realize the knowledge! Only together!
Spiritual growth happens only when a covenant, agreement, is made between the friends, group and Creator. Relations in the group wane with the ego’s growth. Appealing to the Creator corrects egoism. In the corrected ego, similarity to the Creator, the Creator/upper world, is revealed.
Any feeling wanes till oblivion since our ego constantly develops. We must always look for ways to develop our connection so our yearning for spirituality will appear new. It is our constant work to reveal an aspiration to the Creator just like the moment we discovered the path.
Baal HaSulam: I advise you to awaken fear of the chance that love between us may wane. If we don’t constantly multiply love, it’s already a dereliction. Since by not multiplying or developing our connection, we already disrupt the proper development, we fall instead of growing.
When the awakening is gone and you feel no desire for the group and the Creator, you feel no importance, and wish to revert to egoistic relations, work toward closeness must be carried out coercively. We must subjugate ourselves to the covenant we made before, through MAN, prayer.
BOREH Creator—BO – come + RE – see
Religious #faith is a psychological, unsubstantiated conviction. Religious people believe that God exists. When proof is available, faith becomes knowledge.
To a Kabbalist, God is the Creator that’s revealed to the person who attains Him as knowledge.
If relationships in the group get ruined in the future, the covenant we made will oblige us to continue the connection and love, which will definitely get ruined so that we’ll grow with the ego’s growth in us. We must therefore go blindly against it.
A sacrifice, Kurban, is from the word “Karov,” closer to the Creator
By removing egoism from our relations, we sacrifice it to be closer to the Creator.
But we must add “salt” to the sacrifice—a preservative guaranteeing that in bad circumstances/quarrels, we’ll act just as in love.
Only by feeling the friend’s desire for spiritual ascent can I turn to the Creator with it, raise MAN, and receive light, the force to implement that desire, for his and His sake, MAD, since otherwise my appeal will be egoistic.
Only another person can help me rise above egoism.
Why is our organization non-religious, not requiring observance of commandments?
-It’s to attract people with just one quality: aspiration to reveal the meaning of life, the goal of creation and the Creator, meaning separately from the material world.
I require the group to protect me from “ideas” of my egoism and the whole world. I want to live in a state of bestowal instead of reception, meaning in different calculations than the world.
I can do this if the group’s influence is stronger that the influence of my and the external ego.
A screen is a spiritual energy shield—against mine or external egoistic influences. It’s when I place unity in the group (mutual guarantee, the covenant, the goal of creation and etc.) above my calculations and consider only decisions of “faith above reason.”
Inasmuch as one can annul oneself before the teacher, one annuls oneself before the Creator.
Accepting the teacher’s importance instead of your own and carrying it out is the key to success.
Realize: if you don’t listen to the teacher, you break your connection with the Creator.
From Twitter, 10/29/18