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My article “Beware! These Hanukkah Insights Require Some Mental and Emotional Effort” published in The Times of Israel.
As we light candles, eat soufganiyot and spin dreidels this Hanukkah, here’s an infographic to give us deeper insights into the holiday’s customs and concepts. Since Hanukkah discusses the initial entrance into a new, vast reality of positive connection among people, then in addition to the points in the infographic, here are some further elaborations…
Hanukkah, the Festival of Light = the Festival of Positive Connection
The inner meaning of “light” means positive connections among people. It has nothing to do with the light of the sun, or candlelight, or even the light of contentment we feel upon resolving some great doubt. To bring connection among people is the role of the Jewish people, i.e. to be “a light for the nations.”
We Jews need to first realize positive connection among each other, via connection-enriching education, and by doing so, be a conduit for this light to flow through to the world. Hanukkah is a special time when we Jews can contemplate what it means, for us and for the world, if we realized our role of being “a light for the nations” in today’s turbulent times.
Hanukkah = the First Parking Spot on a Roadtrip to Love
By connecting in a positive way, we mend our shattered, egoistic connections. It’s a process, and Hanukkah is its first stop (Hanu [park/stop], Koh [here]). It symbolizes not doing to others what we hate. This process of correction continues until we reach “love your friend as yourself.”
We Jews both have the mission and the means to pioneer and pass this correction process onto the rest of the world. At Hanukkah, we stop at this juncture where we connect by “not doing to others what we hate.” It’s not yet love, but it’s a significant step in that direction.
The Greeks = The Ego
The Greeks are a specific discernment of our ego, where we rationally justify why we don’t need to put in efforts to connect with each other. It has nothing to do with Greek nationality or culture.
If we, on the contrary, awaken the Jewish tendency to unite, trying to connect above the ego that tells us otherwise (the Greeks), we’ll start feeling the light of positive connection shine in the world, an extraordinary sensation of a much fuller reality than we’ve ever experienced in our daily lives. It’s that special reality, which is locked behind our efforts to connect to each other, that we Jews have the key to unlock for ourselves and for the world.
The Miracle of Hanukkah = The Awakening of the Desire to Connect
While the Greeks, our egos, tell us every good reason why we don’t need to try and connect with each other, if we put in efforts above its rationale, finding even the smallest will to connect to each other, that connective desire is considered the miracle of Hanukkah. It’s miraculous because it doesn’t exist in the egoistic human nature. It’s a spark of desire that awakens in us, and if we cherish it like a precious candlelight that we want to protect from wind and anything else that could put it out, then we can let that candlelight last, and ignite the process of fixing our connections.
Beyond the rather childlike customs and stories, Hanukkah marks a very serious initial stage in the process of fixing our connections: “Don’t do to others what you hate.” While going through the motions of the Hanukkah customs and songs, why not also pay attention to our attitudes to each other? Are we making an effort to connect to each other positively, above any differences between us?
Let us use this Hanukkah to realize the significant step it represents toward our becoming “a light for the nations,” i.e. becoming an example of positive connection for the world.
With great interest I discovered information about your activities on YouTube. When I began to watch the online conversations, I immersed in them completely. I have a feeling that the states that you are talking about are very close to what I feel about the world.
One thing confuses me (and I am asking you to explain this as honestly as possible, preferably in a personal message in order to exclude the involvement of public factors).
So: If I am not a Jew (absolutely not), how can I relate to the teachings that you are spreading? Is the wisdom of Kabbalah information that is intended solely and only for the Jews? I have seen a variety of your videos on this subject.
Most of them are of a universal nature (after all, we are all the result of a spark that comes from Adam), but some of them are predominantly Semitic-oriented in nature, and the rest are not at all.
Lesson on the Topic “Covenant Of Salt” (Preparation for the Virtual Convention 2018)
Writings of Baal HaSulam, Newspaper “The Nation”, Title “The Individual and the Nation”
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Answer: It is necessary to agree with the Creator in everything except for one aspect: constantly chase Him so that He will lift you spiritually.
It is best to do this by showing your desire to the Creator. For example, I am with my friends in a group and show Him that I want Him to create a pure, spiritual, non-egoistic mutual connection between us. In this way, I do not leave Him. I demand the fulfillment of a desire from Him, I call on Him to do so.
Question: Does that mean that the entire world and all its problems are necessary only to push a person into such a relationship?
Answer: Only for this. For everything to come together to connect into a single system—a common soul. It is this soul, which, as stated in the Torah, broke into billions of tiny pieces during the so-called fall, that we must assemble with the help of the upper Light.
But when the Light collects these fragments and begins to bring them together, they rub against each other with their sharp edges that cut, scrape, and do not want to reunite. This is the way the Light gathers us.
Therefore, we can only do it if we wish to rise in connection and love above the cutting sensations. If not, then we will remain lonely fragments, and the upper Light will continue to grind on us all the time. Imagine it as glass fragments that are thrown into a spinning drum and begin to rotate in it.
Question: Where is the person’s choice?
Answer: Do you have a choice? Are you born of your choice? Do you live by your choice? What did you choose in life? Nothing.
The choice is only in the “spinning drum”: to reach a state where you voluntarily want to connect with the others.
Remark: They say that there is no coercion in spirituality…
My Comment: If you wish to unite voluntarily, the coercion stops.
Question: What must happen for a person to voluntarily desire it?
Answer: Attract the upper Light. When it comes, it feels bad, it is darkness, great suffering. When you attract it, that’s good.
From the Kabbalah Lesson in Russian 7/1/18
The Times of Israel published my new article “Jewish Wisdom And The Next Renaissance In Europe”
Today’s humanity doesn’t necessarily recognize that the foundations shaping its culture were born in Europe: philosophy, science, art, politics, economics, and language. All of these transformed man from a barbaric creature to an enlightened human.
However, day by day, Europe is sinking. Just this week, after two years of political discussions and crises, leaders of 27 countries gathered in Brussels to finalize Britain’s exit from the European Union. The Brexit is yet another jolt to the common market, which joins the decline in political stability, the loss of European identity, the rise of the extreme right and the waves of mass immigration, all threatening to sink the European ship.
Thus, the human culture that formed in Europe over two millennia, the culture that became rooted in humanity’s DNA and shaped the patterns of thinking that characterize modern society, is now disintegrating. And while it is not yet clear how the future will play out, through the prism of Kabbalah one thing is certain: Once again, the world will set its sight on the Jewish people.
Two thousand years ago, when the Second Temple was at the height of its glory, many from the nations of the world came to visit, to learn from the sages of Israel about the secret of the Jewish people – about the wisdom that brought the Jewish people together as one man in one heart, the wisdom that had the power to weave differences between people into a harmonious humanity based on the laws of nature.
Those students were introduced to the profound wisdom that invigorated the Jewish people. However, based on a limited understanding of it, they created their own distorted versions of the wisdom. Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag, a.k.a. Baal HaSulam, describes this as follows:
“The sages of Kabbalah observe philosophic theology and denounce that they have stolen the superficial shell of their wisdom, which Plato and his Greek predecessors had acquired while studying with the disciples of the prophets in Israel. They have stolen basic elements from the wisdom of Israel and wore a cloak that is not their own.
Some of the successors of those who studied with the Jewish sages write about it as well.
“The preeminence of Pythagoras was not derived from the Greeks, but again from the Jews. …He himself was the first to convert the name ‘Kabbalah,’ unknown to the Greeks, into the Greek name philosophy,” writes German philosopher Johannes Reuchlin in “De Arte Cabbalistica.
The 13th-century writer Raimundus Lullus wrote the following:
“Sciences such as theology, philosophy and mathematics take their principles and origins from the teachings of Kabbalah. These sciences are inferior to the laws and principles of Kabbalah, hence their arguments are lacking without it.
Founders of the Renaissance movement were also influenced by Kabbalah. Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, an Italian philosopher and scientist who lived in the 15th century, studied Hebrew and became fascinated with the wisdom of Kabbalah.
In his essay “Oration on the Dignity of Man,” Mirandola wrote that “the true interpretation of the law given to Moses is called ‘Kabbalah,’” and noted that “the books of Kabbalah hold the fountains of knowledge and wisdom – the most solid philosophy that explains nature.
His seminal essay later became a manifesto of the Renaissance movement, which has reshaped all of Europe through art, religion, philosophy, literature, education, and more. The Renaissance brought about a dramatic change of worldview, which also led to the scientific revolution in Europe.
The physical presence of the Jews across Europe also brought about many changes throughout two thousand years of exile. In the economic sphere, for instance, the Jews had a significant foothold. Werner Sombart, one of the most prominent figures in social science at the beginning of the 20th century, described how the Jews managed to establish the capitalist system which took root in Europe:
“The people of Israel were like a sun, wherever it shone – new life emerged from the ground; wherever they left – destruction ensued.
But both the indirect influence Europe absorbed from the wisdom of Kabbalah and the direct impact of the presence of Jews who settled in Europe were an expression of a deeper and more significant process. Beneath the surface, an internal bond was forming between the Jewish people and the European peoples. Gradually, a dependence was woven between the evolution of human culture and the wisdom of Kabbalah.
Today, about two thousand years later, this process of connection is reaching a new stage. Human culture is becoming interconnected across the globe. Borders are becoming blurred, the Internet funnels humanity into a single shared virtual space, and humans need a wisdom of connection that is adapted to our generation to unify above their differences.
Since Europe constitutes the foundation of human culture, the need is felt there first and foremost. As the European continent declines, the demand for the wisdom of connection that is rooted in the Jewish people begins to bubble within, and on the outside, it appears as powerful waves of anti-Semitism.
The internal and external pressures directed at Jews in Europe, and all around the world, will push them to rediscover the unifying power of the wisdom of Kabbalah.
“To rediscover and rekindle the natural love within us, to revive and revitalize those nationhood muscles that have not been active within us for two thousand years” (Baal HaSulam).
Once the Jewish people begin to rise to a higher level of human connection, the nations of the world will also replace their hostile attitude toward them with a friendly attitude. As a result, a new Renaissance will emerge – in Europe and across the world.
The essence of the shattering is that each part, feeling itself separated from others, begins to understand that this is what its individual corrupted state is about and realizes the need for striving to unite with others in order to study its opposition to others and to connect together over the contradictions that divide them.
This is the spiritual work of every person who carries a piece of the broken soul (desire) inside.
Combining these desires together, we begin to attain the force that has created this desire, mind, and properties, that is, the Creator. This is not only our work, but also the meaning of our existence, the reason for our being in this world. Therefore, everything is solved only by universal connection.
From KabTV’s “The Last Generation” 5/9/18
Medium published my new article “Younger people are less sexually active today. Why is that?”
The young generation lives in the most permissive era: They use apps where they can find casual sex, they have the morning after pill, sexting has become a normal behavior, and our culture has never been more open to sexual relations among young adults. And yet, sex is on the decline mostly among the younger generation.
The Atlantic magazine calls this a “Sex Recession” and has devoted the coming December 2018 issue to explore the topic. A 12,665-word article tries to understand the main reasons for the phenomenon, such as an overload of online entertainment that caused a decline in the desire for sexual intimacy, the frequent use of dating apps, which made flirting in public spaces less acceptable, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and sleep deprivation have all been suggested as reasons for suppressing the desire to have sex.
Add to this the high viewing rates of porn, the #metoo movement that made men more anxious and less spontaneous about approaching women, women’s growing fear of being exploited, the blurring of gender differences, the social acceptance of getting married towards the age of forty, the trend of living with one’s parents for economic convenience and avoid having children — and there you have a range of conditions that contributed to a major drop in sexual activity over the last two decades.
But rather than seeing the decline in sexual activity as a mere problem, we should see it as an evolutionary phenomenon that is now occurring in the human race.
Drifting with the Growth of Our Ego
The ego is the driving force of human evolution. It is the natural inclination that differentiates the human from the animal world. As the human ego evolves, it drives humans to focus more on their individual needs and desires, demanding a greater and greater benefit in order for an individual to form connections with others. Today, the human ego has reached a peak where it aims to minimize any commitment to others, even when it comes to sexual activity.
The growth of the ego is the fundamental reason behind the decline in sexual activity, and it has major implications on human society. While the decline in sex is evident on the surface, the less apparent decline is happening in the basic drive for courting between the sexes. The urge to please the other, to show our affection towards the other, and to create genuine interest in the other towards us have all lost their importance. As a result, we are losing a very fundamental passion for life and a significant fuel for human activity.
Every human being has a strong need for attention. Men, for instance, instinctively want to impress women, and that shapes a lot of their thoughts and actions, with or without their awareness. Women, on the other hand, need direct attention from men, which can be expressed through a compliment or a certain act for their sake.
However, since our egoism has grown and broadened the gaps between us, human culture also adapts itself, making it easier for the sexes to avoid courting each other, and “get straight to the point.” But not only do we end up being less sexually active, we’re also numbing the reciprocal interplay between the sexes.
Male and Female Are Complementary Forces of Nature
If “courting” would be the first course to reteach our children at school, then “dance” would be the first lesson in the course.
The whole of nature exists in a harmonious dance between its male and female elements of nature — whether it’s plus and minus, sperm and egg, electron and proton, ebb and flow — the two opposite parts of creation are continuously taking on new forms and creating new levels of life.
The reciprocal movement between male and female is where the mind of nature lies. If we acquire this mind, we will recognize the unique and natural roles of both male and female, which are deeply rooted in our biology, occurring in our physiology and expressed in our psychology. While it’s certainly possible to blur the differences between the sexes, it’s impossible to eliminate them.
Moreover, blurring the differences between male and female on the sociocultural level disrupts our perception of reality. Just as the contrasts between darkness and light, hunger and satiation, bitter and sweet, etc. create meaning in our lives and build our cognition, the contrast between the sexes on the human level is critically important to our analytical ability and the way in which we decipher reality.
If we continue to drift with the growth of our ego, without consciously working on human connection, we may find ourselves in a future where babies are mainly created in the laboratory, people develop relationships primarily with robots, and human connection will gradually fade away.
The decline in sexual activity points to an evolutionary crisis designed to lead us towards the next move in our dance with nature. The male and female components of mankind have to evolve in their connection to find a new, deeper, spiritual bond that’s needed to maintain balance in human society, not just between people, but with the whole of nature as well.
While animals maintain their balance by instinct, we humans have to do it consciously. Therefore, we need education to support and drive our spiritual transformation.
As we begin to rise to a new level of human connection, we won’t need to blur our differences because we will see how they merge to create harmony, how our unique qualities complement each other, just as it happens throughout the rest of nature.
This is the connection that’s missing for all of us. Women tend to be naturally more sensitive to this, but men also have the same internal need for the spiritual union that nature has in store for us. As the Book of Zohar writes: “The human is the inclusion of male and female, and the world cannot be built, if male and female are not both present.” Discovering our spiritual connection will restore the balance between male and female at all levels — including sexual activity.
Question: I feel psychologically inferior; it is difficult for me to communicate with people. I intend to study the wisdom of Kabbalah by myself. Will I be able to enter the upper world if the Light suddenly pours onto me, or will it only be worse for me?
Answer: Study, and then the Light will lead you.
Question: If I cannot use the Creator for my own benefit, if I don’t have any benefit from Him, why do I need Him?
Answer: The benefit from the Light is the opportunity to use it for the benefit of all, and through them for the benefit of the Creator— and in this you will see your benefit and realization.