The Times of Israel published my new article “The Light of Hanukkah to Heal a World of Divisiveness”
The commemoration of the miracle of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, comes this year at troubled times, when the darkness of anti-Semitism again targets Jewish people worldwide. Our very existence is a miracle after being persecuted throughout history and surviving, and now should be no different. We again will be able to overcome all difficulties the moment we unite. However, this unity will not be achieved through presidential decrees or sympathy from political leaders. Such measures only give us time to realize what we truly need to do to thrive and live safely.
“I am proud that Jews are part of my family” declared President Trump at a ceremony for Hanukkah at the White House days ago. On that occasion, he signed an executive order to combat anti-Semitism, recognizing Judaism as a national identity and not just a religion, thus making it possible to withhold federal funding from institutions that provide Jews with no protection against discrimination and racism. The measure brought some relief to a large section of the Jewish community in America, where the world of academia has become a bastion of hatred toward Jews and Israel. A sense of relaxation was also experienced by British Jews after the victory of Brian Johnson over the anti-Semitic Jeremy Corbyn. But this calmness is for a limited time only.
Despite the slaps on the shoulders and the outpouring of holiday gifts, the boiling anti-Semitism will not cease. The phenomenon will increase and the hatred for Jews will become stronger and more salient until we come to terms with the root cause of the problem: the lack of realization of what makes us Jews. Our core essence as a nation is to attain unity above divisions and to be a “light unto the nations,” the victory of light over darkness and unity over division. This is precisely what the festival of Hanukkah symbolizes, the victory of the Maccabees (symbolic of the forces of unity) over the Greeks (symbolic of the forces of divisiveness).
The Role of the Jewish People
Bringing a positive light to the world is what humanity identifies as our Jewish role. Therefore, until we unite and lead humanity to positive connection, the nations of the world will continue pressuring us, which is expressed as threats, condemnation and hatred.
How can we halt animosity against Jews? We can do so by utilizing the current period of political grace to become a positive conduit of unity toward the world. We must start moving in that direction. Trump and Johnson will not be eternally in power, and when new leaders replace them, the help we now have will be gone.
It is our responsibility to change and be changed. By simply shifting our awareness, we can correct the world and bring about the unity of the nations, to be “as one man with one heart.” All of us without exception are required as Kabbalist Rav Yehuda Ashlag writes, “It is certain and unequivocal, that the purpose of creation lies on the shoulders of the whole of the human race, black, white or yellow, without any essential difference” (The Arvut).
Our grace period has an expiration date and we have to hurry up and organize ourselves to bring about closeness among us. It is our task to deliver and make available the method of connection—the wisdom of Kabbalah to the people of Israel, and through them to all the nations of the world. The method of connection will bring about the proper balance of the world, the healing that will make things better.
If we shirk our duty, there is a danger that the current support from some world leaders could give us an exaggerated sense of confidence, and history might repeat itself and strike another blow. We shall not forget that in the past, the Nazi regime initially had pro-Zionist consultants close by who later flipped and became ferocious anti-Semites leading to the Final Solution, as documented here.
The Healing Process
The illusion that we have unwavering supporters is similar to the deadened feelings of a person with a disease who has been given a painkiller. He feels fine even though the disease continues spreading. In the meantime, he lies in bed, talking and laughing with others around him, everyone thinking everything is okay, while he is merely desensitized to the disease festering under the surface toward an irreversible outbreak.
Today we have a breather period where we need to digest the process unfolding in front of our eyes, our role in the process, and act accordingly. We must not simply think that everything is business-as-usual, because nothing will heal that way.
The illness of division is rampant in the body of the people of Israel, and the healing is in exactly the opposite direction, in our unity. The cure is found in the love of the other, in building positive relationships based on the great rule, “Love your friend as yourself.”
The more we internalize and uncover the secret of the wisdom of Kabbalah, the more we will find that we only need to take a small step to bring us closer to a unity above our differences and the relative equality that will safeguard the uniqueness of each individual, while at the same time joining all parts into one.
Therefore, we must not become tired, despair, or give up. Our focus must be on internalizing and passing on the fact that a good life depends on the positive ties between us. Unity is the only remedy to mend ourselves and heal the world.