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Medium published my new article “Caring For Each Other Heals”
For quite some time we have been going through a full-blown crisis that has shattered every aspect of our lives. Everything that we had known has crumbled. We need to start over but we don’t know how. So instead, we wait and hope for a vaccine. But lingering is very bad for us; it only makes the necessary changes more painful and slower to occur.
The virus is hitting on all levels: biological, emotional, and social. However, its blows are not random; they have a clear trajectory: to separate us from each other, meaning exercise social distancing, and reconstruct our relations in a non-detrimental fashion. The virus may be a pathogen to our bodies, but it is a remedy to our society.
The sooner we acknowledge that we will not return to our lives before the virus, the better it is for us. To do that, we must understand what we are going through and what is happening around us.
The virus is hitting on all levels: biological, emotional, and social. However, its blows are not random; they have a clear trajectory: to separate us from each other, meaning exercise social distancing, and reconstruct our relations in a non-detrimental fashion. The virus may be a pathogen to our bodies, but it is a remedy to our society. It may be hard to see this at the moment, with all the contradictory reports and misinformation we are fed from all directions, but if we follow the orders given by the authorities, regardless of whether or not they are helpful in curing our bodies, we will find that they are helping us, perhaps unintentionally, build more caring communities and enhance our mutual responsibility.
We shouldn’t regard the instructions to wear masks or wash our hands, or keep a six-foot distance as intended to protect ourselves. This would only perpetuate the current, deleterious attitude that got us where we are. Instead, we should follow these instructions in order not to infect others. Whether it does or does not prevent contagion is really unimportant. What is critically important, however, is that this completely reverses our attitude toward others compared to the attitude we usually exercise.
If the majority of people adopt this attitude, to think about the neighbor’s health and take appropriate action to support it, it will revolutionize society. It will not matter what prompted the change, but simply the fact that the change has happened will work miracles. And since it would not happen were it not for the coronavirus, we will find that it’s the virus that has brought us to a new level of connection among us.
Naturally, in such a state of mutual concern, the chains of infection will all break and the virus will vanish in a matter of weeks. But more importantly, we will find that our society has risen to a new level of concern for one another, a new level of cohesion, and we will not want to return to the alienation, loneliness, and suspicion we had harbored before the onset of Covid-19. Instead, we will want to keep developing the new agenda that caring for each other heals.
My new article on Linkedin “Oceans Apart – Israeli and Jewish Separation Is Bad News for the World”
Some six months ago, the first Covid-19 patient passed away in Israel. Now, after breaking another record in the number of new confirmed cases and widening our “lead” as the country with the most infections per-capita, we are finally beginning to realize that there is a real problem here, that people are really dying, and that we are losing control over the pandemic.
We did not become a nation for our own purposes, but in order to be “a light unto nations,” to show the world how love can cover all the crimes, all the hatred, and through our own example lead the way to unity, so they could do the same.
I warned about it months ago; I said that if we don’t do what we must, we will be among the countries that will be struck the hardest. And not only in confirmed Covid cases, but also in unemployment and social disintegration.
We shouldn’t be surprised that this is happening. We didn’t do what we must, so the pandemic is spreading in Israel and around the world faster than the forest fires in California. And if people blame us for it, they are only echoing what our sages said thousands of years ago: “No calamity comes to the world but because of Israel” (Yevamot 63a). Covid-19 is certainly a calamity, but it will get much worse unless we Israelis begin to act as Israelis.
And here is what being Israelis means: Our nation was forged when we agreed to unite “as one man with one heart.” We didn’t like each other; we didn’t agree; and we didn’t want to be together. We came from different clans and tribes from all over the Fertile Crescent and we joined Abraham’s group because we liked what he taught, that we should love each other above our differences. However, it’s not as if we really cared for one another, not at first anyway. But there, at the foot of Mt. Sinai, after escaping from Egypt we finally agreed to unite as one above our disparities and disputes.
At that moment, we became a nation. And even though we fell into belligerence and struggles soon after, we always knew what we are meant to do. In the words of King Solomon, “Hate stirs strife, and love will cover all crimes” (Proverbs 10:12).
Yet, we did not become a nation for our own purposes, but in order to be “a light unto nations,” to show the world how love can cover all the crimes, all the hatred, and through our own example lead the way to unity, so they could do the same.
Today, although we have regained sovereignty, Israel is anything but united. It is torn apart into sects and factions, classes, political views, private sector vs. public sector, and religious vs. secular. Each faction of the nation wants its piece of the pie to be as big as possible regardless of its own size or needs, and regardless of the needs of other factions in the nation.
Moreover, the Israeli society as a whole is oceans apart from American Jewish, not just physically, but mainly emotionally. There is a deep chasm between the way that American Jewry perceives Judaism and Israel, and the way Israelis perceive them. This makes the two most predominant Jewish communities in the world perpetually at odds with one another.
The book Sefat Emet writes, “The truth is that everything depends on the children of Israel. As they correct themselves, all creations follow them.” Currently, we are not correcting ourselves; we are only breaking apart more deeply by the day.
Covid-19 saved us. It stopped us en route to annihilation. It enabled us to reflect on our society and start fixing it, making it more cohesive and caring, and by that, at long last set a positive example to the world.
We didn’t take the opportunity; we blew it. So as the world looked in awe as we were prevailing over the virus in the beginning, now it looks in bewilderment as we are falling behind all other countries due to our surrender to the whims of our factions and sects. Once again, division is the source of our troubles yet we are too busy indulging in righteous indignation to recognize it.
It is written that Israel is a stiff-necked people, and indeed we are very obstinate. Being obstinate can be advantageous, but it also has its limits. At some point, a critical mass of people will point a blaming finger at Israel and say that we are the cause of all their troubles, and nothing we can say will convince them otherwise. If we get there, Israel will be in big trouble. Before it happens, we must do what we were meant to do from day one: Unite and in this way set an example, so the whole world will look at us and do the same.
Surprisingly, The Book of Zohar (Aharei Mot) wrote about our situation and the solution to it nearly two thousand years ago: “‘Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to also sit together.’ These are the friends as they sit together and are not separated from each other. At first, they seem like people at war, wishing to kill one another … then they return to being in brotherly love. …And you, the friends who are here, as you were in fondness and love before, henceforth you will also not part from one another … and by your merit, there will be peace in the world.”
The Times of Israel published my new article “Here’s Why There Is a Jessica Krug in Every Jew (An elaborate reply to readers’ comments on social media)”
On Sunday, September 6, I posted an article on my blog in Times of Israel titled, “There Is a Jessica Krug in Every Jew,” where I explained that the tendency, or wish, to eschew our role in the world is common to all Jews. In some, it is expressed by the argument that Jews are like all other nations. In others, it is expressed in objection to anything Jewish. Others still choose to convert to other religions or marry non-Jews and raise their children without any, or hardly any Jewish traditions and symbolism. Jessica Krug, who chose a rather unusual way to reject her Judaism—by pretending to be of a different religion—is therefore no exception. She simply chose an unorthodox mode of action, but her wish is a conscious or unconscious wish that every Jew harbors, though of course, not everyone acts on it.
Jewish Self-Hatred through the Ages
One of the comments on the post in TOI said “The Jewish strength is precisely in disagreement, but civilized disagreement.” Disagreements, certainly, but civilized? I don’t know about that. There have been cases of what one might call “civilized” disagreements, such as the case of Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai. However, history is laden with testimonies of our uncivilized disputes and the misery they had wrought on our heads.
There was nothing civilized about the arguments among the leaders of the nation that caused the ruin of the First Temple. Our sages described those leaders as “people who eat and drink with one another, [yet] stab each other with the swords in their tongues” (Yoma 9b). There was also nothing civilized about the arguments between Hasmoneans and Hellenists, who were Jews who wanted to introduce the Greek culture and belief system into Judea. The war between them was a full-blown civil war, and to this day we celebrate on Hanukkah the victory of the Maccabees over their own coreligionists (who were assisted toward the end by the Greeks, to no avail).
Speaking of civil wars, we must not forget what the Jews did to each other in Jerusalem during the siege before the ruin of the Second Temple. The slaughter, starvation, and even cannibalism that Jews perpetrated on each other within the walls of the desecrated city preceding the Romans’ conquest of Jerusalem are still today a harrowing reminder of the depravity of human nature and a mark of disgrace on our people.
Interestingly, our sages never attributed our downfalls to foreign rulers, but to our own vices. In the First Temple, they said that it was ruined because of bloodshed, slander, and incest among us. In the Second Temple, they said that it was ruined because of unfounded (baseless) hatred among us, namely hatred for no reason.
It wasn’t as if our sages thought that Nebuchadnezzar, who destroyed the First Temple, or Titus, who destroyed the Second Temple, were faultless. They knew they weren’t, but they didn’t place the blame with them, but with our own divisions. The book Maor VaShemesh writes, “The prime defense against calamity is love and unity. When there are love, unity, and friendship between each other in Israel, no calamity can come over them.” Likewise, the book Likutey Halachot states, “The primary element of correction is the advice to gather together, meaning that there will be unity, love, and peace in Israel.”
As for the evildoers throughout the ages, our sages simply said, “Goodness is given by the good, and wickedness by the wicked” (Shabbat 32a). In other words, our own misdeeds against each other bring upon us bad people who punish us.
But so far, we haven’t learned the lesson. Centuries after the destruction of the Temple, the fiery hatred of Jews toward Jews with other views still divides us. There was the 18th century struggle of the followers of the Vilna Gaon (GRA), who tried (and partly succeeded) to convince the Ukrainian authorities to jail the followers of The Baal Shem Tov and perhaps execute them using false allegations that they were plotting against the government. Then there was loathing between German Jewry and Polish Jewry in the 19th century, between Orthodox Jews and Zionists in Poland in the late 1800s and early 1900s, between assimilating Jews and Zionists in Germany and Austria at around the same time, between the Revisionist Movement and the Zionist Organization in Palestine in the 1930s, before the establishment of the State of Israel, and between the Zionist Organization of America and Reform Judaism in America before, during, and after World War II. In all those cases, Jews not only disagreed with one another; they tried to extinguish one another politically, or financially, or physically, or all the above, and no means was too extreme.
In my book The Jewish Choice: Unity or Anti-Semitism, I illustrate the common process that unfolds in all of our tragedies: mutual hatred and division, the rise of a Jew-hating ruler, and the bitter end of the Jewry in that place. It always follows the same procession, and in all those cases, Jews even assist the prosecutors in hunting down their dissenting brethren.
The Surprising Demands of Rabid Antisemites
Today, we are seeing the same trend developing in America between Jewish supporters of the Democratic Party and supporters of the Republican Party, and between Jewish Zionists and anti-Zionists. It is still not as violent as in past divisions, but it is already as caustic and the trend is very clear. If this mutual enmity continues, an oppressor of Jews will surely rise, and probably sooner than later. When that happens, it will be impossible to prevent the tragedy.
Ironically, all this self-hatred comes from the nation that conceived the imperative that defines absolute love: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” In fact, we did not officially inaugurate our nationhood until we agreed, at the foot of Mt. Sinai, to unite “as one man with one heart.” And immediately thereafter, we were told to be “a light unto nations,” namely light up the road to unity to the entire world. This is why when antisemites accuse us of causing all the wars, I cannot blame them. In the absence of unity among us, they have no example to follow, so how can we expect them to unite and make peace with one another?
It is no coincidence that some of the most notorious antisemites were also very perceptive in their grievances with the Jews. Henry Ford (founder of the Ford Motor Company), for example, wrote in his infamous book The International Jew—The World’s Foremost Problem: “The whole prophetic purpose with reference to [the people of] Israel seems to have been the moral enlightenment of the world through its agency.” Elsewhere, he adds, “Society has a large claim against [the Jew] that he … begin to fulfill … the ancient prophecy that through him all the nations of the earth should be blessed.” And most astonishing is his advice to sociologists to learn from the ancient Jews how to build a role model society: “Modern reformers, who are constructing model social systems on paper, would do well to look into the social system under which the early Jews were organized.”
At around the same time when Ford wrote his book, another antisemite, in another part of the world, wrote another book. Ukraine born Vasily Shulgin was a senior member of the Duma, the Russian Parliament, before the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, and a proud self-proclaimed antisemite. In his book What We Don’t Like about Them, he explains what he thinks Jews are doing wrong. Shulgin complains that “Jews in the 20th century have become very smart, effective, and vigorous at exploiting other people’s ideas.” But out of the blue, he takes a sharp turn from the trite canard and declares, “[But] this is not an occupation for teachers and prophets, not the role of guides of the blind, not the role of carriers of the lame.”
Subsequently, just like Ford, this rabid antisemite invites the Jews to lead humanity: “Let them … rise to the height to which they climbed [in antiquity] … and immediately, all nations will rush to their feet. They will rush not by virtue of compulsion … but by free will, joyful in spirit, grateful and loving, including the Russians! We ourselves will request, ‘Give us Jewish rule, wise, benevolent, leading us to the Good.’ And every day we will offer the prayers for them, for the Jews: ‘Bless our guides and our teachers, who lead us to the recognition of Your goodness.’”
But in order to be teachers, we must be what the people of Israel are meant to be, united “as one man with one heart” above all our differences, setting an example of unity to the entire world, and thereby being “a light unto nations.” This has been our vocation from day one, and this will continue to be our vocation until we carry it out. It is not an easy one, and I cannot blame anyone for shunning it and denying its validity. But denial won’t deter the detractors, who will come and punish us once more for not doing our duty.
Unity, and Memories from Europe
So yes, we disagree on everything, but doing it in a civilized manner is not what we are meant to do. What we are meant to do is love each other even though we disagree. This is a much harder task, but it is the one required of us, and we can only pull it off if we unite and help each other out.
We didn’t only give the world the motto, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” we also gave it arvut hadadit (mutual responsibility). Indeed, we are mutually responsible for one another in this task, too. Only if we all pull together, we will unite above our differences and the world will follow our example. But if we don’t pull together, if we fall victim to our mutual hatred, the world will not forgive us and we will experience what our people went through eighty years ago in Europe.
I wish I didn’t have to write these words, but this is the truth as I see it, as I learned from history and from my teachers, and it is my duty to do what I can to save my people from annihilation while it is still possible. I lost almost my entire family in the Holocaust; I cannot sit idly by when I know what can prevent it from happening again.
Instead of following the path of light desired in the eyes of creation and the Creator, humanity, due to a lack of understanding of what is happening and what needs to be done, follows the path of suffering, the natural development of events, that is, under the pressure of forces that oblige us to advance. So, we follow that way as if there is no other choice.
It cannot be said that there is a real awareness of evil, but it is clear that the state is bad and may not be corrected anymore, but will only deteriorate more and more. The crisis affects everyone, both ordinary workers and managers. Many already understand that this is not just a virus, but a phenomenon that will change our whole life. This is becoming more evident every day.
At the same time, people still hope that if a cure for coronavirus is found quickly, they will be able to return to their old life. They do not understand that the virus does not hit our health, but much deeper. Nature began a global treatment for humanity. It did not seek to confine us to our homes and distance us two meters from one another, forbidding us to communicate, celebrate weddings together, sit with friends in a restaurant.
Nature had a completely different intention: it wanted to give us room, free space, time, and the opportunity to understand and feel why all this was done, for what purpose. This is not just an epidemic, but a higher, integral, global, and special phenomenon. It is difficult to grasp it right away, but humanity is already approaching it.
Blows are the surest way to reach our minds and hearts and make us aware of our condition. We must try to explain to people why nature does this to us. Nature is an integral, global mechanism that acts on us and gradually advances us along the path of evolution, that is, the program of creation. We are developing according to a higher plan.
The science of Kabbalah explains to us what kind of program it is and what steps we need to go through. It is impossible to escape from this program. You can only change method of our progress toward unification, the goal of development, from bad to good.
Likewise, in raising children, if a child listens to his parents, then he is treated well, and if he does not want to listen, then you have to put pressure on him and even punish him. It is said that “he who spares the rod hates his son.” (Proverbs 13:24) The goal is already outlined from the beginning, and we must come to it.
Soon we will be left without money, without food. The sooner we explain the true reason, the fewer blows we will get that are intended to lead a person to a new, correct order of life.
We cannot wait for this to be done by the forces of nature that beat us and seem devoid of compassion and feelings. They did come after we had not heeded the warnings of nature and had not made an effort to go on a good path.
It is necessary to explain to everyone that it is not the epidemic or the virus that is to blame. There is simply one force that acts very harshly and is forced to put pressure on us, like a parent on naughty children. We must develop, no question about it.
But we can choose a good, easy, beautiful, and fast path if we direct our hearts and minds to the goal to which nature leads us: to our unification and organization of life here on this earth, in a simple and good form. On the material side, you need to keep what is necessary. The main thing is to direct yourself toward spiritual development, that is, toward connection from heart to heart.
People feel more unhappy day by day because they cannot see the image of the future that nature is leading us to. They think that it is just a disease and one day we will recover from it. Let us spend money on it, some will get sick, some will even die, but eventually, the epidemic will end, and we will return to normal life.
Every country is struggling to return to its usual life. Every politician convinces us that he has a solution to restore the old way tomorrow. This is known and desirable to everyone because we understand how to live in it.
But it is impossible to reverse the process of evolution. We see from history that we pass from state to state and move on to the next stages. Now nature requires us to move to a new stage where humanity must become closer to each other sensually. In addition, we must take care of our home, our planet, and together take care of our future.
After all, in this, we all depend on each other. We cannot make distinctions between peoples, countries, we must think about the global state.
Let each of us be an egoist who thinks only of himself, who does not care about anyone else in the world, but if we want to survive, we must think about everyone. After all, we are all in one boat.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 8/19/20, Writings of Baal HaSulam, “The Arvut (Mutual Guarantee)”
Question: Money is the equivalent of the value of goods and services. For the past 200 to 300 years, people have been fighting for equality, including in wages.
Yet, how can we talk about equality if we do not know the initial qualities of a person? After all, the amount of effort per hour of work for each person is different. Does it mean that there can be no economic equality?
Answer: It does not matter. We separate what a person should give to society from what one should receive from society, and we do not place any connection between them.
What I can give to society depends on the education I receive: I am ashamed to give less. What I receive from society depends on the fact that I am a person who exists in this world and I need to get a certain number of benefits, which I use and can exist and realize myself.
Today, the world has already come to the point where, if we wanted to, we could give this to practically everyone.
Question: How long will it take for a person to change the paradigm of their life?
Answer: This depends on the widespread dissemination of the correct education. If there is a society around that will do this and live like this, then people, especially the younger generation, will understand that this is the atmosphere we should exist in.
We will come to it as a result of education, from a sense of necessity, and not because we have to suppress ourselves.
From KabTV’s “The Post-Coronavirus Era” 6/4/20
The soul is not built by will, as if they are erecting a building, but they are waiting for the Creator to build it. The correct appeal goes through unification in the ten to the Creator.
I only order this construction and I do not even know exactly how the Creator will build it and in what form. And it does not matter to me at all!
I want it to come from above, especially in our time when we are building the Third Temple within us. It is said that all of it descends from above in the contrast to all the previous stages, the First and Second Temples.
From the 2nd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 8/31/20, “The Law of the Arvut (Mutual Guarantee)”
Question: You say that new values should include knowledge of the global laws of nature and their observance in family relationships, in particular, in cases of conflict between generations. Can you name at least one such law?
Answer: This is the law of mutual completion. For example, in a family, one exists in a certain volume on a natural level: the smallest are the most important. And the older and stronger a person is in the family, the more he owes the rest. This type of law should also exist in society.
Question: For thousands of years, there have been conflicts between women and men, between fathers and children, between nations and countries. What does nature want to show us?
Answer: Nature wants to demonstrate that we must rise above these conflicts to become one family. And in the family, there is mutual completion. Everyone makes their own feasible contribution to the common piggy bank: a small child with his participation and warmth, the adult with his greater participation, greater contribution.
From KabTV’s “The Post-Coronavirus Era” 5/21/20
Remark: The ideas of Kabbalah are very similar to socialist ideas. Basically, this process was necessary and very correct.
My Comment: But this is outwardly. Internally a completely different force pushes and pulls the Jews forward—the idea of revealing the upper force of nature over all differences in the general development of each other, in the general connection between all the peoples of the world.
Remark: The Soviet Union also promoted ideas of uniting the whole world, giving everyone rights, etc.
My Comment: But all this was for the sake of simply feeding people. The idea of the Bolsheviks and Communists was to make a material paradise on Earth.
Kabbalah says that we cannot achieve a material paradise; it is enough to provide ourselves with everything necessary for existence. And the most important thing is to reveal the unified power of nature in your unity. After all, all of nature, the entire universe, is one force called the “Creator.” We must reach its level, and only then will we find true existence.
From KabTV’s “Systematic Analysis of the Development of the People of Israel” 12/28/19
Comment: A famous German philosopher of the 19th century, Ludwig Feuerbach, wrote: “The Jews have maintained their peculiarity to this day. Their principle, their God, is the most practical principle in the world,—namely, egoism: and moreover egoism in the form of religion. Egoism is the God who will not let his servants come to shame. Egoism is essentially monotheistic, for it has only one, only self, as its end.” (The Essence of Christianity)
My Reply: This is an example of how one can understand the essence of the Jewish religion in quite the opposite way.
Question: That is, he saw monotheism specifically within the framework of egoism and self-love. Isn’t egoism a God among other nations? Everything is trivial. Egoism manifests itself everywhere: among both religious and secular.
Answer: The fact is that even now many Jews are assimilated in places in America and Europe. It is not the first generation that is dissolving among the nations of the world, and we do not even know whether they have Jews in their family. But people can guess it from certain signs in their behavior, from the way they communicate.
Although this person seems to be completely removed from Jewishness and there is no Jewish upbringing in his pedigree for several generations, still, if you look closely, you can see that he is a Jew. You can even tell whether he belongs to the Levites or Cohens.
You cannot escape this. It comes through in some habits and behaviors, although one may not even be aware of it. But people feel it.
From KabTV’s “Systematic Analysis of the Development of the People of Israel” 8/12/19