“Two Centers For The Jewish People? Perhaps, But With A Caveat”

Dr. Michael LaitmanFrom My Facebook Page Michael Laitman 9/25/20

It is no secret that over the years, the relationship between American Jewry and the State of Israel has had its ups and downs. In recent years, it has had more downs than ups. Today, it’s at a point where many American Jews who care about Israel feel that it alienates them, doesn’t accept them as Jews, and certainly not as Jews with equal rights.

Moreover, many American Jews reject the association of Judaism with the State of Israel altogether, or that they have any special affiliation to the Jewish state because they are Jews. Just recently, Business Insider published a story about Jewish Americans fiercely condemning President Trump for statements they regard as “textbook anti-Semitism.” According to the paper, “During an annual White House conference call to honor the upcoming High Holidays … Trump told American Jewish leaders, ‘We really appreciate you, we love your country also and thank you very much.’” To get the point across, one Jewish leader said, “It’s really important that we separate out American Jews and Israel — we are not one and the same. It’s anti-Semitic to suggest that we are.” Another leader stressed, “Trump seems unable to grasp the simple fact that Jewish Americans are Americans, period.”

Evidently, the chasm between parts of American Jewry and the State of Israel is so wide that there is complete estrangement. But while these American Jews see no connection between them and Israel, they do identify as Jews and feel connected to Judaism.

Naturally, I would like to see all Jews united around the world. But realistically speaking, this is currently impossible. And in truth, I don’t think it’s a tragedy we cannot overcome. The important point to keep in mind is not the connection of Jews to the State of Israel, but the connection of Jews to fellow Jews. As I will explain below, if American Jewry achieves this, they will be welcome anywhere and everywhere, and it would eliminate antisemitism.

Although most Jews would like to think of themselves as the same as everyone, they aren’t the same as everyone and no one treats them as such. However uncomfortable this makes us feel, Jews are different, and virtually everyone but Jews admits it.

Therefore, there is no point declaring that “Jewish Americans are Americans, period.” The truth is that to a great many Americans, Jewish Americans are first of all Jews, and then, perhaps, Americans. And since Jews are singled out anyhow, it is in their best interest to know how they can be singled out for praise rather than for condemnation.

Here is where the Jewish vocation comes into play. Jews coined the terms “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “That which you hate, do not do unto your friend.” Jews were tasked with being “a light unto nations,” to rise above their egoism and learn to love each other despite each one’s faults. They were singled out to serve as a role model society based on love rather than on hate and selfishness.

To be a role model society, American Jews don’t need legitimacy from the State of Israel. If they unite among themselves, they will become an example to the rest of American society, since Jews are constantly on people’s minds anyway (in America and everywhere else). Therefore, once they display unity, they will naturally become a positive example.

One of the core values of Judaism is Tikkun Olam (correction of the world). To many American Jews, advancing Tikkun Olam is an essential part of their Jewish identity. Yet, we cannot advance Tikkun Olam until we ourselves set a good example that people would want to emulate. Until we do, our message will simply not be credible. This is why I think that Tikkun Olam must start at home, within the Jewish American community. King Solomon wrote (Prov. 10:12), “Hate will stir strife, and love will cover all crimes.” Once they establish this approach among them, they will be the enviable example they strive to be. Until then, Americans will consider them pariahs.

For this reason, the first goal that American Jewry must achieve is internal solidarity and unity. If it achieves this, it will shine through the dimming shreds of American society and become a model of a just and moral society that everyone will strive to emulate.

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“United Nations? No, United Peoples” (Medium)

Medium published my new article “United Nations? No, United Peoples

It’s a new world. A global pandemic has highlighted the weaknesses of all the systems created by humanity. Enormous health and economic challenges, deep social problems, and polarized societies are the order of the day internationally. Is it possible that an aging United Nations holds the solutions to these ills? As the organization celebrates its 75th anniversary, it is clear that what it has failed to accomplish until now cannot be expected to suddenly materialize. Humanity needs to realize that solutions for the current crises will not come from any geopolitical body but only from the individual correction of our human relationships from egoistic to altruistic.

The call to action for the UN should be bringing people together through a comprehensive education program for social connection as a condition for societies where everyone is closer to each other. At the end of the day, it is the unity of the peoples that make the nations truly united.

“In an interconnected world, it is high time to recognize a simple truth: solidarity is self-interest. If we fail to grasp that fact, everyone loses,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres during the General Assembly celebrating virtually for the first time in history, as COVID-19 shows who really runs the show going on in the world and who establishes its conditions.

And if the impact of the most engulfing pandemic we have ever experienced were not distressful enough to so many people, we have other crises waiting in the wings of our overwhelming international scenario — growing geopolitical tensions, rampant poverty, hunger, poor and outdated education systems, hatred, bigotry and antisemitism.

It is revealed in our daily lives in an unprecedented fashion how globally interdependent we are. A basic tenet of interdependence is that if any piece fails, the entire mechanism comes to a halt or barely limps along. Thus, we have come to realize how our smooth connection is indispensable in order to enable individuals and nations to thrive. On the contrary, if we fail to reach a profound shift to positive mutual relationships between all of us, then we can expect to experience increasing pressures and crises in a steady downfall as it has been the case throughout the years.

After 75 years of the existence of the UN, not many achievements can be attributed to the organization. From the eyes of an ordinary citizen in a remote country, one may ask, “What has this organization done for me?” Instead of global cooperation in the face of threatening challenges, we instead witness a club of government representatives throwing accusations at each other, emissaries of senior world leaders taking pot shots at the opposition and flamboyant expenses.

I have previously met with senior representatives of the UN and UNESCO so I understand they operate according to a predetermined policy. Therefore, I know better than to expect UN politics to suddenly behave differently tomorrow morning. In our current situation they have no chance of success. They get clear ideological lines from their respective heads of state and behave according to script without deviating right or left. It is clear that they are distinctly politicians and nothing more.

Nevertheless, a call for the abolition of the UN is not an alternative. It is still an important diplomatic space to meet and talk instead of engaging in wars and struggles. For the UN to function beneficially for humanity, however, would require turning it from end to end to set a higher goal, streamline the organization, and improve and upgrade it. The face of the UN is the face of the international community which depicts the face and state of every country and person in the world. And since every person is selfish by nature, his tendency is to care for himself only. In other words, we cannot expect anything more than the same from an organization that resembles and reflects the state of the world.

The next step that humanity longs for from a global organization is to act as an arena and platform for unity instead of division. Instead of glossing over and blurring the crises facing humanity with beautiful sounding words, it is my hope that the UN will join hands with other international organizations to put the interests and good of all the world’s citizens at the center of attention. The call to action for the UN should be bringing people together through a comprehensive education program for social connection as a condition for societies where everyone is closer to each other. At the end of the day, it is the unity of the peoples that make the nations truly united.
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“How We “Earned” Being Covid’s Prime Target” (Linkedin)

My new article on Linkedin “How We “Earned” Being Covid’s Prime Target

What timing! In the first wave of Covid-19, we spent Passover in lockdown and didn’t get to celebrate it with our extended families, the way Jewish families have been doing for centuries. I warned then that unless we learn the lesson that the virus is trying to teach us, we will suffer from an even worse outbreak.

We didn’t learn a thing. The whole world looked at us in Israel in awe as we nearly eliminated the virus, eased the lockdown, and went back to normal life. But “normal” life was the reason that got us Covid in the first place, so it returned with a vengeance. Now, once again the world stares at us, but for the opposite reason. We have become a role model of incompetence, with more infections per capita than any other nation—from the zenith to the nadir in a matter of months.

These days, the days of the High Holidays, the second period of the year when Jewish families come together, we are going into full lockdown once again. Nature has turned our hubris against us and made Israel the world’s laughing stock.

To understand how we “earned” nature’s admonition, we need to understand who are the people of Israel, where we come from, and what is our role. Maimonides, Midrash Rabbah, and many other sources tell us that during the time of Abraham the Patriarch, Abraham would observe his countryfolk building the Tower of Babylon, where he had lived. He noticed that the builders were growing increasingly alienated from each other, which prompted him to search for an explanation. The book Pirkey de Rabbi Eliezer (Chapter 24) writes that the Babylonians “wanted to speak to one another but did not know each other’s language. What did they do? Each took up his sword, and they fought each other to death. Indeed, half the world was slaughtered there, and from there they scattered all over the world.”

The hatred among Abraham’s people troubled him. He reflected on the plight of his people and realized that the intensification of the ego was the cause of their hatred. To overcome it, he called on his people to increase their cohesion to match the growth of the ego. In Mishneh Torah (Chapter 1), Maimonides describes this as Abraham beginning “to provide answers to the people of Ur of the Chaldeans,” explaining why their society was disintegrating and what they could do about it.

However, Abraham’s answers did not please everyone in Babylon. The Midrash (Beresheet Rabbah) tells us that Nimrod, king of Babylon, tried to persuade Abraham that he was wrong. When the king failed, he expelled Abraham from Babylon.

But as the exiled Abraham wandered toward Canaan, people “gathered around him and asked him about his words,” writes Maimonides. “He taught everyone … until thousands and tens of thousands assembled around him, and they are the people of the house of Abraham. He planted this tenet in their hearts, composed books about it, and taught his son, Isaac. And Isaac sat and taught and warned, and informed Jacob, and appointed him a teacher, to sit and teach… And Jacob our Father taught all his sons.” That was the beginning of the people of Israel, but it still does not explain our role in the world.

A few centuries after Abraham, Moses wanted to do the same as his predecessor. He aspired to unite the people of Israel, and faced Pharaoh’s fierce resistance. Like Abraham before him, Moses fled with his people, except this time there were millions of them. Under Moses, the Hebrew tribes united and became a nation, but only after they committed to be “as one man with one heart.”

Moreover, immediately after they united and became a nation, the people of Israel were tasked with passing the method of unity to the entire world in order to complete what Abraham intended to achieve when he first began to speak of unity above hatred. “Moses wished to complete the correction of the world at that time. … However, he did not succeed because of the corruptions that occurred along the way,” wrote Ramchal in his commentary on the Torah. But once Israel achieved unity, they were tasked with passing it on, or as the Torah put it, with being “a light unto nations.”

We often like to think that our responsibility to the world is a thing of the past. It is not. Both antisemites blame us for their troubles, and our sages blame us for the troubles that the nations make for us. Our role, to bring the light of unity to the world, is as valid now as it’s always been. The book Sefat Emet writes that “The children of Israel became guarantors to correct the entire world … everything depends on the children of Israel,” and many other books by our sages write similarly.

If we look at what is happening in Israel today, it is easy to see that we desperately need mutual guarantee, the unity that had made us into a nation. Without it, we are not a nation, we are not “a light unto nations,” and both we and the world suffer.

This abandonment of the mutual guarantee among us “earned us” Covid’s admonition. It is so easy to see that had we all cared for one another just a little bit, we would have taken the minimum precautions not to infect one another and the plague would stop. And just as we were a great example in the first wave and nearly curbed the virus, we are the worst example in the second wave, the “darkness unto nations.”

This coming Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), we needn’t regret our sins so we can start the new year with a clean slate, ready to sin again. We need to recognize what is the only sin that we are committing, and commit to stop it. And that only sin is our lack of mutual guarantee, our unfounded hatred of each other, our alienation and cruelty toward our brethren. If we commit to trying to stop it, to reverse our attitude from negative to positive, the next year will be Covid free. We will defeat it through our unity, and suffer if we stay apart.

And as we are now a bad example, when we unite, we will become once more “a light unto nations,” and truly win the world’s approval.

Rosh HaShanah—Beginning Of A New Life

963.6Man emerges from the Exodus from Egypt with rising above his egoism. Until he exits his egoism, he is not yet considered a person because he is at the mercy of his egoistic nature. By rising above egoism, a person becomes at least somewhat similar to the Creator and is called Adam.

Therefore, the degree of man begins with Passover. But then we have to go through a period of seven months, according to the number of Sefirot, during which we move from the desire to receive to the desire to bestow. In the seventh month after Passover, Rosh HaShanah (new year) begins; a new beginning when we really begin to build a new spiritual degree.

However, before that, it is necessary to make an honest calculation: what am I, where do I come from, what should I build, what should I move away from, and what should I get closer to? This is why there is a period called Slichot (repentance) before the new year in which I make inquiries: where do I come from, from what quality, and what quality do I want to reach? I want to move from reception to bestowal, from the animalistic mind to faith above reason, that is, to the spiritual mind, to the opinion of the Creator.

Instead of seeing, feeling, and perceiving the world through animalistic eyes, I want to come to a new perception of reality and see everything through the eyes of bestowal, through the force of faith. Then instead of this world, I will see a future world. All this symbolizes Rosh HaShanah—the beginning of new changes.

This year is very special because immense changes are happening to all of humanity. For the first time, all of humanity is experiencing such a radical change; this is indeed Rosh HaShanah—the beginning of a new year, new changes for everyone.

You can see this as the fulfillment of the Creator’s promise. Those who try to understand this and help humanity do this correctly, quickly, with love for everyone and love for the Creator, are called Israel, which means straight to the Creator (Yashar-El).

This state can only be achieved by correcting the shattered soul of Adam HaRishon. The Creator deliberately broke it so that we can now assemble it like children assemble LEGO blocks, and from this, we can better understand the spiritual life that we must reach.

Therefore, we are glad that every day we are making huge steps forward in revealing the evil of our egoistic nature as well as in recognizing the good, that is, understanding that only a good connection can save humanity. This is the only cure for the coronavirus.

Therefore, we are happily welcoming this special holiday of Rosh HaShanah—the beginning of changes.
Why then is it customary to ask for forgiveness before this holiday? The Creator does not need our repentance. It was He who made all the conditions for which I ask forgiveness. If I react to them correctly, it means that I have correctly understood the work of the Creator on me and that I am working with Him as His partner. In this partnership, there are many degrees: a servant, a sinner, a friend, a loved one, and many others.

The Creator does not need our repentance and corrections. It is us who need them in order to rise from ignorance, misunderstanding, and insensitivity to knowledge, feelings, and solidarity with the upper system and its process, to understand the Creator’s program. We not only understand, but also begin to control this program. It is like children who first take the first timid steps in this world, learn to live in it, and eventually grow up and begin to control it.

In the same way, we gradually become involved in the spiritual reality until we reach understanding of the Creator and solidarity with Him, and even take the reins of control from Him, as it is written: “My sons defeated Me.” In fact, only we can control the evil inclination and turn it into a good one.

We can only ask for what depends on us, that is, ask the Creator to give us strength, reason, feelings, and ability to perform the right actions that He left for us. In this way, we are becoming included in the world created by the Creator and move toward its final correction.

We are at the stage of the final correction of the world. So far, the world has been corrected selectively, in small parts, as if one part after another has been replaced in a car: the engine, gearbox, transmission, and so on. But then we start putting all the corrections together and launch the entire system.

Up until this time, all the Kabbalists of the past were making personal, partial corrections to the system of the common soul of Adam HaRishon, correcting part by part. Now, however, it is time for the most important work: establishing communication between the parts and launching the entire system together.

This is a different job. A very special one. After all, we need to establish a connection between all the parts, since we understand what it should be. Therefore, this is possible only through our mutual connection, from light to heavy, from the internal to the external. But in the end, we have to launch the entire system.

We do not ask the Creator to reveal Himself, but we ourselves want to reveal Him by assembling our Kli. The Kli will work in the same way as the Creator, and from this work, we will understand the Creator. This is the revelation of the upper force that we desire.

It is as if I want to be like my father and mother not just through their stories, but through organizing my life in such a way that I understand and feel them. From life I will understand what really happened to them and how they took care of me and did everything for me. This is called “By Your actions we know You,” and it defines a new period, a new year. The world is moving toward such correction.
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From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 9/14/20, “Slichot

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“A Yom Kippur Prayer That Will Be Heard” (Times Of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “A Yom Kippur Prayer that Will Be Heard

Regarding good and evil—“No matter how we behave or where we are, we will get away with anything in the end because God is good and benevolent to our people.” That is the usual Jewish calculation for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. To put it plainly and simply: Think twice, because this is pure nonsense. Our “special treatment” can actually be summarized as constant blows steadily pushing us toward deep soul-searching about our self-centered and harmful behavior toward others. The very admission of our uncorrected state, however, is a great step toward the true prayer we need, one that will bring forgiveness and redemption.

But what is a true prayer? It is an internal process of self-scrutiny that brings one to the understanding that I have a problem, that I cannot seek any justification for how I am or my egoistic desires and actions for self-benefit at the expense of others. This is the nature each of us was created with and inherited from birth, so in order to rise above it and desire to be truly considerate of others, we need to cry out to the Creator for help, for correction.

This year, the coronavirus pandemic presents a special opportunity for such an entreaty. Our dire straits situation works as a help against us by adding urgency to our appeal. The congregational restrictions need not interfere with the essence or efficacy of our prayer. Physical connection has nothing to do with what happens in the heart, the spiritual place where prayer takes place. Instead of standing as an obstacle to our connection, physical separation will reveal the true distance between us, the great gaps and separation between our hearts.

Through the unpleasant troubles of our times, we may finally discover what it is that we should be asking for. If we reach such a discernment, this current crisis will be an invaluable help to us. As it is written,

“There is no happier moment in a person’s life than when he discovers how absolutely powerless he is and loses faith in his own strength since he exerted all possible efforts that he was able to, but reached nothing. This is because precisely at this moment, during this state, he is ready for a complete and clear prayer to the Creator.”
– Kabbalist Rav Yehuda Ashlag, Pri Hacham: Igrot Kodesh.

We must pray to heal the wounds we inflict on each other in our daily lives, when we treat everyone and everything around us with disregard and lack of consideration, pursuing only our personal goals against the common good.

Thus, the real sin is the fact that I do not want to know what my sin is, how I harm others. Just that. Because if I had known, then it would have been clear to me that I should have turned to the Creator asking for correction. In our current state of unawareness, we are unable to discover in our actions the real situation we face. We do not think that our qualities and actions are really that bad.

My sin is that I do not reveal my true evil, do not attribute it to myself, and refuse to think that I need to change. I do not ask to be able to love others, help everyone, and sacrifice myself even a little for the sake of humanity. I never even think about it. So the realization that we must come to in the first place is that this is our sin, and this should be the place of real remorse in our hearts.

In our globalized world, it becomes clearer every day that humanity is increasingly connected and interdependent. Everything in reality is so intricately intertwined that even if I do not actively cause harm to anyone, it does not mean that I have caused no evil. I simply did not do good to them, therefore, by that omission I caused harm. Our inaction is also our transgression. So, instead of trying to fix the world, we first need to fix ourselves and learn how to be an example to others.

Particularly on this Yom Kippur, while facing a powerful plague of nature in the form of the coronavirus, we can come to terms with the realization that the situation gives each of us an opportunity for profound introspection. We can realize that a real prayer is not a mechanical reading of verses but a deep scrutiny of ourselves that moves us closer to an honest request for unity as our ultimate goal.

May we all achieve true connection of our hearts and be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for a good year!

“Undesirable Dependence” (Medium)

Medium published my new article “Undesirable Dependence

Suddenly, we can’t escape our dependence on others. We don’t want to be dependent on others, but if they are not careful, they could infect me, and if I am not careful, I could infect them.

How can I protect myself from them? What if they are irresponsible? But I, too, am often irresponsible, so can I trust others to be responsible? Do I even have the right to expect this of them?

So Covid emerged with a message in its spikes: Be nice to one another. With debilitating force, it restored Earth’s systemic balance. It sent us home and kept us there so nature could recover. And once it did, the virus let us out but told us not to misbehave again.

Covid-19 has forced us to recognize and address our interdependence. We didn’t want to; we wanted to keep living a carefree life as though we could go on doing whatever we want without accountability for our actions. But nature threw us a curveball. Out of nowhere, it tossed a virus in our faces and forced us to rethink everything we’ve known about ourselves, society, and the world we live in.

Until it tossed Covid at us, we exploited and manipulated everyone and everything, and everyone else did the same. The winner of the cheating game was the one who exploited and deceived the most and got away with it. We created a society of miserable people, high on prescription drugs, hopelessly insecure, and dragging themselves through aimless and pain-filled lives. And toward nature — the soil, plants, and animals — we showed no mercy.

So Covid emerged with a message in its spikes: Be nice to one another. With debilitating force, it restored Earth’s systemic balance. It sent us home and kept us there so nature could recover. And once it did, the virus let us out but told us not to misbehave again.

We wouldn’t listen so now it’s back, stronger than before. It is not a punishment; it is more of a rein that nature uses to direct us where it wants. Today, it wants us to walk toward mutual responsibility. It has already made us mutually responsible for one another on the physical level, through our responsibility for each other’s health. Now it wants us to be responsible for one another on the emotional, spiritual level, so we will feel each other’s needs and won’t need the physical restrictions it is currently imposing on us.

The coronavirus is teaching us to think about each other positively rather than negatively, to tend to each other’s health even if we do not want to, since my health depends on everybody else’s. But the virus is aspiring for more. If we think about each other of our own volition, the virus won’t have to force us. And this is its goal: to make us think of one another, care for another, and build a united humanity, like nature itself.

When we become like nature, we will understand why it sent us the virus. We will see the wholeness of the system that has engendered us and everything around us. We will understand the cycles of life, and the reason for living, and we will form a unified human society whose people understand why they are here and enjoy every moment of their lives.

Jews Of America, Part 2

400The Failure of Religion to Unite the Jews

Question: In the middle of the 19th century, a large wave of emigration of Jews from Germany and Austria to America began. Their number in the country increased by several tens of thousands. They were divided here into “aborigines,” who were the Sephardim living in America for several hundred years, and “Germans,” who had just arrived.

The well-established Sephardic community did not accept German (Ashkenazi) immigrants. As the American writer Stephen Birmingham wrote: “The newer immigrants were poor, they needed baths, they worked as foot peddlers, they spoke with accents. They lacked the social status that the Jewish first families had achieved, the breeding, the education, yet they called themselves brethren. …They were an embarrassment. By the early 1800’s, they were threatening to fling the fabric of Jewish society in America apart, threatening the ‘tribal’ feeling that is at the heart of all feelings of Jewishness.”

How did it happen that one religion and common traditions could not unite people in one family?

Answer: Jews cannot unite through religion. This has never happened in history. On the contrary, their amazing religion separates them.

And this is natural, because the real religion is the science of Kabbalah, which says that one must rise above all differences, above one’s egoistic nature. Only in this case will you be what is called a Jew, that is, someone that unites all of humanity.

And if this beginning is not in a person, if he does not understand his true cosmic function of uniting everyone and everything, then he is separated from the rest. Therefore, there is a huge fragmentation and separation within one family of all against all. There is no nation more internally disunited than the Jews.
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From KabTV’s “Systematic Analysis of the Development of the People of Israel” 11/18/19

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Become A Useful Element Of Society

284.03Question: Attracting people to work can be divided into three methods. The first is forced labor (slavery, serfdom). The second is economically forced labor for earning a livelihood. And the third is voluntary labor, at will, when a person, perhaps, does not need any means for existence.

According to the law passed by the UN, a person has the right to compulsory labor. There are countries in which people were even tried for parasitism. Do you think this is correct? If a person does not work, should the state oblige him to?

Answer: It depends on which state and at what time. But in principle, a person is obliged to work; otherwise, he will fall into the hands of society, which will have to take care of him.

A parasite will not be thrown away to die in a forest, to be devoured by wild animals. He must live in society, which means that it will take care of him. If there are a lot of such people-parasites, then we need to fight them. After all, we do not allow anyone to rule over us. Why should these people enjoy the fruits of our labor?

Question: That is, you are for parasitism to be punished by law?

Answer: I am for every person in society to go through a permanent system of education and upbringing, which do not stop until the end of his days. And based on the results of his upbringing, he himself would be drawn to being a useful element of society.

Question: The UN Declaration on Human Rights states that everyone has the right to work and to choose a workplace. Who should choose the job: a person himself or the society?

Answer: Society should educate a person so that he can see where he can be most useful to society. In addition, he must be under the authority of the society and act in accordance with it. That is, the society is primary and a person is secondary.
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From KabTV’s “The Post-Coronavirus Era” 6/4/20

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Daily Kabbalah Lesson – 9/25/20

Preparation to the Lesson

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Shamati #42 “What Is the Acronym Elul in the Work?”

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Writings of Baal HaSulam, “The Mutual Guarantee”

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