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Hanukkah is the first holiday we celebrate in our spiritual development. The entire Torah speaks only about the spiritual development of man, and in fact, Hanukkah is barely mentioned there because this state has not yet reached the reception of the upper light. It is just a preparation for corrections.
Hanukkah is the development of man to the level of Bina, the first spiritual stage, bestowal for the sake of bestowal. And we want to come to this through our connection in the group, above our egoism, the desire to receive pleasure, above mutual rejection, and all the obstacles that prevent us from achieving unity.
The first stage of unity is called Hanukkah, “parking.” When we reach it, gain the power of bestowal, then we understand that this is a means to begin to comprehend the Creator after this step, no longer just through the intention to bestow, but through the act of bestowal, the realization of this intention in practice, in our desire.
This will already be reception for the sake of bestowal, the practical reception of the upper light for the sake of bestowal, which makes us similar to the Creator and opens our dialogue with the upper force: “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.”
However, this will happen only later, and for now, we must acquire the intention to bestow on all our desires, that is, to achieve bestowal for the sake of bestowal, which is symbolized by Hanukkah, “parking” on the path to correction.
Hanukkah is a way out of darkness. After all, we do not see the spiritual world, the true reality; we live in complete darkness, locked inside our egoism. And if we want to correct these desires into bestowal, then we go to the light of bestowal. Therefore, Hanukkah is called the festival of light. We begin to open our soul and learn to use it correctly, light the light of mercy, Hassadim, within the soul.
If a person’s desire is corrected, if the power of bestowal is acquired, the light of Hassadim, then after the holiday of Hanukkah one can already begin to use it for receiving for the sake of bestowal, filling the soul with the upper light NRNHY and becoming like the Creator.
Hanukkah is a transition from darkness, from the desire to enjoy, to the light, the desire to bestow, and that is why it is called the festival of light. The tradition of lighting candles on Hanukkah in our world symbolizes the inner spiritual corrections that need to be made in your soul.
The enjoyment of bestowal for the sake of bestowal is that we rise above our egoistic desire. The miracle of Hanukkah lies in the fact that we ascend to the level opposite to the desire to receive pleasure: from Malchut to Bina.
Desires to receive pleasure within a person that resist spirituality are called Greeks. There is seemingly a war between the Greeks and Israel, but of course, this does not refer to countries of this world but only to spiritual concepts.
The Greeks are the desires to enjoy within each of us, the Maccabees are the intentions for bestowal, and the war is between those who want to act for themselves and those who call for bestowal. Such a confrontation occurs within each person.
From the Daily Kabbalah Lesson lesson 12/10/20, “Hanukkah”
My new article on Linkedin “Democracy Can’t Beat Human Nature”
2020 began with a blow and is ending in turmoil. Covid-19 landed a painful whack on the face of civilization and stopped us in our tracks. Since it struck, we’ve been living in standby mode waiting for a vaccine to arrive. But however painful, the pandemic pales in comparison to the turmoil that the United States is going through after the presidential election, and which no vaccine can cure. It is said that when Wall Street coughs, the world’s stock markets catch a cold. We can only guess how the collapse of American democracy that we are witnessing today will impact the rest of the world, but whatever it is, it won’t be pleasant.
The good news is that the bleak future of America and the world is not written in stone. At least for now, we can determine it. But doing so will require commitment, determination, and most of all, acknowledging that we have reached the end of the rope and if we don’t do what it takes to save ourselves, we are doomed.
I am a kabbalist and a scientist. Before I started to learn Kabbalah, I was a scientist and did extensive research on how organisms maintain homeostasis (balance) in dynamic conditions. When I had come across my Kabbalah teacher, Baruch Ashlag—the firstborn son and successor of Yehuda Ashlag, author of a complete commentary on the The Book of Zohar—his approach appealed to me precisely because it was so scientific. Ashlag the son continued in the footsteps of his father, who, besides being the foremost kabbalist of the 20th century, was deeply interested in social sciences and humanities, and very prolific in his writings about it. His extensive knowledge of Kabbalah, which is the science of connecting people through social cohesion, helped him tremendously when he analyzed social systems and processes he lived through in the eventful mid-20th century.
In his latter years, after World War II, Ashlag occupied himself in two colossal projects, only one of which he managed to complete. Before his death, he published the complete commentary on The Book of Zohar which we now call the Sulam [Ladder] commentary. After this enormous achievement, Ashlag is now known as Baal HaSulam [author of The Ladder]. At the same time, he was working on what could have been an extensive explanation of the structure of society that Baal HaSulam thought humanity should build in order to establish a just, sustainable, and prosperous society. He left us with only drafts and notes, but there were so many of them that it is easy to see where he was going with his ideas.
What’s more, it is fascinating to see the clarity with which Baal HaSulam saw the future events that we are now experiencing first hand. He recognized that all people are inherently self-centered and will therefore exploit, bully, and subjugate others if only they knew they could get away with it. As early as the 1930s, he wrote the following in his essay “Peace in the World”: “In simple words, we will say that the nature of each and every person is to exploit the lives of all other people in the world for his own benefit, and all that he gives to another is only out of necessity. Even then, there is exploitation of others in it, but it is done cunningly, so his neighbor would not notice it and concede willingly. …This is an unbreakable law. The only difference is in people’s choices: One chooses to exploit people by obtaining lowly lusts, and one by obtaining governance, while the third by obtaining respect. Furthermore, if one could do it without much effort, he would agree to exploit the world with all three together—wealth, governance, and respect.” This is what we are seeing today: an absolute sense of entitlement and therefore unabashed and unbridled exploitation, or at least attempts at such exploitation. And as Baal HaSulam said, “It is done cunningly, so his neighbor would not notice it and concede willingly.” A few years after his warning, the Nazis came to power.
At around the same time, Baal HaSulam wrote elaborately on the faults of Russia’s communism, explaining that it wouldn’t last because the ideals of equality and contribution to society to the best of your ability, while receiving only what you need for your sustenance, was imposed on people who weren’t educated in this way, and would therefore fail. In fact, he was so confident about his observation that he wrote about Russia’s downfall in past tense even though he did it in the 1930s, when Russia’s communism was in its prime. In the essay “The Peace” (a different essay from “Peace in the World”), he wrote, “Indeed, history itself has troubled in our favor and has prepared for us an established fact, sufficient for a full appreciation and unequivocal conclusion: Everyone can see how a large society such as that of Russia, with hundreds of millions in population, more land than the whole of Europe, second to none in wealth and raw materials, and which has already agreed to lead communal life and practically abolished private property altogether, where each worries only about the well-being of society, has seemingly acquired the full measure of the virtue of bestowal upon others in its full meaning, as far as the human mind can grasp. And yet, go and see what has become of them: Instead of rising and exceeding the achievements of the capitalist countries, they have sunk ever lower. Now, they not only fail to benefit the lives of the workers a little more than in the capitalist countries, they cannot even secure their daily bread and clothes on their flesh.”
In the 1950s, when Baal HaSulam wrote his drafts and notes detailing his views about the sustainable and just society, he projected a dismal future for democracy, again because of lack of proper education. In these pieces, published in The Writings of Baal HaSulam, Baal HaSulam explains that he sees no future for democracy precisely because of the inherent evil in human nature, which has still not been corrected. In his words, “Since the dawn of time, it has never happened that the majority of the public governed a country. Either the autocrats did … or the oligarchy, or the deceitful democrats. But a majority of the simple folk ruled only in the days of Hitler, who, in addition, promoted wickedness toward other nations. He elevated [the value of] benefitting the public to the level of complete devotion since he understood the frame of mind of sadists, who, if given room to discharge their sadism, will pay for it with their lives.”
“Indeed,” continues Baal HaSulam, “it is the absolute truth that there cannot be a good and complete society unless its majority is good because the management reflects the quality of society… If the majority is bad, the management will necessarily be bad, as well, for the wicked will not place over them rulers of whom they do not approve. We need not deduce from the modern democracies,” he explains his lack of hope for them (back in the early 1950s), “as they use various tactics to deceive the constituency. When [the voters] grow wiser and understand their cunningness, the majority will certainly elect a management according to their spirit.” Therefore, Baal HaSulam explains that in order to deceive the public, the rulers of society place “dummies” that look good but are actually powerless, and their sole purpose is to enable the rulers to keep ruling undisturbed. In his words, “Their main tactic is that they first hail people with good reputation and promote them either as wise or as righteous, and then the masses believe and elect them. But a lie does not persist forever,” he concludes.
In the end, as Baal HaSulam says, a democracy that allows a self-centered majority to decide its leader will elect a self-centered leader, according to people’s inherent nature. This cannot hold for long. In the end, self-centeredness reaches such extreme levels that the whole system becomes corrupt and falls apart. At that point, democracy becomes yet another victim of evil human nature.
Until we change who we are, we will not change our leaders or regimes, and we will not be able to build a good society for all of us. We need to start acknowledging that not only is there room for all of us on this planet, but that we need all of us, all our views and our ideas, our fancies and dislikes, our colors and races and faiths and cultures. We need them because if they weren’t around, we, too, would be incomplete. Democrats would not be Democrats were it not for the existence of Republicans, and likewise Republicans. Can you think of manhood without comparing it to womanhood, or the other way around? Without each other, we wouldn’t be anything definable at all, just pieces of flesh wandering aimlessly until their time is due.
Today, more than ever, we need all of humanity to acknowledge this, and soon, so we will understand the harm we’re causing to ourselves through our cancel-culture and abhorrence for each other. As I wrote in the beginning of this longer-than-expected piece, we can still determine our future. When violence breaks out, I’m not sure it’ll still be possible. Therefore, we must hurry, convince ourselves and share with others the notions of our interdependence, of the vulnerability of democracy, and of the only remedy that can save our society and our future: education for connection.
The more we develop from generation to generation, the more we feel ourselves as individualists separated from others. Yet, if we cover all crimes with love, we will be able to connect above all differences.
The difference between rejection and connection, between hatred and love, gives the intensity of the revelation of the Creator. This difference remains as the depth of desire on top of which the connection arises: restriction, screen, and reflected light. Then between the minus and the plus, we feel the power of the revelation of the Creator who, like glue, connects all the opposites together.
This is why the Creator broke the common soul of Adam HaRishon, entered with all His force between its broken pieces, and stayed there in His opposite form so that we could reveal Him from His opposite to understand love from hatred, unity and connection from rejection and misunderstanding, until we come to complete adhesion.
Therefore, connecting the parts of Adam HaRishon into one system or revealing the Creator who is gluing us together is one and the same.
The work is simple: between me and my friends is the Creator in the opposite form, which , through my efforts, request, and prayer, I transform from the force of rejection into the force of connection, adhesion, so that the darkness will shine as light. In the place of endless hatred, the black abyss between us, the strongest light will appear, the connection and love of a great strength precisely because of the revealed darkness.
We understand that reality consists of good and evil, that one cannot be without the other and both are equally important because it is in the connection between them that the Creator is revealed. It is very difficult to keep hatred when love comes. We do not want to think about hatred, we are drawn to love with all our heart. It is a much harder job to hold on to hatred and not throw yourself into the ocean of love.
However, we must consist of both of them, and only then do we stand opposite the Creator. The Creator is a single force of absolute good. We, however, include two forces and build a middle line between them with the help of the Creator, who is there with us.
We have to get used to the fact that every person always includes two opinions, two forces, two opposite desires. In the correct creation, two forms of nature must be combined, and in the middle between them, we want to establish the Creator so that “He who makes peace above will make peace upon us and upon all Israel.” By understanding the difference between good and evil, light and darkness, we reveal the upper force upon the contrast of opposite states. If we try to reveal good and evil, hatred and love, separation and connection, rejection and attraction between friends, we will reveal the Creator between us and build a middle line.
Hatred and love support each other like oil and a wick, which together light up a candle. There must always be resistance (a wick), an inability to connect, and, at the same time, oil and light. This is how we build the correct attitude to reality.
Therefore, all the attempts of the world to come to good will only lead to even greater revelation of evil until we realize that we need a different method for our existence. We cannot destroy each other by eliminating all opposites, as egoism would like. On the contrary, it is by using all the opposites that we can construct the middle line. This will now become evident everywhere in the world, especially in the most developed countries.
Opposites remain, but all transgressions are covered with love. If we do not follow this path, we will not be able to create and maintain a family, raise children, or achieve peace between parties within the country and between countries. We will become a destructive force in nature. Inanimate matter, plants, and animals can exist because they are controlled by nature and instinctively act correctly. Humans, however, can only exist if they find the middle line.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 12/7/20, “Middle Line”
The main thing is that we constantly strive to connection, to maintain unity. We have been separated from above, and we connect again. This is how we work together with the Creator: He separates us, we connect, He separates us again, we connect again.
We must realize our connection with the Creator in this mutual work. And then, in the disconnections that He causes in us and the connections between us through which we connect with Him, we begin to distinguish His language—like Morse Code: dot, dash, beep, beep…
The Creator Himself makes the disconnection, and we ask Him to connect us. Then in all these actions, we begin to feel the Creator and understand what He wants to tell us, like in a coded radio message: beep-beep-beeeeep-beep…
We feel the Creator speaking to us through the entries and exits of the light into our Kli and explaining what more advanced forms we need to reach in order to come closer to Him. The Creator teaches us how to come closer and closer to Him.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 12/9/20, “Work with Faith Above Reason”
The opposition between light and darkness, separation and connection, reaches such a point that this contrast between egoism and holiness is sufficient to make darkness shine as light. The first light is revealed in us, the light of Nefesh, and we enter the path of light.
The tension between disconnection and the yearning to connect reaches such a magnitude that it makes the light turn on, like a light bulb that lights up on 220 volts. The intensity of our connection and our opposition becomes so great that darkness begins to shine as light. From the darkness, we invite and draw the Creator into our connection.
To the extent that I get used to appreciate the dark states in which I have no desire, no mind, no correct thoughts, and know that they connect us, I turn on the light in my dark soul, that is, I reveal the Creator more and more.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 12/9/20, “Work with Faith Above Reason”
Michael Laitman, On Quora: “What is Chanukah?“
Chanukah (also spelled “Hanukkah,” Heb. “חנוכה”) signifies the beginning of our feeling the unified force of nature. It marks the initial penetration through the boundary between this world and the spiritual world.
The Hanukkah concepts and customs link to the crossing of this boundary between egoistic and altruistic perception, which requires rising above our inborn desires that prioritize self-benefit over benefiting others.
The Maccabees-Greeks war unfolds internally, within us, between our ego’s reasoning (the Greeks) and the tendency to unite by drawing the force of nature into our connections (the Maccabees).
But how can we possibly cross the boundary of our very human nature, which defines us as the egoistic beings we are?
In addition, our desires to unite, to love and to care about others is tiny compared to the ego, which constantly pressures us to enjoy at the expense of others.
It is on this dilemma that the miracle of Hanukkah comes into play.
Our persistence to unite above our desires for personal benefit attracts nature’s force of love, bestowal and connection, which is also called “light” in the wisdom of Kabbalah.
Even though we have comparatively very small desires to unite, to love and to care about others compared to our self-aimed desires, i.e., materialistic pursuits for money, honor, respect, power, control, fame and knowledge, by creating a social atmosphere that supports and encourages us all to rise above our self-aimed desires, then we direct ourselves to unite above our egos.
Eventually, by participating in such a society that values uniting, loving and caring each other above our innate desires to enjoy personally at others’ expense, we then end up feeling incapable of rising above our ego, since it our very human nature. In the Hanukkah story, this is considered as the Maccabees feeling incapable of defeating the Greeks.
At that crucial juncture, a miraculous light appears—the unifying force of love, bestowal and connection that dwells in nature, which gives us the energy we need in order to overcome our egoistic desires with a unifying, loving and giving tendency. That is the meaning of the Maccabees winning the war against the Greeks.
We prosper when we, on one hand, feel a necessity to win the war, but on the other hand, find ourselves out of options and in despair, i.e., under the attack of the Greeks. While under attack, we feel like we need to keep fighting with all everything we have, however with no success in sight. In any case, due to sensing a responsibility to win the war, we do not throw in the towel, because it would be like agreeing to be locked away in the ego’s solitary confinement.
At that point, the miracle happens—the illumination of the light of unity, love and bestowal. It charges us with its omnipresent energy, and we win the war.
The Hanukkah war is internal, taking place on the boundary between egoistic desires versus those of unity, love and bestowal. Our egoistic desires and thoughts are what filters our perception of the boundless force of love and bestowal surrounding and permeating us, and we revel in the revelation of this force when we win the battle for unification above our egoistic desires.
We feel how the coarseness of the egoistic desire (Aviut) is being revealed between us in the ten. This is only a small part of the rejection, hatred, and distance that really exists between us.
Only a small fraction of this hatred is revealed to us, the fraction that we can overcome. The more distant we naturally feel in relation to each other and the extent despite that we draw close and unite in one heart despite that, the bigger our spiritual Kli will be.
Our distancing is our Yesod, the foundation of the Partzuf. And connecting in some desires, despite the resistance, is the inner part of the Partzuf where we can work together in receiving for the sake of bestowal relative to the Creator. This is how we build the head and body of the spiritual Partzuf.
Everything is built on the fact that there is a great desire to receive pleasure that divides us, a huge hatred, like with the disciples of Rabbi Shimon in whom hatred flared up more and more every day. But they overcame it, united over this hatred, and thus they built the body of the Partzuf and an appeal to the Creator, that is, the head.
In this form, they began to practically reveal the qualities of the Creator, building their spiritual Partzuf, and climbing the steps of the ladder.
With each step, distance and hatred, unity and love grow, as well as similarity to the Creator, the common power of love. This is how we rise until we correct ourselves to perfect, absolute love.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 12/1/20, “Work with Faith Above Reason”
Michael Laitman, On Quora: “When is the best time to wish Happy Hanukkah?“
There are always times for miracles.
Whenever we positively connect to each other, we draw the positive unifying force that dwells in nature, and it performs wondrous miracles. Moreover, we can evoke this force at any time of the year, on any day, and at any time of the day.
Miracles are supernatural phenomena, but we can help them emerge according to how we direct our desires. If we want to positively connect to each other above our egoistic desires for self-benefit, then we attract unifying forces in nature to manifest in the space between us, and with their support, we can bring peace and balance to our connections, to human society, and make the world a safe and harmonious place.
That is the essence of the process that takes place at Hanukkah.
In terms of the Hanukkah story, the Maccabees prioritized their unity and drew the light that granted them the ability to remain in the state of love, bestowal and positive connection, and then started drawing more and more people to themselves.
The oil represents people’s desires to connect as a single harmonious whole in society.
The wick represents people’s efforts to unite above the divisive reasoning of the human ego, which constantly calculates self-benefit over benefit of others.
The clash of people’s efforts to unite upon the egoistic rejection to unity generates a burning desire to come closer together, and then a certain “click” takes place, a miraculous light illuminates within that continuously fuels the blaze of their burning desires.
Then, by sustaining the efforts to love, give and positively connect to each other, and wishing for this tendency to spread outwardly to humanity at large, they gain a constant fuel for the lamp to stay alight.
The miracle is the manifestation of the light—the positive force of love, bestowal and connection dwelling in nature, also called “the Creator”—in people’s unity. Also, not only is this revelation of the Creator inside people’s unity the miracle, it is the essence of all miracles that the Torah describes. That is, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the Hanukkah and Purim miracles all point to the revelation of the Creator in people’s unity. The method for attaining the Creator’s revelation through unity was first discovered, taught and spread by Abraham some 3,800 years ago, and it became further developed by key kabbalists throughout history.
While people can unite in a variety of ways, the essence of all these miracles is that we unite so that a new quality—love and bestowal—illuminates in us, and that it elevates us to another level of awareness, emotion, perception and sensation of reality.
Therefore, the best time to wish the miracle of unification upon the growing divisive ego would be sooner rather than later, as it would spare humanity much suffering going forth.
Question: The fear of expressing your thoughts, emotions, and feelings arises from the fact that a person does not know how others will react. He is afraid of being rejected or ridiculed. What advice would you give to such people?
Answer: This is ordinary human egoism that wants to look right, developed, something special, friendly, well disposed. As a rule, a person is afraid that he or she will be criticized, rejected, etc.
But in general, if we do some special training before the opening of the course of integral education, or just start it by carefully introducing people to it from afar, I think that everything will be easy in the first lessons.
And then everything will become natural. After a couple of sessions, they will feel completely relaxed with each other, and there will be no difference between them. They will understand that they are dealing with completely new properties, deeply hidden in them and not related to any earthly features or levels of development.
From KabTV’s “Communication Skills” 10/14/20