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My new article on Linkedin “How Kabbalists Deal with Rumors”
A student asked me how kabbalists handle rumors about them and false accusations: Do they ignore them altogether or deal with them in some other way?
This is an interesting question because since the dawn of Kabbalah, long before it was even titled “the wisdom of Kabbalah,” kabbalists have had to deal with slander and scorn, and sometimes even with aggression and violence against them. However unpleasant, kabbalists have always treated this phenomenon with patience and understanding, since they knew where it came from.
Humanity is a single, yet broken system. By broken, I mean that we do not feel our connections, and therefore treat each other as aliens or enemies, not realizing that by doing so, we are hurting ourselves, just as in autoimmune illnesses, when the immune system misinterprets elements in the body as aliens and attacks them, thus hurting the entire body.
The whole purpose of the wisdom of Kabbalah is to reveal to us our connectedness and interdependence, and prevent us from hurting each other. In this way, Kabbalah seeks to heal each person and the whole of society simultaneously. However, since we do not feel our connectedness, we subconsciously interpret the efforts of kabbalists and the wisdom of Kabbalah to unite us as a threat to our existence, as though we’re being forced to sit close to a sworn enemy. As a result, we avoid it and warn others to do the same. Although this process happens deep within our subconscious, its manifestations in our world are very real.
As long as humanity evolved on the more basic levels, seeking mainly to satisfy desires for basic needs such as food, sex, family, wealth, power, and knowledge, we did not need the wisdom of Kabbalah. That is, we did not need an awareness of our connection. For this reason, any attempt to introduce Kabbalah was met with fierce rejection.
However, today, we are slowly developing new desires—to know the meaning of life, its origin, and purpose. It is impossible to understand life, and certainly not its purpose, unless we grasp the fact that we are all connected. Just as you cannot understand the human body by examining only one cell, or even one organ, but only by examining the entire body, with all its cells, organs, and (mainly) the connections and interactions among them, so it is impossible to understand life, and certainly not humanity, without understanding the interconnections among all people. This is why these days, many thousands of people from the world over are coming to learn Kabbalah: They want to know how everything works together.
If you look at human history, Kabbalah is a relatively new idea, precisely because it is the final stage in our development. The first kabbalist was Adam, who lived nearly 6,000 years ago. Although he had some students, who passed their knowledge and perceptions to their own students, there was no clear method of teaching, no tenets that one could follow, and therefore no system of circulating the idea of humanity’s inherent unity.
The first to treat Kabbalah as a remedy for humanity was Abraham. This is also why he was the first to encounter resistance from his contemporaries, who refused to hear about connection. Despite the resistance, thousands of people related to Abraham’s words and became his students. He taught them about unity, and they began to practice it among themselves. The uniqueness about Abraham’s students was that they came from clans and tribes that were initially alien and often hostile, yet once they joined Abraham’s students, they became very close to one another.
In forming his group based solely on unity, rather than on blood relations, Abraham had proven the merits of unity. In a sense, his group gained a huge advantage over others since they had become an entire organism while the rest of the people remained as separate cells or organs.
The hatred that Abraham’s group had experienced, and particularly Abraham himself, is the root of the hatred we now refer to as “antisemitism.” At its very deepest level, it is the resistance of the ego to unite with anyone or anything, for fear of losing its own identity. The deep sensation that unity is the best way to live, coupled with the objection of the ego to accept it and relinquish its dominance, creates a dissonance that is very hard for people to deal with. As a result, they hate the messengers of the idea of unity—the descendants of Abraham’s group—the Jews.
Abraham’s group evolved into the people of Israel. For many centuries, they lived by the principles prescribed by Abraham, namely that unity is the underlying principle on which all the rules of the Jewish people are constructed. This is why our sages said that “Love your neighbor as yourself” is the great rule of the Torah. However, in the end, Jews, too, succumbed to the raging egos within them and became as everyone else—selfish and oblivious to the principle of unity as the basis of Judaism and to their obligation to set an example of unity, as did Abraham with his group.
The result of the Jews abandoning the principle of unity was resistance to Kabbalah. Indeed, antisemitism of the nations toward Jews stems from the same fear that causes Jews to object to Kabbalah—the resistance of the ego to the necessity to unite, to the fact that we are all connected, no matter how hard we try to deny it.
Despite all the efforts of our egos, reality proves that we are all connected. With each passing day, we are discovering more ways and more fibers that connect us. And the more we discover our connectedness, the more we realize that the wisdom of Kabbalah is imperative to our understanding of the world around us. In the coming months and years, everyone, from simple folk to world leaders, will discover that without understanding the intricacies of our connections, they will not be able to manage their lives, and certainly not to lead nations. The wisdom of Kabbalah will have to show itself as a method by which to understand the world and establish connections among people that match the interconnected reality of humanity, and all of reality.
For more on the topic of resistance to Kabbalah, please see my publication, A Very Narrow Bridge: The fate of the Jewish people.
Michael Laitman, On The Times of Israel: “On Jewish Unity and Antisemitism – The Triumph of Hatred”
The previous article described the Hasmonean Revolt, which erupted after Jews turned to Antiochus IV Epiphanes, King of the Seleucid Empire, and lured him into Judah so as to force the Hellenistic culture and belief system on the Jews. The battle that ensued between the adversaries was the final attempt to maintain the Jewish law of mutual responsibility and covering hatred with love, as opposed to the culture of individualism and reverence of the self, which the Greeks cultivated. The civil war was bitter and bloody, but the Hasmoneans were triumphant, securing a few more years of Jewish rule, which at least attempted to follow the laws that had won them the admiration of Ptolemy II, King of Egypt, a hundred years prior.
This article, the last in the series, will explore the final demise of our forefathers’ effort to maintain a society that lives by the law of mutual responsibility and love of others. It will include unpleasant descriptions, as all manifestations of extreme hatred are unpleasant, but if we are to understand the present, we must also acknowledge our history. Perhaps after reading this series, we will be able to understand what it means to be a Jew, why there is antisemitism, and how we can end this curse once and for all.
The egoism that had plagued the Hellenists did not subside simply because they had lost the war. The Hasmoneans, who were now the masters of Judah, had soon fallen prey to the same power of increasing self-centeredness, and the moral and social decline continued. “In becoming rulers, kings and conquerors,” writes the previously mentioned historian Paul Johnson, “the Hasmoneans suffered the corruptions of power. …Alexander Jannaeus [ruled 103-76 BCE] … turned into a despot and a monster, and among his victims were the pious Jews from whom his family had once drawn its strength. Like any ruler in the Near East at that time, he was influenced by the predominant Greek modes.”
Following Jannaeus’ example, numerous Jews abandoned Judaism and adopted Hellenism. Jannaeus, who was the High Priest, declared himself king and slaughtered thousands of Jews who opposed his introduction of Hellenism. This time, there were no Hasmoneans to save the Jews; Alexander Jannaeus himself was of Hasmonean descent, and no other force rose up against him. “Alexander, in fact,” concludes Johnson, “found himself like his hated predecessors, Jason and Menelaus,” against whom his great grandfather fought.
After Jannaeus’ death, the kingdom of Judah continued to decline and in 63 BCE, the Roman general Pompey the Great conquered Judah. This began the era of Roman rule in Judah, and ended the era of Judah’s independence. Perhaps Johnson’s poignant conclusion best describes the rise and fall of the Hasmoneans’ sovereignty in Judah: “The story of their rise and fall is a memorable study in hubris. They began as the avengers of martyrs; they ended as religious oppressors themselves. They came to power at the head of an eager guerrilla band; they ended surrounded by mercenaries. Their kingdom, founded in faith, dissolved in impiety.”
The Romans, like the Greeks before them, had no interest in forcing their beliefs or culture on the Jews. While they annexed Syria, they “left Judaea as a dependent, diminished temple state,” writes the Encyclopedia Britannica. In fact, the Romans handed the Jews a great arrangement: A mighty empire protected them from enemies while leaving them free to lead their lives as they pleased. They could have lived peacefully and quietly under Rome’s protection had it not been for the rulers of the state who, once again, arose from within their fold. These rulers were so seditious and so cruel to their own people that eventually, in 6 CE, the Romans’ patience had run out, and they declared Judah a province of Rome and changed its name to Judea.
Between the years 6 CE and 66 CE, when the Great Revolt that destroyed Judea, Jerusalem, and the Temple broke out, no less than fifteen Roman procurators governed, sometimes for as briefly as two years. As one might expect, those years were far from tranquil. We will not go into detail in this essay or describe the countless misdeeds of the Jews toward their brethren, but we will speak about one, particularly noxious group of people: the Sicarii. The Sicarii certainly earned the title “First Century Terrorists” that Dr. Amy Zalman gave them, or “Ancient Jewish ‘Terrorists,’” as Prof. Richard Horsley called them.
Yet, they differ from contemporary terrorist organizations that act against Jews or the State of Israel in that the Sicarii came from within their own faith. They were not an underground movement that sought to overthrow the government and chose violence as a means to achieve their goal. Rather, they sought to intimidate and physically eradicate people from their own religion of whom they did not approve, either because they viewed them as submissive to the Romans or for whatever other reason. The division between the Zealots (from whom the Sicarii emerged) and the rest of the nation was the seed of the bloodbath that the people of Israel inflicted on themselves during the Great Revolt a few years later, but the diabolic assassinations of the Sicarii deepened the hatred and suspicion among the factions of the nation to levels that sealed the fate of the Jews.
After 60 years of disquiet, the Great Revolt erupted. While the official enemy of the Jews was the Roman legion, the most unspeakable, inconceivable, and inhuman agonies came to the Jews at the hands of their coreligionists. The bottom line of the atrocities of the Great Revolt is as our sages put it (Masechet Yoma 9b), “The Second Temple … why was it ruined? It was because there was unfounded hatred in it,” and because of how that hatred manifested.
The Romans’ war against the Jews was so gruesome and filled with Jewish self-inflicted cruelty that it made them think that God was actually on their side. At the beginning of the siege, looking at the Jews fighting one another inside the city, “the Romans deemed this sedition among their enemies to be of great advantage to them, and were very earnest to march to the city,” writes Josephus. “They urged Vespasian,” the newly crowned emperor, “to make haste, and said to him that ‘The providence of God is on our side by setting our enemies against one another.’” The Roman commanders wanted to take advantage of the situation for fear that “the Jews may quickly be at one again,” either because they were “tired out with their civil miseries” or because they might “repent them of such doings.”
However, the Emperor was very confident that the hatred of the Jews for one another was beyond repair. According to Josephus, Vespasian replied “that they were greatly mistaken in what they thought fit to be done,” adding that “If they stay a while, they shall have fewer enemies because they will be consumed in this sedition, that God acts as a general of the Romans better than he can do, and is giving the Jews up to them without any pains of their own, and granting their army a victory without any danger; that therefore it is their best way, while their enemies are destroying each other with their own hands, and falling into the greatest of misfortunes, which is that of sedition, to sit still as spectators of the dangers they run into, rather than to fight hand to hand with men that love murdering, and are mad one against another. … The Jews are vexed to pieces every day by their civil wars and dissensions, and are under greater miseries than, if they were once taken, could be inflicted on them by us. Whether therefore any one hath regard to what is for our safety, he ought to suffer these Jews to destroy one another.”
The siege on Jerusalem was the end of a four-year battle. When it began in 66 CE, violence broke out throughout the province. If during the Hasmonean Revolt, the fighting was between Hellenized Jews and militant Jews who remained faithful to their religion, now the fighting was only among “proper” Jews, among various sects of the militant Zealots, and moderate Jews, who strove to negotiate peace with the Romans.
Yet, the unfounded hatred that surfaced among Jews during the revolt was far worse than even the already intense odium that the factions in the nation felt for one another before its outbreak. Initially, writes Josephus, “All the people of every place betook themselves to rapine, after which they got together in bodies, in order to rob the people of the country, insomuch that for barbarity and iniquity, those of the same nation did no way differ from the Romans. Nay, it seemed to be a much lighter thing to be ruined by the Romans than by themselves.”
Once besieged inside Jerusalem, the fighting became even more hate-filled. Josephus writes that “this quarrelsome temper caught hold of private families, who could not agree among themselves, after which those people that were the dearest to one another broke through all restraints with regard to each other, and everyone associated with those of his own opinion and began already to stand in opposition one to another, so that seditions arose everywhere.”
“The Jews were … irreconcilably divided,” writes Johnson. They were so engrossed in mutual destruction that they could pay no thought to the future, not even to the following day. As a result, and as part of their all-out war, “Simon and his party set on fire those houses that were full of corn and of all other provisions … as if they had, on purpose, done it to serve the Romans by destroying what the city had laid up against the siege, and by thus cutting off the nerves of their own power.” As a result, “Almost all that corn was burnt, which would have been sufficient for a siege of many years. So they were taken by the means of the famine,” writes Josephus.
Thus, the Jews knew no boundaries when it came to self-destruction. In the end, they even resorted to cannibalism, though I will not describe the testimonies of it here.
Under these circumstances, the ruin of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple, and the exile from the land were inevitable. Even Titus, the commander of the Roman legion, recognized that it wasn’t his doing that got him the triumph, but the hatred of the Jews for one another. The Greek sophist Philostratus describes Titus’ feelings about the wretched Jews: “When Helen of Judaea offered Titus a victory wreath after he took the city, he refused it on the grounds that there was no merit in vanquishing a people deserted by their own God.”
What Titus did not know, however, was that the downfall of the Jews was not because their God had deserted them, but because they had deserted each other. Indeed, the ruin of the Second Temple, with all the atrocities that accompanied it, testifies more than anything that the fate of the Jews is in their hands: When they are united, they succeed gloriously; when they are divided, they fail miserably.
When I started this article series, it was because the editor of one of the papers where I write regular op-eds requested more information on my message that if Jews are not united, they bring on themselves antisemitism. Specifically, he wanted to know my sources for making this argument so insistently.
I hope that now my sources are clearer. We must understand that unity is not an option for Jews; it is a must; it is our lifeline. As I have shown throughout this series, the scenario of division causing affliction and union bringing peace has manifested itself at every major junction in our nation’s history.
Today, we are at yet another such crossroads. Once again, we are facing the question: Unity and triumph, or division and defeat? It does not matter at the hands of what oppressor the defeat will come, but what is certain is that it will come if we are divided, and it will not come if we are united. It is my hope and wish that we will all join forces in a common effort to rise above our differences and truly become a light of unity unto the nations, as we were always meant to be. Today, like never before, it is paramount to our survival.
(Article No. 8 in a series – previous article)
For much more on this topic, please see my latest publication, The Jewish Choice: Unity or Anti-Semitism: Historical facts on anti-Semitism as a reflection of Jewish social discord.
Michael Laitman, On Quora: “How can we achieve spiritual maturity?“
A spiritually mature person is one who ceases to pursue self-aimed enjoyment, and in its place, seeks love, bestowal and positive connection to others.
Similarly, in our corporeal lives, as children, all we know is how to receive self-aimed enjoyment, and we run after one fun thing after another. Then, at a certain stage of corporeal maturity, when we become adults, we have to assume a more giving and responsible role in society, to work and to socially contribute in various ways. However, even an adult in our world, who works and contributes to society, functions according to a fundamental self-aimed desire to enjoy.
Reaching spiritual maturity means that we invert the aim upon our desires from “for our own benefit” to “for the benefit of others.”
By doing so, we cross a barrier between our corporeal world and the spiritual world. The essence of our enjoyment thus also changes: Instead of enjoying by moving from one self-aimed enjoyment to the next among desires for food, sex, family, money, honor, control and knowledge, we instead enjoy from being connected to our life’s purpose and source—the spiritual force of love, bestowal and connection that exists in absolute eternal perfection. In other words, spiritual maturity means living in love, bestowal and positive connection to others, not for the sake of the enjoyment it brings us, but for the sake of connecting with the source of our lives.
Spiritual maturity thus comes after establishing a connection and a degree of resemblance to the spiritual force of love, bestowal and connection. By doing so, we rise above our life’s corporeal degree, where we seek egoistic enjoyment.
If we take a snapshot of human evolution in order to see where we currently are in relation to such spiritual maturity, as a humanity, then we can see that we are in the process of transitioning to a new era where we no longer extract the same kind of enjoyment from corporeal pleasures like we once used to. We no longer see a rosy picture ahead of us anymore either. In the past, we were able to resort to different systems in order to replace our current ones. This is no longer the case today, as we can already envision the bankruptcy of the directions that we have tried. We simply do not anticipate the reception of any special new enjoyments in life anymore.
Such a state is part of our natural evolution: we have reached a limit in our corporeal development, and the time has come to transition to a new spiritual paradigm. In plain English, this means that we find lesser and lesser fulfillment from running after pleasures all the time, in order to realize that true fulfillment in our forthcoming era is to instead chase after the source of all pleasure—the spiritual force of love, bestowal and connection. Moreover, if we fail to apply ourselves to this transition out of our own will, then we will experience more and more negative sensations—dissatisfaction, emptiness, depression, loneliness, stress, anxiety and other forms of suffering—in order to prod us to realize the need to spiritually mature. We will simply be cut off from being able to enjoy anything, and we will then start asking fundamental questions about our lives, such as “Why is this happening?” “What is the meaning of all this?” “What is this life for?” “Why is there so much suffering in this world?” and “What can I do about it?”
In other words, we will start asking not about enjoyments themselves, but about their source. The more we ask those kinds of questions, then the more we will be led to seek new and different environments to the ones we engaged in until now—ones that will help us mature spiritually.
As long as we enjoy ourselves in this world, we do not ask about the enjoyment’s source. However, as soon as we stop enjoying life, and also see no future goal that draws us to enjoy by way of moving toward some worthy goal ahead of us, then we start feeling ourselves as immersed in a serious existential problem. We then start asking fundamental questions about the purpose and meaning of life, and not simply how to enjoy ourselves while we are here.
At such a juncture, we start understanding that if we want to enjoy life, then we need to come closer to life’s source, which means inverting the aim by which we enjoy from “for our own benefit” to “for the benefit of others.”
Based on the Daily Kabbalah Lesson on December 30, 2010. Written/edited by students of Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman.
Question: Psychologists say that prolonged social isolation increases the risk of death by 29%. Presumably, this is because social contacts can ameliorate the negative effects of stress. Online connection is better than nothing, but it cannot replace live interaction.
Do you think virtual connections can fully replace physical contacts without health consequences?
Answer: I think that man is still a social creature. He must communicate with others. He should feel a part of a company, group, family, and society.
Question: There is another problem: we cannot go to sports events or concerts, feel the collective excitement, and be part of group experiences. What can replace the group experiences that we have been lacking for almost a year?
Answer: I think that nature does this specifically so that we will begin to evaluate our closeness, not egotistically but altruistically, that is, to attend such events in order to give pleasure to others and in doing so find our own pleasure.
Group events will not disappear, they will return. Only the intention with which you go to football game will change, to please others and therefore you will be happy. The players will also play to make the audience happy.
From KabTV’s “Communication Skills” 10/30/20
Baal HaSulam, TES, Volume 1, Histaklut Pnimit: Indeed, those whose eyes have not been opened to the sights of heaven, and have not acquired the proficiency in the connections of the branches of this world with their roots in the Upper Worlds are like the blind scraping the walls. They will not understand the true meaning of even a single word, for each word is a branch that relates to its Shoresh.
Only if they receive an interpretation from a genuine sage who makes himself available to explain it in the spoken language, which is necessarily like translating from one language to another, meaning from the language of the branches to the spoken language, only then he will be able to explain the spiritual term as it is.
Question: What is spiritual vision in Kabbalah and who is defined as blind?
Even in our life, if someone looks at our back, we feel it because there is power in a look that comes from one person’s eyes and it is felt by another. Blind is someone who does not have this power coming from him.
Question: Does a person himself understand that he is blind and must grab onto someone?
Answer: No, he cannot do anything yet because there is no spiritual energy that wants to bestow coming from him.
From KabTV’s “Fundamentals of Kabbalah” 12/2/18
Question: What gives one the greatest feelings of joy: past, present, or future pleasures?
Answer: The fact is that past pleasures, whatever they may be, are always confined because they are in the past. These feelings are gathered together, reflected upon, and have specific feelings associated with them.
Present feelings can be very joyful, but since a person is caught in them at the moment, he cannot yet correctly assess them because they are weighing on him, controlling him.
While the future joys can be experienced virtually endlessly. It would be wonderful for a person to pull himself toward future joyful states.
Question: So, the most acute sensations of joy come from the future state of pleasure or satisfaction?
Answer: Yes. Because it is in the future and it is not limited by anything.
From KabTV’s “Spiritual States” 4/3/19
Question: Many times you have given the example of the students of Rabbi Shimon who found that they hated each other to the point that they wanted to kill each other. I have also discovered that I hate my friends and want to kill them. What is the difference between me and the group of Rabbi Shimon?
Answer: The hatred of the students of Rabbi Shimon was revealed from the next spiritual level, the transcendence of the ego above the previous love. Suppose that they had been on level 100. They had attained a full connection between them on that level. After that, the ego in them ascended to level 101 and instead of the previous love that they had felt, they discovered an even greater hatred. This is what typifies them.
They understood and grasped where they were found. They had felt the previous level precisely and clearly—how much they loved each other and were mutually connected between themselves—and in contrast to this, how much it was now the opposite, they now absolutely hated each other.
Which is to say, a very clear passage from plus to minus was felt in them, a recognition of the way of the entire system of creation, as well as why it was happening. After all, they were locked into the entire system since they felt that it was global and worldwide; they felt all the worlds, the entire matrix, and the connection with the Creator that is found within it, animates it, and constitutes its inner energy.
Suppose there is a piece of iron within which an electric current begins to flow, impulses, connections, and so forth. What is the piece of iron itself? In contrast to this, the electrical energy that stimulates the iron creates a computer or something else from it, so it is already significant. Therefore, you need both the iron and the energy that fills it.
In a person who is moving through the levels of the spiritual worlds, a greater understanding of the “iron” is constantly discovered, meaning the system in which he is found. Without electrical energy and the rest of the parameters, he feels that the system is destroyed, like a dead body, or it is the opposite: energy is discovered in this body, vitalizes it, and does everything that is needed. Among the Kabbalists, great distinctions and differences were observed.
In any case, both in one case or another case, the person does not disengage from the group as was said about Rabbi Shimon; he felt like “Shimon from the market.” He understood that he had been thrown there from a higher level specifically in order for him to rise to an even higher level.
All of this happens in a person thanks to the previous levels and the group in which he finds himself. Otherwise, he would feel this way: here I am, this is my work, this is my life, there is nothing else, and it is also all unnecessary. But, since he is connected with the group, then the Ohr Makif (surrounding light) already influences him and says, “You need this!”
From KabTV’s “Fundamentals of Kabbalah” 2/8/19
Preparation to the Lesson
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Lesson on the Topic of “Annulment and Submission”
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Writings of Baal HaSulam, “Study of the Ten Sefirot, Vol. 1, Part 3, Chapter 2, Item 3″
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When a person asks about the meaning of life, this question leads him to a search. Where did I come from? What am I for? Why do I exist? In principle, this question involuntarily directs us toward the revelation of the source of our existence, the Creator.
The Creator is not a god sitting somewhere on a cloud. It is nature that surrounds us and rules us. Unconsciously, we are constantly within His power and fulfill His desires, instructions, and laws.
The Creator, or the highest form of nature, its highest stage, is the property of goodness, bestowal, and love; an absolute property which includes all of creation. We do not yet feel it, but we are trying to reveal it.
The question regarding the meaning of life brings each of us to a search for the Creator, for the source, and for the reason for our existence. If I do not answer this question, then my whole life will become aimless, meaningless, and hateful. What should I do? Therefore, I start to look for the way to reveal the Creator.
This takes millennia; people engage in all kinds of systems of study including philosophy as well as other spiritual practices. Humanity has become lost in this because there are about 2,800 types of religions, beliefs, and teachings. None of them are based on anything; they are intended for a person to convince himself of their alleged truth and thus be able to exist.
However, there is a very interesting science called, “the science of revealing the Creator, ”that aims to reveal the Creator to a man in our world. Neither other sciences, nor religions, nor other beliefs or methods, set such a goal for themselves. This is known as the science of Kabbalah.
People who come to it are already prepared or partially prepared for this. But, they are also inside the process. As they begin to study Kabbalah, they go through many different stages that sift them as if through a sieve. Only a few really reach the revelation of the Creator. But, in our time, this, in principle, has been prepared for everyone. Therefore, everyone is invited.
From the TV program “Kabbalah – Science of Life” 3/1/18