Listen to an Audio Version of the Blog
Listen to an Audio Version of the Blog
My new article on Linkedin “The Motive behind G7 Billion Covid Vaccine Doses Pledge to Poor Countries”
At the conclusion of the recent G7 summit in the UK, the participants pledged one billion Covid vaccine doses to poor countries as a “big step towards vaccinating the world,” according to the BBC. Britain’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, whose country presided over the summit, stated that “The world was looking to us to reject some of the selfish, nationalistic approaches that marred the initial global response to the pandemic and to channel all our diplomatic, economic and scientific might to defeating Covid for good.”
In all honesty, I doubt that concern for the world is the G7’s priority. I can understand why they would want to calm or somehow tame the pandemic, but I don’t think it’s out of remorse for their prior behavior or that they have suddenly changed their skins. I also don’t think that the pandemic is over, despite the existence of vaccines. It may not erupt as explosively as before, but it will continue to disturb us for a long time coming.
It’s not as if we should be afraid of Covid; humanity is dealing with myriad permanent threats, and Covid isn’t the worst of them. Take HIV, for example, it is still around and still scares us, but we’ve learned to live with it. The question we should ask is not why we cannot annihilate such plagues, but why they appear at all. It’s as if nature is trying to tell us something but we are refusing to listen, so it has to try different ways and at different volumes to get our attention.
When we finally listen, we will realize that nature’s message is very simple: Stop mistreating nature and each other. Your exploitation of each other and of nature is destroying everything that you have worked so hard to build, everything that nature has built, and if you ruin it, you will ruin yourselves. A few decades ago, speaking about climate change was considered subversive, or at least innovative and avant-garde. Today, it is mainstream. This does not speak in our favor, but rather shows how little we have done to solve the problem.
But in truth, climate change isn’t our real problem. The “climate” between us is the problem. If we solve this, we will solve everything else, including climate change, Covid, HIV, and every other problem. The atmosphere between us causes us to pollute our water resources, makes us wage wars against each other, military or economic, that to win them, we are willing to deplete the land, enslave entire populations, spike the price of staple food and energy for no reason, and do everything we can to hurt our enemies, who are basically everyone besides ourselves. In other words, our hatred of each other is the root cause of all our problems, and Covid-19 is just a minor symptom of this malady of hatred. Heal the hatred, and you have healed everything else.
It is my hope that in the near future, humanity will come to its senses, take its future into its hands, and implement a global educational solidarity program that will focus on uniting the entire family of nations. Its goal will not be to undermine nations’ sovereignty, take over their economies, or harm them in some other way, but to save humanity from self-destruction.
The G7, being a group of some of the most powerful and influential nations on Earth, can and should set an example of such a move. I have little hope that they will, but I know that they must, as do all of us. The other option, I’m afraid, is very bleak and filled with agony. I wouldn’t want our children and grandchildren to grow into a dead and hate-filled world.
My new article on Linkedin “Israel’s Founding Principle – Unity Above All Else”
Israel faces an identity crisis. Over the years we have followed without much thought the rules imposed by the British Mandate after the Ottoman period in the Land of Israel. It has been a natural precedent to carry on, an easy and convenient one. However, the conditions for the governments of other nations cannot and will not suit us here. Therefore, we keep failing time and time again, from government to government, and have yet to get it right.
Nowadays it is already clear to everyone—for better or for worse—that we are a unique people. The world does not allow us to be like other peoples, and Israel is likewise revealed as a country that cannot be like all other countries.
The State of Israel must build itself and its form of government in accordance with its unique character and identity. While the current conditions in Israel are characterized by social havoc, by unruly hatred similar to that which erupted between us in the days of the destruction of the Temple, love of others and the unity of the people above all else is still the requisite state to which we must aspire. We are a nation founded on the supreme commandment to reach love above hatred, to transcend self-interest and to establish good mutual relations between us.
Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion understood this well. He said: “By these will the State be judged, by the moral character it imparts to its citizens, by the human values determining its inner and outward relations, and by its fidelity, in thought and act, to the supreme behest: ‘and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ Here is crystallized the eternal law of Judaism, and all the written ethics in the world can say no more. The State will be worthy of its name only if its systems, social and economic, political and legal, are based upon these imperishable words.” (“Rebirth and Destiny of Israel”)
Ben-Gurion was right. The Supreme Providence will not allow the State of Israel to function according to the conditions of other countries. Pressure will be put on us until we begin to fulfill our destiny. We must understand who we are, what is expected from us, what our role is towards the nations, and govern accordingly. The question is: will we reach such an awareness in a positive or in a negative way, out of awakening and consent on our part to connect as one people, or out of anguish from internal and external pressures?
In order to avoid insurmountable divisions leading to terrible civil war, we must internalize the fact that the basic laws of the people of Israel are the spiritual laws of mutual care and unity.
This fundamental value must be the backbone of every governmental decision, law, and its implementation. From the top downwards, the idea of unity must permeate all avenues of Israeli society. Just as we care for our children’s intellectual upbringing regardless of their socio-economic background, we must provide education to build good and harmonious relations between all members of the nation, to establish close ties connecting each and every one of the people. This law of mutual responsibility and love is the founding principle of our people and should be our lasting recipe for success.
My new article on Linkedin “What Proper Governance Should Look Like”
Yesterday, a new government was sworn in, in Israel. A new government is always a chance to reflect on, and hope for a proper government, which functions the way a government that works for the people should. If, theoretically, we were to have a government that had the people’s best interest in mind, we would see a two-section plan. Section no. 1 would detail the ideal situation, the greatest achievements we can imagine. Section no. 2 would slice Section 1 into small, digestible bites that we can carry out one at a time. In my view, the greatest achievement we can hope for, and that we should strive to achieve, is mutual responsibility and love of others, as in the verse, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If we achieve this, we will also achieve every other imaginary reward.
However, for this to happen, we first need to agree that the purpose of the existence of the people of Israel and the State of Israel is indeed to live in mutual responsibility and love of others. The foundation of our nation, the basic tenet of being Jewish, is love of others. The Jerusalem Talmud writes (Nedarim 30b), “‘Love your neighbor as yourself’; Rabbi Akiva says, ‘This is a great rule in the Torah.’” The book Likutey Halachot [Assorted Rules] elaborates on the topic and explains that all the different factions must achieve unity not in order to defeat a common foe, but in order to achieve love. “The vitality is mainly through unity, by all the changes being included in the source of the unity,” the author, Nathan Sternhartz, writes. “For this reason,” he continues “‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ is the great rule of the Torah, to be incorporated in unity and peace. The vitality, sustenance, and correction of all of creation are mainly by people of different views becoming incorporated together in love, unity, and peace.”
In light of today’s deteriorating societal situation in Israel and the country’s declining international status, I think we must all realize that returning to our roots, to the only source of power and legitimacy that we have ever had, is no longer an option; it is mandatory! We must start discussing on every channel and every panel how mutual responsibility and love of others pertain to our current state, why they are the most important tasks we have today, and what will happen if we don’t carry them out. We need to educate ourselves about this just as we educate ourselves about everything else that’s important to us in life.
Moreover, education toward love of others must be part of the education system, embedded in the curriculum of every school as one of the core subjects to be taught, and enhanced through extracurricular educational programs and activities. If we think about Sternhartz’s words, that “The vitality, sustenance, and correction of all of creation are mainly by people of different views becoming incorporated together in love, unity, and peace,” it is easy to see how far we are from it. The events of the past several months leave us no choice but to strive toward it above all the difficulties and despite, and even because of our inherent resentment toward each other.
We have to keep in mind that we are unlike any other nation. Every nation comes from someone and belongs to some core nucleus of people who start it. Jews come from everywhere and do not belong to any core nucleus of people. When Abraham gathered people around him and began to teach them about unity, just as we need to do now, his students came from all over the Fertile Crescent and the Middle-East. They came from different tribes and nations and had nothing in common but the idea of “people of different views becoming incorporated together in love, unity, and peace.” So, if we don’t reinstate our unity, how are we a nation? We return to being a crowd of strangers who don’t believe in the idea of unity and don’t see any reason to establish unity among them. Is it hard to see that in such a state, our days as a nation are numbered?
If we want to see Israel going forward successfully, we must establish it correctly, not the way other nations are built, since we are not like other nations, as is evident to everyone, but the way Israel is meant to be built—on the basis of love of others and mutual responsibility. Therefore, even before we think about the new government, we must think about the future form of our country and our nation.
Michael Laitman, On Quora: “How do I come out of mental illness?“
Positive relationships in society are the enveloping means for good mental health. Mental illness comes from imbalance in the mind and body, which comes from imbalance in society, which is further caused by imbalance with nature. By fixing our social connections, we bring ourselves into balance with nature, and such balance will positively influence not only our mental health, but also our general health and well-being.
Whether or not we are aware of it, positive relationships in society give our lives a sense of meaning and worth. It is no wonder, then, that the more we become divided, isolated and lonely, as is the case in much of today’s world, then the more we also see mental illness on the rise.
By nature, we are social creatures and our lives are full of relationships: at home, in the workplace, with friends, relatives, acquaintances, strangers, and through various media. On one hand, we all want to feel good and enjoy positive relationships. On the other hand, we find ourselves dealing with more and more inequality and conflicts.
When we are young, we learn that we need to behave and speak a certain way in society, because if we do not, then we can evoke a negative reaction from other people. We thus apply certain rules and codes of conduct to ourselves in order to fit in, and while they may contribute to advancing us personally and getting us into certain career paths, they often fail to serve building meaningful relationships, which is what truly makes us happy and gives us emotional stability. We thus find ourselves living in a world where divisiveness, isolation, loneliness and stress are on the rise, and our health and well-being thus become negatively affected as a result.
As important as positive social relationships are to our health and well-being, and in both preventing and treating mental illness, they are tremendously under-emphasized in today’s world. On one hand, we are evolving outside our past boundaries of several classes and hierarchies, which made our lives much clearer and simple, and have achieved a state of more equality. On the other hand, such equality is superficial and it leads to more and more confusion and anxiety.
The great paradox of our times is that our world has become like a small global village, where our interconnectedness and interdependence becomes tighter worldwide, but on the other hand, we find ourselves becoming more and more internally divided and hateful in our attitudes toward each other.
While it stands to reason that the more dependent we become on each other, the more we should learn, apply and exercise positive relations to realize that dependence harmoniously, the opposite is the case: that we keep trying to use each other for self-benefit, and we wish to impose our own views and egoistic decisions on others. This self-centered attitude contradicts the principle of an egalitarian society, where we are each equally important even though we are each different.
Therefore, we have a fateful challenge to meet in our times, where if we succeed in standing up to this challenge, then we will be able to solve several problems in our world, with mental illness among them.
The challenge is: How can we realize our increasing interdependence harmoniously?
To this end, we need to establish a social-educational system that will open our eyes to the deep level of interdependence in all areas of our lives, which should amplify the indispensable need for positive social connections. We can begin with concrete steps to acquire strong and solid relations.
First, it is important to realize that in this tightly interdependent world, every piece is indispensable to complete the full picture of reality, like in a puzzle. By affecting one another, we affect the whole system, for better or for worse. It is a system that each person is part of and that influences each person directly. Do we want to benefit from the fact that we have positive social relationships and a warm environment? Certainly, every person wishes to live in such a reality. It is then in our own interest to transform our actions and intentions from harmful exploitative ones to mutual understanding and care.
The way to achieve this goal is not rocket science. Yet, it is also not obvious to us because we have not been taught how to do it. However, there is a method of connection that we can implement in order to bring about improvements in our social relationships, and the more we undergo such connection-enriching learning, the more we will find ourselves getting along much better, on one hand, and lessening the cases of myriad problems in our lives, including mental illness, on the other hand.
Written/edited by students of Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman.
Michael Laitman, On Quora: “What is the creator of life?“
The Creator is the quality of the upper world, the principle characteristic of which is bestowal or giving.
We do not know who or what the Creator is in and of itself. We can only know how we perceive the Creator. As much as we sense the quality of giving, perceiving in a manner of bestowal, we accordingly attain the Creator. Similarly, we can say nothing about any object in our world in and of itself, but only about how it appears to us in our perception.
Therefore, in Hebrew, the language kabbalists use to describe the upper world, the word for the Creator is “Boreh,” which is a connection of two words: “Bo” (“come”) and “Reh” (“see”). “Come” means that we undergo a certain kind of self-transformation, where we attain the quality of bestowal, and then we “see.” In other words, we perceive everything in our sensations.
How can we attain the quality of bestowal? This is what the wisdom of Kabbalah was given to us for. It is a method for attaining the upper world by acquiring the quality of bestowal, and we discover the Creator to the extent in which we sense the quality of bestowal. That is why Kabbalah is defined as a wisdom that brings us “the revelation of the Creator to His created beings in this world” (Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag [Baal HaSulam], “The Essence of the Wisdom of Kabbalah”). By progressing in the method, we acquire new tools of perception and sensation called “Kelim” (“vessels,” plural of “Kli” [“vessel”]) with which we sense the Creator and the upper world.
Based on KabTV’s “Spiritual States” with Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman.
Written/edited by students of Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman.
My new article on Linkedin “A One-Sentence Constitution”
Evidently, the Jewish nation is unlike any other. Even when we want to believe that we are, life, or rather, the rest of the nations, do not allow us to think so. When the State of Israel was established, we sought to run our country according to the rules that seemed appropriate at the time. As a result, we mainly followed the British Mandatory rule, with “leftovers” from the Ottoman rule that preceded it.
Yet, from one election to the next, we are realizing that our system of government is failing; people are dissatisfied and the government is dysfunctional. We cannot be like other countries because we weren’t formed like other countries, and we aren’t meant to be like other countries. We are meant to be an am segula, a virtuous nation, which serves as “a light unto nations” by following a one-sentence constitution: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18).
Our sages knew this, of course. Rabbi Akiva declared that this was the great rule of the Torah; Old Hillel said to a man who wanted to understand the gist of Jewish law, “That which you hate, do not do unto others,” and countless other references in Jewish writings testify to the centrality of the concept of love of others and mutual responsibility in Jewish law.
The founders of our country were also keenly aware of this law and its vitality to our success. David Ben Gurion, leader of the Jewish community in Israel before the establishment of Israel, and the country’s first Prime Minister, wrote that “‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ is the supreme commandment of Judaism. With these three words [the length of the sentence in Hebrew], the eternal, human law of Judaism has been formed… The state of Israel will be worthy of its name only if its social, economic, political, and judicial structures are based upon these three eternal words.”
Aaron David (A.D.) Gordon, the ideologue and the spiritual force behind practical Zionism and Labor Zionism, echoed Ben Gurion’s words when he wrote, “‘All of Israel are responsible for one another’ … [and] only where people are responsible for one another there is Israel.” And finally, Eliezer Ben Yehuda, reviver of the Hebrew language, asserted that “We have yet to open our eyes and see that only unity can save us. Only if we all unite … to work in favor of the entire nation, our labor will not be in vain.”
Regrettably, we have not built our social, economic, political, and judicial systems on these three words, as Ben Gurion had stipulated, nor have we united “to work in favor of the entire nation,” as Ben Yehuda required, or have become “responsible for one another,” as A.D. Gordon specified. As a result, as a country and as a nation, we are failing miserably. If we continue on this path, we will have no future here. In the best case scenario, we will “escape the discomfort until too few remain to merit the name State, and they will be swallowed among the Arabs,” as kabbalist and thinker Rav Yehuda Ashlag put it. In the worst case scenario, we will be dispersed by force, either through war or through civil war.
If we want to avoid this dreadful, but certain fate, we have no choice but to comprehend that our nation is a spiritual one, and as such, our country must be founded on the spiritual law of love of others: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This is the only constitution that is suitable for our country and our people, and the only mode of governance that will make Israel a welcome state among the nations.
Even Henry Ford, who loathed the Jews of his time so vehemently that he became Hitler’s idol and received from him the highest award that a none German could receive, admired the Jews of antiquity precisely because their social structure was based upon these “three eternal words,” as Ben Gurion put it. Ford wrote, “Modern reformers, who are constructing model social systems … would do well to look into the social system under which the early Jews were organized.”
Today, the paramount task before us is to establish such education in the nation that will lift us above all our disputes and quarrels and establish unity, mutual responsibility, and indeed, love of others in the nation. And since hatred is so entrenched within the nation, this education must encompass the entire nation, on all its factions, equally, and apply to all ages. We must reform our society from one where envy and hatred govern, to one where support and love set the tone until we realize the tenet “Love your neighbor as yourself” in practice. This is Israel’s only viable governance.
Answer: The term earth refers to the spiritual foundation. The land of Israel is not Palestine or the State of Israel, but a spiritual quality in which people are in a state of mutual love.
The Torah describes that when people came to Mount Sinai, when hatred arose between them, they were given a condition: either you must unite or here will be your burial place.
My Response: Unification is the main law of nature, and we must realize it. The thing is that after the Big Bang, there was a breakage of our desire into a huge number of desires, and we must unite them.
All nature is striving to its unification only very slowly, gradually, according to its laws. We are required to unite between ourselves on our level, on the human level, i.e., on the highest level of nature.
There the problem arises: we are not aware of it, do not understand it, and do not want to implement it. But we still must complete this task either by goodwill or, as they say, by the stick, to happiness.
From KabTV’s “Spiritual States” 5/14/21
Question: Your book Attaining the Worlds Beyond begins like this: “Generations come and go, yet every generation and every individual asks the same question about the meaning of life.” Why is there an exchange of generations?
Answer: When it is hard for us to do some big work, then we divide it into small parts.
Let’s say there is something huge in front of me, I cannot even think about it, it is too much pressure on me. Then I try not to imagine this huge block that I have to build—let’s say, a pyramid or a palace.
In the past, people built large structures for centuries. For example, it took three hundred years to build some cathedrals in Europe. And the ones who started building them knew that only their distant great-grandchildren would see their opening.
So are we. We are faced with a huge problem: we must rise to the level of the Creator from the initial state, completely opposite to Him—in absolute egoism. As it is said: “I have created the evil inclination; I have created the Torah as a spice.”
This correction is very slow. The first stage is the realization of the evilness of our nature. Only now, in this generation, we begin to gradually realize our nature as evil, leads us to hopelessness, emptiness, and self-destruction. There is still a lot of work ahead to correct egoism and to ascend.
But humanity, in principle, has passed the most difficult stage. However, it took a long time! If we consider this from the beginning of our world, then the inanimate nature developed for billions of years, the vegetative for billions of years, the animate for hundreds of millions of years, and man for several hundred thousand years.
And spiritual development is even more compressed in us. And therefore, we must achieve it very quickly, in the remaining two hundred and thirty years. After all, the process of correction takes 6,000 years, starting with the very first correction made 5,770 years ago by the first Kabbalist.
From KabTV’s “Close-up” 8/24/09
Comment: There is a tradition in Thailand: in order to start a new life without problems and stress, you must go to the temple and arrange your own symbolic funeral. People take flowers, lie down in the coffin, they are covered with a sheet, and prayers are read. First, you have to lie down with your head toward the west, then turn around in the other direction. It costs a trifle—three and a half dollars—only for candles.
During the pandemic, it was a massive ritual because people would come. And after that, they said: “I have come to life. I have started to live.” That’s it! Depression went away, all states disappeared.
Please explain this paradox to me: in order to live, you must die.
My Response: That is correct. Then a person looks at life differently. If he psychologically experiences his alleged death and leaves this current course of life, then he looks at his new life differently.
Question: That is, you really need to immerse into this dramatic situation, really experience it like this? And then you start to live.
Is that why it is so nice in cemeteries? That is, when you walk through a cemetery, or sit there on a bench, look around. You think: how beautiful everything in this world is! Someone was suffering because his car was scratched, someone because his neighbor yelled at him. And all of a sudden, it all comes down to this.
Answer: What you are saying was written in a tractate which is probably 4,000 years old. It is written there that a person who wants to realize himself in a new way should go to the cemetery and sit on a stone. So, this is correct.
I would organize collective guided tours there. And I would seat our government down there for it to think and solve some issues, and some other groups of population.
Question: To ponder upon how perishable life is?
From KabTV’s “News with Dr. Michael Laitman” 3/29/21