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There are people who by their very nature crave connection with the upper. And then they tell us and explain who we are in connection with, who controls us, and who we really are. There were many such people throughout history. Among them were those who left us the means to establish a connection with the upper force. We remember, honor, and study these people.
A huge contribution to this was made by a man whose name was the Ari, Isaac Luria Ashkenazi. He lived in the 16th century. Before him, there were many generations of Kabbalists from Adam HaRishon to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Behind each of these names is an entire Kabbalistic school for spiritual development of a person.
And yet, the Ari is of great importance in the development of Kabbalah. Today is the memorial day of his departure, and if we remember him and study his works, we get the opportunity to connect with this special soul, the likes of which no longer exist in all of humanity.
This soul plays a very special role in the system of Adam HaRishon and has made such a huge contribution to its correction that no one else was able to reach.
If we want to connect with the Ari, we must connect with the principles of the science of Kabbalah he taught to his students, meaning we must fulfill in full the rule of loving one’s neighbor as oneself.
Revelations of the Ari for humanity can be compared in importance to Moses receiving the Torah. We are not really aware of it and do not really know how to use the Torah. The Ari took a step forward, explained to us what the inner essence of the Torah is, why it is necessary to keep it, and how through our connection, all the parts of creation will be connected.
The creation was deliberately shattered so that we could collect it through our own efforts and lead it to correction, and thus attain the inner force that unites everything—the Creator.
From the Torah itself, we were unable to understand all this. But generation after generation has sunk lower and lower after the ruin of the First and Second Temples and as the final stage of the 2,000 years of exile neared in the 16th century, the time had come to reveal to humanity the method of correction. And then the soul of the Ari appeared to explain to us how the upper system affects us and what we should do in accordance with it.
The Ari gave us a clear, generalized, systematic explanation of where we are, which force controls us from above, how we should act from below in accordance with this, and what our goal is.
From the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 7/14/21, “Memorial Day of the ARI”
The Ari was the man who opened the path to heaven for us. He revealed the end of the thread for us, and if we grasp it, we can rise to the height of the Creator. We still do not have enough understanding and words to thank the Ari and appreciate what he has done.
We just need to believe the Kabbalists who highly appreciated the work of the Ari and thank the Creator for sending us such a messenger who passed knowledge about the upper force, about the way we can come closer to it and how to establish the connection with it.
From the legacy of the Ari, we can receive the reforming light, the most valuable thing in it. When we study the material, the reforming light hidden in these texts influences us.
Of course, its action depends on our desire and intention, on our yearning for connection and unity, and our desire to be similar to the upper system that controls us. The light acts around us, envelops us, purifies us, and brings us closer to the connection.
Therefore, all the texts of the Ari are holy. We can see with what awe the Kabbalists treated them as if they were the Torah from which not a single word can be removed. The death of the Ari became the starting point from which the wisdom of Kabbalah began to develop.
Although it took several hundred years until it came out into the world thanks to his spiritual followers who extracted it from the Ari’s grave and from another hiding place, from some chest. As a result, all the works of the Ari were revealed and served as the basis for the entire modern Kabbalah.
This is very similar to the story of The Book of Zohar, which was also hidden, and then was revealed a thousand years later. It was only in the time of Baal HaSulam that all the writings of the Ari were finally assembled together and he was able to study them, deeply understand them and write a commentary about it: The Study of the Ten Sefirot.
The works of the Ari are a life-saving rope dropped to us from heaven. The entirety of Kabbalah is based on The Book of Zohar and the writings of the Ari.
Baal HaSulam, “Introduction to the Book Panim Meirot uMasbirot”: There are not enough words to measure his (ARI’s) holy work in our favor. The doors of attainment were locked and bolted, and he came and opened them for us…
You find a thirty-eight-year-old who subdued with his wisdom all his predecessors….
All the sages of the generations… have abandoned all the books and compositions that precede him…they have attached their spiritual life entirely and solely to his Holy Wisdom.
The point here is not in the height of attainment, but the fact that the Ari’s methodology was built and prepared for the final correction.
Therefore, the Ari symbolizes the Messiah Son of Joseph, that is, he gives us the basis of the correct world. As it is written, Joseph was a righteous man, and the righteous is the foundation of the world. It is only thanks to the teachings of the Ari that we begin our corrections.
Although there were great Kabbalists in the past who had even more knowledge than the Ari, such as Rabbi Akiva and Rashbi, they did not know how to express, explain, formulate, and convey the method of correction to us in the way that the Ari did. This is determined not by the height of the Kabbalist, but by his correspondence to his generation. That is why we value the texts of the Ari so much, with the help of which we can reach the final correction.
After the discoveries made by the Ari and his followers, the successors of his methodology who adapted it to modern generations, everyone can now study the wisdom of Kabbalah and use it to reveal their path to unity with others in order to attain the Creator within this unity. This is a great gift that allows us to rise from the animate degree to the degree of a man, Adam, “similar” to the Creator.
All the horror of egoism, egoistic desires and qualities must be revealed in our generation of the Messiah. But we can understand them correctly, resist them, and move toward correction.
Rav Chaim Vital, Shaar Gilgulim: My teacher cautioned me and all the friends who were with him in that society to take upon ourselves the commandment to-do of “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and to aim to love each one from Israel as his own soul, for by this his prayer would rise comprising all of Israel and will be able to ascend and make a correction above.
Love for others is the foundation of our work. By our studies, we attract the reforming light, but we must provide it with material for work and correction. It needs to correct the connection between us, which was broken during the sin of the Tree of Knowledge. The entire system, called Adam, has shattered. Now we want to use the light to connect all the parts together.
In each of us, there is a broken part, a record (Reshimo). We are the very parts that were once together in the system of Adam HaRishon. Today we need to return to the same connection again. To do this, we are given the teaching of the Ari, the order of work established by Baal HaSulam, and the order of building a group according to Rabash. We have everything we need, we just need to connect everything together and implement the correction.
Praises of the ARI: One day, on the eve of Shabbat [Sabbath], the ARI went with his disciples for Kabbalat Shabbat [service beginning the Sabbath] as was his custom. He said to the friends: “Let us go now to Jerusalem […] and build the Temple, and make an offering of Shabbat, for I see that this time is truly the time of redemption.
“Some of the friends said, ‘How will we go to Jerusalem at this time, It is more than thirty parsas away (approx. 115 km)?’ Others said, ‘Very well, we are willing to go with you, but first we will go let our wives know so they will not worry about us, and then we will go.’”
Then the Rav cried out and said to the friends, “How did the slandering of Satan succeed in revoking the redemption of Israel? I testify before Heaven and Earth that since the time of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai until today there has not been a better time for redemption than this time.
“Had you admitted this, we would have had the Temple, and the outcasts of Israel would have gathered into Jerusalem. Now the time had passed and Israel went into exile once again.” When the friends heard this, they regretted what they had done, but it did not help them.
There are special times. Let’s hope that we will have such an opportunity, and we will not miss our chance.
Before his death, the Ari told his students that if they deserved it, he would come and teach them. It is very difficult for us to understand this, but everything already exists, there is no life and death. There are only changes between the degrees, a change of states.
Therefore, the one who accepts the principles of the Ari’s methodology—connection in the ten and equivalence to the upper system of ABYA—begins to advance, practically integrates with the system, receives force and light from it, and thus, he learns.
It’s not about learning and understanding with your mind. Mental attainment comes many years later, after attainment with feelings. First of all, the sensations must come. As in our world, we first begin to live in it and feel it, and then we can explain some of the sensations in the language of reason.
It is the same in the spiritual world, first of all, we need to penetrate into the sensations, into love and connection, and then we will be able to understand according to what formulas these feelings work.
From KabTV’s “A Talk At the Meal In Honor Of Ari’s Memorial Day” 8/4/19
New Life 1311 – Quarrels Between Siblings
Dr. Michael Laitman in conversation with Oren Levi and Yael Leshed-Harel
There cannot be contact and connection without feeling limitations and conflict with others. Siblings don’t feel each other if they don’t quarrel, but they may have difficulties with communication. Fighting over toys is natural between toddlers, and parents should not intervene as long as there is no physical harm. If a child cries to his parents that his sibling has done something to him, the parent can hug him, but shouldn’t take sides.
Quarreling for the sake of harming others is unacceptable, but otherwise it is a part of normal life. Quarrels strengthen the connection and love between us if we know how to rise above the feeling of rejection. Parents should not fight and should play with their children to provide an example of how to behave properly. To sum up, we should let siblings develop freely in order for them to become experienced and wise.
From KabTV’s “New Life 1311 – Quarrels Between Siblings,” 7/4/21
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My new article on Linkedin “Setting Higher Goals for Our Children This Summer”
After a disruptive school year caused by Covid restrictions the long-awaited summer break is here. In order to reintroduce some kind of learning framework to children this summer, an overwhelming majority of large school districts in America are providing summer school programs. If implemented correctly, it is the right move. Excessive free time is a recipe for disaster.
Around 97 of 100 districts across the U.S. are offering summer school programming, in-person, virtually, or a combination of both. The plans include recreational trips, outdoor activities, and artistic programs according to monitoring educational organizations. After the challenging circumstances imposed by the pandemic, these measures could be an example for other societies around the world.
Children should not feel that they have so much free time that they have no idea what to do with themselves and hours seem to stretch endlessly. They need to have their time organized so that they will be happy with the built-in agenda, and understand that the expected plans are exactly what they want and need. Otherwise we spoil them.
There is nothing worse for them than free time with a huge void wasted lying on the couch, staring at the screen, or wandering around in the street. Children are not used to having free time and filling it themselves, so giving them “freedom” is like teaching them not to do anything. Children have desires and thoughts, all kinds of natural impulses, and we sort of tell them, “Do nothing with your drive or aspirations. What are they good for? What benefit will you get from them?”
There is of course time to rest, but it is not advisable to lie on your back for hours or walk around aimlessly. Playing football or dancing after studying geography for example, can be a break. Anything that is different from the intense action that preceded it is called resting.
If children are left without studies and without other activities, the impulses that are naturally vibrant in them can lead them to bad places. Parents should be greatly concerned about their children having unlimited freedom and should contemplate ways to fill their time constructively in order to further their development.
Firstly, a clear goal should be established: What do the parents want the children to achieve with their free time so they can provide enriching activities accordingly. In my opinion, the most important goal is to build the children into integral human beings, to develop a person who knows how to communicate properly with others, how to manage complex situations, how to create beautiful relationships with others, and who achieves in-depth understanding on the multiple levels in nature: inanimate, vegetative, animate, and human.
With the goal of elevating the child to a higher scale of merit as a human being—one with values, sensitivity, and consideration of others—the activities programmed for our children must have nurturing content that develops their thoughts and expands their feelings. At the end of the activity, it is valuable to promote a discussion for them to share their experiences with each other.
We should consider bringing children to the theater, to the symphony, to various museums. As a child, I lived in a city in Belarus that had a large building specifically designed for children. In the summer, I sat in a photo lab and developed pictures in a darkroom. In the winter, we went skiing together. These are only examples of some activities that could be implemented according to the conditions of each society.
Today, the schools we enroll our children in and entrust their education and a significant part of their upbringing have largely become breeding grounds for crime, violence, promiscuity, bullying, and drug dealing. Everything except what we would wish for our offspring.
A summer break where time is properly managed by parents can heal some of the hardships of the past year, but the real test of educating our children will be in the next school year. The education system, with just a few of its deficiencies touched upon, was founded about one hundred and fifty years ago. We need to think carefully about whether it is suitable for today’s world.
Let’s thoroughly examine and scrutinize what we are doing with the institution called “school” and the education we provide for our children. The scrutiny should include the appropriate plans for how to spend the next summer break. As adults, thinking about the future of our kids’ education might be a good idea on how to spend our free time this summer.
My new article on Linkedin “Headed for Another Masked Summer?”
The summer vacation has barely begun, and we are already seeing signs that it might soon end, or at least the fun part about it. Covid-19 is returning to Israel in a big way and threatens to do this summer what it did last summer, keep us at home, or at least at a distance from each other. It seems as though nature has no mercy on the children, who only want to enjoy the summer—their brief break from a traumatizing school year riddled with corona lockdowns.
But then, why should nature have mercy on children if we, their parents, don’t? That is, through our own misconduct, we are bringing on them the lockdown that we could prevent if we only conducted ourselves more responsibly. If we were better parents, we’d do what we have to do, both regarding ourselves and regarding our children.
And what we have to do is reorganize our relationships. Otherwise, we will not be able to cope with Covid, and certainly not with the upcoming viruses that are already standing in line to plague us, and which are bound to be more troublesome than the current pestilence.
Until we learn that we must rearrange our relationships from competitive to supportive and from callous to caring, nothing good will happen. We must understand that our only cure from the virus is by healing our hearts from negative thoughts about others, developing positive ones, and connecting with the very same people we currently repel.
To connect means to understand and feel that I am dependent on others. I may live in my physical body, but the heart of this body is in someone else, not in me. And not only is it in someone else, but in everybody else besides me. In other words, each and every one of us is entirely dependent on everyone else. We don’t determine our fates, and we don’t determine our present. In fact, we don’t determine anything; our interconnections determine everything, and we only follow the dictates of this network, consciously or not.
Even if we cannot feel this right now, we should at least understand that this is so and realize that if that’s the case, then “Love your neighbor as yourself” is not some lofty motto that no one takes seriously, but our only hope of changing our lives, of shifting them toward a positive direction.
We can ignore it and continue treading the path of meanness we have nurtured so fervently for so many decades, but it won’t be long before life forces us through pain to rethink our route.
The virus isn’t our enemy; it is showing us the truth of our interdependence. Had we acted on this truth, we would not have had a pandemic whatsoever. Our social responsibility would have made us separate ourselves once we got sick until we got better, and the virus would not have spread. This, by the way, is what sick bats do in order not to infect other members of their cloud (a colony of bats). If we had their sense of responsibility, we wouldn’t be talking about the Covid-19 pandemic, certainly not two years down the line.
Because we are utterly dependent on each other, we influence each other. This is why it is so important that we monitor our feelings toward others and try to cultivate positive ones. By doing so, we will influence others, who will influence still others, even without speaking about it. Before long, that positive wave will come back to us and to our children.
We determine each other’s fate, so let’s be responsible. Let’s draw the obvious conclusion that “Love your neighbor as yourself” is our only viable option for the future. We have tried everything else and look where we are: on the verge of another masked summer. Now that it’s getting to our children, we should stop taking risks. I hope we will learn and implement this lesson that nature is trying desperately to teach us before it resorts to harsher means.
Michael Laitman, On Quora: “What is a more effective form of resistance: non-violent resistance or armed struggle?“
Neither non-violent resistance nor armed struggle will lead to any positive results. We cannot reach any lasting success by the force of the fist or by other forms of resistance. The world abounds with such examples. Resistance by force or by other means fails to bring peace, balance, understanding, unity and harmony in the world.
If we wish to change the savage, egoistic, hateful and arrogant oppressor who has the ability to exploit others, to a thinking, understanding and considerate being, then we should act solely by means of connection-enhancing education. By learning how nature works, and how the world should appear according to its nature, and ultimately, how to change our egoistic and divisive relations to altruistic and positively-connected ones, we will then reach a state where human society will become balanced with nature, and will then experience newfound harmony, happiness, confidence, safety and equality.
No egoistic forms will ever lead us to a lasting victory. Egoism will always lead us to defeat. This is why both non-violent resistance and armed resistance will ultimately lead to failure.
If we wish for success, then we need to expand our vision to take a long-term perspective, and then we will see that by bringing connection-enriching education to humanity, and especially to the young generation, where everyone will learn how nature works according to altruistic laws of interdependence and interconnectedness, we will then organize our lives in accordance with this law of nature and realize a harmonious existence for all.
The positive aspect in this situation is that humanity has all the necessary mechanisms in place for realizing connection-enriching connection. No one wishes to admit that they are egoistic and that they hate other people. Instead, people mostly like to perceive themselves as just and fair people, even altruistic. We can thus use this inner respect for altruism, and expand it to respect altruism and positive connections in human society at large.
If we setup our education and social influences such that we respect altruism and positive connection, then we will value each other, countries, governments and organizations only according to their altruistic contributions, and to the extent that they act for the sake of positively connecting human society.
In short, by valuing altruism and positive connection in society at large, with the aid of connection-enriching education and positive examples of altruism and connection in our social and media influences, we will build a better world.
Based on a Q&A with Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman on September 9, 2006. Written/edited by students of Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman.
Question: In the history of mankind, there are millions of sayings about and numerous qualitative characteristics of what freedom is, as well as a million aspirations of people to find it and a million illusions that they have achieved it. Voltaire wrote: “It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.”
Could you describe some characteristics of the state of freedom?
Answer: Freedom from selfishness is freedom in the most general sense of the word. This is freedom from myself when nothing in me dictates what I should be.
When this is realized in a person’s sensations, he begins to feel free, that is, detached from any limitations in which he previously existed. In his thoughts, he begins to understand what it means not to act egotistically, above egoism.
Question: Can we say that death is a limitation for a person?
Answer: I would not say that something happens in death. We are very afraid of death and think this is the cornerstone of our development, after which everything will be different or something else. I do not think we should be particularly impressed by it. The fact of passing through death does not give anything.
Question: Is there no interdependence between freedom and death?
Answer: No. There is another death in mind, the death of egoism, not the death of the animal body.
Question: Is it possible that egoism dies, does not exist?
Answer: Selfishness does not die. A person must rise above it, master it, and only then, by neutralizing egoism, will one be able to reach an understanding of what death is.
Question: What does this give to a person and to all people?
Answer: Freedom from selfishness.
Question: Will everyone have a common feeling?
Answer: Yes. Above selfishness.
Question: Then is there going to be some new work, a new movement, a new development?
Answer: Rising above egoism.
From KabTV’s “Kabbalah Express” 6/13/21
Answer: Of course, it does. This is why silence is golden.
Question: Does a person have to make some kind of calculation in relation to what he says?
Answer: Naturally! After all, many problems arise because people chat incessantly.
It is said that “The wise sees the future.” Therefore, we must understand what consequences will result from opening our mouths. First, we should analyze and anticipate the consequences in advance, and then speak.
Question: How can we learn to foresee this? Often, a person seems to see what the consequences may be, but he makes mistakes in his evaluations. How can we approach this correctly?
Answer: In Kabbalah, this is solved with the help of the environment. I have to create the right environment around me, preferably of ten people. If I annul myself before them and act in accordance with the opinion of the ten, then what I do is usually positive.
From KabTV’s “Kabbalah Express” 6/13/21
Answer: Yes. The wisest thing one can do is not think about the future because the future actually does not exist.
The present is renewed every moment. The present that is renewed every moment is the future and what I want is to actually live in this state.
The illusion of the past, present, and future should not lead me to unrealistic areas. I only know what I feel now and in the next moment I build my own feelings by myself. This is the creation of the future world.
From KabTV’s “Fundamentals of Kabbalah” 4/28/19