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My new article on Linkedin “Thirty Years Ago Today, My Teacher Passed Away”
On a cold and rainy evening in February 1979, as I and Chaim Malka, my study partner of several years back then, were about to start studying our usual ancient Kabbalah books, I suddenly got tired of the endless and seemingly futile search for the truth. “Let’s go look for a teacher,” I said to Chaim. “Where would we go?” he asked. “Let’s drive to Bnei Brak,” I replied, “we’ve never looked there.” Chaim wasn’t keen on driving in this weather, much less to a Jewish Orthodox crowded city with narrow, semi-paved roads, and where kabbalists were unlikely to be found. I urged him nonetheless and he, reluctantly, agreed.
When we got to Bnei Brak, late that evening, there was no one on the streets. They were empty, wet, and cold. At a crossroads, I suddenly spotted a man about to cross the street. Hurriedly, I lowered the window pane and hollered toward him: “Where do they study Kabbalah around here?”
It was a very unusual question. In those days, no one spoke about Kabbalah, and among Orthodox Jews, the topic was a taboo. Even more unusual was the man’s response: He looked at me calmly and replied straight away, as if he had been waiting for me to come and ask him just that. “Turn right, go all the way down to the end of the road where the orchard begins,” he said. “To your left, you’ll see a house. That’s where they study Kabbalah,” he concluded and went on his way.
We drove as the man instructed, and indeed, the house was there. We got out of the car, and knocked on the door but no one answered. The house was nearly all dark. We tried the door and it was unlocked. We went inside and there was no one there except for one room that was lit and voices came from in there. We walked in hesitantly and found five or six elderly men reading in The Zohar and murmuring words in a language I did not understand (it was Yiddish). The elder gestured to us to take a seat, and we sat silently next to the men, on the benches around the old, wooden table where the men were studying.
The elder among them, who invited us to join them and was clearly the teacher, turned out to be Rav Baruch Shalom Ashlag (RABASH), the firstborn son and successor of Rav Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam), the greatest kabbalist in the 20th century and author of the acclaimed Sulam [Ladder] commentary on The Book of Zohar. Finally, after years of searching, I had found my teacher.
For the next twelve years, until his final breath, I stayed with RABASH, assisting him in everything I could, and learning from him all that he could give, and he had given me more than I could ever have imagined anyone could give. Thirty years ago today, he passed away in my arms, leaving me his notebook where he wrote all that he had learned from his giant father, and with a legacy: to tell the world about the true meaning of this great wisdom, and show them a path of light in a dim present and a foreboding future.
I wrote my first three books under the guidance of RABASH. Following his passing, I wrote another book, and people began to come to me in search of a teacher. I had no desire to teach. I wanted to seclude myself with the books and the wisdom I had learned from RABASH. But they insisted on coming and I realized that the times were changing and the doors to the wisdom of Kabbalah were opening.
Together with my first students, we established the first study group, and Bnei Baruch [Sons of Baruch], a group of students who strive to walk in the footsteps of my teacher, and of all the kabbalists before him, came to be.
Thirty years later, Bnei Baruch is no longer a group. Today, it is a worldwide movement that strives to help the world unite in love above all differences. Thanks to my students, the teachings of RABASH are learned and loved throughout the world. These students are fulfilling my teacher’s dream. Therefore, today I am confident that with the help of my teacher, and the dedication of my students and friends, the teachings of the man of light, whose love radiated from his every word, will spread far and wide, and illuminate our lives.
My new article on Linkedin “Why Homeschooling Is Booming”
Homeschooling has been on the rise in the US and all over the West for several decades now, but the years 2020-2021 brought with them a leap in the number of homeschooled children. As of March 2021, nearly 5 million K-12 children were learning at home, twice as many as in 2019, and almost 9 percent of school-age children in the US. In light of the dismal state of the education system, it is not surprising. If we want children to be happy when they go to school, we must revamp the entire paradigm of education.
An essay titled “Homeschooling: The Research,” published on July 01, 2021, proves that the phenomenon is not exclusive to a particular faith, race, ethnicity, income level, or even level of schooling. According to the essay, “A demographically wide variety of people homeschool – these are atheists, Christians, and Mormons; conservatives, libertarians, and liberals; low-, middle-, and high-income families; black, Hispanic, and white; parents with Ph.D.s, GEDs, and no high-school diplomas.”
Homeschooling has been gaining popularity not because people are so keen on teaching their children by themselves. Its expansion is first and foremost a testimony to the collapse of the existing paradigm. It is not surprising. If you force an education system that was designed during the Industrial Revolution, and whose initial goal was to teach basic literacy and how to operate a lathe, it is a recipe for disaster.
What’s more, the education system does not really educate. It provides some knowledge, but it does nothing in terms of cultivating children’s social skills and human relations. School children of all ages are easy targets to bullying, drug and substance abuse, violence and sexual predation at a place where they should be protected and cared for—at school. In such an atmosphere, they are unable to learn properly, and develop survival skills rather than educational skills. Many of their emotional problems stem not from the domestic environments or from their own personalities, but from the stressful and intimidating atmosphere they are subjected to at school.
For many parents, such stress on their children is unacceptable, and they are opting to relinquish part of their income and take their children’s education into their own hands. As the research shows, despite their lack of teaching experience, the results of their efforts exceed those of the system that was meant to be professional and superior to parents teaching their children.
When children feel imprisoned at school, they cannot flourish. At home, where they feel free, they can do much better even with less professional assistance.
Nevertheless, I do not believe that homeschooling is the ideal educational method. Children need to be among peers of their age group. Also, not all parents are suitable teachers, just as not all people are suitable for any expertise. People who excel in educating, and who are naturally disposed to it, should engage in it. However, the system must be one that caters to the needs of the children and not one that forces them into templates created centuries ago, and which do not fit how they think, feel, perceive the world, or match their aspirations.
In the absence of a system that provides minimal educational requisites and human relation skills, homeschooling is the lesser of two evils. However, as I said, it is not the right way to bring up children in the future.
Rearing children should be done in small groups, with boys and girls apart, as coed settings are certainly the cause of many problems. Additionally, there should be more connection between schools and parents, more discussions about what the children want, need, and where they are learning. Subsequently, children should learn according to their preferred course of learning, the one that suits them.
There is a saying in Hebrew: “Teach the child according to the child’s way.” It means that because each child has unique attributes and qualities, each child should learn according to those characteristics. In this way, children grow up feeling satisfied and fulfilled.
Last, but certainly not least, is the issue of social learning. Since we spend much of our time communicating with others, and since we learn from one another all the time, schools should dedicate much of the time and educational programs to teaching human relation skills. In order to become productive and confident adults, children must learn how to communicate positively and productively with one another. This will help them at work, at home, with their own children when they become parents, and wherever they communicate with people.
My new article on Linkedin “Exposing 9/11 – The Case for Finding the Elusive Truth”
I’m all in favor of declassifying the documents related to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Regrettably, in the absence of commitment to a timeline or to exposing any actual content, the move to declassify the documents seems more declarative than substantive. According to the DOJ’s letter, the FBI will “review its prior privilege assertions to identify additional information appropriate for disclosure. The FBI will disclose such information on a rolling basis as expeditiously as possible.” The smokescreen surrounding the 9/11 attacks is an example of an error that governments keep making. Hiding the truth, any truth, about any event in history, denies us the ability to draw correct conclusions for the future, and we all pay for it.
As in the case of the move to declassify the 9/11 documents, the motive behind seeking declassification is often monetary compensation. However, compensation of any kind does not tell us what really happened, and if we don’t know what happened, we are missing the more important lesson: What we should do in order to prevent such misfortunes from happening in the future.
Every catastrophe/disaster/debacle in history gets different interpretations from different people according to their personal perspectives. Therefore, even after we expose the “truth,” we should keep looking for a “truer” truth, for deeper reasons, and for new insights since there will always be more to find.
To me, the reason for exposing the truth is not to blame anyone. Human nature is rotten from the core, as we’ve known since Biblical times, so I do not expect people to be righteous or believe that compensation will do any good to anyone. The reason I think we should always be looking for the truth is that if we want to build a better tomorrow, can we do this if we do not know our past?
The more we know about why people do what they do, what is their nature, what moves them and why, the more we will be able to establish a stable and solid society. Transparency is key to the proper building of a society. If we hide nothing from each other, we will be able to communicate more easily, we will know what to expect from one another, what to avoid, and how to strengthen our connections. This is why I think that the truth matters. Not for revenge or compensation, but as a lesson for the future.
Michael Laitman, On Quora: “What is your ideal vision for the future of the Earth?“
The cells of any living organism, despite being egoistic, nevertheless by working with each other they unify into a single mechanism, one altruistic system, where each cell attaches itself to the organism and becomes entirely immersed in caring only about how to integrate into the organism, how to provide life to the organism and its general functioning, as otherwise it will itself lose life.
This should be the common attitude in human society: if we want to survive, then we need to accept the same law of how cells function in any living organism, and everyone should take care of everyone else. That is how we should envision our future.
Over the course of our life on Earth, we develop by means of egoism. We have grown to become increasingly egoistic over our development, but now we have arrived at the end of egoistic development and are in a completely different dimension. We need to understand that a new reality and a new system are opening themselves up to us, in which we are increasingly interconnected and interdependent. Accordingly, we need to accept the integral system that we are parts of as the law of life between us. Therefore, if we accept this as a fact, we will see our future life be good.
I hope that this is precisely what we will see.
Based on a Q&A with Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman on September 9, 2006. Written/edited by students of Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman.
Question: All Jewish holidays symbolize certain spiritual states a person comes to as a result of spiritual work. On the other hand, on these dates, as you said, there is a certain awakening, a certain illumination from above. What are these states called holidays?
This light emanates, changes, and affects us, and by its altering influences constantly elevates us, teaches us, and makes us more and more complex and composite, and thus moves us forward. It is our spiritual evolution.
In principle, corporeal evolution also comes from the same light, only at the lowest level.
There is a correlation between corporeal and spiritual levels. Light affects the entire volume of the universe: inanimate, vegetative, animate, human, our spiritual properties and states, as well as the degrees we study in the wisdom of Kabbalah. And at the same time, we study how to master them, how to really begin to feel them and climb them.
All this is with a certain reliance on each other in a cycle called “a year.” According to this, the effect of the light on us and on the world around us changes. Therefore, in our world, we symbolically celebrate different dates relative to the spiritual world in which these states are getting implemented.
A month is a lunar cycle. A year is a revolution of the Earth around the Sun. Yet, there is no week. Thus, the day and all other time-markers come from the influence of the upper force, of the light, which changes everything around us and changes our corporeal world at the same time.
Therefore, in the corporeal world, we can celebrate all sorts of dates, that is, their correspondence to the spiritual world. But in our world these dates are carried out automatically according to the movements of the Sun, Moon, Earth, and so on, and in the spiritual world, these influences occur only because of man—to the extent that he aims through his actions to ever increasing similarity to the spiritual Earth, Moon, Sun, and so on.
This is the meaning of all the holidays, the so-called “Moadim,” and all the events in our world.
From KabTV’s “Spiritual States”
Question: Is there a connection between the term “Masach” (Screen) and “Kisuf, Kesef,” which means “covering”?
Answer: Yes, there is such a connection because the screen is a special covering of egoism, which allows a person to be above egoism, that is, above his inherent nature.
To the extent of this covering, he begins to feel something that is outside of our world, outside of his egoism. And in his egoism, he feels only this world.
Thus “Screen” and “covering” mean the same thing.
From KabTV’s “Spiritual States” 8/20/21
Comment: The fetus does not have a mouth so it receives nutrition through the umbilical cord. A child who is born has a mouth. In Kabbalah, this is called the Peh of the Partzuf. And when a child grows up, teeth appear.
My Response: Teeth help chew food and are involved in the absorption of food. They are like grinding millstones; it is impossible without them. Animals, fish, all creatures have teeth or some kind of teeth in one form or another.
Question: What is the difference between the fact that the fetus receives food directly from the umbilical cord and the fact that the child chews food himself?
Answer: The fetus accepts everything that is given to it through the umbilical cord. He is not asked what he needs. He completely cancels himself, receives everything he needs from above, and is absolutely satisfied with it.
And when a child is born, his self-awareness develops, and he begins to repel; this he wants, this he does not want. He has problems with the body and the absorption of food.
Question: When a person receives everything directly from the Creator, like an embryo, can this be called blind faith? I agree with everything that happens to me.
Answer: Yes, of course. This is blind faith. A person accepts everything that comes from the Creator as absolutely correct. His desires are still small, and therefore he agrees.
And then his desires grow, but in accordance with this, the systems through which he will cancel these desires should also grow. That is, the top of these desires still sticks to the Creator, but with the help of requests and prayers.
Now it is no longer the higher organism that takes everything upon itself in order to annul its egoism, but it consciously does it and gradually takes over from the Creator all the work that the Creator performed for him at the initial stages of his development.
It turns out that the further it is, the harder it is to cancel oneself in relation to the Creator and agree with Him. Since egoism is growing all the time, a person must constantly strengthen himself. Therefore, a group, study, and books are needed.
From KabTV’s “Spiritual States” 8/6/21
Question: Is there any connection between the process of the conception of the soul and the process of acquiring the screen?
And before that, when one is in the process of conception (Ibur), one has neither a screen nor a soul. Being born in spirituality and the appearance of the screen take place at the same time.
Question: Is it possible to transfer the screen from teacher to student?
Answer: No. Not in any way. Sometimes this can be achieved for a while by common study, common actions. But in general, this is not for the benefit of the student. The student must work on it and acquire the screen himself.
From KabTV’s “Spiritual States” 8/20/21
Answer: Any absorption of food must be accompanied by blessings, because everything comes from the Creator. Everything descends to a person from top to bottom. Therefore, before eating or drinking, a person should thank the Creator accordingly. Only then can you start your meal.
Comment: Many people bless food before and after meals. This is considered a folk tradition.
My Response: Yes, but in principle, this is giving thanks for the fact that we are sitting at a meal and now we will fulfill our desires, satisfy our hunger. Therefore, we thank the Creator, from whom everything, the sun, water, and everything else, descends, and thanks to which we can fill, revive ourselves, and support life.
Question: If we consider the Creator as nature, what does it mean to thank nature?
Answer: This means that you form the correct attitude to nature in yourself, you consider yourself not the master of everything that is in nature, but only the recipient. It is very important to understand that you are not the master.
Question: What is the difference between the blessings before and after the meal?
Answer: Before the meal, you give thanks for receiving this food. And after for the fact that you are satiated, and now you can live on.
From KabTV’s “Spiritual States” 7/9/21