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My new article on Linkedin “Reflections Following the Results of the Elections in Virginia”
In the end, identity politics is just that: politics. It is not real life; it is make-believe. In the end, humanity will reject ideas that do not coincide with nature. It may require a big war, perhaps another virus or some other trigger, but it may not. Either way, humanity will turn away from such exaggerations of the ego and establish a balanced and harmonious society where people find their self-expression in manners that contribute to society rather than shatter it into myriad confused and unhappy individuals.
Traditionally, the American people are quite conservative, in the good sense of the word. There are fluctuations back and forth but in the end, I believe that Americans will draw conclusions and follow what is natural and not the bellows of people with trendy ideas that are here today and gone tomorrow.
Changing one’s identity, deciding that I am something other than how I was born, all these are signs of growth. However, growth needs to be guided, or we grow where our ego leads us—away from each other and deeper into ourselves—toward separation, alienation, and sadness. This is where critical race theory and identity politics are leading us, and the residents of Virginia used the gubernatorial elections to refuse this direction. Instead of developing our true identity and realizing its full potential, the ideas that were rejected in this election encourage us to adopt another identity, and then spend the rest of our lives trying to justify our choice. This is not a recipe for happiness.
However, there is a good reason why such ideas are implanted in people. When people are busy trying to determine who (or what) they are, it is easier to govern them.
By nature, rulers want only one thing: to rule. It is easy to handle people when they are confused and deal with other issues besides the government and what it is (or is not) doing for them. Find them an enemy, find them a cause, and they will busy themselves with it and leave the rulers to enjoy the amenities of governance. Machiavelli wrote about it centuries ago, and human nature has not changed since.
Yet, all this is happening for a reason. The idea of wanting to change who we are is not without merit. It stems from an inherent yearning to find a higher purpose in life. Wanting to break the boundaries of nature is an expression of our disagreement with who we are.
Unlike any other being, it is an inherent desire in human beings to search for answers about their existence. Where do I come from? Why was I born? Why is there pain? Why was I born into my sex and not into another? Can I change who I am? And in the end, what is the purpose of my existence? These years I have been given, is there a meaning and a purpose to them beyond just passing the time as best as I can? And if there is, what is it? These questions are characteristic of humankind and drive us into the frenzied confusion that we are in today.
However, we will not find the answers to them within ourselves. We will find them in our connections with others. The shattering of our society “helps us,” in a warped kind of way, understand that we have built an ill society, and we must rebuild it if we want to be happy.
But we needn’t change anything within ourselves. There is nothing wrong with any of us as individuals. The only thing that is wrong is the way we treat each other. Therefore, our relation to each other is all we have to correct.
When we begin to feel more united, that we belong to one another like family members belong to one another, we won’t need to change who we are because we will focus on making other people feel loved and cared for.
In a good family, people don’t worry about themselves; they worry about each other and about the whole family. But because everyone in the family thinks this way, everyone is happy because everyone feels loved and cared for.
These days, when everyone is dependent upon everyone else the world over, we have to start building this feeling not just in our families, but among everyone. Eventually, this blanket of concern should cover all the people in the world.
Granted, it is a long journey, but its end is bliss, and nature is willy-nilly pushing us that way. Therefore, the sooner we align with nature, the happier we will be. In the end, isn’t this what we all want?
My new article on Linkedin “Covid – the Career Terminator”
We are not even two years into Covid, but it is already clear that the virus is revolutionizing civilization. Things we took for granted until recently, such as work, school, and entertainment, have become debatable on many levels. The virus is not only affecting our health and our lives; it is changing how we see ourselves as human beings and as members of society.
Until the virus landed on us, we branded people, in large part, by their careers or jobs, and their lifestyles. Having a career used to be a symbol of success. There was a romantic tone to the word, and images of frequent “work” trips, company credit cards, an apartment in a high-rise with a guard in the lobby, and a social status for others to envy.
Somehow, Covid dimmed the glamour. It is not that people utterly reject the idea of a career, but it is not as enviable as it was two years ago, and its appeal is only waning.
We still want money, and we always will, but we are willing to pay much less for making lots of it. We are not willing to sacrifice so much of our social lives, our other interests, our peace of mind, and our family time for a social status. In part, it is because we no longer find it so enticing, and in part, it is because others no longer find our career “titles” enviable. They see our long hours at the office, our frequent flights, and they pity us for having to work so hard instead of enjoying life.
But the pandemic has gone deeper than changing our perception of work. Bit by bit, it has reawakened in us the “big” questions, those we have suppressed for years under the pressure of survival in a hyper capitalistic world: the questions about the meaning of life.
Just as the warming climate melts the permafrost and lets out gases that change the composition of our atmosphere, the virus is dissolving the ice in our hearts and opens them to long-frozen feelings that change the atmosphere in our society. We are learning to think more socially and less individually.
The fear of infection has made us acknowledge that we are dependent on others for our health. Now, with the crisis in supply chains due to the coronavirus, it makes us realize we are dependent on each other for our food, for the price we pay for things, for our ability to buy holiday gifts, for our entertainment, our social lives, and for our schools and education.
We may not realize it but the virus teaches us to reassess our values: who we consider great and admirable, and who we despise. It teaches us to judge people not by how much they make, but by how much they contribute to society. We started by applauding health and medical workers, then moved on to acknowledging that supermarket workers are indispensable, and now we realize that these invisible people are the ones who enable us to live and worry about ourselves.
Thanks to the virus, we are finally learning that each person is unique because each person can make a special contribution to society that no one else can. In our uniqueness, we are all equal.
When the process of welcoming each person’s uniqueness is complete, we will find that the hatred in our hearts is gone. We will realize how precious each of us is, and we will be grateful for the existence of every human being on this planet. When this happens, we will be thankful to Covid – the career terminator and generator of unity and peace.
My new article on Linkedin “Silence Is Golden”
I spent countless hours conversing with my teacher, Rav Baruch Shalom Ashlag (RABASH). For the most part, we spoke when we were alone during our daily morning walks or during our frequent two-day trips to Tiberias.
I once asked him what he did before I came, since when I met him he was already seventy-three years old. He said, “I was alone.” When I asked him if he didn’t need to talk to someone, he simply said, “No.”
Today, thirty years after his departure, I understand what he meant. I sit alone in my room and feel no need to come out or speak with anyone. I could sit here for a hundred years and not mind it whatsoever. I take strolls here and there, but since the closures started, I am mostly by myself, and I am perfectly content. Were it not for my students or the necessity to spread the wisdom of Kabbalah to the world, I wouldn’t utter a word.
In this I am like many Kabbalists before me. They, too, did not spend their days in idle conversation. They studied together and read from authentic Kabbalah sources.
This was also what RABASH and I used to do. Even when we were alone, such as in Tiberias, we would sit facing each other, The Book of Zohar or The Study of the Ten Sefirot open on the table between us, cups of Turkish coffee next to them, and we would read, and read, and read.
Once in a while, RABASH would stop reading to explain something, or I would ask a question about the text, but for the most part, we would read and connect between us, rising to a shared, spiritual feeling. Noting more was needed, nothing at all.
When an important event occurred, such as a war or elections in Israel, or other events that stirred the Israeli public, we would exchange a few words about it, but not for long, and certainly without prattling about it. We would not veer off from thinking about life’s purpose for a moment; every second mattered.
It is written in the Mishnah that Shimon, the son of Rabban Gamaliel, used to say, “All my days I grew up among the sages, and I have found nothing better for a person than silence. Study is not the most important, but deeds; and one who speaks too many words brings about sin” (Avot, 1:16).
Kabbalists are silent because they listen with their hearts. They listen to our common heart, the heart of the human system called Adam HaRishon, of which we are all parts.
We are born locked inside the bubble of our ego; we cannot listen to our common heart. Instead, we only listen to ourselves.
What I had learned from RABASH is to listen deep within, beyond the ego, to the common heart. In the depths of our soul, there is a longing to break through the boundaries of ego and feel the common heart. When we connect with it, we will truly be able to hear what is outside of us. We will be able to converse with the soul of all of humanity, with all of nature, and through them with the Creator.
My new article on Linkedin “The Canopy – How Jews Can Break the Spell of Antisemitism”
It seems like a vicious circle: Every time Jews settle somewhere, the local population welcomes them, they prosper there and believe that they have found their “new Jerusalem,” new homeland, but right when they become complacent, their hosts turn against them, banish them or kill them, and often do both. Since the Jews were exiled from Jerusalem in the first century CE, they have been driven out from nearly one thousand places. If you stick a pin anywhere on a map of Earth, chances are that Jews lived there and were ousted from there.
We thought we were safe in England until we were driven out from there in the 13th century. We thought we were safe in Spain until they expelled us in the 15th century. We thought we were safe in Poland until we were butchered there in the 17th century. We thought we were safe in Russia until the pogroms of the late 19th century taught us better. We thought we were safe in Germany until the Nazis came and taught us that no place and no time are safe for the Jews.
Now, many of us still think we are safe in America and in Israel. We are not, and we mustn’t mistake complacency for safety.
Yet, this is not an unbreakable spell. If we conduct ourselves correctly, we can lift the curse and have a bright and prosperous future. For this, we must build a canopy of unity over our divisions, which will shelter us from the stormy clouds ahead.
We are nearing a critical point in the history of the world, and we Jews will be at its center, as we always have been. We will be accused of everything that is wrong in the world, as we always are, and there is a lot that is wrong with it today.
There will be no distinction between Jews in Israel and Jews abroad; all of us will face the world’s indictments. Moreover, the more we stall, the more momentum and intensity the hatred of the Jews will gain.
In the past, we could run from one country to another when things got bad. But one of the most important lessons we can learn from the Holocaust is that Germany was not alone in its hatred for the Jews. The Nazis were willing to expel the Jews right up to the Final Solution, but the developed countries closed their gates without exception. They even convened in Evian, France, for a special conference in 1938, where they decided not to grant German and Austrian Jews visas, while adding denunciation of how the Nazis are treating “their” Jews. Hitler took it as proof that the world tacitly agrees with his arguments against the Jews.
European Jewry had nowhere to run, and the vast majority of it was eliminated. Now we are facing a worldwide wave. If there was nowhere to go then, there is certainly nowhere to go now.
However, the ominous future does not mean that there is no hope. On the contrary, we have every reason to be hopeful since we have a key that can solve the problem in an instant if we only place it in the lock and turn it open.
Our shelter is not physical, but spiritual: It is our unity. As such, it needs no place, and we need not flee to one country or another. All we need is to find the strength within us to stop hating one another. After all, this is why we were expelled from Jerusalem in the first place.
It is beyond the span of such a short piece as this to detail their words, but our sages throughout the ages have advised us to do only one thing to avert trouble: unite. One by one, they promised that if we love each other as brothers, we will be safe from harm.
There have been too few times in history when we listened to them, and these times were so peaceful that we hardly hear of them today. It is simply that there were no wars, poverty, or division in Israel during those times; there was nothing “interesting” to report. Nevertheless, this is our way out of trouble; unity is our salvation. For more details on the merits of our unity, please look in my book The Jewish Choice: Unity or Antisemitism.
Our unity will not give us any military strength. It is itself the source of our power since this is what the world wants to see from us—that we unite above our divisions. At a time of great division, humanity wants the Jews to lead not in cyber technologies, but in resolving social rifts through cohesion and solidarity.
When Henry Ford, a notorious antisemite, advised his readers to learn from the ancient Jewish society (see the book referenced above), this is what he aimed for. When member of the Russian Parliament Vasily Shulgin, a rabid antisemite, wrote in the early 20th century that if the Jews were teachers, he and all the Russians would follow them (again, see the reference above), he meant teachers in unity and love of others.
Unity is our shelter. If we build it, we will be safe and appreciated everywhere. The only benefit that can come from the rising wave of antisemitism is that if we turn to unity, we will save ourselves from harm and save the world from war. I hope we take the advice of our sages before the wave crests on us and breaks.
My new article on Linkedin “ The Building of Strong Jewish Communities”
It has been testing times for UK Jewry in the last few years and it appears that their struggles are showing no signs of abating. Temple’s shutdown and a worrying drop in synagogue attendance reflect the growing decline of the Jewish communities in Europe and around the world. It should be an eye opener for world Jewry to exert more efforts in building deeper connections between Jews beyond the walls of the places of worship.
British newspaper columnist, Simon Keltner, highlighted in a recent article that there had been a 20% drop in attendance at UK’s synagogues over the last 2 decades and expresses concerns about the future: “Unless synagogues can attract a younger demographic, they will die alongside their members, and there is solid evidence of historic synagogues having to close their doors for good through lack of interest.”
In fact, the South London Synagogue in Streatham closed its doors this year. The synagogue that had been open since 1867 announced the decision “with great sadness” due to lack of attendance and an inability to attract new members.
Most recently, Israeli media echoed the news about the closure of Liverpool’s iconic Princes Road Synagogue after almost 150 years of continuous operation, but it was later refuted by the temple’s administration. Their site though pleas for active participation of its members to keep the place alive.
The decline of the local Jewish communities is part of the natural devolution of the Jewish society worldwide. The further we move away from the previous generations, those who clung to the essence of Judaism, the more gradually we close synagogues.
The synagogue is the symbolic heart of a community, the unifying factor among its members. Its closure, in any city, indicates the disintegration of relations between members of the community. Nowadays, Jews identify less with their Judaism, particularly secular Jews. Some assimilate, some disperse, and consequentially communities crumble and disappear.
What might happen in the future with other Jewish temples? Most likely, larger religious denominations such as Muslims will acquire them. There are already some examples of this transformation in the city of Marseille, France where one of their largest synagogues became a mosque. The same has happened in other U.S. cities like Philadelphia.
Should Jews in those locations have fought harder for the preservation of their temples? No, they couldn’t, nor should they have. The real place of struggle should be within themselves, over their spiritual nature as Jews.
A “synagogue” is the symbol of a spiritual space where Jews must connect with one another heart to heart. From this common bond we must then turn to the Supreme Force, the Creator, to ask Him to raise us above the forces of separation between us to a state of mutual and complete connection.
A “synagogue” is a spiritual home where people gather as one family. If there is no inner connection between us, then there is no sense of belonging to the material place either. When this happens, it is only natural that the community ultimately vanishes. In an alternative scenario, a quorum remains but separation and conflicts prevail.
Our good future as Jews depends solely on the power of connection between us. Once the bond between us is severed, there is no point of return. It is not far-fetched to expect that many communities will soon reach such a precarious situation that congregations will disappear entirely.
The egoistic nature of human beings continues to increase, evoking greater forces of separation. Therefore, a gradual disregard for the sages of the generation and the elders of the tribe is also unfolding. Nothing holds the community together anymore and nothing encloses it from the outside.
Not only is the ego accelerating the dissolution of the community, but it is also serving as a call to action. In today’s global world we must communicate on a higher level, above time and place, on a level in which we feel like one global community. The means are available today through the Internet to connect the Jews across the globe, however, this also is an intermediate stage in the transition to a spiritual community, to the feeling of a common connection at the center of which is the Creator—the power behind the connection—who unites us all.
Not only Jews need to unite, eventually, the entire human race will have to come together. Jews have a duty to be the first, to lead the way and act as a light to the nations.
In my estimation, it will take humanity about twenty years to reach a huge climax in which the community will crumble; people will find no meaning in their lives and finally seek true meaning. Finding answers to that spiritual quest will lead us to establish a global spiritual community—a nucleus starting from the Jews and connecting together every person in the world into one tight-knit global community.
In the News (The Guardian “Tax on billionaires’ Covid windfall could vaccinate every adult on Earth”): “Analysis finds 99% levy on pandemic wealth rise could also pay all unemployed $20,000 – and still leave super-rich $55bn richer
“Every adult in the world could get a Covid-19 vaccine if the wealth billionaires collected during the pandemic was taxed 99% once, according to an analysis published on Thursday by several groups that advocate for economic equity.
“This one-time tax on the world’s 2,690 billionaires could also cover $20,000 in cash paid to all unemployed workers, according to the analysis by Oxfam, the Fight Inequality Alliance, the Institute for Policy Studies and the Patriotic Millionaires.
“That tax would still leave the billionaires with $55bn more than they had before the pandemic, the analysis said.”
Question: Do you think it is okay to tax them 99%?
Answer: I think this is the right thing to do. There must be a border, a ceiling above which no person in the world can receive.
Question: And if he does earn it?
Answer: He would not receive it, it should not be like that.
Question: And who limits everything to him?
Answer: A law. A law that is adopted by the UN, an international court, or someone else in which, it is clear that if someone earned 100 billion in a year, then, suppose, he gets 100 million, and the rest goes to the general treasury.
Question: A person’s income should practically be limited by law?
Answer: Of course.
Question: Then what is the point of a person being a billionaire and striving for some kind of wealth, being the first in these magazines like Forbes, and so on?
Answer: He will still be in these magazines, he will work with his own money, but in the end it will be clear that he is doing this for the good of everyone. And this is a completely different matter. The money does not stay with him for nothing. He twists and twists it all the time, this is understandable. How much does he spend on himself? A couple of million a year. And all the rest goes back to production, and so on.
Question: Is it necessary for him to feel that all this will go to people, that he donates all this to good deeds?
Answer: And he is the manager! He is the manager of these businesses, honored, highly respected, and so on.
Question: Why is it not done now? Why can they not do this, just decide and limit people’s income?
Answer: Society is arranged in such a way that it cannot do it! And those people who have such means and connections are able to make sure that society does not get close to them, with these lawyers, courts, media, anything. Everything is bought. All of this is one.
Question: How can you get to them?
Answer: Make a revolution, my friend! In the heads, in the mind, in the heart. Otherwise, these revolutions really do not give anything. We see it.
Question: Do you think we are approaching this revolution?
Answer: We want it. I do not know to what extent this will be possible,
Question: What does a person need to do to make this revolution happen?
Answer: Dissemination of Kabbalah in the world. When people understand that there is no other way besides the one suggested by Kabbalah for the correction of the world, for changing a person and the world.
Question: There must be a change in man?
Answer: Changing the world means changing a person.
From KabTV’s “News with Dr. Michael Laitman” 8/19/21
And now fear the Lord, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth; and remove the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the river and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. (Prophets, Book of Joshua, 24:13-14)
The Creator does not reproach the children of Israel, but tells them: “What you have conquered is yours. It’s deemed to be yours. You don’t need to plant and build anything, just fight with your internal enemies. This is your work.”
The Creator gave all this to the people for one purpose, so that they serve God. They don’t have to do anything else. This is the task of the people of Israel, to be directed only at the Creator and to correct all desires that arise against Him to equivalence of form with Him.
To serve God means to correct all the egoistic desires that you are able to discover in yourself by directing them to the Creator.
Question: How can I reveal these desires in myself?
Answer: You can’t find them in yourself because the basic law is “love your neighbor as yourself.” It is only on the basis of this law in relation to others that you can reveal who you are, what you are, and what you need to correct.
From KabTV’s “Secrets of the Eternal Book” 9/6/21
Michael Laitman, On Quora: “What is education?“
Education—i.e., the correct form of education and not how education is currently about skills and knowledge acquisition—is our integration in a particular social environment that gives us a line of action and a direction toward a future state.
We need to see our next state in our social environment. Our next state urges us forward, awakening, encouraging, motivating and inspiring us to be like it. In a social environment, it is easier for us to change.
Educators should thus create a social atmosphere whereby our feelings and moods become impetus for us to adapt to our surroundings, and thus the units from which society is composed gather into a harmonious group, which becomes our next state.
A harmonious group is one in which individuals who are egoistic by nature, i.e. made up of desires to enjoy at each other’s expense, become reshaped into positive social beings, and in which they start understanding that they are in absolute and mutual cooperation with the surrounding society, where only through mutual cooperation can they provide for everything that they need in a peaceful, harmonious and convenient way.
Accordingly, by entering such an environment, we apply a certain kind of pressure on our ego. That is, we wish to succeed and hold a certain level of respect in society, so if we enter a society that principally values mutual cooperation, then we try to become more cooperative and giving in order to fit in and gain society’s respect. In other words, we feel that our egoistic goals become satisfied through altruistic actions. Then, the more we nourish such an environment and participate in it, the more we will develop to become giving, cooperative and altruistic beings, values where if regularly upheld and strengthened in society, will raise us to become truly happy and confident people. That is the essence of an optimal form of education.
Based on a lesson with Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman, “The Last Generation,” on July 9, 2015. Written/edited by students of Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman.
The goal is achieved by building the correct intention over desire.
The right intention is called restriction (Tzimtzum) and Masach. Tzimtzum is a contraction of egoistic desire. And when the egoistic desire is slightly revealed in accordance with the altruistic intention, this is called the Masach. In fact, the screen commands the action.
The idea of creation is that for all the egoistic desires that unfold, one can gradually create a contraction: first, not to use this desire at all, then acquire a Masach, the intention to bestow, and to the extent of this intention, begin to slightly open the desire and add the intention to it.
This is how we receive for the sake of bestowal. This is the meaning of correcting the primordial desire of man—to receive. This is the intention of creation that leads a person to become one with the Creator, to full likeness to Him.
And the further a person advances in mastering the method of correction, the more egoism is revealed in him and the more Masach he must put on his egoism in order to correctly compare the right and left lines and come to the correct work on himself.
From KabTV’s “Conversation about The Book of Zohar”