Listen to an Audio Version of the Blog
Listen to an Audio Version of the Blog
Medium published my new article “Why Antidepressants Don’t Improve Quality of Life”
We would expect people with depression to feel better if they took antidepressants. Surprisingly, a huge study that examined 17.5 million adults diagnosed with depression each year between 2005–2016 concluded that they don’t. According to the study, “The real-world effect of using antidepressant medications does not continue to improve patients’ Health Related Quality of Life (HRQoL) over time.” Moreover, the study concludes that “Future studies should not only focus on the short-term effect of pharmacotherapy [treatment by medications], it should rather investigate the long-term impact of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions on these patients’ HRQoL.” Clearly, depression cannot be cured with drugs. The only solution to it is to deal with the root cause of depression; nothing else will help.
Drugs are chemicals that can affect our feelings. However, emotional satisfaction is far more than a temporary feeling that fades when the concentration of a drug in the blood drops. Emotional satisfaction, the lack of which causes depression, is the result of one’s connection with the root of life, the origin that vitalizes everything around us. Just as we do not feel the oxygen in the air, but immediately feel when its concentration declines, we do not feel that we are connected to the root of life, but we most certainly feel when we are disconnected from it.
The root of life is a vital force that generates and sustains everything around us. It maintains a dynamic balance between two opposites that we can generally relate to as giving and receiving. These opposites manifest differently on every level: night and day, spring and fall, life and death, love and hate, and so forth.
When we are disconnected from it, we feel disoriented, insecure, and aimless. Imagine being out in space with nothing all around you, not even stars or planets to show you where you are. You can breathe, but nothing you do has any effect. When we are on Earth, tremendous pressures operate on our bodies from the air, gravity pulls our bodies downwards, the changing weather and hours of the day dictate what we do, and the people around us force us to act and think in ways we would not otherwise choose to act and think were it not for social pressures. However, precisely these pressures and counter pressures we create from within make us feel alive and vital. They give us direction, spur our actions, and enable us to evaluate our lives.
When we become too concentrated on ourselves, we lose contact with others, our human and social connections break down, and our most valuable channel for connection with the root of life, that vital force, becomes blocked. This is why people without healthy social ties do not feel vitalized although there is nothing physically wrong with them.
The more we develop, the more we need emotional satisfaction. If previously, we needed social connections primarily in order to satisfy our survival needs, such as food and work, modernization has made securing our physical well-being relatively easy. As a result, our social ties have changed their purpose, and instead of securing our survival, they provide us with a reason to survive. Instead of diminishing their meaning, they have become the very meaning of our lives.
It has been shown in countless studies that a person with good social ties is far happier and far less prone to depression than a more introverted person. Again, it is the interaction of pressure and counter-pressure that makes us feel alive and gives us a sense of purpose and direction. The cure for depression, therefore, is not in drugs, which have no effect on our social connections, but in building meaningful social connections that will give us emotional satisfaction.
This does not mean that we should all have many friends or that we should not be alone. Our natural disposition to sociability or privacy should remain. However, every person, however private, needs social connections. Our purpose is to make the ties we do have meaningful.
Our social connections should be such that we support each other and encourage each other to realize our potential. We should learn to see the differences between us not as causes for separation, but as perspectives that enrich us with views we would not come to by ourselves. Just as the night gives meaning to the day, an opposite opinion to mine gives meaning to my own opinion.
Think, for example, of democracy. What would be the meaning of the word if everyone had the same political opinion?
Therefore, the only way to improve our quality of life is by having as many views as possible within the same society, and maintain the cohesion of society while keeping all those different views “alive and kicking.” This will keep us connected to that root of life, to the contradictions that give life direction and meaning, and that provide us with emotional satisfaction.
Michael Laitman, On The Times of Israel: “Could There Be A Second Holocaust?”
A second Holocaust for the Jewish people is not a distant, hypothetical idea, but a very real threat. Nearly half of Israelis (47%) fear it, according to a recent poll released on the eve of the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day. If we continue on our routine, annual path of only remembering the bitter memory of the Holocaust without looking to our common future, a similar catastrophe will be unavoidable.
When asked what Holocaust Remembrance Day will look like in 30 years, young people in Israel predict a worrisome future. 21% of Israelis age 35 to 45 say they believe the commemoration of Yom HaShoah will erode over time until it disappears altogether, compared to 12% of Israelis age 65 and older. This is the explosive forecast for the preservation of the Shoah memory made in a new survey by the Pnima Movement, a multidisciplinary research group on social issues in Israel.
Memory and recollections naturally fade and blur, so the act of remembering the Holocaust also diminishes and disappears over the generations. Of course, we try to pass the memories from generation to generation with the help of new ceremonies and undertakings, but how well is a person able to bring those reminiscences to life? And the bigger question is whether he or she is even interested in doing so? If someone is, then the person must look for fresh ways to artificially renew the impressions, because of course that will not happen without great effort and innovation.
All this being said, preserving memories from the past is not the issue I am most concerned with, but with the situations we face in the present, with the people who live today, and with what we can do to prevent another Holocaust from befalling us.
I do not agree with the approach that once a year we visit a monument near home and observe a moment of silence in a state ceremony just to make us feel righteous. We must focus our concern throughout the year. Thoughts about the role of the Jewish people and the meaning of the horrible hatred that we have been subjected to should be ingrained and carried with us most of the time. I don’t mean that they should be carried in an oppressive way so people feel crushed by the thought, but yes, to live out of an awareness of who we are and what we have been through. We should be repaired by the past suffering, and not merely remember it.
In addition to the Holocaust, other historical events that have befallen the Jewish people and need practical repair—the destruction of the two Temples, the Bar Kokhba revolt, the pogroms and the expulsions—should also be included. From the big picture, we must understand that what Jews have done to each other in all these terrible wars due to unfounded hatred is no less horrific than what our greatest enemies have done to us.
And we must make haste with expanding our awareness and understanding of the purpose and process of past suffering. When the younger generation points out that the Holocaust Remembrance Day will be forgotten and become a normal day in the near future, it’s a clue that we must adopt a new educational line: instead of educating the young generation to weep over the past, we must give them hope and the right direction for a better future. We must educate the children in how to be united and to love each other, because only in this way will they not suffer.
It is our duty to make clear to younger generations and to ourselves, the simple law present and at work beneath the confusion of historical events: Whenever the Jews distanced themselves spiritually from one another, they were despised and loathed and treated badly. So if we would only get closer to each other, we would cause good to ourselves and, as a result, good for the world. If we create good for the world, there will be no hatred of Jews in it. For that is our task: to be “a light unto the nations.” This means that we have the power to take our destiny upon ourselves by uniting with each other in brotherly love, as our sages have commanded us.
Medium published my new article “New Drug that Promises to Target Only Cancer Will Not Kill It”
Scientists at Tel-Aviv University (TAU) reported that they have developed a new way to deliver drugs directly to cancer cells rather than dispersing them throughout the body. According to the magazine Science Daily, “The study opens a new path to a personalized and precisely targeted battle against cancer.” Prof. Dan Peer, head of the research team, stated that their aim was “to silence the enzyme HO1 which enables tumors to develop resistance to chemotherapy, and to conceal themselves from the immune system. …Our new nanodrug,” he asserts, “knows how to precisely target the cancer cells, silence the enzyme, and expose the tumor to chemotherapy, without causing any damage to surrounding healthy cells.” I am all for advanced medicine, but medicine cannot cure the cause of cancer, and without curing the cause, it is like sealing one leak in a pipe only to find that we have created a new one instead.
Cancer is a unique disease. It develops when cells begin to consume their environment and grow at its expense. Eventually, cancer brings on itself its own death by killing the body that sustains it, but it cannot help itself.
That “selfish” behavior of tumors is very similar to the way we are behaving toward each other and toward the environment. Although we are dependent on both for our survival, our attitude toward them is opportunistic and abusive, yet we cannot help ourselves. In that sense, humans are the cancer of the earth.
While it is not that the more selfish one is, the more likely one is to develop cancer, the increasing prevalence of cancer in human society as a whole is a result of our increasingly exploitative attitude toward Earth and toward each other. Just as kind and generous people, or even little children, may develop cancer, the effects of humanity’s abusive attitude can manifest in parts of the world that are not particularly exploitative. There is mutual responsibility here: Just as the entire organism suffers when one organ becomes sick, all of humanity suffers when its overall attitude becomes sick, namely abusive.
Cancer is not the only outgrowth of our abusiveness. Basically, so are all of our diseases. However, cancer is the most striking case of a “selfish” disease, since the way it operates is so similar to the way we are behaving toward each other, toward animals and plants, and toward Earth as a whole.
Because cancer is an “egoistic” illness, the only cure for it is to cure our egoism. Eliminating cancer, therefore, requires uprooting egoism from our society.
Clearly, this is an educational process and not a medical one, but we will feel its benefits in every aspect of our lives. Education toward reciprocity and consideration will not only benefit our health, but our economy, the safety of our society, the level of drug abuse and drug-related crime, and our overall standard of living and well-being.
Even if we cannot see an overt connection between cancer and selfishness, eliminating the latter is clearly a worthwhile goal. Therefore, I would suggest that we try it first, and when we see the results, we will not want to stop.
Michael Laitman, On The Times of Israel: “What If Iran Has a Bomb”
On April 11, the Institute for Science and International Security released what might well be considered an alarming report: “As soon as mid-to-late April,” namely these very days, “Iran is expected to reach a new dangerous, destabilizing threshold, having enough highly enriched uranium (HEU) to fashion a nuclear explosive, about 40-42 kilograms (kg) of 60 percent enriched uranium… With this quantity, an enrichment level of 60 percent suffices to create a relatively compact nuclear explosive; further enrichment to 80 or 90 percent is not needed.” As a result, the report continues, “the possibility of manufacturing a nuclear explosive cannot be excluded.”
“A common fallacy is Iran would require 90 percent HEU … to build nuclear explosives,” the report continues. “Although Iran’s nuclear weapons designs have focused on 90 percent HEU and likely prefer that enrichment, modifying them for 60 percent HEU would be straightforward and well within Iran’s capabilities.” In other words, according to the report, we are already dealing with a nuclear Iran.
Initially, I believed that Israel must do whatever it can to prevent Iran from getting a bomb. However, if Iran already has a bomb, I do not think that it is the end of the world, although now the rules of the game will clearly be very different.
First, they will be different for Iran. Aspiring for an A-bomb and actually having one are two very different things. Once you have got such a powerful weapon, you realize that playing time is over. You imagine the possibilities that being a nuclear power will give you, but the truth is that the constraints are countless. You are no longer treated like a reckless child but like a nuclear power, and the demands from you increase accordingly. Any step you take toward using nuclear arms might be reciprocated with equal strength, if not more, so it is not as though you can do whatever you want. Instead, you have far less room for error.
Second, despite the toxic rhetoric, I do not believe that Iran has made the destruction of the State of Israel one of its goals. Clearly, it is vociferous and strident in expressing its hatred for the Jewish state, but I think it is more a matter of politics than of real commitment to Israel’s destruction. After all, despite using Hamas and Hezbollah as Iranian proxies that bully Israel, neither poses an existential danger to the Jewish state, and its own army has never participated in any of the full-blown wars against Israel. As I see it, Iran’s anti-Israel rhetoric is more a political tactic than an actual ideology.
Therefore, if Iran indeed has a bomb, we must make the necessary preparations for ourselves, but nothing more than that. After all, we, too, have our missiles and planes, as well as submarines, and all of them can carry nuclear bombs if needed.
Besides, Israel is not Iran’s only avowed enemy. As a Shiite state, it has been in conflict with Sunni states for centuries, and Sunnis are the majority in the Muslim world. Therefore, Iran’s struggle for hegemony in the Muslim world is just as bitter, and perhaps more important to it than its ambition to annihilate the Jewish state.
Also, there is a deeper layer to the conflict between Iran and Israel, which pertains directly to the role of Israel with regard to humanity. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent, humanity has no choice but to learn to work together. The semiconductor crisis, shipment delays, the pandemic, the rising inflation and food shortage are all happening on a global scale. No country can survive on its own today.
Israel’s past contains a formula of unity that has never been tried by anyone except Israel, and that, too, only in antiquity. According to this formula, one does not try to oppress the other or change the other person’s, or nation’s way of life. Rather, belligerent parties leave their adversaries as they are and try to bond with them above the differences. For this to happen, the value of unity itself must be superior to all other values.
Think of a woman and her child. She loves her child whether he is a saint or a Satan.
We must achieve something of that relation throughout all of humanity. Since it is completely unnatural, we must elevate the value of unity above all other values, so that it covers all the faults we see in others.
If we value unity above all else, we will use our traits for the common good rather than for our own good. The surprising result will be that we will realize that in reality, there are no negative qualities when we use them only where and how they contribute to society.
The conflicts we see today, whether between Israel and Iran or between Russia and Ukraine, are all for the same purpose: to make us realize that in the end, we will not agree but we will have to unite nonetheless.
The world hates Israel precisely because it had set a precedent in antiquity, and now it must revive it and become an example from which the world can learn. The enemies of Israel force it to unite, and thereby do what Israel must do for the world: become an example of unity. If Israel insists on refraining from carrying out its mission, it will stop existing with or without an A-bomb.
Question: Why is Pharaoh constantly changing? First he was good, then he was bad and so on. What does it mean?
Answer: He does not change by himself, but what changes is only his manifestation in relation to a person. At first, it seems to a person that Pharaoh is good, that he equips him with everything, leads him, hosts him, and gives him a good place in Egypt.
Then gradually, it is as if a different Pharaoh appears and he is bad. So it is said in the Torah: “And a new king arose over Egypt” (Rabash, “A Real Prayer is over a Real Deficiency”).
It is the same king, but because the person has changed and requires a different attitude toward himself, then Pharaoh has changed and does not give him what he would like. So it turns out to be a bad Pharaoh.
From KabTV’s “Spiritual States” 4/14/22
How easy it was to feel, support, and inspire a friend when we were physically together. And now we need to learn to feel each other through the screen. In fact, there will be no need for physical meetings; this will be the further development.
We will develop to such states that screens will not be in front of us but around us. This screen on which I now see my friends will connect with the screen showing me the world.
We still see the world around us on the screen, but we do not understand that it is a screen. All of humanity and the events happening to it are a broadcast on a screen that comes to me from above, from the Creator.
But it is possible to build an additional screen with which I will reveal a different, upper reality. And this screen depends on me, on whether I acquire the desire for bestowal.
In the same way, we will build a screen between us and with it we will no longer need today’s computer screen to see our friends.
Inside us there will be such an “Windows operating system” that will allow us to move from one window to another, from stage to stage, from world to world.
We will definitely come to this. If we do not have time in this life, then we will meet in the next cycle and continue this work.
From the 2nd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 4/24/22, Writings of Baal HaSulam, “A Speech for the Completion of The Zohar”
Michael Laitman, On Quora: “What thoughts or attitudes are helpful with stress management?“
Life—both our own lives and life on all biological levels—is in constant stress. It is because life is a clash of opposites and their combinations, and it unfolds on the boundary between plus and minus, positive and negative.
Stress is thus neither bad nor good. It is a necessary aspect of life. We should thus focus on how to best manage our lives with its necessary stress.
We were given brains and our social environment in order to adapt ourselves and manage stress properly. We can manage stress by understanding the necessity of the combination of plus and minus at all levels and in all circumstances, and seek how to reach balance between these poles. On our human level, we reach a balance between positive and negative forces by creating an attitude of love, giving and connection over hatred, reception and division.
As with the necessity of stress, there is also a necessity to feel negative sensations of hatred, rejection and division. Why? It is in order to rise above these sensations and cover them with their positives of love, giving and connection.
The wisdom of Kabbalah is a method for covering the negative with the positive. Using this method, we become aware of the negative sensations that surface in us, and learn how to establish positive attitudes upon them so that they exist in addition to each other. In Kabbalah, this tendency is described as the correspondence of darkness to light.
The more we learn about the necessity for the coexistence of positive and negative forces, and that their correct combination creates life, then the calmer and more reasonable we become. We then progress along what Kabbalah calls “the middle line,” accordingly constructing ourselves and our world in balance.
We learn how to become aware of the source of every state, how nature creates everything in order for us to balance negative qualities and states with positive ones. When we reach this level of awareness, we then start relating to everything and everyone out of absolute kindness. We do not deny any negative sensation, but we accept everything as necessary.
Even the most negative sensations such as hatred are necessary in order for us to rise above them, to simultaneously exist above and inside them. To put it simply, we should keep in mind the formula that “minus equals plus.” In other words, wherever we see a “minus”—the surfacing of a divisive drive—we should see a “plus”—an opportunity to positively connect above the divisive drive.
If we exercise changing our attitude to the world in such a way, by replacing our divisive drives with unifying tendencies, egoism with altruism, and hatred with love, then everything will turn out fine. If we fail to do so, then our divisions and hatred will proliferate in the world, causing us much suffering.
Based on “News with Dr. Michael Laitman” with Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman and Semion Vinokur on December 23, 2021. Written/edited by students of Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman.
Question: Archaeologists often find a great number of figurines of different gods and idols dating back to the time of the First Temple during their excavations. How can the worship of various idols be combined in a people who believe in one God?
Answer: Look at small children—how they make all sorts of idols for themselves, build some little things. When a child firmly holds a toy, it calms him down, gives him self-confidence.
Keeping something familiar, something a person is used to (cameos, amulets, red threads, holy water, for example) gives a person confidence, like a child who does not let go of a small toy because he is used to it, it soothes him.
This is the original basis of worship, pure idolatry.
From KabTV’s “Spiritual States” 4/5/22
Comment: In modern trading, we observe a peculiar chain when someone profits from someone and the other from him, then from someone else, and so on. And in the end, everyone loses, no one gains anything.
My Response: This is how the world operates, so that everything that people do goes away like water into sand. Nothing remains of this, except terrible efforts and crippled lives.
But now we are at a stage when we begin to be aware of our pettiness, the corruptness of our egoism, and we understand that we are unable to do anything.
And so we come to the realization that we need to do something with ourselves, with our nature. This is already a serious affirmation that people will see that in Kabbalah there is the power to get rid of human suffering, the power to transform all of humanity into something great. Not just to arrange life on earth somewhat, but to pull us out of this state to the next level, to the higher universe, to unlimited existence.
I see how many are approaching this. They may not even understand yet or be fully aware of what they are saying. But the process has begun.
From KabTV’s “I Got a Call. Global Financial Fraud” 5/4/10