The Times Of Israel: “Sukkot: How Humanity Can Live in Harmony Under One Roof“

The Times of Israel published my new article “Sukkot: How Humanity Can Live in Harmony Under One Roof

Home is now a relative concept for masses of people across the globe. Every day, the pursuit of better opportunities and jobs prompts many to migrate to new locations. Record numbers simply have no option and are forcibly displaced as a result of war, persecution, crime or natural disasters. Let’s see what the Sukkot holiday can teach us about creating a real sense of belonging and peaceful coexistence…

First, let’s get a perspective on the demographics. According to the United Nations, an estimated 258 million people worldwide are living in a country other than their birthplace, an increase of 49% in the last two decades. One third of these had to flee life-threatening conditions to look for a safe haven, with their eyes mainly set on wealthy countries.

EU leaders are unsuccessfully trying to solve what is considered the biggest refugee and displacement crisis of our time. Anti-migrant sentiments have rapidly escalated into deep social tensions in some European cities. Meanwhile, in the United States, there is an estimated over 11 million undocumented immigrants trying to enter, resulting in a humanitarian crisis along the US border.

In today’s world, it is hard to find examples of stability, constancy and empowerment. The dynamics of our global and interconnected world, where the movement of each individual affects others, constantly pressures us with instability and unpredictability. In a system of mutual interconnection, we all depend on one another. It cannot be good for one, if it is not good for everyone.

Natural Course of Development

The migration of millions from one country to another is part of nature’s evolutionary program. The same holds true for the changing global climate, another powerful cause of relocation and uncertainty. The most recent examples are the devastation caused by Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines, and Hurricane Florence in the US. The latter has left a trail of destruction estimated at $22 billion in damages and thousands of people displaced due to mandatory evacuations.

However, the fact is that we can prevent these blows. If, prior to nature’s blow, we understood nature’s defined plan of development, we could lead the entire human race to a bright, new horizon.

What, then, stands in the way of us creating a good life for all people?

It is none other than the human ego—the desire to enjoy at the expense of others. As part of humanity’s natural evolution, the ego has grown to grotesque proportions like a cancer within the system, while nature expects us to keep its basic law of balance between all its elements: still, vegetative, animate and human.

The sooner we comprehend the lesson nature is teaching us, the sooner we can transform our fleeting and fragile life into one that is positive, stable and peaceful.

Creatures of Habit

A person, like any other animal, aspires for comfort and security. Interestingly, the Sukkot holiday (The Feast of Tabernacles) is a call to come out from our comfortable egoistic “home” and build a new structure, a sukkah, the symbol of the new world that we can build for ourselves and transform our egoistic nature into the quality of bestowal.

Why is this reconstruction and relocation important? Also, what does it have to do with us?

As humanity has developed, it has striven to ensure a solid future, but the sad reality is that life has only become more complex over time. In the past, everything seemed simpler. Life seemed to have continuity, comfort and stability. Parents inherited homes and left them to their children. People felt secure in their professions and had few worries about a future source of income. But everything seems to have rapidly lost value in recent years.

Families are increasingly in shambles. Everything feels subject to change. One could generally say that yesterday’s comfortable home has become today’s temporary shelter from the storm closing in on us.

What is one of the most distressing ironies of our era? It is that, in a technological era when we have an abundance of resources to guarantee a good and safe life for everybody, we use our advancements to harm each other, engaging in wars, conflicts and constant struggles, and creating an atmosphere of increasing anxiety rather than one of increasing confidence. Our evil nature is overpowering our aspirations for a pleasant life.

Our safest bet today is to explore nature in depth and identify its ironclad rules. By understanding the trend of nature’s development can we ensure painless and rapid progress.

Knowledge about the inner workings of the system of nature is our only anchor in the changing world. We need to gain universal knowledge that includes recognition of the natural system, understanding how it works and where it directs our development as human beings. When we will understand this system, we will align ourselves with nature’s general law, the force that operates and controls everything in reality.

From Self-Love to Love of Others

The formula by which we can begin to hold on to this higher power is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” The observance of this rule requires exiting the ego with which we were created—exiting our permanent home of self-love and entering into a new dwelling of love of others. This is what the wisdom of Kabbalah teaches and this is the inner message of Sukkot.

Loving your neighbor as yourself is the means to discover a new home. On the way from love of oneself to love of others, our image of reality is replaced. Our senses are reversed, the mind and the heart change direction from inside out, and an opposite world is revealed to us. We suddenly see a higher, wider world in which the program of development and management of our lives is located.

Also, when our eyes open up to see that we are all one, we stop making mistakes and ensure a happy coexistence under one common, global roof. Happy Sukkot!

The Times Of Israel: “Why Is There Anti-Semitism?“

The Times of Israel published my new article “Why Is There Anti-Semitism?

Overlooking the controversy of what is anti-Jewish discourse

Anti-Semitism has been at the center of a recent semantic dilemma, with opposite perspectives in Europe and the US in terms of what is considered anti-Semitic and a legitimate criticism of Israel. It deviates our focus from the real matter at hand: Why does the phenomenon of anti-Semitism receive dramatic global attention, comparable to the time of the Second World War, according to recent studies.

The British Labour party, facing mounting backlash for their anti-Semitic positions in recent years, adopted in full the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which calls for combating hatred and discrimination against Jews and Holocaust denial, but included a caveat alongside on “freedom of speech on Israel,” the right to criticize the Jewish nation and its policies.

On the other hand, the Trump administration reopened a 7-year-old case involving alleged anti-Semitism at Rutgers University, backing the claim of Jewish groups, which have long-campaigned fighting anti-Jewish bias and the hostile environment on college campuses across the US, promoted by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. As a vivid example of admitted support of this movement by academics, just a few days ago a professor at the University of Michigan rescinded his offer to write a recommendation letter for one of his students after he learned that she wanted to study in Israel.

The U.S. Department of Education, has now signaled that it is willing to blur the line between criticism of Israel and discrimination against Jewish students, where condemnations of Israel that call into question its legitimacy and the Jewish people’s right of self-determination are defined as anti-Semitic. Such a move is considered by some as a violation of the First Amendment, if implemented.

We could continue with many more examples on this issue. However, maybe the time has come to address this matter from a more in-depth perspective on the root cause of undeniable anti-Semitism and its solution? Four years ago, I published an article in The New York Times print edition entitled, “Who Are You, People of Israel?” Since anti-Semitic crimes and threats have only escalated since then, I would like to re-publish this article, as the solution to this problem is right around the corner. It is up to us to achieve it sooner rather than later.

Who Are You, People of Israel?

Time and again, Jews are persecuted and terrorized. Being Jewish myself, I often ponder the purpose of this relentless agony. Some believe that the atrocities of WWII are unimaginable today. And yet, we see how easily and abruptly the state of mind preceding the Holocaust is re-emerging, and “Hitler was right” shouts are sounded all too often and all too openly.

But there is hope. We can reverse this trend, and all it requires is that we become aware of the bigger picture.

Where We Are and Where We Come From

Humanity is at a crossroads. Globalization has made us interdependent, while people are growing increasingly hateful and alienated. This unsustainable, highly flammable situation requires making a decision about humanity’s future direction. Yet to understand how we, the Jewish people, are involved in this scenario, we need to go back to where it all began.

The people of Israel emerged some 4,000 years ago in ancient Babylon. Babylon was a thriving civilization whose people felt connected and united. In the words of the Torah, “The whole earth was of one language and of one speech” (Genesis, 11:1).

But as their ties grew stronger, so did their egos. They began to exploit, and finally hate one another. So while the Babylonians felt connected, their intensifying egos made them increasingly alienated from each other. Caught between a rock and a hard place, the people of Babylon began to seek out a solution to their plight.

Two Solutions to the Crisis

The search for a solution led to forming two conflicting views. The first, suggested by Nimrod, king of Babylon, was natural and instinctive: Dispersion. The king argued that when people are far from one another, they do not quarrel.

The second solution was suggested by Abraham, then a renowned Babylonian sage. He argued that according to Nature’s law, human society is destined to become united, and therefore strove to unite the Babylonians despite, and atop their growing egos.

Succinctly, Abraham’s method was a way to connect people above their egos. When he began to advocate his method among his countryfolk, “thousands and tens of thousands assembled around him, and … He planted this tenet in their hearts,” writes Maimonides (Mishneh Torah, Part 1). The rest of the people chose Nimrod’s way: dispersion, as do quarrelsome neighbors when they try to stay out of each other’s way. These dispersed people gradually became what we now know as “human society.”

Only today, some 4,000 years down the line, we can begin to assess whose way was right.

The Basis of the People of Israel

Nimrod forced Abraham and his disciples out of Babylon, and they moved to what later became known as “the land of Israel.” They worked on unity and cohesion in accord with the tenet, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” connected above their egos, and thus discovered “the force of unity,” Nature’s hidden power.

Every substance consists of two opposite forces, connection and separation, which balance themselves out. But human society is evolving using only the negative force—the ego. According to Nature’s plan, we are required to consciously balance the negative force with the positive one—unity. Abraham discovered the wisdom that enables balance, and today we refer to his wisdom as, “the wisdom of Kabbalah.”

Israel Means Straight to the Creator

Abraham’s disciples called themselves Ysrael (Israel) after their desire to go Yashar El (straight to G-d, the Creator). That is, they wished to discover Nature’s force of unity so as to balance the ego that stood between them. Through their unity, they found themselves immersed in the force of unity, the upper, root force of reality.

In addition to their discovery, Israel also learned that in the process of human development, the rest of the Babylonians—who followed Nimrod’s advice, dispersed throughout the world, and have become today’s humanity—would also have to achieve unity. That contradiction between the people of Israel, which formed through unity, and the rest of humanity, which formed as a result of separation, is felt even today.


Abraham’s disciples, the people of Israel, experienced many internal struggles. But for 2,000 years their unity prevailed and was the key element that held them together. Indeed, their conflicts were meant only to intensify the love among them.

However, approximately 2,000 years ago, their egos reached such intensity that they could not maintain their unity. Unfounded hatred and egotism erupted among them and inflicted exile on them. Indeed, Israel’s exile, more than it is exile from the physical land of Israel, it is exile from unity. The alienation within the Israeli nation caused them to disperse among the nations.

Back to the Present

Today humanity is in a similar state to the one the ancient Babylonians experienced: interdependence alongside alienation. Because we are completely interdependent in our global village, Nimrod’s solution of parting ways is no longer practical. Now we are required to use Abraham’s method. This is why the Jewish people, who previously implemented Abraham’s method and connected, must rekindle their unity and teach the method of connection to the whole of humanity. And unless we do it of our own accord, the nations of the world will compel us to do it, by force.

On that note, it is interesting to read the words of Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company, and a notorious anti-Semite, in his book, The International Jew — The World’s Foremost Problem: “Society has a large claim against him [the Jew] that he … begin to fulfill … the ancient prophecy that through him all the nations of the earth should be blessed.”

The Roots of Anti-Semitism

After thousands of years of exerting to build a successful human society using Nimrod’s method, the nations of the world are beginning to understand that the solution to their problems is neither technological, nor economic or military. Subconsciously, they feel that the solution lies in unity, that the method of connection exists in the people of Israel, and therefore recognize that they are dependent on the Jews. This makes them blame the Jews for every problem in the world, believing that the Jews possess the key to the world’s happiness.

Indeed, when the Israeli nation fell from its moral apex of love of others, hatred of Israel among the nations commenced. And thus, through anti-Semitism, the nations of the world prod us to disclose the method of connection. Rav Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of Israel, pointed to that fact with his words, “Amalek, Hitler, and so forth, awaken us toward redemption” (Essays of the Raiah, Vol. 1).

But the people of Israel are unaware that they are holding the key to the world’s happiness, and that the very source of anti-Semitism is that the Jews are carrying within them the method of connection, the key to happiness, the wisdom of Kabbalah, but are not revealing it to all.

This document has been composed with the free HTML converter which can be accessed here. Use it every time for document editing.

Mandatory Disclosure of the Wisdom

As the world groans under the pressure of two conflicting forces—the global force of connection, and the separating power of the ego, we are falling into the state that existed in ancient Babylon prior to its collapse. But today we cannot pull away from one another in order to calm our egos down. Our only option is to work on our connection, on our unity. We are required to add to our world the positive force that balances the negative power of our ego.

The people of Israel, descendants of the ancient Babylonians who followed Abraham, must implement the wisdom of connection, namely the wisdom of Kabbalah. They are required to set an example to the whole of humanity, and thus become a “light for the nations.”

The laws of Nature dictate that we will all achieve a state of unity. But there are two ways to get there: 1) a path of world suffering wars, catastrophes, plagues, and natural disasters, or 2) a path of gradual balancing of the ego, the path that Abraham planted in his disciples. The latter is the one we suggest.

Unity Is the Solution

It is written in The Book of Zohar, “Everything stands on love” (Portion, VaEtchanan). “Love your neighbor as yourself” is the great tenet of the Torah; it is also the essence of the change that the wisdom of Kabbalah is offering humanity. It is the obligation of the Jewish People to unite in order to share the method of Abraham with the entire human race.

According to Rav Yehuda Ashlag, author of the Sulam (Ladder) commentary on The Book of Zohar, “It is upon the Israeli nation to qualify itself and all the people of the world … to develop until they take upon themselves that sublime work of the love of others, which is the ladder to the purpose of Creation.” If we accomplish this, we will find solutions to all the world’s problems including the eradication of anti-Semitism.

Daily Kabbalah Lesson – 9/23/18

Lesson Preparation

icon for podpress  Video: Play Now | Download
icon for podpress  Audio: Play Now | Download

Lesson on the Topic “Sukkot”

icon for podpress  Video: Play Now | Download
icon for podpress  Audio: Play Now | Download

Writings of Baal HaSulam “A Handmaid That Is Heir To Her Mistress”

icon for podpress  Video: Play Now | Download
icon for podpress  Audio: Play Now | Download

Be As One

laitman_943All the commandments of the Torah are the laws of commutation between friends in a group in order to bring the whole group to the state of “one,” to one unit. This unit then will match to the Creator, He will begin to unfold in it.

Question: Is it important for me, working in the ten, to know that my friends are also obeying the commandments?

Answer: In his articles, Rabash writes that there must be mutual support; friends must influence each other and show each other an example. It is natural.

Question: If I am internally ready for my friends to do this for me, is this progress, since I understand that I am not the unit, but the ten?

Answer: Yes. When everyone in the ten strive to be like one, then they will get something, otherwise they will not.
From KabTV’s “The Last Generation” 3/15/18

Related Material:
Can One Keep The Mitzvot Alone?
“Material Commandments” And Correction Of The World
A Whole Group Of Ten

Can One Keep The Mitzvot Alone?

laitman_963.8Rabash, “What Does the Rule, “Love Thy Friend as Thyself,” Give Us?”: …one cannot keep all 612 Mitzvot alone.

I would say that a person alone cannot observe a single commandment. Being alone, he is incapable of generating the property of bestowal. After all, he has no connection with the Creator. Only with people like himself, therefore we need physical interaction with friends.

Remark: We are in a new time frame, a virtual one. This was not the case with Rabash.

My Comment: It is even better. If people really strive for each other, their physical disunity pushes them further toward inner rapprochement.

Question: Why is it arranged so that a person cannot keep the commandments alone?

Answer: Speaking from a systemic point of view, the common soul called Adam broke into many parts. When the parts separated by egoistic distance (egoistic forces) try to get together above egoistic forces, they begin to attain the property of connection, up to the property of love. There is no other way.

Adam is a desire that does not exist by itself. Only after this system (the desire) broke apart can one say that within it two opposite properties are being created: the egoistic one that pushes all the parts away from each other, and the altruistic one that suddenly begins to appear among them.

Initially, when all parts of the system were assembled together, they possessed the property of commonness supported in them by the upper Light, the Creator. Therefore, after they disintegrated, in each of them remained a point of commonness, and it turned out that they all consist of two opposite properties.

Now, if some part raises the property of connection above the property of separation, to that extent it becomes closer to others, until it is integrated in the same system, in the same image.

Question: Therefore, the system is especially created so that a person cannot observe 612 commandments alone. What is the benefit in this?

Answer: The benefit is that a person feels the need for the Creator and his friends. After he is disappointed with his animal state and wants to rise to the level of Adam, he can succeed in it only if he really engages in his connection with others and draws the Creator to it.

Question: Does a person need to understand each commandment?

Answer: This is not only unnecessary, but also impossible. One is unable to do so. Everything happens automatically.

A person should not poke around in his soul, there is no need to do it. It will manifest itself only when it really takes a definite form.
From KabTV’s “The Last Generation” 3/15/18

Related Material:
612 Components Of The Upper Love
Your Desires Within Me Are Like Pomegranate Seeds
You Have Nothing To Come To The Creator Alone

Baal HaSulam

Dr. Michael LaitmanFrom My Facebook Page Michael Laitman 9/20/18

“I find a great need to break an iron wall that has been separating us from the wisdom of Kabbalah,” wrote Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag a.k.a. Baal HaSulam (“Master of the Ladder”) for his Ladder commentary on The Book of Zohar.

Today, on the 64th anniversary of his demise, we pay our respects to one of the greatest Kabbalists in the history of mankind. A unique soul that descended to our world to bring us the wisdom of Kabbalah, and bring us closer to a life filled with joy, peace and unity.

Indeed, he was the first to interpret the entire Zohar and the writings of the Ari, the first to adapt the ancient wisdom to every person, the first to publish a Kabbalistic newspaper (The Nation) and spread it publicly. His deep concern for the fate of humanity pulsated in his heart, a concern that dictated the entire course of his life.

Read more about Baal HaSulam in our new archive >>

“And The Land Of Israel Will Be Stretched To The Whole World”

laitman_944Question: Who are “the Jews” in Kabbalistic terms?

Answer: They are people who want to unite, who yearn to reach love in their relations, and through such love, reach love for the Creator. Such people are called “Jews,” (Yehudim)  from the word “Yihud” (unity).

Another meaning of the word “Jew” comes from the word “Avar” (transition), meaning: one who has crossed the border of our world and has entered the upper world.

Question: The members of our large world group have an immense yearning to move from the law of love for themselves to the law of love for one’s neighbor. Can we call them all Jews (Yehudim)?

Answer: According to the direction, definitely. After all, initially, the Jews were the ancient Babylonians from the 70 nations that inhabited Babylon, who decided to rise above their egoism and become one group, one whole.

Question: Does it mean that when the whole world begins moving in this direction, it can be called Yehudim?

Answer: Yes, as it is written, “And the land of Israel will be stretched to the whole world.”
From KabTV’s “The Last Generation” 3/15/18

Related Material:
The Torah Speaks About Everyone
Who Are the Jews?
Who Is Attracted To The Land Of Israel?

Medium: “10 Years To The Financial Crisis: What Now?”

Medium published my new article “10 Years To The Financial Crisis: What Now?

A decade after the global financial crisis, new research exposes how a small elite prevented a worldwide catastrophe. But what is the cost of keeping our increasingly unbalanced, profit-driven systems in place? What are the greater balancing forces from nature we’re up against?

A decade ago, the world was on the verge of collapse. A financial bubble in the U.S. mortgage market almost blew up the global economic system. A financial Armageddon was prevented only by unprecedented measures taken by the U.S. administration, and particularly by the Federal Reserve.

In his new book, “Crashed,” historian prof. Adam Tooze sheds light on the hidden corners of the financial crisis of 2008. Tooze uncovers the intricate financial network that stood at the heart of the storm, and how a small elite decided to inject trillions of dollars into the American banking system and the rest of the world, knowing full well that humanity would otherwise go on a downward spiral into a crisis worse than the Great Depression of 1929.

Since the crisis of 2008, the ties in the financial elite network have only tightened across the world, and today this group continuously employs financial juggling to rule the global economy. Like pawns on a chess board, they deliberately manipulate markets, consumers, interest rates, financial institutions and media, in order to perpetuate the current economic paradigm and prevent a 2008-style crisis from happening again.

So what has changed over the past decade? The economic system feels safer than before. Not because the system has become more stable or equal, but rather because it is more controlled.

The Pyramid That Rules the World

Analyses such as Tooze’s prove how the pyramid that rules the world became pointier than ever before. It is a pyramid based solely on power and money, from top to bottom. If the previous century pyramid still had some reserved seats for intellectuals, philosophers, scientists and ideological pluralism, today they are all enslaved by the power of money and its owners.

Scientists depend on funding that guides the objectives of their research; artists and cultural figures enjoy the spotlights as much as their show serves the interests of tycoons who own the media channels. Simply put, money runs the world and capitalism has become cannibalism, with a limited elite that has fortified its rule at the top of the food chain.

The Mechanics of the Global Crisis

But what’s taking place beneath the surface is the inevitable intensification of human egoism. The human ego is the natural energy that fuels the fusion of wealth and power into an unbridled force. However, this is just one side of the process.

Humanity’s development happens in two parallel and opposite trends. Alongside the constantly growing ego, there is a much less noticeable axis of global interdependence that is gradually binding together all people and manmade systems on earth.

We, human beings, are trapped in the egoistic axis and suffer from global shortsightedness.

The nature of human development requires us to tread with two legs: one leg progresses along the egoistic axis necessary for our growth, and the other leg progresses towards the sense of mutual connection between all of us. Just as we walk on both of our legs, we have to properly combine and balance the ego to channel it towards healthy and positive development for all.

Today we are lagging behind with regards to the sense of connection between us. The world is becoming more and more integral — and the human is not. How do we catch up? By raising awareness to our situation, acknowledging the interdependent global system we live in and the laws of nature that apply to it.

Nature’s Balancing Act

Nature — as an integral system that demands all its parts to be in balance and mutual connection — will require us to change. The global economy is no more than a reflection of the relationships between all people. Therefore, we must first balance our relationships, as parts of a single system who share a common destiny. When we begin to do so, we will rearrange all our manmade systems, including the economic and financial.

If we don’t raise our awareness and do this out of free choice, the balancing forces of nature will force us to do so in different ways. Shocks in the ecosystem, natural disasters or depletion of cheap energy are all examples for scenarios that will necessitate a painful change in the socio-economic order.

Interestingly, an annual Gallup poll that surveyed more than 154,000 people in 146 countries shows that “the global mood is at its gloomiest since the first such survey in 2006.” Ultimately, the 21st century will fill us with frustration and helplessness that will lead us to question the meaning of human existence. Then, from the bottom of our heart, a demand for a new world will arise.

The Times Of Israel: “The Meaning of Our Personal Yom Kippur and Its Connection to the World“

The Times of Israel published my new article “The Meaning of Our Personal Yom Kippur and Its Connection to the World

First of all, let’s create the context. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, does not exist. According to the wisdom of Kabbalah, it’s waiting to be built inside of each of us, and only afterward can it truly be realized.

Kabbalah explains that, beyond the fact that Yom Kippur is the most solemn holiday on the Jewish calendar, in truth, it refers to an inner inclination toward correction. How can we realize this internal development? We begin by judging ourselves, our corrupted egoistic desires and intentions in relation to others. Although I might regret my state and want with heart and soul to detach myself from it—the source of all pains, distrust and division—I am unable to do so alone because it is completely against my nature. At this point in my atonement, I cry out to the Creator for help, for correction. This internal process is the essence of Yom Kippur.

By rising above our personal egoism, we reveal the world as one unified system. Today, when the world desperately needs unity, the Jewish nation that is supposed to set the example for others to follow, is shattered into pieces. Power struggles between Jewish factions in certain occasions have ended up in violent brawls. In addition to the growing gap between the Diaspora and Israel, almost half of American Jews consider organized religion as meaningless.

What is the connection between our shaky Jewish foundation and the increasingly hostile pressure from the world compelling Jews to unite? The answer to this question is explained in detail in an article that I published in The New York Times (print edition) titled, “What We Jews Owe the World.” Four years have passed since its publication and the state of the Jewish nation, instead of improving, has become increasingly uncertain. Before it is too late, let us review then the solution to our ever-growing crisis for the sake of our children’s future and for our own sakes.

Buying Our Way to Heaven

The holiest day of the year for the Jews is Yom Kippur, when we fast and pray. A key part of the prayer is reading the book of Jonah the Prophet. Interestingly, many observant Jews believe that buying the privilege to read the book will make them successful for the rest of the year.

Naturally, only the wealthiest in the community can afford to compete for it. The sums vary according to the affluence of the community, and in some cases the privilege is sold for well over half a million dollars.

Cracking the Code

What people are not aware of, however, is the real reason why the book of Jonah is so important. Kabbalists determined that this reading is the most important in the year because it details the code for saving humanity.

Jonah’s story is special because it speaks of a prophet who first tried to dodge his mission, but finally repented. Another special aspect of Jonah’s story is that his mission was not to admonish the people of Israel, but to save the city of Nineveh, whose residents were not Jewish. In light of today’s precarious state of the world, we should take a closer look at this story and its meaning for each of us.

Shape Up or Ship Out

In the story, God orders Jonah to tell the people of Nineveh, who became very mean to one another, to correct their relationships with one another if they want to survive. However, Jonah bailed out of his mission and took to the sea in an effort to escape God’s command.

Like Jonah, we Jews have been inadvertently avoiding our mission for the past 2,000 years. And yet, we cannot afford to keep avoiding it. We have a task that was passed down to us when Moses united us into a nation based on the tenet, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and it is our duty to set an example of unity for the rest of the world. Our forefathers, Abraham and Moses, wanted to unite all of humanity, but back then the world was not ready (for more on that, see my article, “Why Do People Hate Jews?”).

That group, namely the people of Israel, must still become a role model to the world. Rav Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of Israel, put it poetically in his book, Orot Kodesh (Sacred Lights), “Since we were ruined by unfounded hatred, and the world was ruined with us, we will be rebuilt by unfounded love, and the world will be rebuilt with us.”

Sleeping through the Storm

In the story, Jonah’s escape from his mission by ship caused the sea to roar and nearly sank the vessel. At the height of the storm Jonah went to sleep detaching himself from the turmoil and leaving the sailors to fend for themselves. Gradually, they began to suspect that someone among them was the cause of the storm. They cast a lot and the lot fell on Jonah, the only Jew on board.

In many ways, today’s world is similar to Jonah’s ship. As Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, put it: “We are all in one boat, one global economy. Our fortunes rise together, and they fall together. …We have a collective responsibility—to bring about a more stable and more prosperous world, a world in which every person in every country can reach their full potential.” Yet, the sea around us is raging, and the sailors, who are all of humanity, are blaming the Jew on board for all their troubles.

Like Jonah, we are sound asleep. Though we are beginning to wake up to the existence of hatred toward us, we have yet to realize that not carrying out our mission is the reason for the hatred. If we do not wake up soon, the sailors will throw us overboard, as they did with Jonah. Rav Yehuda Ashlag, author of the Sulam (Ladder) commentary on The Zohar, wrote in his essay, “The Arvut” (Mutual Guarantee): “It is incumbent upon the Israeli nation to qualify itself and the rest of the people in the world to evolve into assuming this sublime work of love of others.”

The Wake-Up Call

Jonah tells the sailors to throw him overboard, as only this will calm the sea. Reluctantly, the sailors obey and the storm calms. A whale swallows Jonah, and for three days and three nights he stays in its abdomen, introspecting his actions and decisions. He begs for his life and vows to carry out his mission.

Like Jonah, each of us carries within something that is stirring up the world. We, the people of Israel, carry a method for achieving peace through connection. Unity is the very root of our being. This DNA is what makes us a people because we were declared a nation only after we pledged to be “as one man with one heart” and strove to love our neighbor as ourselves.” Today we must rekindle this bond because wherever we go, this untapped power is destabilizing the world around us in order to compel us to unite and reignite it.

Just as the current separation among us projects separation to the whole of humanity, unity between us will inspire the rest of the nations to unite, as well. When we unite, it will endow humanity with the energy required to achieve worldwide unity, where all people live “as one man with one heart.” So the only question is whether we assume our responsibility, or prefer to be thrown overboard, only to subsequently agree to carry out our task.

If we want to end our troubles, be rid of anti-Semitism and have a safe and happy life, we must unite and thus set an example of unity for all the nations. This is how we will bring peace and quiet to the world. Otherwise the nations’ hatred toward us will keep growing.

Now we see that when people pay so much for the privilege of reading the book of Jonah on Yom Kippur, they inadvertently state their support of the mission of the Jewish people toward the world: to be a light unto nations by showing an example of unity and connection. To conclude, let me quote once more the great Rav Kook: “Any turmoil in the world comes only for Israel. Now we are called upon to carry out a great task willingly and mindfully: to build ourselves and the entire ruined world along with us” (Igrot [Letters]).

Daily Kabbalah Lesson – 9/21/18

Lesson Preparation

icon for podpress  Video: Play Now | Download
icon for podpress  Audio: Play Now | Download

Lesson on the Topic “Entry Into The First Spiritual Degree”

icon for podpress  Video: Play Now | Download
icon for podpress  Audio: Play Now | Download

Talmud Eser Sefirot,  Vol. 3, Part 10, Item 1

icon for podpress  Video: Play Now | Download
icon for podpress  Audio: Play Now | Download

Writings of Baal HaSulam “A Handmaid That Is Heir To Her Mistress”

icon for podpress  Video: Play Now | Download
icon for podpress  Audio: Play Now | Download