From my column in Ynet: “Excuse Me, What Are We Guilty Of?”
Elul is the last month on the Hebrew calendar, so it is considered a month for reflection about the past year and preparation for the new year. For what and why should we ask forgiveness, and how must we act when the reason is discovered? Rav Michael Laitman teaches how to really forgive.
14 billion years ago, the Big Bang occurred, and the universe was created. An enormous amount of energy that was concentrated into one tiny point exploded in every direction, and the universe began to expand at a tremendous speed. The many particles that were created gathered into atoms, and the atoms into stars and galaxies. Billions of years after that, the inanimate planet Earth was formed, and plants and animals developed on it until the birth of humanity.
Man lived peacefully and calmly, in balance with the rest of humanity and the forces of nature, until suddenly another explosion occurred. “The Big Bang of humanity” shattered the pastoral unity in human society, and began to distance people from each other, similar to the way stars in the universe continue to drift apart.
The negative, egoistic, and unconscious force of separation that operated to make distance between us was identified for the first time by a human being named Adam. He understood that he must heal the rift between his contemporaries. Since he was the first to bring a substantial change in the system of broken relationships between people, we have a custom of celebrating his discovery on Rosh HaShanah.
14 billion years ago, the Big Bang happened, and the universe was created
Since then, 5,777 years have passed. We count them according to the Hebrew calendar, and every year we are accustomed to reexamining the essence of our lives and our role in this world. One of the questions that can help us to define our situation is: have we become closer to each other this year above our natural tendency that separates us, or haven’t we? This soul-searching is called Slichot (asking for forgivenesses), and to internalize its meaning, we must go on a short journey through time.
Introducing the Israeli Team
Twenty generations have passed since that human being developed his observations and was called Adam HaRishon (The First Man) and until most of humanity settled in the center of the ancient world, ancient Babylon.
In this period, two natural opposing forces were working on humanity: the force of connection, the positive force that strives to develop society by maintaining connections of mutual responsibility, and opposite it, the force of separation, the negative force that is controlled by the egoistic nature. The negative force is what distanced and separated the inhabitants of Babylon to a previously unfamiliar level until, finally, they stopped talking to each other and became enemies. These opposing forces of nature that clashed with each other caused a difficult crisis, but just as a plant sprouts from a seed in the ground that cracks open, so from the crisis between people, a new humanity was born.
The social rift continued to develop, and humanity was scattered over the face of the Earth. Only a small group of people decided to defy the forces of nature and actually oppose the process of separation. Burning within these people was an inner drive that compelled them to connect with each other.
This chosen group called itself “Israel” because their desire to be Yashar – El (straight to God), like the characteristic of the whole and eternal force of nature. Elsewhere, they were called “Hebrews” (Ivrim) because they already had moved (Avar) toward acting according to the laws of nature, or “Jews” (Yehudim) because they were acting to unite (Yichud) and harmonize with nature.
At the head of this group stood Abraham, an uncompromising researcher who was searching for the meaning of life. He was the first to identify the reason for the crisis: the developing egoism that separates and puts distance between people. Abraham urged his students to be strong, to rise up, and to strengthen the spirit of unity with all of their might above the terrible schism. Their efforts to connect aroused a positive force inherent in nature. This force balanced the negative tendency and connected them with a strong bond that was called “one man in one heart.” From these efforts, Abraham developed a method for connection that he taught to all who came to him. This method made it possible for the members of the group to begin to develop a system of relationships between them based upon giving, love, and mutual responsibility that they called Beit HaMikdash (Temple).
The Turning Point in Human History
Once the children of Israel reached a maximum level of connection between them, the situation deteriorated, and the connections weakened. They understood that in order to strengthen the connections between them, they needed to be connected to their Babylonian brothers who had dispersed and become the seventy nations of the world. Brotherly love was replaced by unfounded hatred, leading not only to the destruction of the system of relationships of the “Temple,” but also the destruction of the physical Temple and continued with the crash of the united kingdom of Israel. The force of ego continued to divide the Babylonians and sowed hatred in every direction.
A Good and Sweet Year.
For 2,000 years, the Jews assimilated among the nations of the world. On the one hand, the spark that Abraham sowed in the people of Israel began to flourish in the heart of humanity, and on the other hand, the Jews absorbed new egoistic desires and opinions. The conclusion of the global merging marks the starting point for a real process that is leading to a turning point in human history.
Slichah, the Error Between Reality and Desire
In the global and connected world of our day, the people of Israel and the seventy nations of the world are immersed together in a common trouble, a bit like Adam HaRishon 5,777 years ago, or Abraham 3,500 years ago. The dramatic crisis that has visited us today is the result of the same imbalance between the opposing forces of nature. The ego creates conflict and division, and causes us to become distant from each other. In contrast, the power of connection develops people, mending the broken parts into a complete, harmonious system.
In the first generations, we did not understand how the forces of nature operated because we didn’t have the tools in our hands for doing this, but once a point of connection was first created in Babylon, we were required to strengthen and develop it when faced with all of the states of separation. Abraham left us a method and a mission: to provide the world with the power of connection until it reaches a harmonious and balanced state.
In order not to make a mistake on the way to the destiny that nature has placed before us, we need to carry out a daily house cleaning and examine in depth how much we have advanced toward connection between us and whether we are still on our way toward the same network of complete connection that Adam HaRishon discovered.
This essential clarification is called Slichot, the discovery of the gap between the forces of nature that aim toward unity and our unwillingness to unite. It is symbolically customary before Rosh HaShanah for us to clarify together the degree to which we are acting in accord with the laws of nature of the entire system. Regarding this, we confess that, “We are guilty, we have betrayed, we have robbed …” and we regret the opportunity that was in our hands to realize the connection between us and we did not do it. Now is the right time to consider a new path toward connection.
I hope, wish, and pray for a year of change, a year of building a system of correct relationships between us.
Happy new year to all of the people of Israel!
From Ynet: “Excuse Me, What Are We Guilty Of?” 6/2/16