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“Women Gathering in Unity”

Dr. Michael LaitmanFrom My Facebook Page Michael Laitman 11/13/22

Today, at 5:30 p.m. Israel time, thousands of women from around the world will gather for a unity event. Women of all faiths, traditions, cultures, ages, and ethnicities will strive to bring their hearts closer together above all the differences that naturally set us apart.
This event is so special that I wish I could dissolve unnoticed among them and simply absorb their desire to unite. When women unite, it is far more powerful than when men do it; it can really change the world.

When the children of Israel came out of Egypt, the prophetess Miriam gathered all the women and with singing and dancing she united them, paving the way to freedom for all the people of Israel. Now it is time for the whole world to unite, and this evening, women from the world over will sing, dance, and read excerpts that talk about unity. I have no doubt that they are forming the basis for the exodus of all of humanity: liberation from the fetters of egoism to the freedom to love one another.

As a man and as a teacher of thousands of male students (in addition to the female students who are gathering this evening), I can say that we are all rooting for you and praying for your success. Just as women create life, and just as they know how to look after their homes, they can revive humanity and look after the entire world.

I have no doubt that if women were adamant and assertive, we men would yield to their will. If women want to correct the world, if they unite in order to achieve it, we men will rally behind them, and together we will form a spearhead that will lead the world out of the darkness of hatred and war, and into the light of unity and love.

“A Spiritual Temporary Residence”

Dr. Michael LaitmanFrom My Facebook Page Michael Laitman 10/7/22

Today is the eve of Sukkot (Hebrew: Huts), a Jewish festival where the custom is to build huts and dwell in them for seven days. The traditional explanation to this custom is that it is to remind us that our ancestors were wanderers in the Sinai desert and lived in huts, without a permanent residence. But in Jewish spirituality, namely the wisdom of Kabbalah, there is an additional, and very different explanation to this custom, which has to do with improving our connections, and nothing at all to do with where we eat or sleep.

The wisdom of Kabbalah is a method for bringing people closer, for uniting them. Its goal is to bring people to the same level of connection that existed among the people of Israel at the inception of their nationhood, when they were connected as one man with one heart.

All of the Jewish festivals have two levels of explanation. The superficial level usually pertains to an event in the chronicles of the Jewish people. The deeper level pertains to discernments concerning the level of unity or division among Jews, and their mission to be a model of unity, a light to the nations.

Jewish festivals mark particular stages in the process of establishing permanent unity and achieving the final correction in a process called Tikkun Olam (correction of the world). In this process, the world transits from division and hatred into unity and love.

Normally, we live in a permanent residence. This represents a well-established level of connection between us. At such a level, people feel connected to a certain extent, they know what points to touch and what points to avoid, and feel complacent in the level of bonding and care among them. However, their complacency prevents them from touching on points of division that can lift them to higher levels of connection if they rise above them.

At that point, we must relinquish the comfort of our permanent residence and venture into a temporary one, where matters are not so clear and the bonding not yet solidified. However, if we want to become a model nation, we must show the world how to rise above adversities, and division is precisely the adversity to overcome.

Once we are in a temporary residence, and the connection between us is shaky, we must raise unity above our heads, meaning make it the most important, superior value. If we do this together, unity becomes our shield, our Sechah (canopy), which covers and protects us from the elements, namely from division.

The unity that is revealed under the canopy is called Ushpizin (guests), whom we welcome into our hut. Once we have completed seven manifestations of division and unity that we have built above it, and have hosted seven “guests,” it is considered that we have established and solidified a new degree of unity.

In such a state, it is considered that we return to our permanent residence with the new level of unity we have acquired. This marks the end of the festival of Sukkot, when we return to our homes. May we always strive to foster deeper and deeper connections among all Jews, above all differences, so we may be a model nation that brings peace to the world.

Photo Caption: RonAlmog, (Flickr page), CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

“Economy Today”

Dr. Michael LaitmanFrom My Facebook Page Michael Laitman 10/4/22

The start of a new year (according to the Hebrew calendar) is a good time to reflect on the things that decide the quality of our lives. Economy is certainly one of the key factors that determine whether we live well or not.

Someone once said to me, “Money isn’t the most important thing in life, but it’s reasonably close to oxygen on the ‘gotta have it’ scale.” With that in mind, we should look at what is happening today. First, inflation is soaring, and this is bad news for all of us. Worse yet, we do not know why it is soaring. The war in Ukraine no longer justifies it, there is no pandemic in sight that shuts down the global economy, no shortage of oil, and no other apparent reason for the skyrocketing prices.

There are countless other problems and changes in the global economy. The job market is changing and fewer people are willing to work office jobs and prefer to work from home. There is a wave of resignations. Employers that were used to selecting from numerous applicants, sometimes have to pay for people to come only to be interviewed.

Another shift is accelerating automation. The shrinking number of people willing to work, especially in low-paying jobs, is injecting fuel into the robotics industry and more and more stages of production are now given to robots.

At the same time, people are not getting happier because they have more free time. Even though they have enough money to sustain themselves, their behavior is unbalanced, with exaggerated consumerism, prevalent substance abuse, violence, depression, narcissism, and countless other problems that together turn everything we do against ourselves.

Therefore, I believe that the root cause for the rising prices, and for the countless other problems I just mentioned, has to do with our relationships with one another. The economy reflects the state of society, and not the other way around. The economy does not cause social crises. Rather, when there is a social crisis, it is likely to disrupt the economy.

The problem is that the more we develop, the more self-centered we become. If you look at all of nature, you will find that the more it develops, the more cooperative it becomes—the exact opposite of humanity.

For example, more developed animals on the food chain have more complicated organisms. These animals then form a complex system where the survival and health of each species depends on the survival and health of every other species.

Our universe is another good example. It evolved from separate particles of hydrogen and helium that condensed into vast and complicated systems of galaxies, stars, and planetary systems, with channels that connect them and transfer matter throughout the universe.

Human society has also evolved impressively over the centuries and has become a global mesh where each part contributes its unique skills to the benefit of humanity. Why then are we not thriving? Because we hate the idea that we are connected; we are utterly self-centered, and the very idea that we are dependent on someone else makes us cringe.

To avoid being dependent, and to assert ourselves as the rulers, we fight against each other. It does not have to be a war between countries; we are fighting all the time: at work, at home with our partners and children, on the road, in the supermarket, and often even in our sleep. We are miserable.

The global economic downturn, therefore, reflects our social disarray. Because we are growing increasingly connected and increasingly self-centered simultaneously, the contradictory trajectories are tearing the fabric of human society. As a result, the economic structure we have built, which relies on mutual support and global supply chains, is breaking up.

The soaring inflation is only the beginning of our woes. Unless we adjust our relationships to match our level of connectedness, we will suffer from shortages that will lead to hunger and social disentanglement.

Our task, therefore, is not to change the economy, but to change the ill-relations we have with one another, which are sickening the global and local economy. The economy will be all well and good when the society is well, and the society will be well when we start seeking how we can help each other rather than hurt each other.

“Happy New Year (of Reflection)”

Dr. Michael LaitmanFrom My Facebook Page Michael Laitman 9/25/22

Almost every culture celebrates the beginning of the year. Each tradition has its own customs, meals, gifts, and inner meaning. For Jews, celebrating Rosh Hashanah (the beginning of the year) comes with symbolic foods and a day of judgment. This judgment is the heart of Rosh Hashanah.

We can think of the spiritual significance of Rosh Hashanah as an operating system, like Microsoft Windows or Apple IOS. The human race did not come out of nowhere. Evolution has a purpose, and the operating system leads it toward it.

The operating system runs throughout nature, and all creations but humanity follow it instinctively. We, on the other hand, can study it and manipulate parts of it for our benefit.

On Rosh Hashanah, before we taste from the fish’s head, we say a blessing: “May we be the head and not the tail.” These words express our wish not to remain oblivious to the operating system and governed by it unconsciously, but to become aware of it and able to steer our development in a positive direction.

The operating system invariably leads toward a state of harmony and balance among all the elements in reality. It is aiming to bring all of humanity into a state of unity and closeness as though we are all a single warm and loving family. The system does not strive for sameness, to make us all the same, but for complementarity, to make us complement each other so that each of us contributes our unique skills and talents for the common good, and enjoys the contributions of everyone else, just like a loving family where everyone helps everyone else because they care about them.

As we study the system, we gradually realize how opposite we are from the state of closeness and care. These realizations precede Rosh Hashanah, and they are called Selichot (asking forgiveness). Selichot are prayers we say when we feel how opposite we are from the state of balance and mutual care.

The Hebrew word for “prayer,” by the way, is Tefilla, which comes from the word Haflala, namely criminalization. During a prayer, we “criminalize” ourselves, namely discover that we are criminals, and therefore ask for forgiveness. The crime we realize we have committed pertains to the operating system, namely that we have been selfish, thinking of ourselves and loving only ourselves rather than embracing all of creation and working for its favor. In spirituality, selfishness is always the only sin, since every wrong we do comes from thinking only of ourselves.

The physical Rosh Hashanah happens once a year. However, the process of reflection, regret, asking forgiveness, and praying to become more loving is not limited by anything. It can, and should be a constant cycle that we do internally. Each time we complete a cycle of requests for forgiveness, we reach another Rosh Hashanah, until the next realization of selfishness emerges in us through our efforts to correct our egoism and become more caring.

When the cycle of Selichot is over and we reach Rosh Hashanah, we not only wish to be the head and not the tail, we also celebrate the correction of our corrupt qualities. We symbolize this by dipping an apple in honey. The apple represents the heart, and the honey stands for sweetening (correcting) it from selfishness to caring for others.

Another custom is to eat a Rimon (pomegranate). A pomegranate has many seeds in it. Each of them stands for one selfish desire. Eating them stands for correcting them from selfishness to giving, which gives us a feeling of Romemut (elation, note the similarity to the word Rimon).

Finally, on Rosh Hashanah, we blow the Shofar—a festive horn. The blowing of the horn stands for our yearning for correction from carelessness and hatred of others into being loving, connected, and united as one with all the people in the world. The word shofar comes from the Aramaic word Shufra (the best of the best). This is the state we achieve once all our desires have been corrected and we become united as one loving, global family.

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“Head of Israel’s Secret Service – Internal Division Emboldens Terrorists”

Dr. Michael LaitmanFrom My Facebook Page Michael Laitman 9/14/22

A few days ago, Ronen Bar, head of Israel’s Shin Bet security service, gave a lengthy presentation where he outlined Israel’s security problems. The presentation made waves all over the Israeli media not because there was new information about our enemies that was not known before, but because Bar blamed us for our problems, and not in the military sense, or because of some inherent problem with Israel’s intelligence service. The fault he pointed to was internal division.

Bar did not mince words: “From the intelligence that we have read, from the interrogations of attackers we have conducted, and also from many years of familiarity with our adversaries, wherever they are, we can say today without a shadow of a doubt that the political instability, the growing internal division, the breaking up of the historical common denominators, and the radicalized discourse — all these are a shot of encouragement to the countries of the axis of evil, to terrorist organizations, and to lone threats,” he said. “The prevailing feeling among our adversaries, Bar added, “is that our historic comparative advantage, the same one that stood to our credit for thousands of years and is our national resilience, is dissipating,” he added. “This insight should trouble us more than anything else.”

Clarifying what he meant by “national resilience,” Bar said, “[The] deep rift that is developing within Israeli society” is the “most complex” challenge it is facing. However, Bar also admitted, “In this matter the Shin Bet can only warn; it certainly cannot deal with it,” he said. “It is in the hands of each and every one of us.”

Bar is correct. Our weakness stems from our division. His statement said nothing new. Our very peoplehood is based on unity, we introduced to the world the concepts of mutual responsibility, solidarity; and unity, and we built a society whose kings taught not to change others, but to connect with them just as they are. In those days, “Love your neighbor as yourself” was not an election slogan; it was the prerequisite that enabled the proclamation of our people as a nation.

At the foot of Mt. Sinai, we heard the threat for the first time: Unite “as one man with one heart,” or the mountain will turn on you and bury you like a vault. Since then, every time we disunited, a different kind of “vault” had buried us. It started with Nebuchadnezzar II, who destroyed the First Temple and sent us to exile in Babylon, continued with General Titus, who destroyed the Second Temple and sent us to an exile that has only recently (partially) ended. In later times, King Ferdinand expelled us from Spain, and in the previous century, Hitler wiped out European Jewry almost in its entirety.

In all those calamities, Jewish division intensified prior to the onset of the evildoer’s onslaught. Moreover, in many such cases, Jews, or Jews who converted into another religion (or their parents) were among the fiercest and cruelest enemies of the Jews. The commander who led the attack on Jerusalem in the destruction of the Second Temple was Tiberius Alexander, a Jew who was born in Alexandria, and whose father built the doors to the Temple. Before he charged into Jerusalem, he slaughtered 50,000 Jews in his hometown Alexandria.

In Spain, the prime ideologist behind the Spanish Inquisition was Tomás de Torquemada whose parents or grandparents were conversos (Jews who converted into Christianity). Even when the Nazis came to power, there were German Jews who joined the Nazi Party and were avid followers of Hitler. And when Arab rioters slaughtered Jews in Palestine before the establishment of the State of Israel, mutilated their bodies, and violated the women before they butchered them, some Jews hailed those Arabs as heroes.

Berl Katznelson, among the prominent Zionist leaders of the Labor movement in Palestine before the establishment of the State of Israel, said about such self-hating Jews in May 1936: “Is there another nation whose members have come to such emotional and intellectual deformity that everything their nation does … is despicable and detestable, and everything their people’s enemies do, every murder and every rape [and there were countless] fills their heart with admiration?”

The current audacity of our enemies is therefore nothing new. It is merely a continuation of the same pattern we have seen throughout the history of our people.

The only way we can emerge from the cycle of destruction—because this is where it is leading—is to re-embrace unity “as one man with one heart.” This is our legacy; this is our only source of strength; and this is our only way to avoid another turning of the vault over our heads. As Bar said, “This insight should trouble us more than anything else,” and “It is in the hands of each and every one of us.”

For more on this topic, see my book The Jewish Choice: Unity or Anti-Semitism: Historical facts on anti-Semitism as a reflection of Jewish social discord.

Photo Caption:The head of the Shin Bet, Ronen Bar. Wednesday, October 13, 2021. Photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom / GPO.

“Best Wishes to the Friends at the Retreat”

Dr. Michael LaitmanFrom My Facebook Page Michael Laitman 9/9/22

This weekend, more than a hundred friends are gathering together for the 2022 Kabbalah Retreat in the Catskill Mountains in New York, and more than two hundred friends will join them online. I would like to express my wishes for the success of the retreat. These are great friends who are gathering there, I have seen what beautiful conferences they put together, and I wish for them to continue to succeed in their efforts. But most of all, I would like to wish them a strong and close connection, as close as possible to the final correction.

The wisdom of Kabbalah introduces us to forces that no other method does. Through these forces, we can unite between us and elevate ourselves above all the forces of nature. If we acquire these forces, which are forces of connection and love, we will succeed in anything we want. I truly wish for them to acquire these forces and use them correctly.

These days, we are witnessing a great imbalance in nature. Using the forces of nature in the way that Kabbalah teaches, balances these forces and mitigates their ferocity. Kabbalah teaches how to balance the negative forces overpowering the world today with positive forces that we engender between us. It is my hope that we will achieve this and complement the negative qualities that are inherent in us, with positive forces that we create between us, and the whole world will benefit.

Good luck to the friends at the retreat, I will rejoice in your connection, and I wish you success.

“Documentaries, However Good, Will Not Save American Jewry”

Dr. Michael LaitmanFrom My Facebook Page Michael Laitman 9/7/22

Ken Burns is regarded by many as one of the foremost documentarians of American history, with iconic works such as “The Civil War,” “Jazz,” and “Baseball.” Recently, he completed a project that began in 2015, initiated by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, about America during the Holocaust. The result of the project is a PBS six-hour documentary divided into episodes. The series, titled The U.S. and the Holocaust, examines how Americans treated Jews and immigrants during World War II, and reaches daunting conclusions.

JTA interviewed Burns and his team about the project, which “chronicles the xenophobic and antisemitic climate in America in the years leading up to the Nazi genocide of Europe’s Jews: a nation largely hostile to any kind of refugee, particularly Jewish ones, and reluctant to intervene in a war on their behalf.”

The series exposes not only America’s indifference to the fate of the Jews in Europe, but also the reluctance of many American Jews to help their European coreligionists. According to Lynne Novick, a Jewish member of Burns’ team, these Jews didn’t want to let any more Jews in, at least in part because they looked down on the Eastern European refugees as poor and unassimilated. “It took me a while to really get my mind around the idea that there was a significant voice within a powerful Jewish American community that [believed] we shouldn’t say too much because it will just stir the pot and awaken more antisemitism,” Novick said.

In an interview for CBS about the series, Burns said that seeing how antisemitism is increasing in America today, he is afraid that what happened in Germany might happen in some form or other in the US, as well. At the end of the interview, he implores the American people: “There is, right now, all of the elements coalescing for something bad to happen again. Let’s not get there again, as human beings, please, let’s not get there again.”

Films such as The U.S. and the Holocaust are helpful in that they offer a glimpse into what might happen today. The way the new cataclysm unfolds will certainly be different from the past, but its purpose will be the same as the old one: to cleanse the Earth of Jews. Regrettably, I think we are only a few years away from it.

Yet, the glimpse into the past will also have a negative side to it: Instead of deterring us from repeating the horrors of the past, it will legitimize it in the eyes of many people. Once people see that America has been antisemitic for generations, it will lift the veil of shame and they will not be embarrassed to show their real feelings toward Jews.

To me, the most important lesson from the series is the fact that Jews denied other Jews an escape from persecution. Worse yet, even when the world learned the truth about what was happening in Europe, American Jewry still made no serious attempt to influence decision makers to assist the Jews. In this attitude of division lies the seeds of the next catastrophe.

Jews have never been defeated when they were united. Every tragedy that has ever befallen our people had always been preceded by a period of division, internal bickering, slander, and often violent infighting. In different cloaks, Jewish internal hatred has been a precursor of every woe, from the Babylonian exile through the destruction of the Second Temple, the expulsion from Spain, the Holocaust, and virtually every slaughter and expulsion in between. Jewish division weakens us, emboldens and strengthens our enemies, flares up their hatred, and galvanizes them into action against the Jews.

Today’s American Jewry shows the exact same symptoms of division that have always preceded our past calamities. Therefore, I have no doubt that unless the Jews unite, another heartbreak is on its way.

We can still avoid it. If we unite, we will prevent it.

By we, I am not referring to American Jewry in particular, but to the Jewish people as a whole. If Jews unite anywhere in the world, it improves the state of Jews around the world. We are responsible for each other, as our sages have told us eons ago. Our mutual responsibility has never been broken; we simply do not use it to our benefit, and therefore suffer.

In the few years we have left before the arrival of another tidal wave of Jew-hatred, we can reverse the ominous course. But for this, we must agree to keep our brethren in our hearts, to agree to unite despite our disputes, to accept that we are one nation under God, one, united Jewish nation.

For more information on the connection between division among Jews and a rise in antisemitism read The Jewish Choice: Unity or Anti-Semitism: Historical facts on anti-Semitism as a reflection of Jewish social discord.

Photo Caption: Filmmaker Ken Burns speaks at the gala ceremony for the inaugural Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film, October 17, 2019. Photo by Shawn Miller/Library of Congress.

“Israelis Against the State of Israel”

Dr. Michael LaitmanFrom My Facebook Page Michael Laitman 8/12/22

When Operation Breaking Dawn broke out last Friday, Israeli journalist Gideon Levy harshly criticized Israel in an interview for the anti-Israel Al Jazeera network. Bella Hadid, an international model of Palestinian origin and a frequent basher of Israel, quickly seized the opportunity and shared the segment with her tens of millions of followers on social media. I cannot blame Israel haters for using Israelis who routinely demonize their own country, but we need to understand the origin of the self-loathing that they feel, why the fact that they are weaponizing our enemies does not deter them, and why it does not help them. Within every Israeli, there is hatred for one’s own people; it is hatred not for the people, but for the idea that Israel represents: love of others. When we resolve this hatred, we will resolve antisemitism.

On the face of it, Mr. Levy is a courageous man of integrity, justifying his enemy at his own risk. After all, he, too, could have been hurt by the more than 1,100 rockets that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired at Israel. Yet, Levy is not concerned about that. Being a hero in the eyes of the world is his goal, even if it is unclear where is the heroism in the act he took here with his anti-Israeli statement on an anti-Israeli network.

What is more important is that underneath the Israel bashing, there is profound hatred for Israel. Not only Israeli Israel-bashers have it, but every Israeli feels it, and in fact every Jew has that hatred. In some, it is latent, and in some, it is blatant, but no Jew escapes this inner schism.

Self-hate has been our bane throughout the history of our people, and for a good reason. Israel represents transcending the natural human disposition to care only for oneself. Being Israel means embracing mutual responsibility and solidarity with the goal of ultimately loving others as much as one loves oneself.

It is one thing to aspire for such a goal, but it is an entirely different thing to be obligated by the world to achieve it, to feel how formidable this task is, and then face the consequences of failing at it: the hatred of the world. Not surprisingly, the majority of Jews suppress the notion of mutual responsibility and love of others, or divert it toward loving their enemy and blaming their own people, hoping it will win them their enemies’ favor, which it will not.

That struggle exists in every Jew, whether one is aware of it or not. It determines one’s relation toward the State of Israel, toward the Jewish people, and toward Israel’s enemies. Israelis who hate Israel are actually sensitive to their obligation to the world but respond to it in a counterproductive manner: They want to cut their ties to the Israeli people and its obligations. However, no Israeli can be liberated from it. Therefore, they express their resentment through hatred for the State of Israel. I feel sorry for them; they are in great distress.

Such people cannot change. They feel entitled and just, superior and self-righteous. They do not feel that they are spewing hate; they believe that they are fighting against it.

You cannot reach such people’s hearts directly. The only way to influence them is by changing the entire society around them. If all of the Israeli society increases its appreciation of the Golden Rule—which is love of others—and its manifestations, it will percolate into everyone’s hearts, and people will begin to realize that being Israel, namely setting an example of unity and solidarity, is possible, and the world really does appreciate it. In such a state, it will be easier to very gradually change the hearts of Jewish Israel-bashers.

Therefore, our goal should not be to mitigate the hatred of those who demonize the State of Israel. Our goal should be to eulogize solidarity and unity to the point of loving others as much as we love ourselves. If we operate in this way, all haters of Israel will disappear, from within and from without, and we will realize that they were only here in order to galvanize us toward strengthening our unity and setting an example of love of others for the entire world.

Image by Georges Biard (Wikimedia)

“Demand, Even If the Heart Refuses”

Dr. Michael LaitmanFrom My Facebook Page Michael Laitman 8/9/22

The 9th of the Hebrew month of Av came and went a few days ago, but it seems like it is always here. “Unfounded hatred,” or hatred without cause, which caused the ruin of the Second Temple and the expulsion of the people of Israel from the land of Israel two millennia ago, is still very much alive among us. It may manifest in different ways, but its destructive potential is just as immense, and unless we rise above our mutual hatred, it will inflict on us another ruin.

The significance of the ruin of the Temple is not in the destruction of the Temple’s structure, but in the ruin of the unity and solidarity that are the core of the people of Israel. Since it was shattered in a violent clash two thousand years ago, it has not been restored.

Today’s Israelis are not as aware of the paramount importance of unity to our people or why our sages insist on mutual responsibility being the basis of our nation. Nevertheless, without understanding these basic tenets of our nationhood, we will not be able to build here a strong country and a stable society.

The mourning for the destruction of the Temple is not about the stones; it is about the love that we lost. That love is still lost today, as our sages said, “Any generation in whose days the Temple is not built, it is as though in those days it was ruined” (Jerusalem Talmud, Yoma 1:1), and the sage The Chida explained, “for [the Temple] is not built due to unfounded hatred, which is as though it is ruined, as this was the reason for its ruin.”

Indeed, the situation is not getting better; hatred is constantly intensifying among us. The growing violence, vulgarity, and mutual cancelation are expressions of the growing hatred between us. Clearly, a country cannot survive if its factions fight against each other to the point where they want to destroy each other more than the good of the country.

Unless we get a grip on ourselves and decide that we have had enough, we will destroy our own country once again. Even if our hearts refuse, we must demand of ourselves to build it among us, to make efforts, to do things for each other that people do when they love each other, even if against our will. It is hard, but it is our only option if we want to survive as a sovereign nation.

“In Memory of a Spiritual Giant”

Dr. Michael LaitmanFrom My Facebook Page Michael Laitman 7/31/22

This week, we will be commemorating the anniversary of the passing of one of the world’s greatest spiritual giants: Isaac Luria, known as “the holy ARI.” Although unknown to many, his writings form the basis of today’s wisdom of Kabbalah. It is thanks to him that Baal HaSulam was able to make the wisdom of Kabbalah accessible to the entire world in the 20th century.

The ARI was truly unique. Not only did he pass away at the early age of 38, but everything we have from him, volumes upon volumes of wisdom, he dictated to his disciple Rav Chaim Vital, who wrote down his every word, and he did it all within the final 18 months of his life.

The ARI took a wisdom that contains all the secrets of life, and stripped it from the countless stories and legends that enveloped it precisely in order to make it abstruse. He felt that in his generation, it was time to begin to reveal the true meaning of the hidden wisdom: the wisdom of Kabbalah.

When he first came to Safed, the city where he spent the final months of life, and where he taught his disciples, no one recognized his greatness. At that time, the greatest Kabbalist was RAMAK, and the ARI also went to learn from him.

But when RAMAK, a great Kabbalist in his own right, realized the greatness of the ARI, he praised him publicly in the highest terms so everyone would recognize his greatness: “Know that there is one man who is sitting here,” he said about the ARI, “who will rise after me and enlighten the eyes of the generation in the wisdom of Kabbalah. For in my days, the channels were blocked, and in his days, the channels will be revealed. Know that he is a great man, a spark of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.”

By saying that the ARI was connected to Rabbi Shimon, author of The Book of Zohar, the seminal book in the wisdom of Kabbalah, RAMAK was actually saying that all the words of the ARI are true and holy, and that anyone who wishes to learn the authentic wisdom should study with him.

It took many years, even centuries, for the great wisdom of the ARI to become known, but today we know that were it not for Lurianic Kabbalah, which is named after him, the secrets of the wisdom of connection, namely the wisdom of Kabbalah, would still be concealed from us.

Thanks to the teaching that the ARI had founded, and which Baal HaSulam interpreted for us, we know how humanity should live, how to build a sustainable society where people care for one another and practice mutual responsibility.

In today’s tumultuous times, it is the great wisdom of the ARI, wrapped in the commentaries of Baal HaSulam, that enables us to make sense of things and find our way in the growing confusion of humanity. Through their wisdom, if we want to, we will sail safe through the troubled water.

[Image: Old city of Zfar by Leonid Levitas @Wikimedia Commons]
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