Entries in the 'Holidays' Category

Simchat Torah

Dr. Michael LaitmanFrom My Facebook Page Michael Laitman 10/20/19

What is the Essence of Simchat Torah?

While We’re Far from the Real Simchat Torah, Here’s a Good Reason to Celebrate the Joy and Happiness of Simchat Torah Right Now

At its core, the Tishrei holiday cycle expresses our shift as a divided, egoistic society to one of connection, altruism and balance with nature’s quality of giving. Its final day, Simchat Torah, celebrates the favorable outcome of this shift.

Although the basis of Simchat Torah is far from where we see our society heading today, it’s an opportunity for us all to think about where we are as individuals and as a society in relation to this harmonious state. We can rejoice in our recognition of the real cause of all our problems—our egoistic nature—and that we have the means at our disposal to redirect this nature to a positive direction. That’s already a major step towards the reformation the Torah speaks about.

Therefore, we have a very good reason to be happy this Simchat Torah. Let’s use the opportunity to consider how we can train the light’s quality of giving, love and connection among each other, and show that there is indeed a positive alternative to the escalating divisions, struggles and conflicts around the world.

May it be a happy holiday to all!

Learn more here

What Is The Feast Of Tabernacles: Sukkot?

Dr. Michael LaitmanFrom My Facebook Page Michael Laitman 10/16/19

What does it mean to follow the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot?

It means agreeing to erect a Schach, a thatched roof made out of plant scraps, which connects us under a single idea of unity, “as one man with one heart,” above differences.

By sitting in a Sukkah, a temporary dwelling, under its Schach, and wanting to enjoy from the Ohr Makif (surrounding light)—nature’s positive influence that emerges when we try to resemble its perfectly unified form—it is considered as enjoying in the shade of the Sukkah.

We respect the shade, i.e., our egoistic desires that detach us from each other, together with the understanding that we can be united only above our egos.

Therefore, we cover our egos with the Schach, i.e., concepts of loving and caring for others, concepts that are as scraps to our egos, holding zero egoistic importance. In the wisdom of Kabbalah, the Schach is also called a “Masach” (“screen”).

Below the Schach are our egos. Above it, we unite.

The Schach represents our common desire to love, bestow, and connect positively to each other, to be as one with everyone.

The Sukkah resembles the place of our unification, our common soul of Adam HaRishon where we all connect as one.

Therefore, following the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, means engaging in a common effort to erect a Schach roof, which gives us the confidence to be held together by nature’s unifying force, which turns our temporary dwelling, the Sukkah, into a sturdy, safe and secure structure.

In our organization, the Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education & Research Institute, we learn the inner processes connected to festivals such as Sukkot. With the method of Kabbalah, any person can undergo these processes independently of calendar dates and times, discovering their true meaning together with the revelation of higher perceptions and sensations of reality. We invite anyone interested to get started with our introductory materials and courses.

World’s Largest Sukkah

Dr. Michael LaitmanFrom My Facebook Page Michael Laitman 10/15/19

1,000 Square Meters of Love: The World’s Largest Sukkah!

The world’s largest Sukkah can be found on the roof of Kabbalah.Info in Petach Tikva. The giant thatch spreads over 1,000 square meters, and is built according to the guidelines of Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag (a.k.a. Baal HaSulam).

Hundreds of people from Israel and around the world gather every evening in our Sukkah to celebrate together under one roof. Over 10,000 people will celebrate in the “World’s Largest Sukkah” throughout this holiday.

Thousands of miles may stand between our hearts as everyone is stuck in their own worldview, but once a year we come together and a thatch of peace covers all our differences, revealing the beauty and splendor of the connections between us.

Happy Holiday!

What Is The Meaning Of Sukkot?

Dr. Michael LaitmanFrom My Facebook Page Michael Laitman 10/13/19

On Sukkot, we are commanded to dwell in temporary dwelling.
Temporary dwelling means that it is built from things we consider unimportant.
The things our ego cannot appreciate are the things that build our inner thatch. The inner thatch covers and protects us from our own ego.

“Sukkot 2019: How To Reconstruct Our Jewish Home” (Times of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “Sukkot 2019: How to Reconstruct Our Jewish Home

Synagogues across the globe are shutting down their doors for good. Demographic changes, financial problems, assimilation, and lack of interest in Jewish life among younger people, as well as the feeling of insecurity due to anti-Semitic attacks, are among the major factors that contribute to this phenomena. But there is a deeper cause to the declining membership and its consequences for communities: the lack of cohesion and sense of a common home among the Jewish people as a whole. The festival of Sukkot, during which we celebrate unity and hospitality with those closest to us is an invitation to reshape our destiny and reflect on building a common sukkah where all Jews can be united as one and with them the entire world.

The Jewish festivities this year face a new reality. Once vibrant Jewish communities around the world have seen their membership significantly reduced. For instance, the community in Nice, once the fourth largest in France with around 20,000 members, has decreased to a mere 3,000. Similar situations can be found in Jewish congregations in Boston, New York and the Midwest, all due to dwindling membership.

“Jews exhibit lower levels of religious commitment than the U.S. general public” among whom, only 26% said religion is “very important,” in comparison to 56% of non-Jews, according to American research organizations. The studies also show a gap between Jewish attendance at synagogue services compared with other denominations: “Jews report attending religious services at much lower rates than do other religious groups. 6-in-10 Christians (62%) say they attend religious services at least once or twice a month (compared with 29% of Jews),” revealed the survey.

I am not surprised. After WWII, the sense of belonging and the need for communal association thrived among Jews, but nowadays there is basically nothing to hold a community together. In a generation where everything is disposable and anything can be acquired, independence has become more highly valued than ever before and calculations for community trail accordingly. One may ask, “Why should we be part of a community and identify as being Jewish? What do I get out of it?” “Nothing, and perhaps the opposite,” would be the probable response. In fact, Jewish life essentially has little or no meaning if we do not ask life’s most significant questions, such as “Why do I exist?” and “What does it mean to be Jewish?”

The word “Jew”—“Yehudi” in Hebrew—stems from the word “unity”—“Yichud.” Our purpose as Jews is to reach a state of unity among each other and to share it with the nations of the world, i.e. to be “a light unto the nations.” However, in order to attain such a lofty goal, we need to first rise above our egoistic nature, that is, to transform our attributes of self-concern and self-indulgence into concern and care for others.

How does this relate to the Sukkot holiday? This festival is precisely a call to exit our comfortable egoistic “home,” meaning our self-love, and to build a new structure, a sukkah, the symbol of the new world that we can create if we acquire the quality of bestowal, the quality of love for others.

Sukkot symbolizes the beautiful process of inner change where we take the “waste of barn and winery,” items that, according to the wisdom of Kabbalah, represent the quality of love for others that are now mingled and immersed within our egoistic thoughts of self-concern, and raise such attributes like a roof, high above our heads. We construct a cover for the ego and, day by day, during the week of Sukkot, perform additional clarifications about the qualities that contribute to altruism and ask for our correction. Then, symbolically, the light that sifts through through the thatch roof transforms our previous egoistic qualities into a new state where we recognize love and connection with others as life’s most important values.

The true meaning of Sukkot is to build a new reality of mutual understanding and support—a sukkah of peace, so that the entire Jewish people and the whole world can gather beneath that big thatch of covering and be united as one. When this comes to pass, the temporary home of the sukkah will be transformed into a temple, a common place in our hearts, and not merely a physical structure.

I wish you all a joyful and peaceful holiday!

The Meaning Of The Holiday Of Sukkot

The true meaning of the holiday of Sukkot is to build a “Sukkah of Peace” so that the entire world will gather beneath this big thatch covering, where we will be united as one.

Rosh Hashanah: If We Unite, We Cover All Crimes With Love

laitman_550Happy New Year!

The period from the beginning of the year (Rosh Hashanah) to the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) is called “terrible days.” Yet, in fact, it all depends on our perception. Even the most mournful days such as Tisha B’Av, which symbolizes the historical tragic events that happened to the Jewish people in the past, will in the future become the best days.

Therefore, everything depends on a person’s perception. If one lives in the past, as many people do because they know nothing about the future, then these are terrible days for him or her. However, the wisdom of Kabbalah, which is completely oriented toward the future, tells about these days as the most beautiful and good ones. The new year (Rosh Hashanah) is the beginning of good changes.

The period of repentance that precedes the beginning of the new year is necessary to recognize our evil nature, which we must correct. The most suitable time for correction is approaching, thanks to which we come to good.

Rosh Hashanah is followed by the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) when a person judges himself, clarifying how he can reach the degree of the Creator, the state of the upper force, the best state possible. He checks what he must correct in order to reach this corrected and elevated state.

As a result, the holiday of Sukkot comes. After all the clarifications and requests for correction, we begin to build a soul. The Sukkah symbolizes the common soul of Adam HaRishon we all are parts of. If we gather together under the roof of the Sukkah, under one cover, covering all crimes with love, then we reveal the joy of the Torah (Simchat Torah). We are so united together that the upper light, called the Torah, fills us and brings us to correction.

These days are called “terrible,” but their menace comes from their greatness. As it is written about the Creator that He is “great, mighty, and awesome,” but this is not from a threat but from worshiping His greatness.

Before Rosh Hashanah it is customary to wish each other a happy new year and a good entry in the nook of life. However, of utmost importance is the understanding that if we unite, covering all crimes with love, this year will indeed be good for us. We should reach such a connection not just once a year before the holiday, but every day, day by day becoming spiritually closer to each other until we feel such a heartfelt connection as if we were one man with one heart.

Then we will feel the upper force, the common nature that fills our common heart. This is what really will be a good new year.
From KabTV’s “The World. Jewish holidays” 9/26/19

Related Material:
Rosh HaShanah Is The Birthday Of Adam
15 Rosh Hashana Insights
What Does Rosh Hashana Symbolize?

My Thoughts On Twitter 10/7/19

Dr Michael Laitman Twitter

Dear Jewish People:
We are together before the greatest and most important day of the year. Why? Because on this day we can correct our relationships between us, toward reality and the entire world. #YomKippur

From Twitter, 10/7/19

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My Thoughts On Twitter 9/25/19
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“What Forgiveness Should We Ask For On Yom Kippur?” (Times Of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “What Forgiveness Should We Ask for on Yom Kippur?

We Jews anger the Creator constantly, endlessly, and in every situation, when we agree to division and hatred among each other, and do not want to connect.

The Creator strongly desires for us to be united because from that force of connection, He will become revealed to humanity. By facilitating this action of connection, the Jewish people truly become a “light unto the nations,” and a conduit of peace and tranquility to all.

However, the opposite is currently happening.

Due to our alienation, we prevent all the goodness from spreading through us to the entire world. And because of our estrangement from one another, we need to ask for forgiveness this Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement).

The Role of the Jewish People and Yom Kippur

A key part of the Yom Kippur prayer service is in reading the book of Jonah the Prophet. In the story, God orders Jonah to tell the people of Nineveh, who had become very abusive toward one another, to correct their relationships if they wanted to survive. However, Jonah evaded his mission. He 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. For this reason, we have suffered terribly. If we want to alleviate more suffering, especially today, in times of rising anti-Semitic tides, we simply cannot afford to keep remaining indifferent to the role we have to fulfill.

“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.”
– Rav Avraham Itzhak HaCohen Kook, Orot Kodesh (Sacred Lights), Vol. 3

Yom Kippur, traditionally considered the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, is observed on the 10th of Tishrei. It is also known as the Day of Judgement. But who judges? And who is being judged?

It is the individual who judges himself. We are accustomed to examining our actions in the world, but we should also examine our intentions, especially with regard to others, like taking an X-ray of the heart’s intentions, checking to see how well we were able to rise above our egoistic self-interests to care for the needs and desires of others.

Why? It is because through such concern, we reveal the world for what it really is: a unified and interdependent system.

The role of the Jewish people, as explained by our sages, is to pave the way for unity above all differences as the only solution to all the evils in the world-–to serve as an example of unity for the rest of humanity. However, what do we see instead? We see deepening division and rejection of one another. Therefore, the nations of the world complain about our wrongdoing, despising us, punishing us and even desiring to annihilate us.

This hostility toward Jews is manifest in the spike of hate crimes worldwide, targeting Jewish victims for no reason other than religion. In Berlin alone, an average of two anti-Semitic incidents are reported daily, a total of 404 cases in 2019 (until April), as informed by the city’s commission for combating anti-Semitism. In New York City, violent attacks against Jews are spiraling out of control with anti-Semitic crimes up 82% this year, as compared to 2018, (a total of 152 cases so far, while over the same period last year, there were 93 incidents) according to the Police Department’s statistics.

Day by day, the multi-faceted sensation of instability in the world increases people’s need for calm and contentment. This increasingly causes sentiments of anti-Semitism to boil within humanity.

The wisdom of Kabbalah explains that hatred against Jews is triggered by our lack of desire to unite: among each other and with the Creator. When we are divided and reject one another, we block the passage of the force of love and connection through us to humanity. Then, humanity’s insistent demand for a better and more united life surfaces with force, inflicting us with blows.

“In such a generation, all the destructors among the Nations of the World raise their heads and wish primarily to destroy and to kill the Children of Israel, as it is written (Yevamot 63), ‘No calamity comes to the world but for Israel.’”
– Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag, Introduction to the Book of Zohar.

Transforming a Mournful Day into a Happy One

Yom Kippur is the state where I reveal the egoistic force of separation within as something evil. After I discover it, I can then approach the Creator with this evil and demand correction from Him. This transforms the Day of Atonement into a day of joy because I discover the ailment for the evil within me, my selfish nature. In other words, I find how my ego needs to be corrected in order to fix my relationship with others, and that it is the cause of all division, conflict and crisis in the world.

People often consider Yom Kippur as a sad day because they do not realize that what is perceived as “bad” could be used as a springboard to attain good. What is regarded as good or evil depends entirely on one’s attitude. For example, if, during a routine visit to a doctor, one discovers that he has a disease, then the evil was revealed so that it could be treated and healed. This is an example of how the discovery of something bad in you turns out to be something good.

“There is no happier moment in a person’s life than when he discovers how absolutely powerless he is and loses faith in his own strength since he exerted all possible efforts that he was able to, but reached nothing. This is because precisely at this moment, during this state, he is ready for a complete and clear prayer to the Creator.”
– Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag, Pri Hacham: Igrot Kodesh.

This moment is called a personal “Day Of Atonement.” From this moment on, a person can be certain of receiving the light of correction.

Our Entry to the Book of Life

I earnestly hope that we use Yom Kippur as an opportunity for introspection and realize the true reason for our suffering and the suffering of the world so that we will be able to fulfill the role that humanity expects from us:

“The Israeli nation had been constructed as a kind of gateway through which the sparks of purification will flow onto all of mankind throughout the world, until they can perceive the pleasantness and serenity that exist in the kernel of love of others.”
– Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag, The Arvut (Mutual Guarantee).

May all the Jewish people lead by example and be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for a good year.
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“Rosh Hashanah: Looking For A Leader Of The Jewish People” (Times Of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “Rosh Hashanah: Looking for a Leader of the Jewish People

Israel’s political mayhem after the elections comes as no surprise. The dead heat between the two main parties in Israel and the fierce deal-making to form a coalition capable of governing the country reveals the great divide within Israel’s society.

Why should a Jew in Manhattan, Paris or Buenos Aires care? Why should this situation be a matter of concern for the Jewish New Year?

As we celebrate Rosh Hashanah—the beginning or “head” of the year—it is time to reflect as Jews on our connection as a people, regardless of the place where we celebrate around the dinner table. We are in the thick of a groundswell of hatred against Jews and Israel that will leave no stone unturned and no time for second-guessing.

Now more than ever, Israel’s leadership must also lead all Jewish people, fostering unity both in the Land of Israel and toward the Diaspora in order to tackle the great divide between the two communities.

In recent years, young Jewish Americans have experienced an increasing loss of Jewish identity, and a growing indifference toward Israel as the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people.

The internal and external pressures we face as Jews every day, in every part of the world, enhance the sense of urgency of needing to come to terms with our divisions. What happens in Israel must be relevant to all Jews because even if it is not always evident to us, we share a common destiny, an invisible but indivisible link.

Realizing this indivisibility and working toward unity should be the Jewish people’s highest priority in order to have the strength to face today’s existential threats. Our enemies make no distinction between you and me, between leftist and rightist, between religious and secular, between an Israeli Jew and an American Jew.

Consequently, we need to stand side by side as one.

5,880 Years to Break the Siege

This year, Jews all over the world felt less safe. The deadly shootings at synagogues in Pittsburg and Poway were a major wake-up call to the anti-Semitic terrorism that can unfold at any given moment in the heart of American society.

Large cities in the US have also experienced a sharp spike in violent attacks against Jews. The New York Police Department registered 184 hate crimes by the end of June targeting 110 Jews. The number of incidents almost doubled compared to 2018. In contrast, overall crimes in the city decreased to a record low.

In Europe, 89% of Jews feel anti-Semitism has increased in their country over the past decade, and a similar percentage believe it to be a serious problem. Meanwhile, the economic, academic and cultural boycotts against Israel, known as the BDS, are expanding around the globe.

Therefore, whoever will govern the country must understand that a weaker Israel and a widening gap between Israel and the Diaspora will only increase threats against us and anti-Semitism throughout the world. As reality has proven to us time and again, and as history shows, when we are divided, our enemies rise against us. As we head into the new year, we must finally be ready to reverse that fate for good.

A Change for the Better

Rosh Hashanah, comes from the Hebrew words, “Rosh Hashinui” (“the beginning of change”). It symbolizes our aspiration to acquire higher values, benevolence, sharing, and caring for each other. All of our Jewish festivals symbolize milestones along the path of our transformation of the evil inclination—namely egoism—to altruism, to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

The Rosh Hashanah tradition to eat a fish’s head symbolizes our decision to be at the forefront, not the tail, leading ourselves and others toward unity.

The pomegranate we serve at this time of the year, with its numerous juicy seeds, reminds us that we, too, are like seeds, that it is time for us to ripen spiritually through unity. The seeds also represent our egoistic desires, which we want to learn how to use in a more balanced way—for the sake of others rather than selfishly—realizing our aspirations through our many contributions to society.

The meaning of the apple we eat at Rosh Hashanah is the primordial “transgression” of self-centeredness. We dip it in honey to symbolize its sweetening (correction) through our reestablished care for others. To achieve this state and rekindle our brotherly love, we have to rise above our egoism, balancing it with its opposite altruistic force by establishing positive connections between us.

The Head, Not the Tail

Let’s consider further the symbolism of the fish’s head in the Jewish New Year customs. Israel and the Diaspora need leadership that will also take care of our younger generation, which is losing grip on its traditions.

What kinds of actions should be taken toward this end? First and foremost, an educational framework needs to be established that explains the following essential questions:

  • What does being a Jew mean? To be one who works to unite all separate parts of humanity into one whole.
  • Who is Israel? It is those who embody the meaning of the word Yashar-Kel,e. those who go “straight to the Creator” as the unifying power in reality.
  • What is the Land of Israel? It’s the path of common purpose between us.
  • What is the role of the Jewish people? It is to be a “light unto the nations.” That is, to give an example of unity to the world.

We need to work in close cooperation with representatives of world Jewry, even if their views seem completely opposite, and to take into consideration their perspectives in Israel’s policymaking process. It is important for us to find a common language and to work in mutual guarantee (Arvut) with one another.

The leadership Israel requires is one that will show how crucial it is for all of us, without exception, to connect, to be “as one man with one heart,” and to give the world the key to attaining that unity. The Jewish people require leadership that will let every Jew live safely in the country of his birth and to open its doors to every Jew in times of trouble.

This demand for change must begin within ourselves. It is the choice of each of us to transform our state of separation to one of cohesion, for with that change of state also comes the transformation from insecurity to safety. And there is no more beautiful time to start realizing the power of our unity than now, around the Rosh Hashanah festive table.

We are of many different ages, tastes, backgrounds, ideas and points of view, but we should not try to change or erase any of that. On the contrary, our uniqueness is the treasure that each brings to the world. We should preserve our differences, rise above them, and cover them with mutual love and respect like the white cloth that covers the festive table. This is our special family recipe for a rounded and sweet life, and for a promising future as a nation.

Let’s raise our glasses of wine and make a toast to our unity.

Happy Rosh Hashanah!
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