Entries in the 'Holidays' Category


laitman_294.1It is important to see what spiritual action each holiday and “good day” indicates and how to perform it. When we speak about the symbols of the Sukkot holiday in the language of the branches: about the cover of the Sukkah made from the waste of barn and winery, the blessing of the Arba Minim (four plant species), we should always point to the upper root. From this, we will be able to better understand what to do with our desires and intentions, how to realize these actions in connection between us with the help of material work, building a spiritual form within the ten.

Sitting in the shade of the Sukkah means being under a screen. Together, we can build such a big screen that we can not only give, but even receive for the sake of bestowal—this is a real holiday. We will be able to receive “guests” in this Sukkah, that is, every time we will have the Light of Hassadim sufficient for some disclosure of the Light of Hochma.

On the Sukkot holiday, we leave our permanent home and enter the temporary one, the Sukkah. The temporary dwelling changes every time, but it is more valuable to us than a permanent home because by this we acquire a “shadow,” that is, the screen on the Sefira of Malchut, and we can receive for the sake of bestowal as a spiritual Partzuf.1

A holiday, a “good day” (Yom Tov) is receiving the Light that returns to the source, which gives us a screen for our desire to enjoy and makes us similar to the upper world, to the Creator, to bestowal. It is called a “day” because by means of this illumination, we can get the intention of bestowal, and the “good” is the reception of Light for the sake of bestowal.

The covering of the Sukkah must be sufficiently dense so that the shadow in it is larger than the sunlight penetrating the cover. It is a symbol of a constant concern for such a great Light of Hassadim that covers all our desires so as not to be afraid to receive the Light for our sake.2

The holiday of Sukkot symbolizes the construction of the anti-egoistic screen. We lived safely in our “permanent home,” in the desire to enjoy, and now we have to go out to a temporary dwelling, which is a symbol of going on a spiritual path. After all, there is nothing permanent in spirituality: we are constantly in a “temporary dwelling,” in constant changes, taking care of the cover, the screen, so as not to return to the “permanent home.”

The most permanent house is the grave; there will be no more changes there. And in the interval between the grave and eternity, we are given a material house.

If we are able to live all the time in a temporary dwelling, that is, in changes, caring for the screen, rising above our desires and striving to become similar to bestowal, to the Creator, then we live as if floating in the air on an air cushion. The main thing is to take care that the bestowal is on top, that the Sukkah covering is above one’s head because it is a symbol of the screen. Therefore, on Sukkot it is accepted to eat only in the Sukkah.3

Sukkot is the joy of overcoming one’s egoism and receiving the Light of the sun for the sake of bestowal through the cover of the Sukkah, through the screen that we have built over our heads. This is a return for love: “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” First, “I am my beloved’s”: to the extent I am able to bestow to the Creator, I feel that He bestows to me. All the symbols of the holiday of Sukkot—an embrace on the right, an embrace on the left, a kiss, a merger—is the result of corrections made on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kipur, the Days of Repentance.

The joy of Sukkot comes from the fact that we managed to overcome our desire to enjoy and build a screen, a cover over it.4

The first correction is the restriction of one’s egoism. As if I leave the house and close the door behind me, ensuring that I will no longer return to egoistic reception.5

If we reach a connection in the ten, then the Creator is surely revealed between us. He shows whether there is a connection between us or not. If we can only bestow for the sake of bestowal, then the Light of Hassadim is revealed, that is, the Creator is revealed from afar, like an adult, a teacher among children. If we can already receive for the sake of bestowal, that is, in love, and not just supporting each other, then the Creator is revealed as our partner, filling and embracing everyone.6
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 9/23/18, Lesson on the Topic “Sukkot
1 Minute 3:56
2 Minute 9:43
3 Minute 15:10
4 Minute 26:25
5 Minute 38:40
6 Minute 53:30

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Yom Kippur: Disclosure Of Desires That Need Correction

laitman_294.2The earthly calendar with its holidays does not quite reflect what is happening in the spiritual world. The state called “Yom Kippur” can be realized on Hanukkah or Purim, and Passover, the exodus from Egypt, can happen at any moment. In our world, everything is determined by a common inanimate system, but in spirituality, everything depends on a person, on his individual development. Therefore, it is quite possible that one of us is in the state of Purim, another one is in the state of Pesach, and still another is in an ordinary weekday or the ninth of Av.

Spiritual states refer to the unification of people until the complete restoration of the common system of the first man, Adam. This system was shattered and we need to reassemble it. Gradually, all its broken connections are revealed, all the severity of the shattering that penetrated to the very depths of nature.

Yom Kippur is a harsh state. However, it is very important for correction because on this day the lack of connection between us is revealed, the lack of faith, the lack of the feeling of the Creator. Also, the correction of this day is: “Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God,” that is, feeling the upper force as yourself. By connecting with each other, we allow the Creator to be revealed between us and we adhere with Him.

Yom Kippur is the disclosure of all the desires that need correction. The main thing is to reveal one’s evil, because the correction will already be fulfilled by the upper Light. Our task is to realize our own evil, to hate it, and to want to get out of it. And the Creator will complete this work for us.1

All the sins occur only for one reason: the absence of the feeling of the Creator. One can even say that the absence of the feeling of the Creator is the main crime.2
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 9/18/18,  “Yom Kippur
1 Minute 0:20
2 Minute 9:05

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Gratitude To Baal HaSulam

226Baal HaSulam’s Yahrzeit [ed. the anniversary of Baal HaSulam’s passing] is a special day of remembrance and gratitude to a very special and exalted soul who descended to this world as a messenger of the Creator to open a path for us, an entrance to the upper world, so that we can reach it here, during our lifetime.

Baal HaSulam did so much in order to bridge our corporeal Kli (vessel) and the spiritual one, which lets us connect with it, and through it reach connection with the Creator. He paved a very long and special path, just like the Baal Shem Tov and the Ari did in their times. We are incapable of fully appreciating what this soul did.

Ultimately, we should be thankful to the Creator for sending us such a soul, such tremendous help. When we learn from the books of Baal HaSulam and approach the goal with his help, we must appreciate, thank, honor, and love this extraordinary person, this special tool that creates a connection between us, those who are below and those who are above.

We should be so proud of this honor and take on even more commitments to be worthy of connection with such a soul. We are unable to realize his contribution to us and its power, but still, we must love him, as children love their parents. So we must draw near and cling to this soul, which opened the passage to the Creator in our time. We would stand no chance without him.

There were many Kabbalists before, but in our time, there is no other method that allows, in practice, for the revelation of the Creator and becoming His partners, supporters in His work with creation. Thanks to Baal HaSulam, we are able with our small souls to facilitate his ascent, and along with him, our own. We were honored to receive an invitation, a pass to the upper world, and the choice is in our hands.

A mere two hundred years ago it was impossible to conceive that completely secular people like us, without any preparation or connection with the Torah, could have any chance of approaching spirituality. Then came the soul of Baal HaSulam and opened a passage for us, and now we can pass through this tunnel just because of our pure desire.

The most important thing is the desire. It doesn’t matter that a person has sunken low in the corporeal sense, it has no relevance in spirituality. If you look over the Machsom into the spiritual world, you will see the person as though through an x-ray: no meat or fat, just the bones, which is the essence. And according to that essence, according to our desire, we are accepted into spirituality.

I am so happy that there are so many people with us around the world that yearn according to their inner essence toward the truth, and in line with their desire are ready, through the method of Baal HaSulam, to cross that path and reach perfection.

The key to this is very simple: our unity. We advance to the extent that we unite; with each move toward unity we take another step in our advancement. This tunnel puts constant pressure on us, it squeezes us and forces us to connect even more tightly to the point of passing through the eye of a needle. The secret of our success lies exclusively in our unity.
From the Daily Kabbalah lesson, “Yahrzeit Baal Sulam”, 9/19/18

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Fasting On Yom Kippur

laitman_290Fasting on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) symbolizes that we restrict our broken desires and are ready to use them only for the sake of bestowal. If the desires are corrupted, then their correction begins with a Tzimtzum (restriction), with the condition that we do not accept any Light if there is no intention to bestow to my neighbor.

I will be able to use my desire for the benefit of others if I stop receiving for a “full day,” and then I can again return to receiving the Light. This means that I have passed a full stage detached from receiving, in restriction, and now I can receive the Light again, for the sake of bestowal. In the spiritual world, this action takes place on every new stage.1

We exist in the full HaVaYaH, the five Sefirot: Keter, Hochma, Bina, Zeir Anpin, and Malchut. If you cut off all the particular Sefirot of Malchut from them, then the remaining Kelim can be used. Therefore, on Yom Kippur there are five restrictions against Keter, Hochma, Bina, Zeir Anpin, and Malchut: a ban on food, drinking, intimacy, bathing, and wearing leather shoes. Everything else is our internal thoughts and desires and a calculation should be made there not to receive for one’s own sake.

This means that you make a restriction and so move yourself through the “judgment.” Yom Kippur is the day of judgment.2
From the 3rd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 9/18/18, Writings of Baal HaSulam, Shamati 69 “First Will Be the Correction of the World”
1 Minute 28:45
2 Minute 37:20

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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: “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]).

Yom Kippur: The Story of Jonah

High Holidays

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

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, follows Rosh Hashanah. On this day, we fast and pray for our correction. One of the most meaningful parts of the day is the reading of the Book of Jonah. It is with good reason that this part of the Yom Kippur service is so significant. The Hollywood-style storyline of the book contains a message that if heeded, can lift humanity from the global sludge we seem to be submerged in and brighten our future.

Here is a short booklet about the High Holidays that I hope you will enjoy reading. Please also feel free to print it out and distribute in your community.

Gmar Chatima Tova

A Wish To Be The Head And Not The Tail

laitman_254.03On Rosh HaShanah we ask the Creator to make us a “head” and not a “tail” in the new year. This means that we want to work according to intention and thought, not according to the force of desire. We want to rise above the desire toward the thought, which is called faith above reason, and to be concerned with the intention with which we use our desire.

We do not want the desire to determine our actions as it does today. Now, we are under the control of the desire, which is driving us, determining our actions and intentions. All our intentions are aimed only at fulfilling our desires.

We, however, want to correct the relationship between the intention and the desire so that the intention would govern the desire. The intention for the sake of bestowal, which is called “faith,” will rule over the desire that will realize this intention.

This is a big shift in the spiritual work. In the beginning of the path, we only pay attention to our desire and want to realize it. Then we begin to scrutinize our intentions, which for now are also egoistic. We then, however, see that intention can be different. The reforming Light influences us and changes our attitude toward our desire to enjoy and the Creator’s desire.

As a result of working in the group, the study, and the influence of the reforming Light, we begin to perceive the Creator as more important. We have not yet revealed the Creator, but we already feel that it is important for us to think about Him, to give Him joy, to come closer to Him, and to adhere to Him. This already pertains to the intention; we ask the Creator for an opportunity to act in this way.

It follows that there is no good or evil in the world. It only appears this way to me so that I would have an opportunity to come to know the upper force, to discern it, unite with it, to attain it,  and to understand the Creator.

That is, in the beginning, we are governed by the desire, and in the end, by the intention. It does not matter if the desire is to receive or to give, whenever possible I use every desire only for the sake of realizing my intention to bestow.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 8/22/18, Lesson on the Topic: “Rosh HaShana

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High Holidays

Dr. Michael LaitmanFrom My Facebook Page Michael Laitman 8/16/18

The coming of the month of Elul and the Tishrei holidays symbolize the coming of a new era for man. What understanding does man reach during this period, what does the word “Elul” mean and what kind of soul-searching is done here?

Here are some videos to help you learn about the spiritual meaning of the high holidays.