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Israel: United We Stand, Divided We Are (Times Of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “Israel: United We Stand, Divided We Are

What the recent elections revealed about ourselves and our future

We have no nation. Division stands in our midst. Those are the results of an X-ray scan of Israel after its 22nd election.

How can a nation constantly in conflict and under threat let its every sector care only about its own backyard and personal interests?

The dead heat between the two main parties and round-the-clock deal-making expected in the coming weeks to form a governing-capable coalition further stresses the great divide in Israeli society. However, discovering the wretched state we are in opens up the perfect opportunity to realize that we have no alternative but to cast a vote for unity and elect the force that connects us as a nation.

How could our nation unite above its divisions? Could politicians put their egos aside and strive instead to rise above their personal benefit for the sake of a common goal? Clearly, no one is interested in doing so, but the fact is, we have no choice.

We have entered an era where the nation is up against grave threats, the most vivid being Iran. Wealthy and powerful Iran is gaining support from Russia and China, and it is convenient for Iran to tag Israel as its enemy. As Iran holds a strategic position in the heart of the Middle East, its beef with Israel lets it flex its muscles in the global sphere, as well as show its readiness to escalate pressure toward that goal.

After 71 years of statehood, instead of becoming stronger, we suddenly reveal that Israel is in an unfounded state. Our legs are stuck in quicksand, and we cannot pull ourselves out. We are a stubborn, powerful, enduring and unequivocally creative people, but in 2019’s second national election, we are left again with polarization and partisan manipulation instead of choosing our good future together.

Why does Israel’s political spectrum look like rough patchwork, where the loose threads fray in detachment to each other? It is because we have failed “to elect” the one and only force that governs all aspects of nature: the upper force. Once again, we have neglected the only Jewish element that justifies our existence as a people: the value of our connection.

In order to come to terms with the urgent call for unity and put it into practice, Israel needs competent leadership that prioritizes rebuilding the social fabric. It will require a gradual educational process that should be led by a national-unity government made up of Benjamin Netanyahu, ex-military chief Benny Gantz, and Avigdor Liberman, with Netanyahu acting as prime minister until the rest acquire the necessary skills to govern. The job of heading a nation requires learning experience just like any other profession, but we have no academy for governing the nation, and the volatile internal and external pressures we face leave no room for trial and error. Ruling the country demands a completely different mindset than ruling the army.

Although organizing our political leadership is important, we will not return to sanity until we realize that our main goal as a nation should be to eliminate our biggest enemy: our war with each other.

The principle of unity that we inherited from Abraham, the father of the nation, has completely escaped us. It is a principle by which we became a nation in ancient Babylon. In its absence, we have dismantled into a loose collection of peoples and “tribes.” The principle of brotherly love built the Temple—the connection between us—and its absence, unfounded hatred, kicked us into exile and persecution.

Therefore, regardless of who will form the next government, we should certainly not depend on the guidance of a flesh-and-blood leader that will be replaced in four years or less. We need to depend on the power of society, the strength of our connection. This is and always has been the root of our salvation as a nation.

In other words, it is important to cast our votes and choose our leaders as in any democracy, but our real free choice should be made on a daily basis, renewed regularly and not subject to the considerations of any government in office. At any given moment, it is worth stopping for a moment to ask: “What are we living for?” “Why do we exist?” “Who runs our lives?” “Who runs the society we live in?” “Who governs us?” “Who is really in control?”

The upper force in nature drives humanity. It emerges from its hidden state when society functions harmoniously in mutual guarantee (Arvut), showing us how we live in a unified system where all parts are interconnected as a singular and integral unit.

Disagreement is part and parcel of our Jewishness. There is no need to eliminate or obscure our differences and divisions. Nor do we have to flatter and agree with the views of others. But we do have to bridge the abyss between opinions, to spread an umbrella of love over our differences, because “love will cover all transgressions.”

As our ship sails forth into unknown waters, it is time to persistently emphasize the positive qualities of others and create a more harmonious society where mutual care, consideration, understanding and support prevail. By doing so, we will be able to realize how our disunity drills a hole in our ship’s keel, whereas our cohesion strengthens our ability to navigate to a safe port of a bountiful land.

That is the election vote we need to cast regularly for the ultimate positive outcome.

The New War Against The Jews (Times Of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “The New War Against the Jews

The parallels between the rise of Nazism in the 1930s and today’s political climate are clear. Political extremism on both the left and the right have started to take hold. Civilized discourse between the various groups has devolved into name-calling, and the ghosts of anti-Semitism have reawakened, which many hoped were dead and buried along with the Third Reich. These echoes from the past should sound an alarm for Jews around the world, and especially in America. If history was to repeat itself and the unthinkable were to occur, how close are we to another Holocaust?

Then and Now

Steven Spielberg, who established the USC Shoah Foundation to preserve the memory of the Holocaust, expressed deep concern that genocide is as possible today as during the Nazi era. “When collective hate organizes and gets industrialized, then genocide follows,” Spielberg commented in a recent media interview. “We have to take it more seriously today than I think we have had to take it in a generation,” he added.

Within three months of Hitler’s coming to power in Germany in 1933, a nationwide boycott of Jewish businesses and professionals was ordered. The Nazis’ official explanation for the boycotts was that they were implemented as a counter-reaction to the demands of Jewish organizations in the US and Britain to boycott German-made products due to the Nazis coming to power (which was true). This action legitimized anti-Jewish activity and gave it official support, which had not existed until then and marked the commencement of the war against the Jews, as anti-Semitic ideology began penetrating into German consciousness.

The Nazis’ boycotts included harassment and vandalism of Jewish businesses, people and institutions. They were followed by a downward spiral of actions that lead to the deaths of six million of our brethren. It is understandable that when we hear the word “boycott,” it still triggers a brutal reminder of the beginnings of the Holocaust.

Israel’s Enemies from Within and Without

One of the major differences between the 1930s and today is that the State of Israel exists. Israel today is like the Jews of Germany in the 1930s: it stands at the frontline and beats the brunt of a new war on the Jews. Instead of blatant anti-Semitism, the hatred of Jews has been repackaged under the guise of anti-Zionism that today’s anti-Semites say is either Jewish apartheid or the Israeli government’s policies. This is meant to confuse the public and isolate Israel. However, we should not be deceived: anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. Sadly, some extreme leftist Jewish organizations such as J Street and IfNotNow, as well as Israeli activists and intellectuals, are playing a leading role in global hatred campaigns, such as the BDS movement, which are meant to demonize and isolate Israel.

The Israeli students recently attacked in Warsaw for admitting they were from Israel, and the traditionally dressed Jews brutally assaulted in Brooklyn, were easy to identify as Jewish by their clothing and language. Secular Jews should take no comfort in this, nor should they fool themselves into believing that this cannot happen to them in the United States.

European Jews also dissociated themselves from the warning signals in the 1930s. The 1935 Nuremberg Laws stated that one Jewish grandparent made you Jewish and bought you a one-way ticket to the gas chambers.

What should we recognize about the current war against the Jews? It is potentially scarier than the Nazi’s war on the Jews. The new anti-Semitism can affect any Jew, anywhere, anytime, since threats are coming at us from all sides, in every shape and form: from radical Islam, the far-right and far-left, mainstream politics, economic forces, and even from the worlds of arts and academia.

The BDS movement’s growing influence portends the danger that may lie ahead. Zooming in, we reveal that the boycotts are working effectively: Europe’s largest bank, HSBC, divested from the Israeli defense company Elbit Systems, and the German sports company, Adidas, ended its 10-year sponsorship of the Israel Football Association (IFA). The BDS movement takes credit for both actions. Soda Stream and Ahava relocated their factories from the West Bank to undisputed areas in Israel. We cannot be naïve and think these are campaigns only against Israeli settlements: It is a war on the very legitimacy of the Jewish state, which is constantly singled out by international organizations and falsely accused of the worst possible atrocities.

All the charges against the Jews by the Nazis are echoed by the BDS movement against Israel and Jews. The Nazis claimed that Jews were the root of all evil, brought World War I to Europe, destroyed the German economy, and undermined the country. Similarly, BDS proponents claim that Israel is waging war, exploiting innocent Palestinians, extorting the world, and committing genocide.

The anti-Semitic trend in the United States is also unfavorable. 19% of Americans think that small shops have the right to refuse service to Jews if doing business with them goes against the religious beliefs of shop owners, according to a recent survey published by the Public Religion Research Institute.

It’s the Same War in Israel or America: It’s Our Shared Destiny

In addition to the economic impact, the most resounding influence of BDS activity is in the Western academic world, affecting Jewish students and academics. Senior researchers refuse to maintain links with universities in Israel and with Israeli researchers, while student associations pressure for the marginalization of Israel. The New York University Department of Social and Cultural Analysis voted to boycott the university’s Tel Aviv campus, and the American Association of University Professors issued a statement supporting the decision. The boycott movement covers virtually all campuses of US academic institutions including Harvard, Princeton, Columbia and Yale. It also reaches inside student dormitories, creating a hostile and violent atmosphere for Jewish students who publicly support Israel, and even for those who are simply known as being Jewish.

Although many Jews in the Diaspora claim to have issues with the State of Israel, or at least its official policies, many of the boycott movements’ proponents make no such distinctions. For them, a Jew is a Jew, a good Jew is a dead Jew, and a good Israel is the one that is wiped off the map and erased from reality.

Israel is an intrinsic part of the collective Jewish identity and is perceived that way by the nations of the world. So when judgement is passed and punishment imposed on Israel, it falls on the entire Jewish collective and not on only an individual part.

The increasing pressure against Jews and the State of Israel is an attention call for us to come together and ask essential questions: Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we headed?

The Jewish people are a unique example. The fact that we originally came from different backgrounds, united above our differences and become one people, “as one man with one heart,” makes us unique. But being special does not mean we are to look down on others from above; it means we are to serve others. Delivering that example of unity under the premise “love your neighbor as yourself” is what the nations of the world subliminally demand from us. They instinctively feel Jews hold the keys for peace and prosperity in the world, and their complaint for not sharing it is manifested as anti-Semitism.

It is incumbent upon us Jews to unite above our differences yet again. The only thing that will end the new war against the Jews is our making all the Jewish people as one. If we can find this desire to unify within us and fan its flames, we will become a positive force that will permeate the world, and hatred against us will vanish.

As Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag wrote during WWII in his 1940 paper, The Nation:

It is also clear that the enormous effort that the rugged road ahead requires of us mandates unity that is as solid and as hard as steel from all parts of the nation, without exception. If we do not come out with united ranks toward the mighty forces that are standing on our way to harm us, we will find that our hope is doomed in advance.

And from that common ground and goal, Jews must embark on a shared path that is not motivated by fears and materialistic impulses, but instead by the desire for a common spirit and vision as one unified and thriving people for this and future generations.

“A Trendy Anti-Semitic Fad“ (Breaking Israel News)

The largest portal Breaking Israel News published my new article “A Trendy Anti-Semitic Fad“:

If the use of Nazi symbolism in fashion was manifested in isolated cases, there would be only slight cause for concern. But when this trend is backed or glossed over by giants such as Amazon, the biggest online sales platform in the world, we cannot remain indifferent. From home decor to clothing and accessories, the popular website is infested with products depicting Holocaust victims heading to the gas chambers and images glorifying the Third Reich. This trend comes to shake us up to the realization of the urgency and pertinence of uniting our forces. By becoming one unified people, will we be able to not only to avoid trivializing the atrocities of the past, but also to prevent history from repeating itself.

All kinds of merchandise with pictures of concentration camp victims and images exalting Hitler are now easily found in online stores. There is already a fashion trend called “Nazi chic” gaining popularity throughout the world.

International fashion companies have caused uproar in recent times for using anti-Semitic imagery and hate symbols in their designs, such as striped garments including yellow stars resembling the clothing Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust, and swastikas.

Minimizing the Holocaust as a Tragedy

Once taboo, the glorification of anti-Semitic manifestations and Nazi symbols is becoming increasingly acceptable in fashion, art, music, sports, festivals, and even amusement park attractions, such as a swastika-shaped ride recently closed in Germany where the public display of Nazi propaganda and memorabilia is illegal. Just this past year, however, this ban was lifted for computer games.

Amazon recently confirmed that it will launch operations in Israel in the coming weeks, including a Hebrew website for local customers and retailers. This comes during the timeframe when the Auschwitz Museum has condemned online advertisement and sales of products featuring starving Jews from the Holocaust and Nazi symbolism being promoted as an “ideal gift.” The Jewish memorial demanded a more strict verification system for retailers “as sometimes things go beyond just bad taste and become disrespectful. Especially when images of victims are there.” Online shoppers have also been shocked by the offensive merchandise and some e-commerce companies, including Amazon, have agreed to pull some specific items from their websites in certain locations while others remain available online in different countries.

The trend to trivialize the darkest chapter in Jewish history is worrisome because, as we can see, it is now found in basically every human field. Moreover, polls conducted in Europe show that the memory of the Holocaust is starting to fade. In America, one of three people queried on the subject do not believe that 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.

What about Making Connection Fashionable?

Today’s growing hatred toward Jews and people’s indifference to historical Jewish suffering reminds us of our task. This grotesque trend is an opportunity for us to reflect on the reason for anti-Semitism and to remember that we have a method of connection to prevent the atrocities from recurring.

Over many centuries, our ancestors fought to maintain their unity above their growing selfishness. But 2,000 years ago, Jews succumbed to unfounded hatred and were exiled from their land. Since then we have lost the ability to be a light unto nations because we have lost our unity. The moment we lost our unity was the moment when anti-Semitism as we know it began.

Only when we rekindle the brotherly love we cultivated centuries ago and share the method for achieving this with everyone, will the world will stop hating and blaming us for all its troubles. How is this possible? It is possible because, whether we like it or not, Jewish unity determines the state of the world and its fate. Through our connection, we stream a positive, uniting force into the world, a force the world desperately needs. Conversely, our separation denies humanity this power and evokes within it hatred toward Jews. This is the cause of the nation’s aggression toward us and why they perceive us as the source of all evil.

In his essay, “The Arvut (Mutual Guarantee),” Rav Yehuda Ashlag writes about the important role of the Jewish people: “The Israeli nation was established as a conduit to the extent that they purify themselves [from egoism], they pass on their power to the rest of the nations.”

Now is our time to become a “light unto the nations” through our example, to make unity, peace and calm the only trendy fashion in the world. We cannot allow atrocities to happen again when we have a method of prevention through our connection. It is indispensable to stick to this goal of brotherly love among all Jews above all obstacles because our lives depend on it and because the well-being of the world requires it of us.

“How Did New York Become A Battleground For Jews?” (The Times of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “How did New York become a battleground for Jews?

“Why are Jews being assaulted in a way they were assaulted in pre-Nazi Germany,” asks former NY State Assemblyman, Dov Hiking in a heartfelt tweet to NYC Mayor, Bill de Blasio, urging him to address the “out of control anti-Semitism in NY.” He added, “enough is enough.” In fact, three extremely violent attacks on Orthodox men in Brooklyn in less than a week speaks volumes about a vicious pattern of hate crimes being tracked by the police: 145 cases this year—mostly anti-Semitic incidents—nearly double the number reported in 2018. This demands an urgent address, and first of all by us, Jews. What do haters want from us? Are we really willing to accept this as the new norm? We are going to need some strong glue to make our fractured Jewish collective whole again, not only to prevail over the hatred, but even in order to survive.

The victims of this vicious spike in hate crimes have been people easily identifiable as Jews living in traditional Jewish neighborhoods, but history has shown us that hatred does not distinguish between religious denominations or residential areas. Jews around the world are being targeted and attacked only because they are Jews, so no one should feel exempt. Therefore, we must respond as one unified people.

So why is it that this alarming situation is no big deal to many Jews then? When an attack on one isn’t felt as an attack on all, it exemplifies how deeply divided we are as a Jewish people. The lack of empathy and identification as one people is the cause of hatred against us. Our dissociated separation weakens our very foundation as a people, making us easy prey.

In the most recent attack against Jews in New York, a Hasidic man was beaten in the face with a belt in front of a synagogue in Brooklyn. Authorities are also investigating two other similar cases in the last few days. In Crown Heights, according to the NYPD, an assailant bashed a rabbi in the face with a heavy paving stone, breaking his nose and knocking out some teeth. In another incident in the same neighborhood, an Orthodox Jewish man suffered an eye injury after being attacked with ice by a group of aggressors.

If we consider that typically only a small percentage of crimes are ever reported, yet those already counted reveal a startling increase in the numbers of hate crimes. In other words, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Many in the Jewish community have stopped referring to these as “random cases,” now referring to them as “mainstream anti-Semitism.” Just how much Jewish blood must be spilled before we react?

What Do Haters Want from Us?

Throughout history, the hatred of the nations toward the Jews has risen and has fallen. Therefore, many have researched the phenomenon of anti-Semitism, although no one has identified its fundamental cause and how to eliminate it. And its quick intensification today once again testifies to the fact that the antidote to anti-Semitism is still not being applied.

Only the wisdom of Kabbalah explains the core reason for anti-Semitism and its fluctuation throughout history. Kabbalah states that curbing anti-Semitic sentiments is solely dependent upon the Jewish people: To the extent that the Jews come closer to their spiritual root—as a united people (under the dictum “love your friend as yourself”) who radiate a shining example of unity to the world (as “a light unto nations”)—anti-Semitism lessens. This is true because when Jews become unified as one, a magnetic positive field is created covering the entire world. Conversely, the more distant Jews become from their root, anti-Semitism rises, forcing us to unite through the mounting pressure of anti-Semitism—ranging from frequent violent attacks to extreme existential threats like was seen in pogroms and the Holocaust.

The Glue That Binds Us Together Against Anti-Semitism

At this point, you might be asking: how we can possibly reverse our current separation and repulsion since it’s known that we are intrinsically the most opinionated of all people? There is a popular saying: “two Jews, three opinions.” Aware of our nature as a people, from the beginning our sages already established the method to deal with the challenge of rising above our inevitable disagreements.

The book Likutey Etzot (Assorted Counsels) specifies how we should relate to those with whom we disagree:

“The essence of peace is to connect two opposites. Hence, do not be alarmed if you see a person whose view is the complete opposite of yours and you think that you will never be able to make peace with him. Also, when you see two people who are completely opposite to one another, do not say that it is impossible to make peace between them. On the contrary, the essence of peace is to try to make peace above two opposites.”

Indeed, only if we contribute our uniqueness to humanity, will our unity grow and our sense of confidence and happiness increase. Our lives are meaningful only when we contribute to society. With this mindset of uniting above our differences and in order to contribute our skills to the creation of a vibrant humanity from which all profit, everyone will find fulfillment and purpose in their lives and in all their actions. This is the juncture at which aggressions will cease and balance will be reestablished in society.

“Amazon Fires And A Burning Need For Human Connection” (Newsmax)

My article in Newsmax: “Amazon Fires and a Burning Need for Human Connection

The ripple effect of thousands of Amazonian fires is sensed across the continents.
As if humanity needed a reminder of the interconnected, integral, and rounded world we live in, the record devastation of the South American rainforest has produced a global outcry. There is mounting international pressure on Brazil to save the Earth’s largest rainforest, an area around half the size of the U.S., which produces 20 percent of our planet’s oxygen. But restoring the “lungs” of the planet depends solely on mending the exploitative and destructive relations on the human level.

Now the focus is on the Amazonian fires, allegedly set by ranchers and farmers to clear land for cultivation and cattle, but it is important to keep in mind that the global environmental crisis requires a wider perspective. Even though impressive satellite images show that an area the size of a soccer field is burned in the Amazon every minute, let’s not forget that the effect of the world’s environmental problems such as global warming, melting glaciers, unprecedented high temperatures, air and ocean pollution, and ozone depletion are no less appalling in their consequences for people’s quality of life.

Addressing climate challenges demand a broad outlook because the entire ecosystem is integral. There are four levels in nature: still, vegetative, animate, and human. The climate crisis currently affecting us stems from flawed human interactions alone and not as a result of people’s corporeal actions. It is an outcome of our broken relations and lack of inner connection. As our sages wrote, “Man is a small world; the world is a great man.” (Avot d’Rabbi Natan, Chapter 31)

If we develop positive mutual relations at the level of our thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors toward each other, we cause a ripple effect both throughout human society and nature. But, if we relate negatively to one another, aiming to harm and exploit each other for personal benefit, then we experience negative reactions from nature.

Lessons From Nature

The fires in the Amazon give humanity an enlightening lesson about our relationships: It is revealed how interdependent we are, and on the other hand, we see how our ego makes us take advantage of others. The contradiction between the two makes crisis break out in every field. This time the focus is ecological, with emphasis on the fires in the Amazon, but it manifests in all levels of nature. From this lesson, we must become aware of the absolute integral system we live in, which increasingly reveals itself before our eyes.

A Demand for True Global Leadership

As long as our egoistic approach remains unrestrained and unregulated, and as long as no country really cares about the global ecological balance but only its own territory, there is no reason to point an accusing finger at Brazilian President Bolsonaro for rejecting the G7 leaders’ financial assistance led by Emmanuel Macron. Bolsonaro understands very well that the West’s motivation to help him stems from a desire to exploit his country’s natural resources, as expressed by world leaders who have held conferences only for their self-promotion.

My recommendation to the President of Brazil is that he should demand from the wealthy countries at least $20 million per month for the world’s oxygen produced by Brazilian rainforests. By the way, this sum is a mere pittance — half the cost of the G7 summit in Biarritz to which France diverted its taxpayer’s money. Although this pressure would most likely provoke even more fiery reactions among world leaders than the burning forest, it would also raise awareness about our human nature and the need for mutual responsibility between peoples and countries.

Even if we apply pressure on politicians, donate millions to stop deforestation, reduce meat consumption and cease importing meat from Brazil, we will still need to cure not only the compromised lungs of the planet but the entirety of humanity’s body.

How can we make the broader healing of humanity possible? It can be done by igniting human connection: the education and promotion of the need to connect today, and a method for how to connect.

Why would we want to do so? It is because we all live under one common roof, where the world is our home. Protecting and preserving our common future depends on our understanding that divided we perish, united we thrive, and we take the entire surrounding nature with us.

A Jewish Antidote Against Global Crisis (Times Of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “A Jewish Antidote Against Global Crisis”

Warning signs of a global recession are becoming more evident, warn economic analysts. Germany’s economy, the largest in Europe and one of the strongest in the world, is heading into recession, while China’s growth has slowed to its lowest point since 2002. Besides the economic problems, a Russian nuclear accident that caused a measurable increase in radiation levels, and prolonged massive protests in Hong Kong that have continued week after week, are additional troubling news headlines that have yet to jolt the general public. So why then should Jews be worried? The hard lessons of history have taught us that when things start to collapse in society, sooner rather than later, Jews will be blamed. However, before this happens, the Jews have the ability to apply a special preventive treatment: to rise above all differences and unite.

First of all, it is important to understand the invisible connection between Jews and the future of the world. Jews have always been a unique phenomenon on a global scale—a collection of people with exceptionally well-developed desires to enjoy, who strive to earn and maximize every opportunity in every field. The first time that Jews were able to transcend the deeply-ingrained, innate trait of individualistic success and unite into one nation was about 3,800 years ago in ancient Babylon as a tribal society made up of people from different backgrounds, cultures and languages (a society very similar to today’s humanity).

Abraham gathered likeminded followers around him and taught them the wisdom of Kabbalah, the wisdom of connecting and living under the premise of love of others. This group of Babylonians, who were initially estranged from one another, undertook Abraham’s guidance toward uniting and became known as the people of Israel. This group has also been referred to as “Jews,” from the Hebrew “yehudi,” meaning one who is in unison and harmony with nature. From the time Israel was founded, it had only one mission and purpose: to be a “light unto the nations” and to serve as an example of unity and love of others to the rest of humanity.

Later on, at Mount Sinai, the people of Israel received the Torah, the wisdom of Kabbalah: a method of connection for all human beings so that they would be able to transcend the divisions and conflicts above the ego and live “as one man with one heart.” However, after the destruction of the Second Temple, once the brotherly love became lost and the value of exalted unity ceased to illuminate the spiritual vision of the people, they dispersed into 2,000 years of exile and wandering from one place to another.

The wisdom of Kabbalah, or “Reception” in English (from the Hebrew lekabel, “to receive” the upper light), was hidden. Yet the method endured intact and operational, so that when Jews endeavor to connect, the positive force of connection flows through them to the entire human network, balancing the negative force of egoistic self-interest—the source of all division—and elevating the world. This force erases fractures in human relations and restores relationships between countries and societies, including those at an international level.

Therefore, in light of the global turmoil we face today, Jews have an obligation to fulfill their spiritual role toward humanity. As Rav Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of Israel, wrote, “Israel has the secret of unity in the world.” Otherwise, anti-Semitism will rain down upon us and the nations of the world will point an accusing finger at us, demanding our unity. As the prophet Isaiah said, “And the peoples shall take them, and bring them to their place; and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the Lord” (Isaiah 14:12). However, no one promised that the road would be easy and pleasant. Indeed, it could well be difficult and painful. The choice of route depends entirely on us.

The first step toward realization of Isaiah’s prophecy is to spur the people of Israel in the construction of a new humanity, to raise awareness among Jews of their role in the world. With every anti-Semitic event that takes place, we must stop and consider why this is happening. With every explosion or horrific incident, we must rediscover our purpose as Jews in the world. We now have a great opportunity to open the gates to mutual acceptance and support for all with the use of the connection method we received from Abraham. In this way, we will be able to change the face of global society from one of hostility to one of unity.

Is Israel The Solution To Anti-Semitism? (The Times Of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “Is Israel the Solution to Anti-Semitism?”

“You Jews, Hitler should have finished you off,” screamed an attacker while he sprayed water in the face of a Jewish man in Crown Heights, NY. Another three Hasidic Jews were punched in the face on their way to the synagogue in Williamsburg in a renewed series of violent attacks against Jews in the US. In Germany, a rabbi and his two sons were spit on and verbally attacked as they left a synagogue in Munich. These are only a few examples of a vast list of anti-Semitic attacks against Jews during just the last few days.

One might ask what the Jewish response to this should be. Is the rise of anti-Semitism in the world a wakeup call for Jews to move to Israel? Clearly, the solution is not as simple as packing and moving. Our only lasting safety depends on becoming one unified people wherever we are.

Research organizations evaluating bigotry and hatred define the conditions facing Jewish communities worldwide, in light of growing anti-Semitism, as “a state of emergency.” Several surveys recently conducted across Europe reach the same conclusion: Jewish people in the region live in fear and experience increasingly frequent and more violent assaults and harassment only because of their religion.

In the US, the situation is no less alarming. A record number of 1,879 anti-Semitic incidents were reported in 2018, while so far this year, there are no signs of improvement. On the contrary, the trend is strengthening from every direction.

Is Israel a Safe Haven for Diaspora Jews?

I do not view the Israel of today as a fulfillment of our founder’s dream: a national home that would embrace and accommodate all Jews who wish to move to Israel. While it is clear that those fleeing from threat and with no alternative might want to follow their Zionist aspiration to move to the Land of Israel, receiving an official welcome into the country, the challenge of the absorption process into Israeli society can be very difficult.

Israel is far from being “the promised land… flowing with milk and honey,” as described in Exodus. Instead of milk and honey, Israelis face knives and rockets. In addition to constant external threats, deep internal divisions and frictions make Israel feel like a pot about to boil over.

Therefore, how realistic is it to expect a smooth integration of new immigrants into a deeply split society suffering from a lack of communication between its different factions? For example, although Jerusalem might be only an hour away from Tel Aviv, the two major cities are worlds apart. This is also applicable to the periphery areas vis-a-vis the center of the country. Their populations’ mindset and perception are significantly different and little common ground for mutual understanding has been built. Division is evident in virtually all areas of the Israeli social and political spectrum.

A Call to Unite

Massive immigration of all Jews in the world to the Land of Israel should not be considered the ultimate solution and purpose. The single reason for the Jewish people’s survival of persecution and hatred throughout history till today, is to fulfill the mission for which the Jewish nation was conceived: to unite “as one man with one heart” and by so doing become “a light unto the nations.” As long as we distance ourselves from this goal, the nations of the world pressure us through anti-Semitism to remind us of our role.

Put another way, the solution to anti-Semitism is not a matter of territory. The solution can be found in the connection of the Jewish people beyond consideration of physical frontiers. It can only be achieved by becoming closer to each other, heart to heart, through our mutual understanding, care and reciprocity. As Kabbalist Rav Yehuda Ashlag wrote in his paper “The Nation”:

“It is clear that the immense effort required of us on the rugged road ahead requires unity as strong and as solid as steel, from all factions of the nation without exception. If we do not come out with united ranks toward the mighty forces standing in our way then we are doomed before we even started.”

For this reason, the hatred against Jews that increasingly surfaces stresses the urgency for us to take action and come together “as one man with one heart.” When we achieve that state of unity and radiate this example to the rest of the world, it will be perceived as our ultimate and most valuable contribution to humanity. Then, and only then, the animosity against us will vanish.

“Tu B’Av, Building Love Above Hatred” (The Times Of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “Tu B’Av, building love above hatred

There were no good days for Israel like Tu b’Av, a day when the tribes were permitted to mingle with each other and where each and every person bestowed their goodness upon their fellow man.” (Tiferet Shlomo)

Tu B’Av is a special holiday that symbolizes love, relationships built above hatred, above the destruction of the Temple, which crumbled because of hatred between us. We correct the hatred when we rise above it and thus attain the great love, “And you shall love your friend as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).

It is written in the Mishnah that Tu B’Av is the greatest day when, according to tradition, the young women of Jerusalem would go out dressed in white to the orchards and vineyards to sing. The young men would join them to choose their bride. These are the images characterizing the holiday of Tu B’Av.

However, it is not the earthy love of young men and women in the vineyards that we speak of, but a totally different kind of love: one built atop the egoism (self-interest instead of concern for others’ wellbeing) that destroyed the First and Second Temples during the period between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av, which we have just finished commemorating. These dark days remind the Jewish people about the destruction of the two Temples, as well as other problems and afflictions that we have undergone. And just days later, when all is gone and corrected, a new period begins.

The festival of Tu B’Av symbolizes the time in which we build a new Temple, one in our hearts, in the positive connection between hearts. We look for a spiritual partner to help us accomplish this, and the spiritual partner for both men and women is the higher force of love and bestowal, which we call “the Creator.” We connect with Him and together receive absolute fulfillment, pleasure and enlightenment—the revelation of the real world—existing in that sublime and whole reality and not only in a tiny fragment of reality that we know as our world. The whole process of the Tu B’Av unification symbolizes our ultimate correction, the rebuilding of the Temple, and our transition from hatred to love.

What Is Love?

True love, not on the corporeal level as we usually think of it, is a special feeling of connection between us which elevates us to the heights of eternity, wholeness, and an infinite expansion of our feelings and thoughts. We begin to sense that we exist eternally, totally fulfilled, when we relate to each other with this love. Imagine the feeling when everyone loves you; everyone relates to you as if you were their own little child. We need to give each one of us this kind of feeling.

However, there is one special condition required to achieve true love. True love unfolds only by connecting two opposing forces, two contradictory attributes, into one; the new force—a new consciousness, understanding and feeling—develops atop this connection, elevating us to the higher level of the perfect, spiritual reality.

This is why Tu B’Av (the 15th of Av), the day of love, happens right after Tisha B’Av (the 9th of Av), the day of destruction. Only after the enormous, horrible crisis where we reveal the evil, the hatred between us, are we able to correct ourselves and reach true love. Then a new period begins. But in order to attain true love, we must first recognize that our state is completely opposite to it.

How to Build the Third Temple

It may not be obvious to us, but the entirety of nature works through contrasts. Evolution displays a dynamic interplay of two opposite forces. These forces manifest as plus and minus, hot and cold, ebb and flow, or male and female, they create deeper levels of conflict and self-interest, and thereafter, greater levels of reciprocity and connection. This is why the indispensable first step is to reveal a state of fragmentation—humanity’s current state—and then collect all the pieces and rebuild a perfect whole. This is what we need to reconstruct together through our relations of mutual concern and reciprocity.

It says in The Book of Psalms that the Third Temple will be called “a house of prayer for all nations.” Symbolically, Tu B’Av indicates that this is a holiday of love for the whole world. It’s as if the 15th of Av is a kind of Valentine’s Day for humanity.

What else could we mean by building the Third Temple? It speaks of a state in which we connect into one single system called Adam (human), which stems from the Hebrew root “Domeh” (“similar”), as in “similar to the upper one” (“Domeh le Elyon”). When this system is connected by the positive force, when humanity is connected positively, the state will be called the Third Temple. The Creator will be revealed in the system of positive human connection as the upper force of the world. Thus, we will live in a feeling of eternity and wholeness, in a totally different world, and this is what we call “the Third Temple.” It will be the real day of love that is written about in the words, “love will cover all our transgressions,” and “love your friend as yourself,” which means that this is humanity’s ultimate state.

This is what Tu B’Av truly symbolizes, love built specifically above the hatred among us that we discover in every moment of our lives. Let us hasten in our identification of the bad so that we can start building mutual love and understanding above it and spread this warm blanket of love over the whole world.

“How A Trip To The Moon Makes Everything Clear” (Thrive Global)

Thrive Global published my new article: “How A Trip To The Moon Makes Everything Clear

To see ourselves realistically means to see ourselves as parts of a globally interdependent system. It means to see an ideal and holistic picture of mutually influential relationships.

I like listening to astronauts describe their feelings after looking at the Earth from space. What’s interesting is that astronauts are generally quite mechanical, not openly displaying their emotions. But when they travel into space and see the planet as one small nest full of little chicks, then these generally unemotional people express very deep and touching feelings, as they paint a vivid picture of the integral system we share.

“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” — Neil Armstrong

“The biggest joy was on the way home. in my cockpit window every two minutes — the Earth, the Moon, the Sun, and a whole 360-degree panorama of the heavens. And that was a powerful, overwhelming experience. And suddenly I realized that the molecules of my body, and the molecules of the spacecraft, the molecules in the body of my partners, were prototyped and manufactured in some ancient generation of stars. And that was an overwhelming sense of oneness, of connectedness. It wasn’t them and us, it was — that’s me, that’s all of it, it’s one thing. And it was accompanied by an ecstasy, a sense of ‘oh my god, wow, yes,’ an insight, an epiphany.”– Edgar Mitchell — In the Shadow of the Moon

Therefore, to see myself realistically means to try and see the planet as one nest that everyone shares as chicks. I then need to be concerned that the nest won’t become unstable or break.

It’s a completely different sensation to the one where we feel “grounded” here on Earth. It’s a different dimension, because you feel it as a place detached, dependent on air. Your nest doesn’t rest on any tree. It’s simply in space. Beyond that globe and its atmospheric layer… nothing.

Humanity needs to grow up and see its true integral form. How much longer can we keep letting ourselves behave like wild children, flexing our pride and power muscles at each other? It’s the worst and most irresponsible form of childishness.

“I really believe that if the political leaders of the world could see their planet from a distance of, let’s say 100,000 miles, their outlook would be fundamentally changed. The all-important border would be invisible, that noisy argument suddenly silenced.” — Michael Collins, Apollo 11

“2019: The Year Anti-Semitism Became As Routine as Breakfast” (The Times Of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “2019: The Year Anti-Semitism Became as Routine as Breakfast

Regular reports of anti-Semitic crimes and threats have converged into a foreboding trend characteristic of our times. Whether it heads toward a destructive climax akin to the Holocaust, or a positive shift toward a much better situation for both Jews and the nations of the world, is a question solely of how the Jewish people respond to the rising hatred against them.

Historically, anti-Semitism is a phenomenon that has undergone periods of latency, and then quickly erupts into waves of violence and fear. Over the last few years, we have witnessed a modern surge of anti-Semitism, and today it has become as routine as breakfast. Anti-Semitic crimes and threats have become happenstance events that often don’t even merit news headlines anymore.

As with any problem, what is the point of a constant array of reports about the problem if it is not accompanied with a solution? Since I have found both the root cause of anti-Semitism and its solution in the wisdom of Kabbalah that I’ve been studying for the past 40 years, I feel it as part of my duty to bring its unique explanation to the world so that both Jews and non-Jews can relate to the phenomenon with understanding and awareness, learning exactly what buttons to press in order to reach a solution to anti-Semitism. Also, the solution to anti-Semitism is important not only for Jews, but for all people, as it directly goes hand-in-hand with a much better, happier and comfortable life for everyone.

But before discussing the solution, here is some recent data that my students gathered about the phenomenon in order to show its global-scale proportions:

  • In England, an all-time record was once again broken, and in the first half of 2019, 900 anti-Semitic incidents were reported.
  • In Canada, the numbers are similar: Only in 2018, 2,000 anti-Semitic events were recorded, and earlier this year in July the Canadian court banned the marking of Judea and Samaria wine as “Made in Israel.”
  • Two CNN broadcasters resigned after one of them issued Hitler support messages and the other compared Jews to pigs.
  • In Miami a man in his sixties was shot outside the synagogue.
  • Human Rights Watch head of human rights organization refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist. The head of the organization is a Jew himself.
  • The Jewish and anti-Zionist movement “If Not Now” is trying to influence the younger generation of American Jewry through anti-Israel educational workshops for instructors.
  • A Jewish museum in Germany published an exhibition showing the relationship between Jews and money in a negative light. The Jewish community failed to close the anti-Semitic exhibition, and in light of the exhibition’s success, it will be extended.
  • The UN condemned Israel for violating women’s rights. Among the voters for the condemnation were China, Russia and Iran.
  • The question then becomes, what is the ultimate cause and message embedded within such growing anti-Semitic sentiment?

I speak and write a lot about the role of the Jewish people, which is to unite (“love your neighbor as yourself” [Leviticus 19:18]) and pass unity to the world (to be a “light unto the nations” [Isaiah 42:6]). It is not coincidental that the daily unfolding of anti-Semitic events runs parallel with social division and hatred penetrating developed human societies one day to the next. The more the world suffers from increasing division, the more there is instinctive blame on the Jews for failing to perform their role. That is the root cause of anti-Semitism. I communicate this message regularly upon the foundation of regular bursts of anti-Semitism in order to point the way to the solution: a method of uniting the Jewish people in order for such unity to spread to humanity at large, bridging its growing divisions.

Likewise, since anti-Semitism is an outcome of the nations of the world subconsciously feeling that the Jewish people are failing to perform their role, many non-Jews throughout history have voiced their demand upon the Jews in a way that directly points out the need for the Jewish people to become a beacon for unity to spread to the world.

One example is Vasily Shulgin. Shulgin, a native of Ukraine, was a senior member of the Duma, an elected semi-representative Assembly in Tsarist Russia, before the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Shulgin proudly declared himself to be anti-Semitic, and in his 1929 book, What We Don’t Like in Them, he analyzed dozens of articles of his hostile perception of the Jews. Shulgin complained that Jews in the 20th century became smart, effective and energetic in exploiting other people’s ideas. But he protests that “this is not an occupation for ‘teachers and prophets,’ not the role of ‘guides of the blind,’ not the role of ‘carriers of the lame.’”[1]

Moreover, if there seems to be a contradiction between hatred of Jews and the desire to see them as a people destined to lead the blind, a metaphor Shulgin uses to refer to humanity, Shulgin reiterates this demand in his book in various ways. If the Jews lead humanity to its destination, then “let them [the Jews] … rise to the height to which they apparently climbed [in antiquity] … and immediately, all nations will rush to their feet … ‘Give us Jewish rule, wise, benevolent, leading us to the Good.’ And every day we will offer for them, for the Jews, the prayers: ‘Bless our guides and our teachers, who lead us to the recognition of Your goodness.[2]’”

It is a wonder that great anti-Semitic ideologues are sensitive to the potential of the Jews, and develop a dual attitude toward Jews: on one hand, hatred for the Jews’ current form in the world, and on the other, recognition of the Jews’ greatness. However, it is greatness in potential. We Jews need to discover for ourselves what it is that makes us great, to realize our potential to unite and pass unity to the world by implementing a method of connection that we once received, and which we are now expected to reawaken and innovate in order to suit our modern times. In tandem with the anti-Semitism growing increasingly fierce every day, we must empower our unity for the sake of the world’s unity. If we do so, then we’ll see an end to anti-Semitism, and not only will it end, but it will invert: all those haters of Jews will become lovers of Jews, and all those thoughts and efforts against the Jews will become thoughts and efforts in support of a people that brings unity, peace, love and happiness to the world through their efforts to unite.

[1] Shulgin, Vasily Vitalyevich, What we don’t like about them … [trans. Michael Brushtein & Chaim Ratz] (St. Petersburg Russia, Horse, 1992), 209.

[2] Shulgin, What we don’t like about them …, 219.