Entries in the 'New Publications' Category

The Rise Of Anti-Semitism In Germany And The World And Its Solution (Times Of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “The Rise of Anti-Semitism in Germany and the World, and Its Solution

“We have a Nazi problem in Dresden and have to do something about it,” said a city council member who succeeded with local lawmakers in passing an initiative to declare a “Nazi emergency.” This story is not a throwback to the 1930s in Germany, but a recent occurrence. It is a symptom of the larger problem of white supremacy spreading in major European and American cities, which raises the question: Why are Jews treated by many as a stone in humanity’s shoe? Solving this enigma is a pivotal step to finding a way to remove the uncomfortable annoyance.

But why Dresden in particular? Dresden happens to be a bastion of the far-right political party, “Alternative for Germany,” (AfD) and the birthplace of the movement PEGIDA (“Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident,” in German), which are described as anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and xenophobic.

However, anti-Semitism is certainly not limited to radical right-wing groups. It is prevalent in German society as a whole. More than 25% of Germans agree with classic anti-Jewish tropes, including that Jews have “too much power over the economy,” according to a study revealed last month by the World Jewish Congress. Over 40% said they think Jews “talk about the Holocaust too much,” yet one in four respondents also said it is possible that “something like the Holocaust could happen in Germany again.”

Hatred Against Jews in America

The first anniversary of Pittsburgh’s synagogue attack was commemorated last month. It is a vivid reminder of how hatred against Jews is much more than a matter of hate speech these days. Jew-hatred can materialize in a split second as deadly violent attacks. A man accused of plotting to blow up a Jewish temple was arrested just days ago by the FBI in Colorado. We see close parallels between events in America and Germany with the Yom Kippur attack at the Halle synagogue at the hands of a Neo-Nazi.

“This hatred is real, comes from multiple sources, and is growing,” said the American Jewish Committee’s CEO, David Harris, in response to a recent survey conducted by the Jewish organization which revealed that nearly 9 of 10 American Jews now consider anti-Semitism a problem in the US.

In order to combat the sharp rise in Jew-hatred in both America and worldwide, the Jewish Agency recently announced a far-reaching plan to bolster security systems in 50 Jewish institutions, such as Jewish schools, synagogues and community centers in 24 countries this year in response to global requests for safety support. The goal is to extend this security upgrade to include 40 countries by the end of 2020.

No Jewish Safety Until the Cause of Hatred Against Us Is Solved

Today, we discover our human society to be closed-in on all sides, trapped between global interdependence that connects us, on one hand, and competitive, egoistic interests and indifference that separates us, on the other. This is the exact juncture where anti-Semitism is rooted and where the people of Israel enter the picture.

We were established as a Jewish nation at the foot of Mount Sinai when all our members committed to unite “as one man with one heart.” Immediately thereafter, we were commanded to be “a light unto the nations,” namely to spread the light of unity throughout the world. Since we once experienced brotherly love in the bonds between us, we have the ability to once again unite above our differences and set an example for others who so desperately need such guidance. This is what makes the Jewish people unique, and this example is precisely what the world demands of us during our current times of division and rifts.

Humanity subconsciously feels that we Jews hold the key to a better life for every person on this planet. Such interdependence between the role of Jews and the fate of humanity amounts to the fact that the more we delay in actualizing our role, the more we will be hated.

The Jewish people are essentially a mini-model of humanity, a prototype for universal connection between people. The degree of connection we establish between us is destined to spread and shape the conditions for the rest of the world. When we return to brotherly love between all Jews, the demand against us that manifests as anti-Semitism will vanish.

Rav Kook summed up this essential role of Jews as follows: “The purpose of Israel is to unite the world into a single family.”

Our Life Insurance Is in Our Unity

When our enemies strike they do not ask what denomination of Judaism we belong to, or what our origin is, or whether we are right-wing or left-wing. They simply strike out against us, convinced that the world’s problems will be solved by erasing Jews off the face of the planet. This overriding force of anti-Semitism constantly resurfaces in various guises to compel us to unite during times when we become increasingly remote from being a united people.

Today, instead of exemplifying unity, we radiate divisiveness to the rest of the world. In such a state, the world will always find reasons to hate us and feel justified in trying to destroy us. The precise point upon which our prosperity depends was succinctly expressed by Samuel David Luzzatto: “The success of our nation depends only on our brotherly love, on connecting to one another as members of a single family.”

First and foremost, Jews must be a conduit to transmit an example of cohesion, mutual understanding and solidarity above differences to humanity. By providing a method for uniting above differences and divisions, we will become an enlightening force for the rest of the world. As stated in The Book of Zohar: “Just as the organs of the body cannot exist for one moment without the heart, so all nations cannot exist in the world without Israel.”

Our thoughts and efforts that draw us to unite and in turn soften critical attitudes about each other have the power to evoke a positive force between us, one capable of gradually neutralizing hatred and bringing about balance. This is the power that can protect and lead us toward a good and safe future.
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Beyond Statistics: A Way Out Of The Wave Of Violence Against Women In Israel (Times Of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “Beyond Statistics: A Way Out of the Wave of Violence Against Women in Israel

Globally, almost 4 in 10 murders of women are committed by a male intimate partner, and Israel is no exception. In the last few days, crimes against women at the hands of their sentimental partners have shaken Israeli society, which is wondering how could it be that women are safer in the streets than in their homes? Without a deep scrutiny of the causes of such a phenomenon, people can just wait until the next victim is added to the list of domestic violence fatalities.

Recently, Esti, 70, was shot at her home in Talmei Eliahu, Southern Israel. The alleged killer, her husband, is an Israeli doctor who worked at John Hopkins and Sinai Baltimore hospitals in the US and volunteered in multiple international charities. Similarly, Maria, 29, was found lifeless in her home at Kiryat Bialik, in the northern part of the country. Michal, 32, a mother of an eight-month-old baby girl, was found stabbed in her home in Moshav Beit Zayit in Jerusalem.

What do all these cases have in common? It is that they were allegedly killed by their husbands. The list of the women murdered this week joins the names of Dianna, Susan, Lily, Zinav, Vivian and nine other women murdered since the beginning of this year. Additionally, 21 women were killed in 2018 and 14 killed two years ago. The list of victims gets longer every year. The reasons for the murders may vary, but at their root is one essential reason: egoism, the human desire to enjoy harming and humiliating others in order to feel superior. The more the ego grows, the greater the satisfaction to exploit and take advantage of others for personal gain.

Our egoistic nature has overblown to colossal proportions over the generations and continues growing at every moment. The ego doesn’t let us consider other people. It creates a barrier between our inner world and society, gradually paralyzing our healthy common sense and emotions. When the malicious ego bubbles inside an entire society, shutting us off from each other to deal with our own concerns and be left alone, it is only a matter of time before it will explode.

People with weak mental stability, or people influenced by violent content in the media or by domestic violence experienced during their upbringing, will be the first to tear down the thin veil that shrouds “sane society.” When the pervasive tension increases, when the spirit in society projects extremism and promotes polarization, when the discourse becomes aggressive and raging, the frustration felt by a person breaks an inner balance, explodes in an instant, and those closest to such a person commonly get the brunt of the blow. Therefore, we need to understand how murderers are not solely responsible for their crimes. They are largely the result of the violent atmosphere permeating the environment.

The world out there in the street, on television, and in social media molds our consciousness more than those with whom we share the same roof. The artificial and staged examples of relationships supplied by the media, fed to us by greedy executives who prioritize their own profit margins over society’s benefit, are opposite to natural relationships and the daily reality.

The defective content that aims to shock and get ratings undermines our opinions and, whether or not we pay attention to it, we act in our relationships as if we were momentary actors. When we find ourselves in stormy situations with people who live in the same home, although we are capable of honestly and directly expressing our inner truth, society’s influences are stronger, causing us to alter our natural behavior. Without a choice, we adopt and imitate the behaviors of characters we saw on the Internet, the TV or at the movies. This is the most evident sign that we have lost direction.

We cannot censure the content in the media or close this means of communication and thus solve the problem. Silencing our voices will only bring new distortions in the worst case, or will postpone the outbreak of the disease for one decade in the best of cases. As long as we fail to deal with the phenomenon of malicious egoism and not bring forth a fundamental change, we will degenerate into a situation where each person will do as he pleases, and society will suffer an irreparable crash.

Our education to be considerate of the other, to set clear moral limits and to overcome our egoistic nature should begin from a young age. Our duty should be to transmit to people in every possible way practical examples of how to be connected in a healthy and reciprocal way to the surrounding society: among family, friends and to the whole of society. We must teach ourselves and the coming generations how to change our attitude to reality and demonstrate how mutual consideration is the foundation for any healthy system of relations.

Education toward balanced relationships, meaning relations built above our self-interest with the intention of benefiting others, is the move that will calm the negative human impulses and balance our surging ego with its opposite positive force.

Education, however, is not intended to excuse a person from a heavy punishment. Rather, it is a significant step toward a healthy society. Let us start preparing ourselves for a life where we consider other people. The media can be a tool that helps us establish values calling for taking others into consideration. Influencers and decision makers should be called on to perform beneficial examples for society, and then instead of experiencing a dramatic increase in the number of murdered women, we will aspire to see headlines of supreme heroic stories that glorify examples of social contribution and benefit that lead us to a harmonious coexistence.

Why Do Bad Things Happen? (KabNet)

KabNet published my new article: “Why Do Bad Things Happen?

How many times in our lives have we asked ourselves, “What did I do to deserve this?” “Why do such troubles happen to me?”

A person might get fired, be stricken by a serious illness, or experience the loss of a loved one and start wondering how to receive answers to these heartfelt questions.

Sometimes, after giving our all, everything turns out wrong and it’s unclear why. So, what is the connection between our actions and the results we experience in life?

“Hardships serve to awaken deep questions about their cause and purpose, so that we would want to look outside our narrow individualistic worldview and seek to discover the true integral state we exist in.”

We live in a paradoxical world where a criminal could live a beautiful life while a simple worker, earning his bread by the sweat of his brow, could suffer. And we’re left wondering how life could be so unfair.

We all exist in a vast, intricate network of connection, and our inability to understand such contradictions in life comes from the fact that we fail to feel the full extent of our interdependence. As such, we neither perceive the far-reaching chain reaction of our influence in the world, nor do we feel the responses to our actions clearly and directly.

However, every nuance of our behavior and thought, whether conscious or unconscious, affects the system of nature we live in and enables a response. We are simply unable to connect the dots and understand exactly why things happen the way they do.

How Your Past Actions Influence Your Future

Although it is common to seek out past actions when we encounter negative experiences later in life, trying to connect the dots in such a way is an over-simplistic and incorrect approach that fails to take many variables into account.

Hardships serve to awaken deep questions about their cause and purpose, so that we would want to look outside our narrow individualistic worldview and seek to discover the true integral state we exist in. The more we suffer, the readier we become to match ourselves to the interdependent and interconnected system of nature we live in. When we begin to uncover the vastness of this system, we will see what kind of influence we have on reality, and what actions can be considered as good or bad.

Today, we evaluate our lives according to a very limited and linear perception. Until we develop a new perception and sensation of the integral nature, we will continue walking around in circles, accumulating more and more pain. In a sense, we are like a child who eats only sweets because it appears to us as most enjoyable, not understanding the harm we are causing our body, which will catch up on us sooner or later.

How to Deal With Difficult Situations

So what should we do when we experience various forms of suffering? Firstly, we must not blame or devour ourselves, nor should we delve into the past to see what we or someone else did to cause the suffering. Instead, we must accept the inevitability of the situation, and use the question about the cause of the suffering it awakens in us in order to increase our connection with our surrounding environment. In order for this to happen, we must be in a supportive society of people who also want to rise to a higher understanding of their lives. As the wisdom of Kabbalah explains, it is the only way to positively affect the world: to find a group of like-minded people and start uniting with them.

Under this new perception, we will see how our increasing unification brings us into increasing balance and harmony with nature, increasing our happiness, confidence and comfort. In other words, the cause of any problem in life is our incomplete perception that fails to see how we’re independently connected to each other.

In the upgraded perception of reality that matches nature’s connectedness, we will perceive every situation as good, since we would see anything happening to us at every moment as a means to rise above the situation-at-hand, and reveal the force of love, bestowal and connection that acts throughout nature. All events of our lives and throughout humanity’s history are leading us toward the realization of this lofty goal.

How To Maximize The Potential Of The Elderly In Society (Times of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “How to Maximize the Potential of the Elderly in Society

‘80 and 4’ is a televised social experiment that has started being televised in Israel, based on the British documentary series, which connects preschoolers to the elderly. It examines the effects on the 80-plus-year-olds and four-year-olds, and addresses an important topic of intergenerational integration: Are the elderly realizing their fullest potential in benefiting both themselves and society at large?

Intergenerational integration is in fact merely a modern term for the natural connection that used to dwell in every household. I myself grew up in a home with grandparents on both sides. They gave me more attention than my parents. Naturally, parents are busy juggling work and family, and also play a more disciplinary role toward the children, while grandparents generally have a warmer and friendlier relationship with their grandchildren.

According to the wisdom of Kabbalah, familial connection spans three generations: children, parents and grandparents. In the language of Kabbalah, such connection is called Ibur, Yenika and Mochin, three stages of the soul’s growth.

Children and grandparents share a common closeness to nature: the child’s innocence with his undeveloped desires to benefit at the expense of others, and the elderly person’s sensation of living beyond the rat race, having lost interest in the pursuit of money, respect, fame and power.

Their relationship also holds the most common benefit.

It is very important for the health, well-being and vitality of the elderly to feel as contributing members of society. Children provide them with that sensation. Children always need help, can be taught about multiple aspects of life, and need to play in order to enjoy and learn.

When the elderly mingle with the children, they try to act like them, playing as if they were also children. Such activity has a vitalizing physiological and psychological effect on the elderly, as their systems start functioning like a child’s.

As for the children, they receive attention and can learn from the knowledge and experience of the elderly, whether professional expertise or wisdom from life.

Despite all of our scientific, technological and cultural progress, we are still far from realizing the immense untapped potential in society. The common viewpoint as we grow up is that we will eventually retire, go on pension, become liberated from work, and free to enjoy life.

Unfortunately, such an approach fails to take into account its detrimental effects. Retirement instead causes us to sink into ourselves, detach from society, withdraw from our contributory roles in society, feel no benefit from society in return—it’s a terrible state.

Contribution to society is human society’s metabolism.

Having a role in which you commit to express yourself and give of yourself to others, provides you with a reason to live and has long-lasting positive effects. Moreover, we do not die because our bodies get old; we die when we detach from society.

Nowadays, people live to the age of 90 and over, and instead of using their life experience for the common good, we closet them in nursing homes. In a healthy society, the elderly are treated with much more respect and genuine requests to make a contribution. If the elderly were to disappear from the world, we would immediately feel that the world had lost some power and depth. They are an integral part of nature, holding tremendous importance.

I hope that social ventures of this kind and a more active connection between the generations will become commonplace, and we will be awarded with the feeling that we all belong to a single society, one that treats every person as a very precious and indispensable being, living harmoniously together.
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“What We Can Learn From The Deadly Attack Outside The Halle Synagogue” (Times Of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “What We Can Learn from the Deadly Attack Outside the Halle Synagogue

The shooting attack near a synagogue in Halle, Germany was yet another dreadful act of anti-Semitism on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. However, it could have been much worse if the 27-year-old attacker, who identified with the far-right, had broken the synagogue’s doors and slaughtered the 80 worshipers who were conducting the Yom Kippur prayers.

In a video he shot leading up to the shooting, the attacker denied the Holocaust, denounced feminists and immigrants and stated outright that “the root of all these problems is the Jew.”

Upon news of the two people who were shot to death, condemnations came one after another, from German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeting that “shots being fired at a synagogue on Yom Kippur, the festival of reconciliation, hits us in the heart,” and “we must all act against anti-Semitism in our country,” through Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commenting for a “call on the German authorities to continue taking determined action against anti-Semitism.”

Among all the cries, prayers and warmth for the victims’ families, there is a clear demand for a significant shift to take place against the anti-Semitism that has rapidly spread worldwide. However, other than desperate words, there is an air of helplessness in the face of the growing phenomenon.

Helplessness. Desperation. They sound like very undesirable feelings. But could it be that such sensations are actually a positive outcome of the exponentially rising anti-Semitic crimes and threats?

Perhaps when we are repeatedly stunned by an irrational phenomenon that has haunted our people for generations—one which makes no differentiation between genders, between Yom Kippur and a weekday, and between synagogues in Berlin and Pittsburgh—then maybe this is what will goad us to look into what the Kabbalists have been trying to tell us for generations?

Whether in The Book of Zohar or other Kabbalistic texts, what have the Kabbalists been trying to communicate to the Jewish people? Simply put, if we Jews unite with one another, we invite a positive force dwelling in nature to spread not only among each other, but among all humanity. By awakening nature’s positive, unifying force through our unity, we can bring peace to the world. On the contrary, if divided, where every Jew remains within him- or herself in his or her own prayers, then we provoke the opposite: hatred and conflict. As Kabbalist Rabbi Yitzhak Isaac Haver wrote, “Creation and choice, correction and destruction of the world—all depends on Israel” (Siach Yitzhak. Part 2, Likutim 1).

Hours after the deadly shooting attack, German chancellor Angela Merkel attended a vigil to identify with the victims at a historic synagogue in central Berlin. She stood with the Jewish community as they together sang, “Ose shalom be Meromav” (“make peace in His heaven”). Ironically, sometimes the answer to our toughest questions can be found right under our noses. Sometimes we need only open our ears and listen to the words we’re singing…

  • Ose shalom be Meromav” (“make peace in His heaven”). It means that in our unity and our common prayer, we can make the upper force bring peace above;
  • Hu yaase shalom aleinu” (“He will bring peace upon us”), i.e. the upper force will bring peace to the whole of humanity;
  • Ve al kol Yisrael” (“and upon all of Israel”), i.e. where the role of the people of Israel is to unite;
  • Ve al kol yoshvei tevel” (“and for all the people in the world”), i.e. our role is not to receive the light of unity for ourselves, but to be a conduit for the light to spread to the world, i.e. to be “a light unto the nations.”
  • Ve imru amen” (“and say Amen”), i.e. then we will all—Jews and the nations of the world—be truly grateful for reaching the long-awaited peace.

Amen.
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“Jewish Post-Trauma: The Cause, Diagnosis And Cure” (Times Of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “Jewish Post-Trauma: The Cause, Diagnosis and Cure

Post-trauma from recurring anti-Semitic incidents, the Holocaust and the pogroms has permeated entire generations of Jews. In Israel, anxiety and traumatic events are part of the daily reality affecting children, adolescents and the population in general. The average Israeli has experienced or knows someone victim of terror or war. Drugs may numb symptoms of this phenomenon, but the real cure can only come from our unique capacity to build a safety net when we connect as a Jewish nation.

Israel has the strongest army in the world, yet it provides no immunity from the trauma of losing a friend in combat, or the constant gray cloud of threats from enemies inside and outside the country. Loads of combatants at various levels are exposed to anxiety, from adults and seniors who have participated in Israeli wars in the past, to young men who have completed combat service.

The phenomenon, however, is much broader than merely the Israeli army. It includes all of us. We are a nation living in trauma on a daily basis. It is not only due to the permanent threat that has engulfed the State of Israel since its establishment, and not just because of the hidden fear of occasional violence and terror. We are constantly traumatized for being Jewish.

The trauma that grips us—from the threatening future, the hostile present or the haunting past—permeates all avenues of the nation. Children attend kindergarten in areas attacked by rockets, breathe hidden panic in the atmosphere, quickly drop everything and run to shelters whenever warning sirens sound nearby, and shiver whenever the alarms sound on their phones that another rocket has penetrated a more remote part of the country. The trauma is already within us, whether or not we’re conscious of it.

We tend to take pride in our Israeli roughness, the outward toughness. But those who feel safe do not need such armor. They can afford to be outwardly sensitive as well. This is another symptom of Jewish trauma: the need to defend, fortify and play tough so as to not get hurt.

Why is this happening to us? Who are we Jews? Where did we come from and where are we headed? What is it all for? What is the purpose of this world? What is our role toward the world?

We must answer these questions distinctly, and reach the realization of our important role in humanity, even if it seems like a heavy weight on our shoulders. On the contrary, the implementation of our role will make our current difficult reality become lighter and more pleasant.

The prophet Jonah, whose story we read on Yom Kippur, also suffered from trauma. His story, which describes our experiences, began with the mission he received from God: to warn the people of Nineveh to turn away from their evil ways and begin to act as reality requires—with mutual affection.

Jonah tried to flee from his destiny. He boarded a ship that sailed far into the sea, and his escape caused a storm. The sailors on board realized that the cause of the storm, which created much hardship, was the “Jew” on their ship. Thus, they threw him out to sea. A whale swallowed Jonah. While in the whale’s stomach, Jonah underwent an arduous self-scrutiny until he agreed to carry out the role assigned to him. Afterward, the whale brought him to safety, to the city of Nineveh.

The story of Jonah is the story of the people of Israel.

We have a role that has always accompanied us: to establish unity among us, and serve as an example to the world. However, we try to avoid this role. Therefore, every time the world suffers from a given crisis, minor or major, it marks us Jews as guilty for the trouble. Also, every accusation we face becomes a trauma that accumulates over and over in our Jewish experience, whether or not we feel it.

Our destiny is inevitable. It is the result of rigorous laws of nature written in the Kabbalah books. We must learn them in order to understand what we have to do, otherwise we will continue experiencing amassing blows from the nations of the world.

It is correct to treat the entire Jewish nation as suffering from trauma. We should not blur the problem, but accelerate the understanding that healing such trauma depends on developing an upgraded, unified approach to each other and reality as a whole.

Yom Kippur is a time of introspection, both for individuals and for the Jewish nation as a whole. We can use the time for self-examination at Yom Kippur to positively affect our destiny if we also agree to realize our role, unite and become “a light unto the nations.”

By raising awareness and working on uniting among each other, we will satisfy humanity’s demands upon us and radiate a positive light to the world, as it is written, “for they are life to those who find them and health to all their flesh” (Proverbs 4:22).
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“Anti-Semitism In Australia: The Deeper Cause And Solution” (Times Of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “Anti-Semitism in Australia: The Deeper Cause and Solution

Two anti-Semitic events involving children that hit Australia in the past week are just the tip of the iceberg showing a worldwide boost in anti-Semitic sentiment, crimes and threats.

The first was a 5-year-old who was revealed to be subject to anti-Semitic bullying at his school’s bathrooms regularly for months. It reached such scales where the boy would wet his pants in class rather than use the bathroom to avoid the ridicule. All it took was his classmates finding out that he was circumcised for the abuse to begin, which included calling him a “Jewish cockroach.”

At another school, a 12-year-old Jewish student was taken to the park by his classmates, who forced him to bend over and kiss the shoes of a Muslim boy. Of course, the act was photographed and spread on social media. In the months following, the child suffered from anti-Semitic slander, physical assaults, threats and curses. Beyond an injury to his face, which ended with a visit to the hospital, the child began to suffer from acute anxiety.

In both cases, the schools denied involvement in the incidents, and faced minor backlash from the Jewish children’s parents and Jewish organizations. Both Jewish children eventually left the schools.

Despite these events coming to light in the media, there is no guarantee of a safeguard from future such events. We are left with no reason to believe that other Jewish children won’t face similar or worse bullying.

The 2018 Anti-Semitism Report of the Kantor Center reported an unprecedented 59% increase in anti-Semitism cases in Australia compared to the previous year. The cases included phone and email harassment and threats, verbal abuse, vandalism, and anti-Semitic posters and graffiti spreading in the public sphere unimpeded.

These are just some of the cases. Most cases are not reported at all, and Jews continue encountering harassment and curses on a regular basis whether on their way to synagogues on Shabbat, whether at Jewish festivals or other Jewish events.

It’s no wonder that Jews and Israelis living in Australia are starting to feel uncomfortable, to say the least.

I have quite a few students and friends there. Debbie and Avi are part of a large Jewish and Israeli community, living in Bondi Beach in Sydney. Debbie stated that she shivered when she saw the pews of Sydney’s northwestern neighborhoods covered with swastikas and graffiti that call for killing Jews.

Aviva and her family also migrated to Australia a decade ago in her work for a small town near Byron Bay, which has a large community of Israelis. One day when Aviva was sitting in a little café, as she usually did, she was surprised to discover a swastika adorning her coffee. When she asked the waiter what this meant, he explained that Hitler was basically pursuing peace and equality, and his ideas had good intentions.

Apparently, even in a stable and tolerant democracy, in which Jews are free to maintain their beliefs and customs, there is reason to fear. Again, we find that Jews have nowhere else in the world to escape and shake off their role.

The wisdom of Kabbalah explains that Jews have a special role in the human puzzle: “Israel’s purpose is to unite the entire world into one family,” writes Rabbi Kook. The people of Israel are a special people who rose with the common agreement to love one another and live “as one man with one heart.”

The method of uniting the Jewish people, which can also unite humanity, has been instilled in us Jews. Therefore, it is our duty to use it, and to bring about the long-awaited union between us—to set an example for a humanity that is suffering from increasing division and hatred. But as long as we continue letting ourselves get driven into conflict with each other, failing to transcend our egos and connect with each other, anti-Semitism intensifies and gives us a hard reminder that we have a role.

The only way to stop and even reverse the rising trend of anti-Semitism around the world is if we Jews realize our unity above our growing divisions, and to spread this unifying tendency to the world.
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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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“How Kabbalah Explains Anti-Semitism“” (Times Of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “How Kabbalah Explains Anti-Semitism

The wisdom of Kabbalah explains that anti-Semitism first surfaced together with the emergence of the Jewish people around 4,000 years ago in ancient Babylon. Also, Kabbalah explains anti-Semitism as a natural phenomenon that ignites especially at times when the world needs more unification, subconsciously expecting unity to come from the Jews.

Understanding Kabbalah’s explanation of anti-Semitism means being aware of how the attainment of unity 4,000 years ago differentiates the Jewish people from other nations. It also means recognizing that the stature of a united people, which the Jews attained, remained with them throughout history.

Ancient Babylonian society experienced life-threatening division due to an outburst of the human ego, i.e. the desire to enjoy at the expense of others.

Seemingly out of nowhere, without warning, people simply started hating each other.

The story of the Tower of Babel describes how ancient Babylonian society experienced chaos when the human ego blinded people into prioritizing their self-interests over the interests of society. No one could consider other people’s needs, and society moved head on toward ruin.

Among the social turbulence, a Babylonian priest emerged—Abraham.

Abraham explained the cause of the social division and hatred that was spreading among the people of the time as being rooted in the growing human ego. He also promoted the fact that he had discovered a method for rising above the ego, uniting, and discovering the single force of nature through such unity.

Abraham called for people to rise above their conflicts, unite, and made his teachings available to whoever wanted to join in this process.

The Essence of Abraham’s Method: Love Will Cover All Transgressions

As I mentioned, the human ego is a desire to enjoy at the expense of others. It is embedded in every person from birth. This ego grows continually over the course of history and throughout our lives. However, the ego undergoes periods of exponential growth bursts, as well as periods of more stable growth.

The essence of Abraham’s method is the person’s elevation above the human ego in order to attain unity with other people and nature, thereby experiencing a harmonious life.

Moreover, by using Abraham’s method, we can rise above the ego in advance of the ego’s growth, in order to ensure a peaceful unified life, and not fall to the destructive patterns that come from a bigger ego dictating its demands, which causes increasing hatred and division.

The group that implemented Abraham’s method became known as “Jews” (“Yehudim”) from the word for “unity” (“yichud”). By uniting, they attracted the force of nature. (In Kabbalah, “God” [“Elokim”] and “nature” [“HaTeva”] have the same meaning. This is reflected in Gematria as the words for “God” and “nature” have the same numerical value.)

Abraham called that group, “Israel,” which translates to “Yashar Kel” (“straight to God”), i.e. a group aimed directly at the attainment, understanding and sensation of the upper force.

Many people who lived in ancient Babylon and followed Abraham dispersed around the world, and they received the name “the nation of Israel.” The nation of Israel is not a nation in the biological sense. It is a gathering of many people who lived in ancient Babylon, who experienced the confusion and division that existed during the period of the Tower of Babel, and who implemented Abraham’s method to unite above their divisions.

Also, what does it mean that Abraham’s group dispersed around the world?

It means that after attaining a degree of unity at the time, they experienced a further growth spurt of the ego that divided them 200 years later in what is known as “the ruin of the Temple.” They were expelled from Babylon after they stopped following Abraham’s method. They entered a state of unfounded hatred, and accordingly, dispersed around the world.

If the nation of Israel fails to sustain their unity above all problems, divisions, confusions and conflicts, then they fail to hold the condition that identifies them a nation.

Anti-Semitism: A Force that Holds the Jewish People Together

The nation of Israel has no natural unifying sensation as do other nations. Therefore, what can demarcate the nation of Israel while they’re detached from each other?

It is precisely the hatred toward us Jews from other nations.

If we would experience no such hatred, we would try to vanish in all directions until we would completely lose our identification as a Jewish nation. This inclination to lose our national identity happens to no other nation but our own.

Today, the twelve tribes of Israel have disappeared. Only two are left, which is about 20% of what once existed. The fact that the nation of Israel has sustained a degree of identification as a Jewish people, even that minimal extent of connection, has given us a certain spark of the sensation of the unifying force that we once attained—the force of nature that dwells between all parts of reality.

This tiny illumination has somewhat positioned the Jewish people in the world differently to other nations. For instance, it is the reason for the Jews’ disproportionate success compared to other nations.

How Kabbalah Explains the Cause and Solution to Anti-Semitism

The wisdom of Kabbalah explains the phenomenon of the role of Jews in the world, and how the cause and solution to anti-Semitism relates to the Jews’ success or failure in realizing their role.

As the world becomes increasingly integrated, humanity looks more and more like a single global organism experiencing two conflicting tendencies: increasing interdependence vs. increasing division and hatred.

While the world endures this growing rift and the need for positive connection rises dramatically, since the Jews once achieved unity above division by implementing Abraham’s method, the Jews are expected to once again bring unity to the world. Otherwise, a widespread threat of destruction grows all the more imminent.

Therefore, anti-Semitism, the hatred toward Jews, awakens in the nations of the world in order to express their need for unity and their dependence on the Jewish people to pioneer a process of global unity.

Hatred toward Jews thus becomes fiercer and more intense the more society experiences negative effects from its growing division. The nations of the world simply feel that the Jews somehow block their experience of a happier and better life.

However, neither the nations of the world nor the Jews know about this core reason for anti-Semitism that Kabbalah explains.

If you ask Jews today, they won’t tell you that they have a method of unifying humanity above its growing divisions at their fingertips.

Anti-Semites, too, will often only point out reasons for their hatred of Jews that don’t point directly to their core, e.g. that they’re not anti-Semitic but that the State of Israel is the problem, or that Jews hold too much influence in their nation’s governance, politics, finance, commerce and other fields, as well as many other reasons for Jew-hatred.

The wisdom of Kabbalah points to the core reason for anti-Semitism: the need for the Jewish people to unite for the sake of humanity’s unity, and their failure to do so when it’s required of them.

Over thousands of years, the wisdom of Kabbalah was concealed. Today, however, it has become revealed because today we have grown up into a global world, and we have all the conditions necessary in order to implement this method.

Therefore, the wisdom of Kabbalah surfaces widely today in order to explain where anti-Semitism originates, what its solution is, and how we can implement the solution to experience a more peaceful and harmonious world by uniting above our growing divisions.

It is my hope that, sooner rather than later, we will learn the ways of uniting above our divisions and realize what a wonderful world we truly live in when we’re freed from our egoistic impulses.
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