Entries in the 'New Publications' Category

Medium: “Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau’s Apology To German Jews Comes At Height Of Anti-Semitism In U.S. And Canada”

My article in Medium: “Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau’s Apology to German Jews Comes at Height of Anti-Semitism in U.S. and Canada

Canada’s PM Trudeau meets with MS St. Louis survivor Ana Maria Gordon in Ottawa (Reuters)
Trying to escape the atrocities of Nazi Germany, around 900 Jewish refugees aboard the St. Louis ship were denied entry to Canada on June 7, 1939. It was one of the many rejected requests to obtain asylum in the North American continent, before the liner returned those on board to safe harbor in four European countries. Unfortunately, 254 of its passengers later perished in the Holocaust.

It was precisely the prosecution they were running away from, prompted by a series of events in Germany that put the lives of Jews in peril: the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich, discriminatory laws targeting Jewish citizens, the Nuremberg Laws and the Kristallnacht riots by the Nazis in 1938. During the pogroms in Germany and Austria, more than 90 Jews were killed, hundreds of synagogues were torched, and roughly 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to death camps.

The St. Louis set sail on May 13, 1939 when the luxury liner departed Hamburg, Germany and arrived to Cuba as a stopover to the United States. But the Cuban government did not let the passengers disembark and kept the ship in port for days. The authorities refused to accept the foreign refugees despite the fact that they held legal visas previously acquired. Increased anti-Semitism and recent changes to immigration regulations in Cuba restricted their entry.

After the refusal, the boat sailed to the Florida coastline looking for American asylum, but President Franklin D. Roosevelt denied the appeal. The government argued that the refugees aboard the ship had to wait their turn as anybody else in a long line of asylum seekers. After the rejection, St. Louis started returning to Europe.

Aware of the humanitarian emergency, a group of Canadians unsuccessfully tried to convince their government to provide sanctuary for the refugees. The official response was that “no country could open its doors wide enough to take in the hundreds of thousands of Jewish people who want to leave Europe.”

The ship then continued on its course for the Old Continent and docked in Belgium, and from there the passengers were dispersed to France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. But during WWII, many of them fell under Nazi control, putting the refugees back in harm’s way. Many survived, but hundreds were sent to concentration camps and died.

“We apologize to the 907 German Jews aboard the MS. St. Louis, as well as their families,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said recently in the House of Commons. “We used our laws to mask our anti-Semitism, our antipathy and our resentment.” He added, “We are sorry for the callousness of Canada’s response. And we are sorry for not apologizing sooner.”

Trudeau’s mea culpa comes at the time when anti-Semitism is globally on the rise, with Canada and the United States being no exception. The deadly attack to the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburg was not an isolated incident in the US. Anti-Semitism on campuses, on the Internet, continuous physical, unprovoked attacks in cities like New York, vandalism to synagogues and private homes are only some of the manifestations of the increasingly rampant hatred in America toward Jews.

With the establishment of the State of Israel, the Jewish people can feel that there is a safe haven. Indeed, on the verge of an unbearable crisis, no country, not even the US or Canada, will be unconditional to us, defend our interests, and protect us from anti-Semitic existential threats. The waves of modern anti-Semitism that now plague the Jews in Europe should serve as a reminder of our mission: to unite. That is our only life insurance.

We have no one to rely on but ourselves. Everything depends on us. The Jews are responsible for everything that happens in the world, whether for good or bad. As it is written, “There is no calamity that comes into the world but for Israel” (Tractate Yevamot 62a).

In the meantime, we do not feel that way, but the wisdom of Kabbalah explains that is how the human communication system is built from within. The Book of Zohar compares the connection between Israel and the world to the organs of the human body: “Israel among the other nations, like a heart among the organs, and as the organs of the body could not exist in the world even one moment without the heart, so all the nations cannot exist in the world without Israel.” All the accusations, every persecution, every rejection, every rage and threat expresses the world’s demand that the Jewish people, wherever they are, should fulfill its role and lead humanity to happiness and a meaningful life.

Unconsciously, humanity feels that the Jews have the solution to all its problems and the key to its happiness. Global pressure on Israel is guided by the program of human development defined in nature, as Rav Kook wrote in the early 1900s: “In Israel is the secret to the unity of the world.” If so, sooner rather than later the Jewish nation must fulfill its role toward humanity and be a “light unto the nations” — to serve as a good example of a civilized society in which everyone lives in mutual solidarity and brotherly love above all differences. Only then will we sail to a new and good world. As our sages said, “If I am not for me, who is for me; and if I am (only) for myself, what am I. And if not now, when?” — Hillel, Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14

BIEN: “Basic Income Should Join Forces With A ‘Social Network’ Revolution“

Basic Income Earth Network published my new article “Basic Income Should Join Forces With A ‘Social Network’ Revolution“:

It’s the start of a new month. You wake up in the morning feeling a rush of energy. The air is thick with a positive warmth. You’re immediately motivated and inspired with a thought that is, as if, circulating around everybody’s mind:

“How can I best contribute myself to society today?”

You immediately do what you need to do: go to the bathroom, put your clothes on, get something to eat, and check your bank account. You see your monthly basic income allowance came in. You get through all these necessities as quickly as possible because you want to start connecting to the means where you draw this positive energy.

That means is a social network.

It is unlike the social networks we use today. Ad-free. Conflict-free.

It is a social network thriving with friendliness and enthusiasm. Everyone feels equally important and responsible for creating it. Everybody actively expresses their opinion in discussions with no fear of judgment, criticism or argument. Everybody listens to everybody and does not simply interject with their opinions.

In exchange for the basic income allowance that entered your bank account a little earlier, you need to answer a few questions in this network. As soon as you see the first question, you understand why you had that thought earlier. The question is:

“How can I best contribute myself to society today?”

You click “Agree” on the network’s conditions, which state a few guidelines that all participants need to follow in this network. They ultimately boil down to one main condition: Leave your ego outside.

You agree to everyone being equally important; everyone actively answering the questions (which are made with everyone’s ability to answer them in mind); no arguing with, criticizing or judging others; focusing on the topic at hand, i.e., not veering it into unrelated directions; and listening to others speak as if it is you who is speaking.

These conditions are founded on a synergic principle where humans and nature are fundamentally interconnected and interdependent. They aim at guiding us so that we don’t fall victim to our involuntary, egoistic impulses when we participate in creating a well-connected social atmosphere.

You connect to a video conference with a few other people, and you each state your answers to the questions. In addition to the first question—“How can I best contribute myself to society today?”—there are a couple more:

“What is one positive example that inspired me yesterday of someone contributing to society?”

“How can we help each other not fall victim to our automatic egoistic impulses that make us want to criticize, judge and harm others, and support each other in the construction of a positively connected atmosphere above our self-centeredness?”

Halfway into the discussion, you feel a new wave of energy stream through you. It is an energy latent in nature, which becomes revealed when people come together, regardless of their differences, and act, think and desire in a way that is adapted to nature’s integrality. We do not feel this in our current world of relationships.

After finishing the discussion, some people go to work, others stay in the network to participate in other activities, whether they be discussions, lessons or courses either to deepen their knowledge of nature, human development, psychology, or to improve life skills, relationships, parenting, health, personal finance, time management, or participating in support groups for a wide range of interests and life situations. You choose to participate in this network online, but the same activities also take place at local community centers for anyone who wants to participate in a more physical way.

All the activities in the network aim at both supplying what people need, so that they do not have any problems supplying themselves with life’s necessities, and beyond that, improving people’s connections and social skills. You meet new people all the time, and the atmosphere is always enlivening, supportive and constructive.

The tendency to support, benefit and connect with other people above our egoistic drives, is continually encouraged in this network. Likewise, values we currently hold become viewed from a new, unified vantage point. For example, competition in this network is based not on money, but on how much we can help and serve others.

Success in this network is not seen as building a personal empire despite, and on account of, other people. Instead, success is seen as a social construct, that we succeed together as a society, by connecting above our egoistic, divisive drives. By doing so, we get positive feedback from nature, a new surge of energy and motivation, by aligning ourselves with nature’s constant unifying motion.

This is how I envision a correctly functioning universal basic income. That is, UBI cannot work on its own. Simply giving people allowances without any incentives to succeed would stagnate society. In order for UBI to work, it needs to be provided in exchange for prosocial, connection-enriching participation, learning and development. People need tools, education, and encouragement to build a positively-functioning society in exchange for basic income. The idea of the “prosocial network” above is one direction the connection-enriching educational programs could take.

A Much Deeper and Wider Source of Motivation

In today’s capitalistic economy, people contribute to society with money as a leading motivator. Other drives, like respect, honor, fame, control, and knowledge are interwoven with money. That is, there is a price tag attached to every kind of social contribution.

However, considering a future where automation and robots will be given much of the workload, and where people get basic income allowances regardless of any work, we’re left to ponder serious questions:

What would people want to contribute to that society?

Why would they want to contribute to that society?

This is where the concept of universal basic income enters to support and propel the value shift necessary not only for UBI to work in the long term, but also for the foundation of a prosperous, connected society of happy and confident individuals, each motivated to contribute to the creation of a new thriving culture.

A prosocial resurgence combined with UBI has the power to make a significant gear shift in society. In order for that to happen, human relations, usually viewed as a byproduct of people’s professions and education, now need to be placed at the center of our attention. The motivation to contribute to society would need to change, from a monetary motivation to a purely prosocial, pro-connective motivation: one where we would regularly vitalize each other with examples of how we rise above our egoistic tendencies, thinking about, connecting to and benefiting other members of society. This would serve as a source of constant motivation, encouragement and ultimately, pave the way to a society of united, happy and confident individuals.

Today, there are thousands of people worldwide from all walks of life who feel the importance of jumpstarting the connection-enriching process in society, pioneering it even before the widespread launch of basic income. They are already engaged in learning, implementing and experimenting with the principle of positive connection above differences as the most valuable means to improve human society.

Anyone who is attracted to this idea of bettering the world by bettering human relations, and who wishes to participate in the learning and creation of a new prosocial, pro-connective culture, is welcome to learn its fundamental principles and basic concepts.

The Times Of Israel: “Sharp Rise In Anti-Semitism On ‘Kristallnacht’ 80th Anniversary”

The Times of Israel published my new article “Sharp rise in anti-Semitism on ‘Kristallnacht’ 80th Anniversary

On a dark night in November 9, 1938, the Nazis murdered several hundred Jews, burned 1,400 synagogues across Germany and Austria, destroyed Jewish homes and businesses, and vandalized Jewish hospitals, orphanages and cemeteries. 1,000s of Jewish men, women and children were dragged into the streets, where they were beaten and humiliated. Its 80th anniversary is commemorated at a time when anti-Semitism in the world is escalating.

“Kristallnacht,” the Night of Broken Glass, unfolded around 6 years after Hitler assumed power and marked the beginning of the Third Reich, the systematic persecution of Jews, culminating with the Holocaust that claimed 6 million lives while the entire world stood by and basically did nothing to stop the carnage.

As humans do not seem to learn from the past, anti-Semitism is nowadays not a historical reference but a very current reality in Europe and the rest of the world, expressed as anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli sentiments, attributed either to the extreme left or to the extreme right.

In light of the Kristallnacht’s remembrance day, Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, said “It would be impossible to mark this seminal event in Jewish history without noting the frightening climate of anti-Semitism and xenophobia currently spreading across Europe and the United States.”

In order to trace the source of anti-Semitism, we will go back 3,800 years to the depths of the Israeli nation. Mesopotamia was the cradle of human civilization. Until then, everyone lived peacefully, without conflicts, until everything suddenly changed. The human ego—concern with personal benefit at the expense of the common good—erupted and caused the Babylonians to concentrate on themselves and exploit each other. At the height of the eruption, the local residents started thinking that they could control the world and built the Tower of Babel as a symbol of their egoistic aspirations.

One famous Babylonian, Abraham, refused to accept this situation. He searched for what was going on behind the scenes, discovered it, and developed a method to overcome and transcend the ego. Those who listened to him gathered and learned what he revealed. Over the years, his group of students grew and became the Israeli nation, whose uniqueness is the purpose for which it was founded: the implementation of the method to rise above the ego, the wisdom of Kabbalah, and its spreading to all nations.

Today, we are again discovering ourselves as as human society closed in from all sides, just as confused as we were in Babylon. The ego has developed to a point where we’ve come to the moden Tower of Babel: a globally interconnected network of global trade and economic relations based on narrow egoistic interests. As in the past, today we have built a tower separating us and we have nowhere to run. In today’s world, humanity finds itself trapped between global interdependence that connects us, on one hand, and competitive, egoistic interests that separate us, on the other.

At this juncture is exactly where we, the people of Israel, enter the picture.

Kabbalists have written extensively about our unique era. On one hand, it is a time when humanity realizes that the ego leads us to a dead end, and on the other hand, it is a time when the conditions for the absorption of Abraham’s system ripen. Moreover, humanity, which will need this method, will hold the people of Israel accountable as the ones holding back the method from humanity, as if they have a secret they’re not sharing with the rest of the world.

The time has now come.

Our mission, according to Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam), the most renowned Kabbalist of the 20th Century, is to be a conduit to transfer the system of the ego’s transcendance to humanity. However, in order for that to happen, we must first implement it on ourselves.

As long as we do not do so, suffering on personal, social, ecological and global scales will continue to increase. At the same time, humanity subconsciously feels that we, the Jews, have something special, and that we hold the key to a better life for every person on this planet. Such interdependence amounts to the fact that the more we delay in actualizing our role, the more we will be hated.

The sharp rise of anti-Semitism around the world is a fact that cannot be disputed. However, unlike previous waves of anti-Semitism, this time, the root of the phenomenon and its solution are more clearly visible. The fact that the nation founded by our Patriarch Abraham has forsaken its goal does not cancel our obligation to fulfill our role. Therefore, particularly in the global era, when we are all connected in a single network, once we return to a unified state, we will be able to submit to humanity as a whole the method of unity and love among human beings. “And when they do that, it is plain to see that with His work, all envy and hatred will be abolished from humanity” (Baal HaSulam, article “The Peace“).

Medium: “How To Tackle Stress In A World With The Highest Stress Ever”

 My newest article “How To Tackle Stress In A World With The Highest Stress Ever” was just published on Medium.

We can extract key insights about the internal mechanism driving the upswing in human stress from the wisdom of Kabbalah. By understanding the process at work, we can become empowered to effectively intervene.

Crossing streets jammed with heavy traffic, approaching the workplace every morning to face an avalanche of duties, returning home after a 9-hour work day plus a long commute to tackle parenting, financial, health and relationship problems have become the dead weight of our modern world and the never-ending sources of intensified stress. Polls show that stress levels in the US are at all-time record highs. According to this year’s report of the American Psychological Association, approximately 90% of young Americans of Generation Z, age 15–21, are among the most severely affected.

The rest of the world is in no better shape. A study conducted by Gallup in more than 145 countries revealed that people’s reported daily worries, stress, physical pain, sadness and anger have hit the highest levels since the researchers began collecting data. In order to capture trends in despair or hope, the Gallup study calculates a Negative Experience Index, and recent findings reveal that it has risen from 23 to 30, representing a major 30% increase over the past decade.

Stress levels, in particular, among Americans are higher than the overall world average, according to the Gallup study of 154,000 people. Surpassed only by Greece, the US population is now more stressed out than any other people in the world. Findings from the 2017 American Psychological Association’s “Stress in America” annual survey indicate that as many as 63% of Americans are stressed about the future of the nation, money, work, the political climate, violence and crime.

This frightening phenomenon of escalating stress that we are experiencing today also affects people’s health and well-being. Chronic stress is found to be related to multiple health-related problems: heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and depression, to name only a few.

Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

There is, and how brightly the light shines depends on us. From the wisdom of Kabbalah, we can extract key insights about the internal mechanism driving the upswing in human stress, and by understanding the process at work, we can become empowered to effectively intervene.

The Origin of Stress: The Human Ego

According to the wisdom of Kabbalah, the origin of stress, as well as all the ills and misfortunes that rule our lives, can be traced back to the ego, the part of human nature that constantly pushes us to achieve the unattainable.

A person is a desire to receive pleasure, and there is a sensation of calmness and satisfaction if pleasure is received. However, from generation to generation, our desire for pleasure constantly grows, and along with it, the demand for fulfillment which then also multiplies the efforts we need to exert to achieve our goals. This is the process driving the trend for life to become increasingly stressful over the years.

Today, we are bombarded by external pressures from the media, from the Internet, from all aspects of the environment that dictate the standards we are expected to meet: travel to fancy or exotic places, achievement of the highest professional success, respect and admiration from our peers. In short, we are spurred at every turn to stand out from the crowd at any cost. With everyone beating their way up the same mountain, we are forced to build our success atop the failures of others. As a result of the constant pressure of this ruthless competition, we live under permanent stress.

Living as we do in a society that is completely controlled by egoism, we are unable to escape from this pressure even by closing our eyes or traveling somewhere else. Stress haunts us no matter what we do to escape. Neither antidepressants nor narcotics, so prevalent in today’s society, can erase the emotional pains.

Why Is Our World Built Upon an Egoistic Nature that Forces Us to Compete With Each Other?

The science of Kabbalah explains that stress serves the purpose of bringing us to awareness of our egoistic nature and its negative consequences that affect us on many levels.Ultimately, we are destined to reach disillusionment and to recognize our situation as hopeless, to understand that we must reassess our values and leave the rat race we are running . Then we will urgently search for a different route and taste a new type of pleasure in a completely different place.

This space of lasting pleasure that is truly attainable and sustainable is hidden in the environment. This is the fertile field where we can build relationships that will nurture us while we also nourish others, creating a magnetic positive ambience that illuminates our surroundings. As Kabbalist Rav Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam) wrote in his article “The Freedom,” “Thus, all its praise and spirit depends on the choice of the environment in which to sow the wheat.”

In such an environment that values relations of solidarity and mutual understanding over divisions, we will still compete to receive fulfillment, but in a whole new way. The one who brings the biggest benefit to others will be considered most successful. Pleasure from bestowal to others is much more intense than any egoistic fulfillment and it does not lead to stress. In fact, the more we give, the more we all enjoy.

Such a state will prolong our lives and make them better, more comfortable, safer, and more pleasant. An environment of altruism will complement and balance our lives. When this happens, we will also begin to thrive inside the integral connection between us and nature, that which has created all four forms of existence — still, vegetative, animate and human — and sustains them in perfect balance. We will step into a whole new world and feel the next level of our qualitative evolution where we will be able to control our lives.
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Newsmax: “Understanding The Midterm Elections From A Global Perspective”

The largest portal Newsmax published my new article “Understanding the Midterm Elections From a Global Perspective

“The only thing that I regret is that I killed two [cops] … I wish I killed more of those …” said illegal immigrant Luis Bracamontes with a diabolical grin on his face. Then came the title, “Who Else Would Democrats Let In?” to end the video posted by President Trump on his Twitter profile.
The immigration crisis is deepening social polarization in the U.S., fanning the flames of public discourse and dividing America into two very distinct camps: Either you are “in favor of immigrants” or you are “in favor of America.” In political terms, you either belong to the Trump camp or you belong to any other camp.

But how did the immigrants steal all the limelight? Why did this particular issue manage to split the U.S. so deeply?

What is happening in the world’s greatest superpower is an inseparable part of a process that is taking place the world over. To better understand it, let us sail over to Europe, where the immigration crisis is far more evolved.

When a German family sends their children to a mixed school together with children of immigrants, when cafes, public transport, and cinemas are crowded with people of foreign cultures, they ask themselves: Is this the desired outcome from the European Union? Is this what we anticipated from Europe’s common market project?

The answer — to many families and individuals, whether they’re in Germany, Britain, Czech Republic, Portugal, or other EU countries — is increasingly no. Europeans are developing an antagonistic reaction to the new reality they are waking up to every day.

In addition, the open border policy set forth by Angela Merkel and other EU leaders brought swarms of Muslim immigrants who necessitate a new agenda in European countries. Issues such as wearing burkas for women, permitting alcohol and pork at festivals, and separation between men and women have suddenly become a part of European life.

Some 30 years after the European Union was established, Europeans are beginning to feel disillusioned and threatened. Their long history, their glorious culture, their common heritage, all seem to lose their status and slip through their fingers. Hence their growing need to protect their unique identity, their European “I.”

In political terms, the result is isolationism, nationalism, and traction of right-wing politics in various shapes and sizes. Thus, it is no wonder that Europe is anxiously looking at the midterm elections in the U.S., trying to decipher whether Trumpism is a passing fad or only the beginning of the next political era.

The answer to this requires a broader view: human society is developing across the globe towards an integral connection, and it happens through a cyclical movement of “contraction” and “expansion,” similar to a breathing process.

The end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first century led to an unprecedented process of “expansion,” expressed through the globalization of trade and commerce, the opening of borders, the internet turning the world into a small global village, the establishment of new international institutions and other intricate links and dependencies woven across the globe.

In the last few years, however, we are witnessing a growing process of “contraction”: Britain’s Brexit, the growing strength and relevance of various right-wing movements, and the meteoric rise of Trump, which is motivating and inspiring other leaders around the world. Just a few days ago, the populist Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro earned the nickname the “Trump of the Tropics.”

Expansion and contraction, connection and separation, cosmopolitanism and nationalism, are natural cycles. They are two opposing processes that complement human development. Like two legs for walking.

What’s important to understand is that the demand for a unique sense of identity in every person and every nation will not disappear from the world. And yet, the global interdependence that has been woven will only grow stronger and we will not be able to escape it. Therefore, human society is moving toward an inevitable, fundamental change that is far beyond politics.

Humanity’s good future involves a fundamental development in human perception: each individual person or nation will maintain their unique identity without suppressing it in any manner, and yet act to realize it for the common good. It is an evolutionary phase that requires development beyond the egoistic nature of man. Therefore, prior to discussing the integration of nations, the opening of borders, the creation of common markets and global agreements, we must nurture a higher level of human connection.

Communist Russia has already demonstrated to us in the last century that even with an aggressive regime it is impossible to tie human beings together and force them to live a cooperative life. Kabbalist “Baal HaSulam” describes this in his article “The Peace”: “… anyone can see how a large society such as the state of Russia, with hundreds of millions in population, more land than the whole of Europe, and which has already agreed to lead communal life … And yet, go and see what has become of them: instead of rising and exceeding the achievements of the capitalist countries, they have sunk ever lower.”

Back to the midterm elections in the United States: Whether the Trump camp will be strengthened or weakened, the contraction movement will continue by nature until it fulfills its evolutionary purpose. It is what our time calls for, in order to balance human development.

Humanity — and not just America — needs to realize that the correct integration between cultures and the beneficial opening of borders will only occur when we rise to a new level of human awareness. Nature is teaching us an important lesson with every passing day: Only by cultivating human connection — above and without eliminating all our differences — can we build a solid foundation for a healthy reorganization of human society.

Then, every person and every nation can maintain their uniqueness and even leverage it for the benefit of the world.

The Times Of Israel: “Jews Vs. Jews, Who Needs Anti-Semites? What The Pittsburgh Killings Uncovered”

The Times of Israel published my new article “Jews vs. Jews, Who Needs Anti-Semites? What the Pittsburgh Killings Uncovered

Aftershocks from Pittsburgh’s synagogue massacre have surfaced fissures and faults that riddle Jews in the US, in Israel, and between. Deep ideological divisions over who is responsible for American anti-Semitism and how to tackle the problem reveal the crumbling foundation beneath worldwide Jewry. At the same time, the cosy, secure feeling that existential threats toward Jews do not happen in America has shattered. Commonsense dictates that our footing must be restored because anti-Semitic storm clouds gather on the horizon and our survival as a people is at stake.

Hatred, an Old Disease

In 2015, a gunman killed nine people in Charleston, South Carolina, during a Bible study session at an African-American church. Racial and religious hatred is nothing new. Anti-Semitism, in particular, did not start yesterday either and cannot be attributed to any specific US president or political party. It has been present throughout history and has increased over the years. We have lived in denial, believing that this scourge of the past was dead and could never strike in America, until the murders at the Tree of Life Synagogue struck a deep chord in our collective consciousness and shook us into the reality that there are no sacred spaces that can shield us.

These are the stark facts: over the last decade since the FBI began registering hate-crime cases, Jews have been the most targeted victim group in America, despite being less than 2 percent of the American population. Fully 54% of religiously motivated hate crimes have singled out Jews. Yet, the decade saw nothing compared to the Pittsburg shooting that took the lives of 11 people, the worst attack on worshipping Jews in American history.

Jews vs. Jews

The deadly shooting in Pittsburgh has prompted an interfaith outpouring of solidarity for the victims and the Jewish community in general. However, among the Jewish community itself, there is no such solidarity. While the American Jewish Committee (AJC), launched the #ShowUpForShabbat campaign, “determined to ensure that love triumphs over hate, good over evil, unity over division,” Franklin Foer, a Jewish writer for The Atlantic called for the excommunication of Jews who back Trump and their shunning from religious congregations: “Their money should be refused, their presence in synagogues not welcome.” Moreover, Israel could not be left aside when looking for a place to pin the blame for anti-Semitism, as GQ writer Julia Ioffe asserted that the moving of the American embassy to Jerusalem motivated the synagogue attack.

In the meantime, Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life Synagogue, who is still trying to overcome the trauma of the massacre in his congregation, reported receiving hate mail for welcoming President Trump to the victims’ memorial site in Pittsburgh. In addition, the synagogue tragedy has become an excuse for political pundits from both sides of the Atlantic to fan the flames of division between Israel and the US Diaspora over ideological principles on a variety of issues that have eroded relationships and deeply split Jews in the last few years: the Iran deal, the Kotel, conversions, the move of the American Embassy to Jerusalem, the definition of who is a Jew, to name a few.

Blame Game to Connection Game

It is always easy to blame someone else when a problem arises, but by doing so we eliminate the possibility of finding solutions by diverting attention away from its root cause. To find the cause of Jewish suffering we need look no further than ourselves.

The enemy is within us. To be more precise, the disorder is between us, in our detachment from each other. Jews have succumbed to the blame game instead of holding each other tight in response to adversity. Moreover, when our unity crumbles, hatred against us strengthens.

During the trying times of World Word II, prominent Kabbalist Rav Yehuda Ashlag, Baal HaSulam, expressed it this way 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.

Our sages knew that we are a strong-headed people and knowingly left us a plethora of wisdom to follow to heal our rifts and find strength to face threats. As was written in The Book of Consciousness by Rabbi Eliyahu Ki Tov, “We are commanded at each generation to strengthen the unity among us so our enemies do not rule over us.”

How Can We Reach Unity Under the Current Climate?

There are Jews from the left, Jews from the right; less observant, more observant, not observant at all Jews; Jews who oppose Israeli policies, Jews unconditionally pro-Israel. To our enemies, these distinctions don’t matter. To them, we are one. But why should we depend on haters to remind us of our shared Jewish heritage? We can easily follow the path of our ancestors to solve our disputes: “Although Beit Shamai and Beit Hillel were disputed, they treated each other with fondness and friendship, to keep what was said (Babylonian Talmud, Eruvin, 13b).

We have been one unique people since the times of ancient Babylon, when Abraham the Patriarch gathered us as a Jewish nation, as those willing to unite above differences following our seminal principle of “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).

The internal conflicts between us back then were just as vivid as ours today. Each individual’s ego burned with its own views and demands, but each understood that the only way to repair their broken relationships was adherence to the tenet, “love will cover all transgressions” (Proverbs 10:12).

Jews are a mini-model of humanity. We are to function as a prototype of connection between people, between opponents. This is possible and doable with the method of connection we were given in ancient Babylon: the wisdom of Kabbalah. Kabbalah contains the “know how” to fix the world. Its treasure holds the glue to put all the broken pieces of the Jewish puzzle together again in a most amazing way where every different piece is indispensable to complete the whole picture. Our perfect Jewish connection is meant to be radiated from inside out like a kind of fractal pattern for the rest of humanity.

It is written in The Book of Zohar about the Jews’ special role, “as the organs of the body cannot exist in the world even a minute without the heart, all the other nations cannot exist in the world without Israel.” Rav Yitzhak HaCohen Kook (the Raiah), elaborated on the need for unity when he wrote, “The construction of the world, which is currently crumpled by the dreadful storms of a blood-filled sword requires the construction of the Israeli nation … in anticipation of a force full of unity … that is found in Israel.” (Orot [Lights], 16)

Shining Light for Ourselves and the Nations

Spreading unity and light in the world is our role, whether we currently agree to it or not. Kabbalists have long stated that the sooner we realize and implement our role, the sooner we will see anti-Semitic hatred dissipate and disappear. This is so because our foundational identity as a people was in unity and mutual responsibility. We are expected to pass it on to humanity. By not doing so, we bring resentment, hostility and destruction down upon our heads.

We can replace hatred with love by drawing closer to one another above our frictions. Let’s accept our current shattered state as an opportunity to truly become one people again. Then let’s continue to build layers of mutual trust, love and understanding after this tragedy fades away in the news. While tragic or happy events come and go, our role is an eternal promise. As it is written by Rabbi Simcha Bonim Bonhart of Peshischa, “this is the mutual guarantee on which Moses worked so hard before his death, to unite the children of Israel. All of Israel are each other’s guarantors, meaning that when all are together, they see only good” (A Broadcasting Voice, Part 1, Balak).
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Thrive Global: “How Human Connection Can Help Alleviate Anxiety And Fear”

Thrive Global published my new article: “How Human Connection Can Help Alleviate Anxiety and Fear

We all like to relax and sleep soundly, but our growing uncertainty about the future makes us anxious and concerned. The best way to rise above these feelings is to switch from self-concern to being concerned for others.

Anxiety is something that builds up over time, it doesn’t happen overnight. Every evening, you probably sit in front of your computer or TV set, trying to relax after a long day’s work, and what do you see? A world on the verge of collapse: hurricane devastation across the US, the opioid overdose epidemic, school shootings, political dramas, people killing their own family members… and all this comes on top of your own problems at home and work. As a result, instead of feeling calm and enthusiastic about the next day, you constantly feel anxiety and fear about life. If you relate to any of this, then you’re not alone. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the United States, affecting 40 million adults aged 18 and older.

The sensation of helplessness regarding the future is a universal matter of concern. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 1 in 13 people globally suffer from anxiety, and social anxiety disorder is the most common. It manifests as fear of being judged by others, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance situation.

We cannot live in a bubble. Out of necessity, we live our lives as members of society. Yet, the problem begins in that we do not know how to relate to each other.

International organizations are trying to deal with mental health problems by targeting anxiety and depression as one, the leading cause of disability worldwide. Multiple campaigns to tackle this phenomenon have been launched with no success, as there has been nearly a 50% increase in the amount of people struggling with these mental dysfunctions between 1990 (416 million) and 2013 (615 million).

Why Are We So Anxious?

These are not only numbers, but people’s deep struggles. British writer, Matt Haig, shares his personal anecdotes on modern negative influences from social media and his own tussling with anxiety and depression in his book, Notes on a Nervous Planet, noting that, “It is not the technology itself that is the problem. It is our lack of awareness about how it is changing our lives and affecting our minds.”

Feeling anxious now and then is part of our daily lives: when we need to make important decisions or face challenges in our workplace or with our families. It is considered a mental illness when the distress is overwhelming and might keep us from carrying on with our regular duties, causing sleep deprivation and affecting our health and wellbeing.

Both genetic and environmental aspects influence our normal anxiety traits as well as anxiety disorders, but social pressure is a key factor in the development of chronic anxious behavior on what is perceived as lack of control over stressful life circumstances or events.

A large aspect contributing to social anxiety is competition triggered by social media. We constantly compare ourselves, and this leads to unsettling anxiety if we look at ourselves as less popular or less successful in relation to what we see as role models or desirable standards that are usually unrealistic.

Concern as a Foundation of Life

Life is a natural process that is not supposed to be without stress and problems. If we look at the animal kingdom, animals are constantly concerned about their survival, how to overcome the threats of those who want to eat them and take their offspring. Humans, the most developed part of nature, are not any different.

We struggle our entire lives. Why is it so? It is because our nature is the will to enjoy that constantly develops not in quantity but in quality and complexity. Society and education pressure us day and night to pursue higher and more qualitative pleasures. We constantly want to fulfill ourselves as much as possible according to our personality, conditions and the environment that shape our values and attitudes toward life. These measurements determine what we consider as pleasure or suffering. The more we progress, the more helpless we feel.

How to Control Our Destiny

As humans we are able to make conscious decisions about the way our reckless actions might affect other levels in nature and ourselves. Instead, we are controlled by our ego, our desire for endless pleasure. We want to enjoy ourselves as much as possible even if it is at the expense of others.

The world has created conditions as in a bow-and-arrow game. We went backward and seemingly developed humanity to a point where it is abundant with means for fulfilling ourselves, that everyone should be having a great time. But in fact, the path has been so full of suffering, blood, war and disappointment that we finally start seeing that it will not work this way anymore. Therefore, from now onward, we will need to begin to release the arrow from the bow and set it off to the right direction, toward a more balanced existence.

How Can A Person Suffer Less?

Feeling this internal desire for fulfillment takes a lot of our time. A lot of energy, strength and nerves are demanded to feel happy and free.

We have created all kind of mechanisms to avoid being anxious. People have tried to shut off themselves, disconnect through drugs, alcohol, or release their frustration through aggressive behavior. But the influence of the environment in molding our values is so powerful that these intents to escape from reality will not help.

Problems cannot be magically erased but we need to reach a comfortable level where a person is able to cope with fears and anxiety reaching balance between normal worries and a healthy life. It does not mean that we should avoid responsibilities or throw ourselves into the arms of society to take care of our duties. It is, however, a condition we cannot achieve alone.

What does this actually depend on? It completely depends on the influence of the environment, which is both the source of the problem and its solution. Society should organize itself in such a way that the person will feel nurtured through a balanced flow of information, without distortions created by the media to draw people’s attention.

Healthy Competition

We always need to yearn for something, to have the feeling of hunger together with the possibility of fulfilling ourselves. It is a natural inclination that we do not have to destroy. But we have to experience some kind of lack, not to the degree of anxieties, threats and fears, but to such a level that pulls me to its fulfillment in a positive way.

The world has become round. We live in an integral system where we are interdependent. We become aware of the influence on the environment because we live in it, so we see that we have no option but to improve it. How? Through a new kind of education, from an early age to adulthood.

From an early age, we should receive integral education, not only knowledge and information. Our education is currently focused on a system of individualistic competition that pushes us to become more selfish and egoistic. This needs to change. Instead, in order to create a society free from anxiety and many other symptoms of our egocentric-based systems, our education should be based on how much everyone can contribute to society. It would still be competitive, but it would be healthy competition, where one who helps more and gives a good mood to others becomes more recognized, and not one who builds one’s success on the ruins of others.

If we implement this principle, our lives will take a twist to a positive direction. This new altruistic attitude that we would develop and train, like a muscle, would expand outwardly and positively affect the way we treat ecology and all of life’s systems. But it all starts and depends on improving relations among people first. As a result of education to change society’s influence on a person, anxieties and fears will click into their balanced proportions as with all of our qualities.

Healthy Connection

Like a mother who protects her baby from external negative influences, or a magnetic field around the earth, we can build a defensive shield, a powerful support system against strong negative influences.

The means to achieve this protective environment is called the method of connection, where people sit together in a circle to share positive information and uplifting experiences on the connection with others. We learn how to develop a selective ear, teaching us on how to filter between important and useless information for our personal progress as integral parts of society.

Circles of people who connect can transform anxiety into feelings of security, happiness, and relaxation through various games and exercises. Everyone impresses the others by being “smaller” and influences the others in a positive way by being “greater.” Everyone elevates the general mood in the group with jokes.

Hypersensitivities are alleviated by absorbing opposite impressions of relaxation from others. By playing with one another as though we are safe and secure, what we act out together can gradually become our new reality.

Anxieties, concerns and fears are a natural part of our make-up. The key to overcoming anxiety is thus not to erase it, but redirect it toward others: to switch self-concern to concern about others. By working with a method of connection and using techniques to develop healthy connections, we would then see a transformation of all kinds of anxieties into feelings of happiness and confidence.

The Times Of Israel: “Pittsburgh Tree Of Life Synagogue Massacre A Call To Unity“

The Times of Israel published my new article “Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue massacre a call to unity

It is a tree of life for those who hold fast to it, and all its supporters are happy. Its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace.” (Proverbs 3:18)

As US flags fly at half-staff for 3 days following the horrific Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh—the killing of 11 people and the injuring of six others by a gunman wanting nothing less than to eradicate all Jews—it is time to unite above our differences and bow our heads not only for the victims’ families and friends, but to contemplate on why such a heinous anti-Semitic hate crime took place, and what we can do to prevent future attacks.

While the ADL called the shooting “likely the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States,” hate crimes in general were recorded as being the highest in over a decade in 2017, with a 12% increase in the US. Moreover, Jews accounted for around 54% of those hate crimes, despite being just 2% of the US population. Therefore, while we unite and pray for the victims’ families and friends, we need to understand that we are reacting to a symptom of an intensifying problem.

The Tree of Life is For Those Who Hold Fast to It…

In order to solve the problem at its root and not wait for mass shootings and other crises to temporarily unite us, we need to recognize the unity of the Jewish people as a force capable of solving anti-Semitism. When the Jewish people unite above their differences, love covers hatred, peace covers conflict, happiness covers all the emptiness in the world, and as if miraculously, from within, people feel a new kind of fulfillment in their lives. And when people are fulfilled, thoughts to eliminate an entire race stop popping up into their minds. How does this all work?

How is the Unity of the Jewish People a Solution to Anti-Semitism?

Historically, Jews are a living testament of resilience. Throughout history we have been persecuted by Romans, the Spanish Inquisition, the Russian Empire of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and of course, Hitler … and yet we have survived. Modern-day challenges will also not destroy us unless we sit passively by and fail to use this event in Pittsburgh as a wake-up call. To answer the call and make sure that such slaughter of Jews never happens again, we first need to understand who we are, why we are here, and what is our role and purpose on this planet. Only then will we be able to comprehend why we go through so many tribulations and struggles, and only then can we discover how to change to a positive course.

The originators of our nation came from different tribes all over Babylon and the Near East. The only thing that held them together was their belief that Abraham’s tenet of mercy and love of others was the right way to live. It transcended all other values and considerations, and so, they followed him.

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 afterward, we were commanded to be “a light unto nations,” namely to spread the light of unity throughout the world. That is what makes us unique. Since we once experienced brotherly love, we have the ability to once again unite above differences and set an example to others who so desperately need such guidance.

Rav Kook summed up the role of the Jewish people as follows:

“The purpose of Israel is to unite the world into a single family.

As long as we maintain our unity, we thrive and remain safe. When we abandon it, the world regards us as a negative influence and anti-Semitic manifestations resurface with a vengeance, as evidenced in the Tree of Life synagogue attack.

When our enemies strike they do not ask what denomination 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. These overriding forces of anti-Semitism constantly resurface in different ways to compel us to unite as we become increasingly distant from implementing our role of being “a light unto nations.”

How We Can Turn This Around

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 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.

It is my hope that we will use the choice we have in our hands to lead the world from darkness to light, chaos to unity, by rising above our differences. We don’t need to agree on everything, but we do have to connect our hearts above all that separates us.

It is said in Shem MiShmuel:

“When Israel are ‘as one man with one heart,’ they are as a fortified wall against the forces of evil.

By uniting, we will be empowered to firmly take root as a nation, realizing among each other and spreading to others the happiness, pleasantness and peace contained in the words: “It is a tree of life for those who hold fast to it, and all its supporters are happy. Its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace.” (Proverbs 3:18)

My Articles In The Media, September 2018

In English

Medium:

10 Years to the Financial Crisis: What Now?

BlogActiv:

10 Years to the Financial Crisis: What Now?

Newsmax:

Trump’s Moves Better Suited to Our Interconnected Globe in Our Times

The Times of Israel:

15 Rosh Hashanah Insights You Don’t Know About
What Has Changed This Jewish Year?
Sukkot: How Humanity Can Live in Harmony Under One Roof
Why Is There Anti-Semitism?
The Meaning of Our Personal Yom Kippur and Its Connection to the World

JNS (Jewish News Syndicate):

“‘Tikkun olam’ in the New Year 5779

Jewish Boston:

What Has Changed This Jewish Year?

Linkedin Article:

Global-Political Disruption: Germany’s Response to Trump Cutting UNRWA Funding
Escalating UK Anti-Semitism: The Jewish People Must Unite to Fulfill Their Spiritual Duty

10 Years to the Financial Crisis: What Now?

Algemeiner:

‘Tikkun Olam’ in the New Year 5779

Blitz:

Tikkun olam begins with tikkun adam

In German

BlogActiv:

Was hat sich in diesem jüdischen Jahr verändert?
Wie Trump die gekürzten 200 Millionen Dollar aus der palästinensischen Hilfe anderweitig nutzen kann
Was hat sich in diesem jüdischen Jahr verändert?
Warum gibt es Antisemitismus?

In French

The Times of Israel:

Les défis d’aujourd’hui pour les Juifs et le manque de direction
Qu’est-ce qui a changé cette année juive?
Souccot: comment l’humanité peut vivre en harmonie sous un même toit
Pourquoi y a-t-il de l’antisémitisme?
Qu’est-ce qui a changé cette année juive?

Dreuz.info:

Bouleversement politique mondial : la réponse de l’Allemagne au retrait de Trump du financement du fonds de l’UNRWA

In Spanish

Huffington Post Spain:

La tormenta de Corbyn y la raíz del antisemitismo
Sucot: La humanidad en armonía bajo un mismo techo

BlogActiv:

Huracán “Florencia”: su poder depende de la relación entre las personas
Sucot: La humanidad en armonía bajo un mismo techo

In Italian
Huffington Post Italy:

Evento: il nome in codice per la prossima crisi globale

BlogActiv:

‘La sopravvivenza dei più ricchi’ dipende dal fatto che dovranno cercare di salvare tutti noi
Migliorare la comunicazione nell’era degli smartphone
La ricerca della felicità e il fallimento del sogno americano

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My Articles In The Media, August 2018

In English

Medium:

The Pursuit of Happiness and the Fading American Dream
Europe’s Migration Crisis: Another Symptom of the Global Crisis
Understanding China’s World Domination Complex
Women’s Changing Role in Society

BlogActiv:

Europe’s Migration Crisis: Another Symptom of the Global Crisis

Newsmax:

Smartphone Era Demands We Bridge Tech-Generation Gap
Global Interdependence Means No One Wins a Trade War

The Times of Israel:

A Review of Anti-Semitism in America After the Unite the Right 2 Rally
Beyond Israel’s Nation State Law
Seeking: A Spiritual Leader for the Jewish People
The Legacy of Rav Kook to Jewish Unity
What Education for Unity Really Means
Today’s Challenges to Jews and the Lack of Leadership

Breaking Israel News:

Israel’s Existential Threats and the Nation-State Law
Lessons from Hiroshima: From Weapons of Mass Destruction to a Weapon of Mass Connection
How Trump Can Reallocate the $200 Million Slashed Off Palestinian Aid

Linkedin Article:

Seeking: A Spiritual Leader for the Jewish People
Women’s Changing Role in Society

In German

BlogActiv:

Europas Flüchtlingskrise: Ein weiteres Symptom der Globalen Krise
Die Verbindung zwischen Israel und 2,3 Millionen Flüchtlingen aus Venezuela

In French

Medium:

La crise migratoire en Europe: un autre symptôme de la crise mondiale

BlogActiv:

Comment améliorer la communication entre nous à l’ère des téléphones intelligents
La crise migratoire en Europe: un autre symptôme de la crise mondiale
Leçons d’Hiroshima: de l’arme de destruction massive à l’arme de connexion massive
Le lien entre Israël et 2,3 millions de migrants fuyant le Venezuela

AgoraVox:

Le revenu de base universel devrait profiter d’abord aux mères qui allaitent
La crise migratoire en Europe: un autre symptôme de la crise mondiale
Le lait maternel: le plus grand atout naturel de l’humanité
Guerre commerciale mondiale : prévisions et premières victimes
La poursuite du bonheur et le rêve américain en voie de disparition
Le lien entre Israël et 2,3 millions de migrants fuyant le Venezuela
Comment Trump peut-il réaffecter les 200 millions de dollars qui ont été retranchés de l’aide aux Palestiniens?

The Times of Israel:

L’existence menacée d’Israël et la loi de l’État-nation
Ce que signifie réellement l’éducation pour l’unité
Au-delà de la loi de l’État-nation d’Israël
Une revue de l’antisémitisme en Amérique après le rassemblement ‘Unite the Right 2’

In Spanish

Huffington Post Spain:

¿D”esde cuándo la lactancia materna se ha convertido en moneda de cambio?
La función de la mujer en el cambio de la sociedad

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