Entries in the 'New Publications' Category

What Does It Mean To Be Jewish In The 21st Century? (Quora)

Dr. Michael LaitmanMichael Laitman, On Quora: What does it mean to be Jewish in the 21st century?

There is indeed a lot of confusion regarding what it means to be Jewish, where Jews come from, and what is the true identity of the Jewish people. Most Jews themselves would be unable to tell you where they originated, why Arabs are also considered as Semites, and why there are Jews in such places as India, Pakistan and Africa.

Today, it’s customary that if your mother is Jewish, then you’re Jewish. However, this wasn’t always the case. At one time in history, Jewishness was passed down through the father.

In our world, Jews are considered to be a group of people who went into exile 2,000 years ago from ancient Babylon. Due to the dispersion of the Jewish people around the world, they have no culture, language, country or center of their own. Moreover, if you say that the Jews’ country is Israel, then note that the State of Israel has only been around for the last 70 years, and many Jews also disagree with Israel being their country. Therefore, if you ask both Jews and non-Jews who Jews are, you will hear no two same opinions.

The Jewish people are a strange phenomenon in humanity. They are like a stone in humanity’s shoe, something that increasingly presses for a solution. Also, the topic of Jewish identity is never raised in a serious widespread manner because it would awaken many problems among the Jews living in different countries and cultures. Therefore, it is a global-scale problem, and raising it means to ignite a massive flame around the world. Arabs everywhere would immediately leap onto the opportunity to deal with it, disagreeing with the definitions of Jews being the sons of Abraham. They also disagree with Jews and Muslims being brothers, as is written in the Torah, which describes Jews and Arabs coming from a single father. Another problem is that there are many conflicts in definitions of Jews in Christianity, and therefore, it also isn’t raised from that perspective.

The general atmosphere surrounding such a question is: Why raise the question about Jewish identity if it would create many more problems than we already experience in our world? So people from all nations, religions and cultures, including Jews themselves, generally don’t touch it. Specifically in our time, it is best not to awaken such a question.

“Tisha B’Av, Rising Above the Straits” (The Times Of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “Tisha B’Av, Rising Above the Straits

American society is fragmented to pieces. The polarization of the political spectrum did not start with the recent controversy involving the current US administration and four Democratic congresswomen labeled as “anti-Israeli” and “anti-Semitic.” But the dispute certainly highlighted the abyss between the Right and Left in a way that has dragged Jews and Israel into the brawl from both sides. Now is precisely the time for Jews to connect above differences and provide an example of unity to all.

We have just entered the period of time called “Bein ha-Metzarim” (“Between the Straits”), which begins on the 17th of Tammuz and ends on the 9th of Av (Tisha B’Av), during which we commemorate the destruction of the First and Second Temples. This special time could never be more pertinent than now. The ruin of the temples, in fact, symbolizes the shattering of our human relations—a true reason for mourning—but we can also find joy in the situation if we recognize it as an opportunity to rebuild ties of unity between us.

Repairing the current political divide in America, especially during the already exacerbating campaign climate of the 2020 election, has nothing to do with Trump, specific members of Congress, or either side of the political spectrum. The problem is much wider and deeper. The divisions are between American Jewry and the Israeli nation, between Muslims and Jews, and within US society as a whole. The myriad aggravations signal an urgent imperative for change in human relations that Jews must initiate and lead by rising above all the divisions that separate us.

Why must Jews lead the charge? It is because the Jewish people possess precisely what America and the world desperately needs: the key for a cohesive and harmonious existence. Jewish unity must now be our first priority. It is the historical purpose of Jews to demonstrate unity within their ranks as a model of corrected social relations for others to follow.

We became a nation at the foot of Mount Sinai only when each person present accepted the condition of being “as one man with one heart.” In the centuries that followed, Jews practiced principles of connection enabling them to rise above their differences for the creation of ideal social cohesion and unprecedented human development. It was only during the long exile that followed the ruin of the Second Temple that this unity was forgotten.

Therefore, why should we mourn the destructions of Tisha B’Av at this particular time?It is because, since the 16th Century when the great Kabbalist, the Ari (Rav Isaac Luria), declared the opening of the process of correction for all humanity, our negligence in repairing the shattering perpetuates the destruction. By delaying this process we block the building of the Third Temple, meaning the correction of the shattering in our connections. Our state of shattered connection is what’s truly considered the ruin of the Temples, a state in which we have lost consciousness of ourselves as a single entity.

Thus, there is both great joy in our opportunity for correction that the shattering brings us while, on the other hand, there is sorrow over our fragmentation under the forces constantly emerging to damage our connection. Our state is a manifestation of the principle that, in spirituality, we always encounter two opposites in the same place in order to advance.

Now is the time to be proactive. We Jews, the bearers of the tenet “love your neighbor as yourself,” must rise to the challenge, put down our internal disputes, and unite above them. As King Solomon stated: “Hate stirs strife, and love covers all crimes” (Proverbs, 10:12). This is the true and positive call to action that we should take from this special period of reflection. It is the one act that will guarantee our safety and happiness in America and wherever we live.

“European Anti-Semitism: More Outspoken And Widespread” (The Times Of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “European Anti-Semitism: More Outspoken and Widespread

I emigrated to Israel 45 years ago. When I was young and living in Leningrad (today St. Petersburg, Russia), walking down the city street one day, I witnessed a man suddenly violently attack a Jew and instinctively intervened to protect him. The aggressor was arrested and I was taken to the police station to make a witness statement. When I asked the police officer what kind of punishment the assailant would receive, he replied: “Two weeks in jail,” explaining that such behavior would not be tolerated, and he added, “I don’t care what he was thinking or feeling, we’ve received high-level instructions to stop anti-Semites because they help the Zionists. If there’s anti-Semitism seen here, more Jews will want to leave Russia for Israel and this is not in our interest. Jews are a useful and beneficial force: workers, engineers, scientists, teachers, doctors. We want it to stay that way, so we fight for it.”

Back then, if someone even dared to say a word that sounded anti-Semitic, they would be sent to jail. Therefore, even if deep inside the police officer harbored anti-Semitic sentiments, he would never outwardly express them. But what I did understand from the officer’s explanation was that Jews were not necessarily loved, they were actually hated, but they were needed to advance national interests and thus were useful in the service of the nation’s pride. After all, if the Jews were expelled, who would be the chess champions or space explorers? It’s not that the Jews were so bold or dominated all the key positions, but they held respectable, solid professions. Afterward, the situation changed. At the point when Jews became the bankers or the wealthy with no other contribution to make other than being rich, they were no longer considered indispensable. Therefore, the open anti-Semitism once prohibited was gradually allowed to surface.

Those memories from my youth come flooding back today when I see the uncertain future of European Jewry, particularly from the perspective of the new generation. While they are not being formally expelled from their countries of origin, they could be forced to leave by rising anti-Semitism. Since the Jewish contribution to society seems to be overlooked and unrecognized nowadays, the associated protective shield surrounding them has also virtually been lifted. Today, four of ten young European Jews do not feel safe and have considered emigration due to rampant anti-Semitism in their countries, according to a recent survey conducted by the European Union. As troubling as it may seem, I see it as a positive report since it shines much needed light on a problem that cries to be addressed without delay. The call to action is clear: to start working to unite as Jews, to become one diverse yet monolithic body. As such, we will be safe anywhere we live.

Anti-Semitism has not resurged in Europe, it actually never left. In the current more permissive climate, it now displays itself in more open, evident and widespread ways from myriad directions: neo-Nazis, the far left and radical Islam. It is raising its head both online and in the streets of major European cities. France, for instance, experienced a 74% increase in anti-Semitic incidents just last year. Germany and the UK registered record numbers of hate crimes against Jews, with an average number of 100 cases each month per country, according to monitoring groups.

It is not surprising then that the new survey commissioned by the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights revealed that more than 80% of respondents aged 16-34 perceive a rise in anti-Semitism or have experienced anti-Semitic harassment in their homeland countries. Half of them prefer not to wear or carry items that openly identify them as Jews.

The loss of safety among European Jews should not be accepted as a new norm. Also, we should not wait for the situation to worsen before we react. As it is written by our sages in the book Shem Mishmuel, “When Israel are ‘as one man with one heart,’ they are a fortified wall against the forces of evil.” This means that in order to stand firm as a single united front in face of the great challenges, the young generation of Jews face on the Old Continent and elsewhere in the world, our single goal as Jews must be to focus on our connection as a people.

Why can unity guarantee our safety? It is so because the pressure against us from the nations of the world is rooted in their instinctive feeling that Jews are failing to fulfill their role, which is to unite. By connecting above all differences, Jews provide an example to the world, a world so hungry for tranquility, peace and fulfillment. Therefore, the external demands upon the Jewish people are expressed as hatred that will not cease until we deliver the remedy revealed to us to cure an ill world.

This is the reason the good future for all depends solely on us. This is the contribution to human society we are expected to deliver. As it is written by the greatest Kabbalist of our generation, Rav Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam), “It is the wisdom of faith, justice and peace which most nations learn from us, and this wisdom is ascribed to us alone.” (The Writings of the Last Generation)

When we Jews are bonded together, we succeed. When we forget who we are and fall into separation and hatred, our enemies fall upon us. Our unity is our strength, and when we finally revive our brotherly love, no enemy will be able to harm us and we will find that the road to peace is wide open and boundless.

“If You Were Donating To Combat Anti-Semitism, Where Would You Donate?” (The Times Of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “If you were donating to combat anti-Semitism, where would you donate?

Rising anti-Semitism and the funding to combat it

So far, the global efforts to fight anti-Semitism have been directed at heightening intelligence, monitoring and security for Jewish communities across the globe. Another objective has been to tackle the rising tide of online anti-Semitism and to the BDS movement’s growing support. This is the main focus of a $20 million foundation that Jewish philanthropist, Robert Kraft, plans to establish.

Meanwhile in Europe, two Swedish donors pledged $4 million to, in their words, “instill some hope in the Jewish population.” The funds are aimed at increasing security for Jews in Malmo, Sweden, where multiple anti-Semitic incidents and threats are reported annually. Similar situations are experienced in France, Germany and the UK, among other European countries.

However, all these efforts are temporary solutions that fail to deal with the cause of the problem of rising anti-Semitism. The cause of anti-Semitism is a failure of the Jewish people to come to terms with their identity, and the mission of uniting among themselves in order to be a conduit for unity to spread in the world.

Therefore, to combat anti-Semitism at its causal basis means to implement a single, comprehensive solution: the education and promotion of unity above division.

What form of education can secure humanity a harmonious future?

Simply put, education needs to focus on uniting the Jewish people under the principle of “love your neighbor as yourself” in order for them to be a conduit for unity to spread worldwide (“a light unto nations”). The wealthy who want to make a critical difference in the world need to thus invest in organizations that deal with education aimed at uniting the Jewish people.

Why is Jewish unity so important?

The Jewish people received their name from attaining a state of spiritual unity (the Hebrew word for “Jew” [Yehudi] comes from the word for “united” [yihudi] [Yaarot Devash, Part 2, Drush no. 2]). They share no biological connection as Jews, since they are a people that came from all parts of ancient Babylon, gathered into Abraham’s tent, and became united when they, using Abraham’s method of unification, set their sights on attaining the perception and sensation of the spiritual state of unity, purified from any self-centered motives.

Why is this non-biological, spiritual form of unity so important today?

It is because precisely today, since the human ego has grown to overblown proportions, we’re in a humanity experiencing increasing social division and the myriad personal, social and global-scale problems stemming from an increasing internal disengagement between people. Moreover, the increasing social diversity and mingling of cultures, economies and technologies into a globally-intertwined blend demands a method that can glue together the thickening tangle by making sense of it.

As people suffer more from increasing social division, they instinctively feel that the Jews are to blame for their problems. That is because, since the Jewish people had once achieved a unified state “as one man with one heart,” the nations of the world have a gut feeling that the Jews are holding back “something good” from them. And both the nations of the world and the Jews are unconscious as to what that “good” actually is: a harmoniously unified society, the key to everyone’s happiness and safety.

The more the nations of the world feel problems and crises in their lives, the more they will unconsciously blame the Jews, pointing out any dirt on Jews that they can get their hands on (or fabricate), without knowing that there is a deep-seated hatred within them preceding all of its corporeal manifestations. As social division and its byproducts of anxiety, stress, xenophobia and extremism increase, and as the suffering in the world rises, the Jews will be circled out more and more, and an intensification of attacks and threats on the Jewish people can be expected.

Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam) describes this phenomenon at length in his Introduction to The Book of Zohar:

“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.’ This means, as it is written in the above corrections, that they cause poverty, ruin, robbery, killing, and destruction in the whole world.

Today, the nations of the world unconsciously sense that the Jewish people, or Israel, are failing to implement and exemplify a unity worthy of replication in human society. The natural reaction is for them to apply pressure on the Jews, which boosts anti-Semitism. On the other hand, as soon as Jews unite, it will also bring about the unity of all nations of the world and they will feel a wealth of goodness and well being streaming from Israel.

What should donors who want to combat anti-Semitism invest in?

With the understanding that in order to obliterate anti-Semitism completely, Jewish unity is needed in order to be a conduit for humanity’s unity, then donors should invest first and foremost in a comprehensive educational plan in Israel. It needs to cover the education and promotion of Jewish unity on multiple platforms, the mass media as well as local and online courses, programs and events that serve to activate a shift toward a society learning how to unite above its member’s egocentric, divisive drives.

The goal of this educational plan would be that a new, elated spirit of unity spread in human society worldwide: an expanded perception of reality. The state can be likened to waking up from a coma and finding ourselves in a sensation of our collective consciousness.

By increasing the appreciation of the common intention to benefit one’s fellow human being, the newly unified society would be a much happier, peaceful and loving society. Anti-Semitism would then be uprooted completely. That is, it’s not only that there would be no hatred of Jews, the hatred would be replaced with love and appreciation of this united people spreading harmony throughout the world.

“With utter completeness will it be completed within the house of Israel, and from it, it will radiate to the earth and to the whole world, ‘for a covenant of the people, for a light of the nations.” Rav Abraham Isaac Kook, Ein Ayah (A Hawk’s Eye)

“Climate Change Is Not the Problem — Lack of Human Change Is” (Newsmax)

My article in Newsmax: “Climate Change Is Not the Problem — Lack of Human Change Is

Nature has recently sent us strong reminders of its immense power.

Two major earthquakes — the strongest in decades — rattled Southern California in the last few days. An extreme hailstorm hit Mexico. Meanwhile, Alaska experienced record high summer temperatures and across the Atlantic, an unprecedented heatwave gripped Europe, triggering wildfires and causing emergency health alerts.

While we humans feel helpless under these hardships, it is precisely at the human level, the greatest and most influential in the entire system of nature, where it is possible to bring about balance on the planet. How? By upgrading the quality of human relations. Doing so would have far more positive impact on our planet than climate treaties and ecological campaigns could ever have.

The U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord has been criticized by the international community with claims that the action ignores the extreme urgency of tackling the problem of climate change.

But I concur with President Trump that cleaning the ecosystem does not touch the crux of the matter, even though many people believe it to be the panacea. Billions of dollars are slated to be invested in measures that are destined to fail to have any positive ecological effect. Instead, funds should be assigned to education to build more harmonious relations between people, the realization of which will manifest in the creation of a better world in every respect.

How can improving human relations have a positive effect on the ecology? We can understand how by looking briefly at the four levels of nature: inanimate, vegetative, animate, and human. Every subsequently higher level is more powerful than and controls the level beneath it. Therefore, to change the trajectory of nature as a whole to a positive course can only be accomplished from the human level, the most developed and pivotal of all. For the time being, human impacts on the system are negative, but they can be transformed into positive ones. We must understand that modification of the natural system doesn’t work as is commonly thought, by acting to save the ecological balance, whether it be by saving trees or certain animal species, stopping the pollution of oceans or the air, or myriad other actions we might devise in order to try to be more ecologically friendly. No such actions will help the environment because they do not touch the fundamental cause of its disturbance.

Where then is the root problem with the ecology? The problem is with human beings, or more precisely, with how we relate to one another. Because of our innate human ego, our desire to enjoy at the expense of others, we step on everyone and everything — including nature — in order to do so. Therefore, in order to bring about a new level of ecological balance all we need to work on is repairing connections at the human level itself.

Even if tomorrow the whole of humanity stopped polluting the environment, halted burning fossil fuels, or avoided using pesticides, we would nevertheless continue to see ecological disasters coming at us from every direction because above all the other ecological levels of nature, human relations — the most influential aspect of nature — would remain broken. Our exploitative, manipulative, and abusive relations toward each other would continue to cause negative ripples throughout all levels of nature, creating a negative feedback loop upon us as nature’s negative reaction to human input.

If instead, we create positive emotional connections to bring balance between us and nature, wouldn’t we nevertheless still have to do the many recommended ecological actions in parallel?

It may come as a surprise, but no. Why? It’s because nature, from a higher level, would take care of balancing all these phenomena itself. The principle here is that nature’s governing higher level is able to correct all corruptions of its lower levels. In the wisdom of Kabbalah, this principle is called “love covers all transgressions.”

Since we currently have corrupt attitudes toward one another in which we relate to each other through a consistently egoistic lens — self-benefit at the expense of others — we cannot fix anything at the lower inanimate, vegetative, or animate levels because we simply input our egoistic attitude into the system and it feeds back negatively upon us. By investing into the human level alone, i.e. in positive human connections, we also activate the quickest and most dynamic change possible: the moment we cause a positive change in human relations, the lower levels of nature will experience immediate positive effects.

How fast and far must we move to save the planet and ourselves? Do we all need to reach harmonious relations right away, or is it enough for us to have a tendency toward positive connections? If I only start moving toward the goal of “loving your friend as yourself,” as remote as it may look, then even by making the first tiniest step toward it, I already impact a change in the entire natural system. Why? It is because my attitude changed.

By changing my attitude toward nature, i.e. by wanting to relate to it globally and integrally, as a single unified system, and with a loving and caring attitude, then even though I only slightly set off a trigger in that new direction, I nevertheless activated the entire system toward the direction of positive unification. No more than that is demanded of us.

We need only deal with human relations. The lower levels of nature will then all adjust and balance with us when we harmonize our connections to each other. Therefore, all we need is the kind of education and influences that will set us on course to achieve positive human connection in order to be able to enjoy a harmonious life balanced with the whole system of nature.

“Guns At The Synagogue? Unleashing The True Weapon” (The Times Of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “Guns at the Synagogue? Unleashing the True Weapon

The spike in hate crimes has opened the debate over the use of guns for self-defense among the American Jewish community. “We live in a time of danger,” stated the US official for combating anti-Semitism, Elan Carr, in a recent conference in Jerusalem. He suggested to post security guards at every Jewish temple, community center and school in America. A rabbi in Boston backs this view and proposes that his members carry guns to the synagogue for protection. Others are already taking firearms training. It is better to be safe than sorry, but these are band-aid solutions to a problem that can only be solved from another level: through Jewish unity.

The deadly attacks in Pittsburgh and Poway, California prompted to reinforce security measures at Jewish facilities in the US. Incidents against the Jewish community increased 57 percent from 2016 to 2017, the highest in 20 years and the largest single-year rise in history, according to the Anti-Defamation League. And even though white supremacists are responsible for recent attacks and threats to synagogues, terrorism and violence inspired by Islamist extremism “continues to pose a serious threat to Americans,” says a recent report by the anti-Semitism watchdog group. It states that as June, three people have been arrested for plotting Islamist terrorist attacks including Jewish targets.

The uneasy feeling and menace facing Jews in America are, in fact, a wake up call to reflect on our state as a nation and follow what the Torah mandates to us: to connect by the principle of “love your neighbor as yourself,” and radiate that positive force to the rest of the world. If we fail to do that, non-Jews perceive our disunity as the cause of their problems, putting pressure on us through violent acts. Therefore, until we unite above our differences, anti-Semitism only will get worse. Arming ourselves will simply give us a false and empty sense of security.

We currently do not realize how humanity’s unity depends on Jewish unity. Both are deeply interrelated, as Jews have a central role in the world’s wellbeing. As it is written in the “Introduction to The Book of Zohar,” “Israel refers to the inner part of the world, whereas other nations are considered its outer part.” That central role of Jews is also explained in that seminal text as “a man of Israel elevates his outer material part over the inner, spiritual one, the outer part (the coarse and harmful elements in the nations of the world) accordingly rises over the inner part (the righteous among the nations of the world) and calamities and wars befall the world.”

Therefore, unity should be our priority. By getting closer to each other, narrowing the huge gap that currently separates us, we will become an example to humanity. The power of unity will make any form of hatred against Jews vanish. It is not only the strongest weapon—it is the only weapon that can guarantee peace and safety.

“Shavuot: Brightening Israel And The Jewish People” (The Times Of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “Shavuot: Brightening Israel and the Jewish People

“Israel is all messed up with their election… They ought to get their act together,” said President Trump in relation to the political uncertainty in this country going to the polls for a second time this year. He is right, but it’s just a symptom of the wider problem of the deeply fragmented Israeli society that lacks a common vision about its future, a state of division also existent within American Jewry, as well as between Israel and the Diaspora. The timing of Shavuot and all it represents could not be more relevant. The holiday symbolizes the reception of the guidebook for the spiritual correction of our people, the receiving of the Torah, or in other words, the way out of the mess.

What was actually given to us at Mount Sinai? The Torah is not a chronicle about past events. On the contrary, it describes the seminal moment when our future becomes decided, when a clear answer becomes required from all of us: Are we ready to accept mutual guarantee (Arvut) as the law of life? Exactly this is the Torah—instruction on how to correct our shattered relations and instead become guarantors for each other by loving our neighbors as ourselves.

This is precisely the goal for which the Torah was given to us. However, we must constantly renew our state of worthiness for reception of the Torah by scaling the “mountain of hatred” (Sinah), the roar of the storm raging inside us. To do this, we must unite, connect with each other, become “as one man with one heart” and stand at the foot of the mountain. In other words, we must fully comprehend that we are given very important and strict conditions under which we must work with all diligence and ever-increasing unity.

Shavuot, like all Jewish holidays, carries a call to action. The holiday is bright. It’s full of whiteness and light, but the call to action is quite complicated to carry out. We bump into each other; people are strangled by indifference, burned with anger toward those with different opinions than their own. We are in a desert of barren and soulless relationships. If we would suddenly recognize how egoism tears us to pieces, if we would try to connect into one integral body and face our seemingly insurmountable internal split, we would then clearly realize how desperately we need help.

This state of clarity we presently face is a unique opportunity for unity. Only by increasing our connection will we be able to climb the mountain ever higher, rising above our separation. To rise means to continually increase our connection above all problems, difficulties and disturbances that we encounter in order to help us overcome more and more and to create a vessel in which the light of the Torah will gradually be revealed.

In this moment of recognition coinciding with the Shavuot holiday, we have the opportunity to receive help and instruction, a unifying force that can increase our social health and let us live happily. This is the current moment of evolutionary development we find ourselves in: either we will grow up proactively and start using the Torah according to its purpose, for the sake of unity above all disagreements, or the hard knocks of life will force us to grow up.

The Torah, indeed, is the most powerful tool that we have yet to learn how to use. A person cannot use this tool alone. The problem, however, is that we still cannot work together to put it to use. The Torah will provide us with security and prosperity and will give peace to the world, but first we must get used to the fact that it works between us and not on the individual. Egoism, after all, is revealed in relation to other people.

Therefore, the Torah is meant to connect the person with the environment at any time and level of human development. It reveals to us the force of goodness and love that ties us together. We begin to sense how we must balance our egoism, the evil inclination, wherever it is revealed with the force of goodness, and we can then hold two forces like reins by which we can advance directly to unity and love, letting us lay a solid and bright foundation of our future.

For more about Shavuot >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

My Articles In The Media, April 2019

In English:


Is Basel III a Gold Standard for Human Relations?
3D Heart Printed in Israel Helps Think About What Really Makes Us Human

The Times of Israel:

Beresheet, Passover and the Space Between Us
We Shall Not Forget The Holocaust, Nor Why We Are Here
What Can Jews Learn from the San Diego Synagogue Shooting?

Breaking Israel News:

Passover 2019: The Exodus from Israel – A Record-Breaking 1.5 Million Israelis Travel Overseas for the Passover Seasonl


Is Basel III a Gold Standard for Human Relations?


Passover: A Story of Hebrews Who Wanted to Be Egyptians

Linkedin Article:

Basel III: A Gold Standard for Human Relations?
Beresheet, Passover and the Space Between Us


“Eva Could Be Me” (The Times Of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “Eva Could Be Me

Germany 2019: “More than 12,000 neo-Nazis are active and prepared to use violence,” reads a recent German official report. It’s chilling to realize that this document sounds like it came from the early 1930s when a tiny Jewish girl took her first breaths in Budapest, Hungary. At age 13 during the spring of 1944, young Eva Heiman kept a personal diary like many teens now do on social media. Until three months later, she was taken from her home to her death in Auschwitz. 75 years have passed since then, and “Eva Stories,” a brilliant project on Instagram, traces her life and provides a “modern” glimpse at the dark days of the Holocaust. Tragically, those gloomy days have returned with the rise of anti-Semitism in America and the world, and these are signs, as our sages foresaw it, for us to unite as the one and only deliverance of the Jewish people.

While our cultural world has shrunk to a smartphone screen, our inner world has to expand. Although some would push the Holocaust to the margins of historical memory, we must instead strive to investigate our past and our future. We should demand answers in order to gain insights and shed new light on our reality.

If Eva was actually alive now, she would wonder, ”How could it be possible that anti-Semitism raises its ugly head in 2019 in every corner of the globe and in every language after all that happened? How is it possible that Jews are still the most persecuted people in the world? How does that burning hatred erupt in Hungarians and Germans, as well as Americans and Russians? How can it be that the brilliant Jewish mind—the one capable of flying a spaceship to the moon, of creating an artificial heart, of winning Nobel prizes and Oscars and building social media platforms—has not managed to defeat the hatred toward us over thousands of years?”

In spite of her graceful manners and her innocent smile, Eva must have been experienced enough to say, “No, the hatred toward us does not stem from jealousy. People do not hate us because we are the smartest, the most successful and inventive, and not because they think we control the media, banks and commerce.”

Eva would ponder the deeper reason for the incomprehensible hatred: “Could it be that maybe anti-Semitism is a law of nature, a phenomenon impossible to erase? Are blows from nature begging us to stop and ask a deeper question?”

Certainly, after all she experienced, she would want to listen to what the haters have to say, “Jews are to blame for all human evil. They only take care of themselves.”

She would also return to our sources to learn from our sages and she would discover that, indeed, there is a close, internal connection between Israel and the nations of the world. She would rush to find out exactly what that means: that Jews are obligated by nature to pave the way for unity over all differences. Attainment of human unity is the only solution to all the evils of the world, including anti-Semitism.

Eva’s story might just become our own if we do not bear active witness to how and why bigotry and hatred unfolds worldwide. Eva’s story should underscore the stark dangers of anti-Semitism and how its magnitude and intensity can rapidly evolve and spread. The hatred persists and strengthens day by day. When we are united and become exemplars of loving brotherhood will we be able to enlighten the world toward unity and eliminate all the threats against us. Maybe then Eva would finally post on Instagram the words she wished could have been written in her time: “In Israel lies the secret of the unity of the world.”

“Zionist Nazism? Lessons Learned To Avoid A New Holocaust” (The Times Of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “Zionist Nazism? Lessons Learned to Avoid a New Holocaust

Once taboo and considered shameful, the veil over anti-Semitism has been lifted in today’s world. Hatred toward Jews is now manifested openly through the media, mainstream politics and extremely violent acts in the streets and places of worship. Attacks against Jews have doubled in the US, according to American watchdog groups, while Europeans report a 70 percent increase in vicious anti-Semitic incidents in Germany alone. These statistics are a loud wake up call for the Jews to act to prevent a new Holocaust. We need to take our destiny in our own hands by uniting and implementing our role as “a light unto nations” against the increasing darkness revealed among the people of the world.

Now is a crucial juncture for us to examine and learn lessons from history. We must not miss the signs of approaching catastrophe in a world where there is nowhere to run. Do you know the story of the Nazi Germany’s initial support for Zionism? There are important lessons for us to take from that historical balance point in time when it was still possible to save the Jews of Germany from annihilation.

In 1933, when the Nazi party came to power, about two months after Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor of the German Reich, Leopold von Mildenstein headed the Jewish section of the Nazi Party’s security service. It was his task to find a solution to the Jewish Question, and Baron Mildenstein regarded the Zionist idea that Jews return to their historic homeland in the land of Israel as the best solution. He poured his efforts into trying to strengthen the Zionist bodies in Germany and to weaken those calling for Jewish assimilation within Germany. In retrospect, his mission was actually to save German Jewry.

In order to promote the idea of ​​sending German Jews to British Mandatory Palestine, thus turning Germany into a Judenrein (an area from which Jews are excluded), Dr. Kurt Tuchler, a German-Jewish jurist and judge who served as the Zionist movement’s representative in Germany, invited Mildenstein to visit Palestine. The idea was that he would write his impressions of the visit to the emerging Zionist land and present them in the German press as an attractive destination for Jews, encouraging Jews to move to then-Palestine.

In the spring of 1933, Mildenstein and Tuchler traveled with their wives for a month’s visit to the British Mandate of Palestine. The visit was such a media success that it was extended to six months during which time a series of flattering articles called “A Nazi Travels to Palestine,” were sent and published in the Nazi journal, Der Angriff, edited by Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Propaganda Minister.

Mildenstein toured the Jewish homeland, mingled with the pioneers and settlers, and wrote sympathetically about their achievements in creating, according to him, a new type of Jew. He glowingly described Jews plowing the land, drying swamps, fulfilling the Zionist dream, and warmly praised Zionism as a movement that greatly benefits Jews.

Following this German pro-Zionist activity, and as a memento of the cooperation between the Nazi Party and the German Zionist Association, the newspaper issued a coin with a Star of David on one side and a swastika on the other, bearing the caption, “A Nazi Travels to Palestine.” These limited edition coins were given as gifts to new subscribers to the Nazi journal.

As hard as it may be to understand today, at the beginning of the Nazi period in Germany, long before anyone could have imagined the horrors the Third Reich, the Germans actually tried to help bring Jews to Israel, even by offering financial support. They built a special economic organization designed to help German Jews to immigrate without losing a penny, so that they would have all their financial assets here in Israel, just as they had in Germany.

Upon his return to Germany, Mildenstein continued his activities in support of the Zionist movement, and even participated in the 19th Zionist Congress as the official representative of the Reich. He enlisted Adolf Eichmann into the effort and in 1937 sent him to Palestine to determine whether it was fit to absorb the Jews. But in spite of all the supportive Nazi efforts, the Jews of Germany came to Israel in very small numbers. Most did not want to go and Mildenstein failed in his mission.

As a result of the failure of the project, Mildenstein was transferred from his post. Two years later, he was appointed as deputy under Adolf Eichmann, who instituted a completely opposite policy that led to the actual implementation of the Final Solution to exterminate the Jews during the period of the Holocaust and World War II.

We all know the tragic end to the story of the Jews under the Nazis, but we can still use its bitter lessons to prevent the gray anti-Semitic cloud that threatens Jews once again from closing in around us. The situation of the Jews around the world today is little different from that of the Jews at the time when the Reich tried to support the building of Israel. On the one hand, Trump and the United States ostensibly support the Israeli-Jewish interests, while on the other hand, anti-Semitism is rampant in almost every region of the world.

The possible future scenarios are two: Either Trump, “today’s Mildenstein,” could lose his job and begin a severe deterioration that would lead to similar or even worse than what occurred in the 1940s in Europe; or the people of Israel will recover their senses and take advantage of the grace period they are being given in order to begin to realize their historical role toward the world: to establish an exemplary society that operates in unity and mutual responsibility as a lighthouse for the world.

The sages of Israel, among them Kabbalists and many intellectuals, wrote extensively about the power of Jewish connection as a solution to the problems the world faces. Rav Kook, for example, wrote: “The building of the world, which is now collapsing at the feet of the terrible storms of a sword full of blood, demands the building of the nation of Israel.”(Orot)

Only when Jews fulfill their mission will anti-Semitism cease and the Jewish people and State of Israel be given legitimacy to exist in safety to lead the world to happiness and peace.