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What Is The Meaning Of Sukkot?

Dr. Michael LaitmanFrom My Facebook Page Michael Laitman 10/13/19

On Sukkot, we are commanded to dwell in temporary dwelling.
Temporary dwelling means that it is built from things we consider unimportant.
The things our ego cannot appreciate are the things that build our inner thatch. The inner thatch covers and protects us from our own ego.

Sukkot 2019: How To Reconstruct Our Jewish Home (Times of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “Sukkot 2019: How to Reconstruct Our Jewish Home

Synagogues across the globe are shutting down their doors for good. Demographic changes, financial problems, assimilation, and lack of interest in Jewish life among younger people, as well as the feeling of insecurity due to anti-Semitic attacks, are among the major factors that contribute to this phenomena. But there is a deeper cause to the declining membership and its consequences for communities: the lack of cohesion and sense of a common home among the Jewish people as a whole. The festival of Sukkot, during which we celebrate unity and hospitality with those closest to us is an invitation to reshape our destiny and reflect on building a common sukkah where all Jews can be united as one and with them the entire world.

The Jewish festivities this year face a new reality. Once vibrant Jewish communities around the world have seen their membership significantly reduced. For instance, the community in Nice, once the fourth largest in France with around 20,000 members, has decreased to a mere 3,000. Similar situations can be found in Jewish congregations in Boston, New York and the Midwest, all due to dwindling membership.

“Jews exhibit lower levels of religious commitment than the U.S. general public” among whom, only 26% said religion is “very important,” in comparison to 56% of non-Jews, according to American research organizations. The studies also show a gap between Jewish attendance at synagogue services compared with other denominations: “Jews report attending religious services at much lower rates than do other religious groups. 6-in-10 Christians (62%) say they attend religious services at least once or twice a month (compared with 29% of Jews),” revealed the survey.

I am not surprised. After WWII, the sense of belonging and the need for communal association thrived among Jews, but nowadays there is basically nothing to hold a community together. In a generation where everything is disposable and anything can be acquired, independence has become more highly valued than ever before and calculations for community trail accordingly. One may ask, “Why should we be part of a community and identify as being Jewish? What do I get out of it?” “Nothing, and perhaps the opposite,” would be the probable response. In fact, Jewish life essentially has little or no meaning if we do not ask life’s most significant questions, such as “Why do I exist?” and “What does it mean to be Jewish?”

The word “Jew”—“Yehudi” in Hebrew—stems from the word “unity”—“Yichud.” Our purpose as Jews is to reach a state of unity among each other and to share it with the nations of the world, i.e. to be “a light unto the nations.” However, in order to attain such a lofty goal, we need to first rise above our egoistic nature, that is, to transform our attributes of self-concern and self-indulgence into concern and care for others.

How does this relate to the Sukkot holiday? This festival is precisely a call to exit our comfortable egoistic “home,” meaning our self-love, and to build a new structure, a sukkah, the symbol of the new world that we can create if we acquire the quality of bestowal, the quality of love for others.

Sukkot symbolizes the beautiful process of inner change where we take the “waste of barn and winery,” items that, according to the wisdom of Kabbalah, represent the quality of love for others that are now mingled and immersed within our egoistic thoughts of self-concern, and raise such attributes like a roof, high above our heads. We construct a cover for the ego and, day by day, during the week of Sukkot, perform additional clarifications about the qualities that contribute to altruism and ask for our correction. Then, symbolically, the light that sifts through through the thatch roof transforms our previous egoistic qualities into a new state where we recognize love and connection with others as life’s most important values.

The true meaning of Sukkot is to build a new reality of mutual understanding and support—a sukkah of peace, so that the entire Jewish people and the whole world can gather beneath that big thatch of covering and be united as one. When this comes to pass, the temporary home of the sukkah will be transformed into a temple, a common place in our hearts, and not merely a physical structure.

I wish you all a joyful and peaceful holiday!

The Meaning Of The Holiday Of Sukkot

The true meaning of the holiday of Sukkot is to build a “Sukkah of Peace” so that the entire world will gather beneath this big thatch covering, where we will be united as one.

Rosh Hashanah: If We Unite, We Cover All Crimes With Love

laitman_550Happy New Year!

The period from the beginning of the year (Rosh Hashanah) to the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) is called “terrible days.” Yet, in fact, it all depends on our perception. Even the most mournful days such as Tisha B’Av, which symbolizes the historical tragic events that happened to the Jewish people in the past, will in the future become the best days.

Therefore, everything depends on a person’s perception. If one lives in the past, as many people do because they know nothing about the future, then these are terrible days for him or her. However, the wisdom of Kabbalah, which is completely oriented toward the future, tells about these days as the most beautiful and good ones. The new year (Rosh Hashanah) is the beginning of good changes.

The period of repentance that precedes the beginning of the new year is necessary to recognize our evil nature, which we must correct. The most suitable time for correction is approaching, thanks to which we come to good.

Rosh Hashanah is followed by the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) when a person judges himself, clarifying how he can reach the degree of the Creator, the state of the upper force, the best state possible. He checks what he must correct in order to reach this corrected and elevated state.

As a result, the holiday of Sukkot comes. After all the clarifications and requests for correction, we begin to build a soul. The Sukkah symbolizes the common soul of Adam HaRishon we all are parts of. If we gather together under the roof of the Sukkah, under one cover, covering all crimes with love, then we reveal the joy of the Torah (Simchat Torah). We are so united together that the upper light, called the Torah, fills us and brings us to correction.

These days are called “terrible,” but their menace comes from their greatness. As it is written about the Creator that He is “great, mighty, and awesome,” but this is not from a threat but from worshiping His greatness.

Before Rosh Hashanah it is customary to wish each other a happy new year and a good entry in the nook of life. However, of utmost importance is the understanding that if we unite, covering all crimes with love, this year will indeed be good for us. We should reach such a connection not just once a year before the holiday, but every day, day by day becoming spiritually closer to each other until we feel such a heartfelt connection as if we were one man with one heart.

Then we will feel the upper force, the common nature that fills our common heart. This is what really will be a good new year.
From KabTV’s “The World. Jewish holidays” 9/26/19

So The Views Would Not Perish From The World

laitman_947Baal HaSulam, “The Freedom”: Therefore, the collective is obliged to meticulously guard all the views of the few, so they will not perish from the world. This is because they must know for certain, in complete confidence, that the truer and more developed views are never in the hands of the collective in authority, but rather in the hands of the weakest, that is, in the hands of the indistinguishable minority.

Question: Why should everyone express their opinion when we sit in circles?

Answer: Until everyone fully realizes themselves in the connection between us, we cannot reach similarity with the Creator and build a group where the Creator will be revealed.

The group is a tool. We must calibrate it. As we turn the knob on a radio, tuning it to a certain wave, we must in the same way turn all the members of the group so they would connect with one another, and in their unity, the mutual, common integral force will manifest. This will be the Creator. Therefore, everyone’s participation is very important. Each one individually is very important as well.
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From KabTV’s “Fundamentals of Kabbalah” 12/25/18

How Can You Tell What Is Good, What Is Evil?

laitman_565.01Good and evil is an eternal topic, but in the article “Peace in the World,” Baal HaSulam writes that good and evil are evaluated by the actions of the individual toward society.

That is, he immediately takes a completely different direction, and so our actions are evaluated in a totally different way. Although the actions of any person can be so personal and individual that it seems impossible to attribute them to society; nevertheless, they are evaluated only in relation to society.

Question: Can I say: “I did a good deed”?

Answer: No. No matter how good or how bad you treat a plant, an animal, a person, or even yourself, you influence the environment, the society, with your thoughts and actions. Therefore, everything is evaluated in relation to society: how will it change, what will happen to it.

This is how you measure whether your actions are good or bad and to what extent.

How can I know whether my natural actions are good or bad in relation to society? I stroke a child’s head, so this is a good action. How does it affect society? How can I evaluate it?

All my actions, whatever they are, bring some consequences to the environment. How can I feel this?

Remark: But we usually say that a person performed a good deed or that he harmed someone.

My Comment: But how do you know? Let’s say you beat someone. Did you correct him through that?

The fact is that until we feel the entire system of nature we exist in, how we affect it, and what reactions we receive from it, we will not be able to behave correctly and correctly assess our behavior.

We have no indicator, evaluator, or a measuring device, something that I can look at and say: “This was positive and now it is negative” and to what extent.

If I felt this, then I could demand something from myself, and I would see on others, they would be my device, like the arrow on a dial that moves toward good, plus, or toward evil, minus. Then I could go around everyone and be proud that I have everything in plus.

Remark: But there are generally accepted laws of human society that we must comply with.

My Comment: Of course, in nature there are laws, but in human society they are totally distorted. This is the problem. We do not know how we behave. Is our behavior good or bad, and what consequences our actions have? Of course, this is terrible.

Question: How does a Kabbalist weigh his actions to determine if they are correct or not?

Answer: If I do not control myself and I act instinctively, my actions are completely wrong, evil, and they harm society and the world.

If I want to act correctly, I must connect with the society around me, unite with it, feel how close I am to it, exist in it, feel it, control my actions, and feel their consequences in the society around me, in the intention of bestowal and love, independently of myself. This is when I can say that I am acting correctly.

However, this requires practice, a methodology for how to exit myself, enter others, and begin to feel in the connection with them. In this case, you will begin to feel yourself in a different world.
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From KabTVs “Fundamentals of Kabbalah,”  7/21/19

Hebrew Is A Way To Express Kabbalistic Knowledge

laitman_248.02Question: Was there another language in Kabbalah before Hebrew?

Answer: No. From the very beginning, Hebrew has been the only way of expressing Kabbalistic knowledge. It appeared out of a necessity to express spiritual roots, words, and actions. It exists for this sole purpose.

Conversational Hebrew should not have been used in our world at all. The fact that in Israel today Hebrew is used for writing, reading, and communication is incorrect. It never used to be like this. Kabbalistic texts have always been those written in Hebrew. Other languages were used for everything else, such as Aramaic or ancient Greek, but not Hebrew.

Hebrew is purely a language of branches that is used only for describing the spiritual forces, qualities, and actions.
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From KabTVs “Fundamentals of Kabbalah,” 6/23/19

What We Can Learn From The Deadly Attack Outside The Halle Synagogue (Times Of Israel)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take Correction Into Our Own Hands

laitman_962.3Thus, if Israel are rewarded and take the law of development that their bad attributes must go through in order to invert them into good ones, they will bring it under their own government. In other words, they will set their minds and hearts to correct all the bad attributes in them and turn them into good ones by themselves. Then, “I will hasten it,” meaning they will be completely freed from the chains of time. And from now on, this end depends on their own will, meaning only by the greatness of the deed and the mindfulness. Thus, they hasten the end. (Baal HaSulam, “Peace in the World”)

Our advancement depends only on the connection between us, on how close we get to each other. The further we advance to the purpose of creation, the closer we must get to each other. At the final point of our path, we all, without exception, will merge into one single whole, into one single Kli (vessel). This means that every time we must accelerate our rapprochement, trying to rise above ever-increasing disagreements, and thus, gradually we will come to the state of equivalence between ourselves and the Creator.

But if they are not rewarded with developing their bad attributes under their own authority, but leave it under the Authority of Heaven, they, too, are certain to attain the end of their redemption and the end of their correction. This is because there is complete certainty in the Government of Heaven, which operates by the law of gradual development, degree by degree, until it turns any evil and harmful to good and beneficial as the fruit on a tree. (Baal HaSulam, “Peace in the World”)

Even if we leave this work and do not study Kabbalah anymore, let everything take its own course, go with the flow, live as long as we live, and die if it is time to die, it will in no way help to shorten or lengthen the period of our development.

Whereas, if we advance by the path of light, we will accelerate our development, and, at the same time, we will make it good and kind. However, this is only possible if we constantly establish relationships in the group above our egoism.

Without doing so, we advance by the path of suffering, where we will receive all kinds of slaps, kicks, and diseases on every inch of it, not to mention the approaching massive catastrophes.
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From the Kabbalah Lesson in Russian 7/14/19