From Chaos to Harmony
Rav Michael Laitman, PhD
Part II: Israel’s Role
The first part of this book explored both global and personal crises, their causes, and their resolutions. However, we cannot overlook some of the special issues of the state of Israel and the lives of each of its citizens. It is always surprising to see that such a tiny state attracts so much attention worldwide, and is continually at the center of colossal struggles.
Israelis are finding that, in their own homeland, personal and national safety are becoming fading dreams, growing dimmer with each passing year. Today, life in Israel is accompanied by constant fear: there is a bomb shelter around every corner, each apartment must, by law, have a “safe room” made of reinforced concrete, and security personnel search us at the entrance to every public place. In fact, throughout its lifetime, Israel has always been at war. Only its frontiers change their nature.
Today, in the era of weapons of mass destruction, accompanied by our neighbors’ growing desire to destroy us, our very existence is at stake. The people are at the height of nervous tension. According to a survey published on the eve of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), 2006, “More than 50% of the residents of Israel are anxious about the very existence of the state. Two-thirds think it is plausible that a surprise attack on Israel will occur, as it did on Yom Kippur, 1973, and 70% do not trust the present political and military leaderships.”
Moreover, we are not only failing to get along with the world, we seem to be torn and divided from within more than any other nation. We are split into sects that are hostile to one another.
Why is this so? Is there something special about us? Are we doomed to always suffer more than everybody else? Why are we not allowed to live our lives in peace? Why are the eyes of the world always on us? In this part of the book, we will clarify Israel’s place on the “human map” and see if there is a way out of this bleak and ominous state. To do that, we will turn for assistance to the authentic wisdom of Kabbalah. Therefore, before we begin, let us study the origin of this wisdom, what it deals with, and how it relates to today’s reality.
HUMANITY AND THE WISDOM OF KABBALAH
Man has always sought ways to be happy. Numerous teachings, old and new, try to provide it. However, humanity continues to suffer. None of the methods that mankind has developed throughout history yielded the craved happiness; hence, today people are losing interest in them.
It is at this time of bewilderment that a hitherto hidden method is now surfacing. Throughout history, its possessors have kept it hidden from the public eye. Nor was the general public attracted to it. But today it is bursting onto the center stage of the public agenda, and people throughout the world, from all nations, races, and nationalities are following it. This teaching is the wisdom of Kabbalah.
Millions around the world have the sense that by utilizing this method, they will receive the answers they have been seeking as to how they can be happy. This builds a strong attraction for people today. And, although most people still do not understand the essence of the method, they feel deep within that it will provide the answer. Thus, they are willing to explore what Kabbalah has to offer.
To understand what has made the wisdom of Kabbalah expand worldwide, we must go back to the cradle of humanity, to ancient Babylon, Mesopotamia. This is the beginning of the process that is being completed these days, a process that is attracting people to Kabbalah.
The wisdom of Kabbalah explains that the evolution of humanity is essentially the evolution of the desire to enjoy. This desire evolves from generation to generation and prompts us to fulfill it.
The first time a desire for something beyond the desire to exist appeared in a human being was 5767 years ago (according to the Hebrew calendar and to the date of writing these lines in 2006). Although many generations preceded Adam, he was the first person in whom the desire to comprehend the collective Nature appeared. It is not a coincidence that his name was Adam, because it comes from the words Adamme la Elyon, “I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14). Adam was named after his desire to transcend his qualities and become similar to Nature’s quality of altruism. Adam passed on what he had discovered to his offspring. Also, the book, Raziel ha Malaach (The Angel Raziel), is ascribed to him.
The book, Raziel ha Malaach, The Angel Raziel, ascribed to Adam.
The day Adam discovered the spiritual world is called “the day of the creation of the world.” This was the day on which humanity made its first contact with the spiritual world, and this is why the Hebrew calendar begins on this day.
According to Nature’s plan, humanity will achieve balance with the inclusive Nature, the final correction of the human ego, within 6,000 years of this day. This is why it was written that “the world exists for six thousand years” (Talmud Bavli, Sanhedrin, 97:71). During those years, the human ego will gradually grow and bring humanity to the realization that it must be mended. It will also show humanity the method of correction, and how to implement it.
A few generations after Adam, humanity was centered around ancient Babylon, and that is where the first outbreak of egoism occurred. As a result, people began to want to dominate Nature and the world, and to exploit everything to their own benefit.
This outbreak of egoism was allegorically described as the building of The Tower of Babel: “Come, let us build us a city, and a tower, with its top in heaven” (Genesis, 11:4). However, the Babylonians’ plot failed because it is impossible to satisfy the ego directly.
As their egos grew, it separated them from one another. Previously, the people of Babel had lived as one people. But now, when the ego began to “speak” in them, they stopped understanding each other. This moment is described as “the evolution of different languages.” Thus, hatred drew them apart, and they were scattered all over the world.
Yet, in one of those Babylonians, a man named Abraham, there surfaced a desire to know the secret of life, along with the growth of the ego. It was the same desire that had first appeared in Adam.
Until that point, Abraham had been helping his father build idols and sell them. But once he began to feel that the idols no longer satisfied his growing desire, he began to search for higher forces. This story symbolizes Abraham’s sensation that he was idolizing every egoistic desire he’d had, bowing before his desire and surrendering to its domination.
Thus, Abraham began to feel that such a life leads nowhere. He felt that if he wanted to transcend to a more highly evolved life, he would have to “break the idols” and to try to escape the ego’s domination.
When he did, he discovered Nature’s inclusive force and called it “God,” which, in Gimatria (a method of using Hebrew letters as numbers), is equal to “the Nature.”
Abraham realized that Nature’s force necessitates all people to come into balance with it, and that the imbalance is the source of all suffering.
As Abraham continued to search, he discovered that the ego comprises 613 desires, each of which must be adapted to Nature’s general law of altruism. In other words, in all one’s desires, one must reach the state of “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” the service of others.
When we correct each of the desires by using them altruistically instead of egoistically, Kabbalah calls this “performing Mitzvot” (keeping Commandments). This refers to changing the intention with which we use our desires, not to any physical actions.
The method for achieving equilibrium with Nature, beyond the ego, was discovered by Abraham. It is called “the wisdom of Kabbalah.” Sefer Yetzira (The Book of Creation) is also ascribed to Abraham.
Abraham began to teach this wisdom to his people, the ancient Babylonians. It was written that “Abraham the Patriarch would bring them into his home, give them food and drink, and would bring them closer” (Bereshit Raba 84:4). However, most of the people did not take interest in correcting their egos.
But after Abraham and his wife, Sarah, made considerable efforts to teach the correction method, they managed to organize a group of people that became the first group of Kabbalists in human history. This group later received the name, “Israel.” 20
From that point on, humanity has been divided into two paths: Kabbalists and the rest of humanity. As the ego continued to grow, both among the Kabbalists and in the rest of humanity, it evolved very differently in each of these groups. The Kabbalists strained to maintain balance with Nature atop the growing ego, while the rest of humanity searched for new ways to satisfy their egos.
From generation to generation, humanity reached greater achievements. People kept believing that very soon they would reach their ultimate fulfillment. Yet they remained emptier than before the new hope had emerged. Today, the ego has reached its final degree; hence, many are sensing that millennia of the evolving ego have yielded only helplessness and a general, global crisis.
Realizing this puts humanity in the same position it occupied in Babylon. But this time humanity, which has spread across the globe and proliferated into billions of people, is ready to listen. Now, the time is ripe to absorb the method founded by Abraham, intended to teach everyone how to use their egos correctly, how to achieve balance with Nature, and how to feel like the whole of Nature: eternal and whole.
Until recently, Kabbalists were compelled to conceal this method from humanity. They had to wait until the final degree of the ego appeared, a level that humanity would despair of fulfilling. They waited for a time when people needed a correction method, and would feel that of all teachings, the cure for all ailments could be found specifically within the wisdom of Kabbalah. But now that these conditions have been met, Kabbalists, who carefully hid the method in the past, are opening it to all. This completes the historic cycle, and all of humanity as one body can now achieve equilibrium with Nature.
In a manifesto called “Messiah’s Horn,” Baal Ha-Sulam says that redeeming the world from its plights depends solely on disseminating the correction method: “We are in a generation that is standing at the very threshold of redemption, if we will only know how to spread the wisdom of the hidden in the masses.”
He emphasizes that the wisdom of Kabbalah must be brought to everyone in the world, and compares it to the voice of the Shofar (a ram’s horn blown on Jewish holidays): “And the dissemination of the wisdom in the masses is called “a Shofar.” Like the Shofar, whose voice travels a great distance, the echo of the wisdom will spread throughout the world…”
THE BIRTH OF THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL
For the correction method to appear today and lead the world to equilibrium with Nature, it had to be passed on and developed from generation to generation. It is a process that began in the same group of Kabbalists that Abraham began, and has stretched over thousands of years.
After using Abraham’s method for several generations, the intensified ego appeared in his group, too. In that state, to cope with the new egoism, it needed to find a higher level of the method of achieving balance with Nature.
The provider of this new method was Moses, the great Kabbalist of that time. Moses led the people out of Egypt, out of the domination of the new ego, and taught them to be “as one man in one heart,” as parts of a single body. Because of its size, this group was now called “a people” or “a nation.” However, genetically, it was part of the ancient Babylonian people to which Abraham belonged, as even science confirms today. 21
Moses’method of balancing with Nature was a continuation of Abraham’s method. It was named “The Torah.” This does not refer to the Torah (Pentateuch) as a historic document, as we know it today, but as a method for correcting the ego. The term, “Moses,” symbolizes the force that pulls (Moshech, in Hebrew) one out of the ego’s rule. The term, “Torah,” comes from the word, “instruction” or “light,” the force that corrects, as in, “The Light in it reformed them” (Midrash Raba, Eicha, Introduction, 2nd paragraph). Torah also stands for the pleasure that fills one who has corrected one’s ego.
Thus, the group of Kabbalists continued to evolve. Implementing Moses’ method, they corrected all the egoistic desires that surfaced in them, and the filling (satisfaction, light) they received within their corrected desires was called Beit ha Mikdash (The Temple, The House of Holiness). The Temple is their corrected desires, which has now become a house filled with holiness; i.e., the quality of altruism, the quality of the comprehensive Nature.
As children were born, they were raised by the correction method and achieved their own spiritual attainments. Thus the people lived within the sensation of the common, collective Nature, until the ego jumped one more degree, causing them to lose that sensation. The detachment from the sensation of the inclusive Nature is called “the ruin of the Temple,” and the new domination of the ego is called “the exile in Babylon.”
The correction of the ego that erupted at the ruin of the First Temple was called “the return from the exile in Babylon and the erection of the Second Temple.” However, this time the nation had been split in two: some succeeded in correcting their egos; others were overpowered by their egos and could not correct them. The ego gradually grew among the first group, too, until the entire nation lost the sensation of the inclusive Nature, and the people fell into spiritual concealment. This domination of the ego was called “the ruin of the Second Temple,” and the people went on another exile, which was to be their last.
The ruin of the altruistic quality caused the entire nation to lose the sensation of the comprehensive Nature, except for a chosen few, the Kabbalists, who live in every generation. Away from the public’s eye, these Kabbalists continued to develop the method to correct human nature and to adapt it to the growing ego. Their task was to prepare the method for a time when Israel and humanity would need it.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE CORRECTION METHOD
Around the time of the last exile, in the 2nd century CE, The Book of Zohar was written by Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yo-chai and his disciples. The book describes both the correction method, and everything that one who achieves balance with Nature will experience. It also reveals every state that humanity will experience until the final correction of the ego. However, it uses intimations and allegories to do so.
It should be pointed out that even though The Book of Zohar was written before the people went into exile, it states that this book will be discovered only at the end of the exile. That is, its arrival will bring with it the end of the spiritual exile: “…because Israel is destined to taste from the Tree of Life, which is this book of Zohar, in which they will come out of the exile with mercy” (The Book of Zohar, Parashat Naso, item 90).
The Zohar also writes that toward the end of a 6,000 year period allotted to the correction of the ego, the book will be revealed to all of humanity: “When it is near the days of the Messiah, even infants in the world are destined to find the secrets of the wisdom, and to know in them the ends and the calculations of redemption. And at that time it will be revealed to all.” (The Book of Zohar, Parashat VaYira, item 460).
Thus, immediately after it was written, The Book of Zohar was concealed. The next time the book appeared was in 13th century Spain. Then, in the 16th century, about 1,400 years after the writing of the Zohar, the Ari (Rabbi Isaac Luria) appeared in Zephath, a city of Kabbalists in the north of Israel. In a systematic, scientific language he revealed the Zohar’s correction method. He also described in great detail the phases of the correction of the ego, leading to balance with the comprehensive Nature. His writings contain depictions of the structure of the Higher World, and explain how one can be admitted into that dimension of reality and live within it.
However, since the ego had not yet fully manifested its power during the Ari’s lifetime, only few could understand him. This is because keener perception arrives when the ego is more evolved.
As the end of the correction period arrives, it brings with it the final level of egoism. And with this come the crises that create the necessity of the method to correct the ego. Today, many already need the full correction method, and they can grasp what very few could grasp in the past. This is why the complete method of correction has now been exposed.
Baal HaSulam (1884-1954) interpreted The Book of Zohar and the writings of the Ari so that each of us would be able to understand them. In “The Teaching of the Kabbalah and Its Essence,” he wrote, “I am happy to have been born in such a generation when it is already permitted to publicize the wisdom of truth. And if you ask me, ‘How do I know that it is permitted?’ I shall reply that it is because I was given permission to disclose.”
Baal HaSulam’s primary compositions are The Sulam Commentary on The Book of Zohar, in which he translated the Zohar from Aramaic to Hebrew, and interpreted the words of the Zohar. He also wrote The Study of the Ten Sefirot, in which he described the writings of the Ari.
In addition to these enormous works, Baal HaSulam wrote many essays that clarify how to establish a human society that is balanced with Nature. He explained he was able to do so in response to that generation’s need for a clear, systematic method to correct the ego.
“My whole merit in the way of the disclosure of the wisdom is because of my generation” (“The Teaching of the Kabbalah and Its Essence”).
As Kabbalists predicted, the end of the 20th century saw the beginning of a new era in human evolution. Now, masses of people have become drawn to Kabbalah. Back in the 18th century, the Vilna Gaon pointed to 1990 as the year when the process of mass correction would begin, as it was written in his book, Kol ha Tor (Voice of the Turtledove). Baal HaSulam named the year 1995 in a conversation with disciples in 1945.
It is no coincidence that interest in Kabbalah is unfolding in this manner. Kabbalists explain that if we wait until the end of the 6,000 years without progress in correcting our egos by ourselves, we will suffer tremendously, the majority of the world population will be extinct through horrendous wars, and the few survivors will still have to carry out Nature’s plan.
In the writings of the last generation, Baal HaSulam explains that, “the Creator eventuated and gave humanity technology, until they have invented the atom and the hydrogen bombs. If the total ruin that they are destined to bring is still not evident to the world, they can wait for a third world war, or a fourth one and so on. The bombs will do their thing and the relics after the ruin will have no other choice but to take upon themselves this work.”
In other words, if we say, “Que sera sera,” and simply sit by without acting, Nature will force us to correct through dreadful pains within the framework of the remaining 233 years until the end of the 6,000 years. This painful process is called “in its time,” meaning “in the time allotted.”
But the suffering will intensify and increase until each moment seems like an eternity, as time is a psychological matter. In fact, we can already feel that our lives are getting increasingly harder, and this is just the beginning.
However, in the path of correction, there is no time limit. Just as Kabbalists throughout time achieved balance with Nature, anyone today can do the same and experience the same perfection and eternity. This path is called, “I will hasten it,” because it accelerates time. One way or the other, we must all achieve balance with Nature, and even death is no escape from the mandatory correction process.
The choice between the two paths depends on our awareness, which will evolve either through suffering or through scrutiny. Evolution through scrutiny can be done using the wisdom of Kabbalah, which describes our situation, explains where we should reach, and provides the means to get there. Thus, it is possible that humanity will experience 233 years of unbearable torment as is described about the days of the Messiah in the Kabbalah books. Or this can be done in a much shorter time in boundless elation. At this crossroads, Israel’s role is critical.
THE ROLE OF ISRAEL
The descendants of Abraham’s group of Kabbalists are the people of Israel. Before we begin to discuss the role of Israel, it is important to know that there is absolutely no question of nationalism here, as Baal HaSulam puts in his essay, “Matan Torah” (The Giving of the Torah): “Is there, God forbid, nationalism involved here? Of course, only an insane person would think that.” The people of Israel is no better than other nations, but it does possess a unique role in Nature’s plan. Humanity is like a single body, where each of the organs has its own function.
Kabbalists allegorically say that in the beginning, the correction method was offered to every nation, since “the purpose of creation lies on the shoulders of the whole human race, whether black, white, or yellow” (Baal HaSulam, “The Bond”). However, when the Torah was given, none of the nations were ready to receive it; clearly, humanity did not need it yet. For this reason, the method was given to the people of Israel to function as a “transit” for the method that would ultimately be realized by all of humanity.
The people of Israel are different from all other nations. They comprise the same group of Kabbalists that Abraham established from residents of Babylon. Their task is to preserve the correction method throughout human history until the time when everyone needs it. At that time, this group, by now called “the people of Israel,” would be able to realize its function and transfer the correction method to all the nations.
The fall of that group of Kabbalists under the ego’s domination produced within them a sophisticated and unique ego. This was effected so the Jews would speed up the evolution of the world while they were still among the nations.
The nations of the world did not possess sufficient drive for progress, and the Jews’ role was to urge them forward to greater egoistic evolution. Hence, Jews led the cultural, scientific, economic, and technological revolutions. These would accelerate the realization that egoism only brings the world to a dead end, and that we must correct it. Today, along with our awareness of our need to correct the ego, we should learn how to implement the correction method.
There are different phases in this process. First, the people of Israel must correct themselves and regain balance with Nature, which they lost some 2,000 years ago. For this to unfold, they must come to know the correction method they have been detached from, and begin to use it. Once they do that, they will serve as an altruistic example to the whole of humanity, and will fulfill their role of being “a light of the nations.”
When the correction of Israel is transferred to the rest of the world, the second phase in the plan will be realized: the correction of all of humanity. Thus, “When the Children of Israel are complemented with the complete reason, the fountains of intelligence and knowledge shall flow beyond the borders of Israel. They will water all the nations of the world, as it is written (Isaiah 11), ‘for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord.’” (Baal HaSulam, “Introduction to the Tree of Life,” item 4).
THE RETURN TO THE LAND OF ISRAEL
The return of the people of Israel to the land of Israel is predetermined in Nature’s plan. To understand it, we must understand the spiritual meaning of the term “the land of Israel.” And for this, we must understand the language that Kabbalists use.
When Kabbalists achieved balance with Nature, they discovered a part of reality that is beyond the range of the egoistic person’s perception. They called that part “The Upper World,” or ”The Spiritual World.” Once they discovered that every element in the Upper World hangs down to our world and begets a corporeal manifestation, they called the elements in the Upper World, “roots,” and their manifestations in the corporeal world, “branches.” Thus, the “language of roots and branches” came to be, based on the parallels between the Upper World and our world.
In the language of the branches, “land” means “desire,” and “Israel” means Yashar El (“straight to God”). Thus, “the land of Israel” designates a desire geared toward an altruistic action.
The generations that lived in the land of Israel before the ruin of the Second Temple were in a state of spiritual attainment. At that time, there was congruence between the spiritual degree of the people of Israel and its physical presence in the land of Israel, hence, Israel merited being there. As the people lost their spiritual degree and declined under the domination of egoistic desires, the incongruence between the spiritual level of the people of Israel and their presence in the land of Israel, eventually prompted the ruin of the Temple and the exile from the land of Israel.
While in the past their spiritual decline preceded the exile of the people of Israel, to go live among other nations, today the situation is reversed. The physical return of the people to the land of Israel preceded their spiritual return, but the congruence between the spiritual root and the corporeal branch must be rebuilt. The people of Israel must climb by the same path they previously descended, but in the opposite order: the physical return first, the spiritual return second.
Hence, the people of Israel are obligated to achieve the spiritual degree of “the land of Israel,” and this is why the correction method is being revealed to them. As long as Israel is not corrected, its people will feel uncomfortable in that land. It is impossible to live in Israel without having a spiritual ideal; Nature’s forces simply do not allow one to be at rest in that land, without the spiritual congruence.
To encourage the residents of the physical land of Israel to rise to the spiritual level, called “the land of Israel,” reality appears unsafe and disquieting. All the pressures applied on Israel by other countries, as well as through internal social crises in politics, in society, and even in people’s personal lives, are there to compel us to advance toward the goal of our existence in this world.
“In a sentence: As long as we do not raise our goal above the corporeal life, we will have no corporeal revival, because the spiritual and the corporeal in us cannot live in one basket, for we are the children of the idea” (Baal HaSulam, “Exile and Redemption”).
The Book of Zohar and Kabbalists through the generations have declared the return of the people of Israel from exile as the time when the correction of the world would have to take place. Therefore, when the nation returned to Israel, the great Kabbalist, Rav Abraham Isaac HaCohen Kook, who was also the first chief rabbi of Israel, was very outspoken:
“Now the times have come for everyone to know that the salvation of Israel and the salvation of the entire world depend solely on the appearance of the wisdom of the hidden light of the internality of the secrets of the Torah (Kabbalah) in a clear language” Letters of the Raiah,p.92).“Only when we are what we should be will humanism return to humanity, the highest virtue, whose essence will be able to the spiritual light concealed within its quality; and it will naturally soar in its entirety, and with pride it will know its happiness” Sefer Orot (Book of Lights), p. 155).
We should know that just as the people of Israel are not counted among the seventy nations of the world, but are considered a special group intended to pass the correction method to all of humanity, “the land of Israel” will not exist on Planet Earth unless it is a land where a spiritual nation resides. Therefore, the people of Israel deserve to live in that land only to the extent that they perform their duty. Otherwise, they will not be considered “the people of Israel” and the land will not be considered “the land of Israel.” Israel will then become a land that ejects and repels this people, a land that cannot stand this nation on its soil, “a land that devours its inhabitants” (Numbers, 13:32).
Baal HaSulam predicted that if no changes were made, the very existence of the Jews in the land of Israel would be at risk. In the writings of The Last Generation, he wrote that matters could deteriorate and so many would leave Israel that “bit-by-bit, they will escape the discomfort until too few remain to merit the name “State,” and they will be swallowed among the Arabs.”
UNITING THE NATION
If we really want to be a free nation in our land, as our national anthem states, we must implement the same formula that sustained us prior to the ruin and the exile. In place of the separation, alienation, and unfounded hatred that abound today, we must once more be as parts of a single body, and unite with the inclusive Nature.
And the means to achieve this unity atop our hefty egos is to implement the correction method.
In truth, we have gathered in the land of Israel primarily due to necessity. Nature’s plan made the nations of the world pressure us, and compel us to escape from the Diaspora to find a haven in Israel. For the most part, people were made to come here as a place of refuge where they could be saved from the pressure of their enemies, or improve their corporeal lives. They did not come to Israel because of an internal drive to bond with love, create a united nation, balance with the altruistic Nature, and then lead all of humanity toward it.
In the end, our present ties will not enable us to face the nations that stand against us, whose internal bonding is much more solid than ours. Our foes are clearly aware of our weakness, as Zeev Magen, PhD, head of the History of the Middle-East department at Bar Ilan University explains22: “The Iranians and the rest of the fundamentalists are convinced that we are a society devoid of any infrastructure of uniform principles. Moreover, they are convinced that we have already concluded that such an infrastructure cannot exist. Therefore, the fundamentalists are positive that sooner or later they will defeat us and drive us out of here, or at least end our sovereignty. Certainty always overcomes uncertainty. Hence, in their eyes, we are living on barrowed time. A newspaper article recently published in one of the Arab newspapers, ended in a quote from Haminai, who was quoting from the Quran when he said that ‘The Jews will not fight you as one man. You think that they are united, but their hearts are divided.’”
Unity among us can only be achieved when we unite around the realization of our duty to the world. We are not meant to bond in order to improve our situation at the expense of other nations or countries. The “nationalistic” idea of the nation that the wisdom of Kabbalah talks about is as far from “traditional nationalism” as the East is from the West. We must not regard ourselves as superior to others.
Quite the contrary, The “chosen people” means that this people was chosen to serve all the nations. Its duty is to help them achieve equilibrium with Nature, and to reach the degree of the greatest spiritual prosperity. We must regard ourselves as a means towards that end and nothing else; and we will only be able to perform it by achieving unity among ourselves.
Our return to Israel under threat was part of Nature’s plan, and thus gave us the opportunity to discover for ourselves our inner need to unite, and to create a nation that leads humanity to wholeness.
It is no coincidence that we are currently failing to create a united society in Israel. We are divided into sects: secular vs. religious, left vs. right, Ashkenazi vs. Sephardic, natives of Israel vs. new Olim (immigrants) and so on. All our efforts to unite have thus far been futile; the social gaps are deepening, and hatred and alienation worsen. A recent survey disclosed that even today, 57% of the Israeli public believes that the state of Israel’s existence might be in danger due to unfounded hatred. 23
In this present state, we must pause and find our roots, see where we come from, how we have become “the people of Israel,” find the principles upon which the nation was founded and their purpose. Only when we actually “live” the eternal foundations of the spiritual ideals on which the state of Israel was founded will we be able to unite and to promote the unity of all people, wherever they are.24
No calamity comes to the world but for Israel. -- Talmud Bavli, Yevamot, 63:1
Understanding the role of Israel makes it easier to understand the phenomenon of anti-Semitism, and how it may be resolved. The root of both anti-Semitism and of blaming the Jews for every adversity that occurs in the world is part of the purpose of Israel’s existence: providing the world the method for the correction of the ego. The fate of the people of Israel depends on the way they realize their task.
As long as Israel does not carry out the correction method on themselves and does not pass it on to the rest of the nations, humanity’s imbalance with Nature will increase. This will go on to increase the intensity and frequency of negative phenomena in all of humanity, and in the lives of every individual. Today, these phenomena have worsened to the level of a global crisis.
Anti-Semitism is appearing in the world according to the evolution of the nations. Subconsciously, the nations sense that they depend on Israel for their happiness. This is why the negative attitude toward Jews has appeared specifically in more evolved nations. It is not surprising that Germany, the most developed country in the beginning of the 20th century, was also the country where a horrendous outbreak of anti-Semitism occurred. The more a nation’s ego evolves, the more powerfully is awakened a hatred of Jews. In some, it is a violent reaction; in others, it is quiet consent and support.
Today, the evolution of the ego has made most of the world’s nations resentful toward Israel. Even countries that were previously sympathetic toward Israel, such as North European countries, have changed for the worse. Surveys held in the European Union indicate that 60% of the population in the European Union believe Israel is the country that poses the greatest danger to world peace. In the Netherlands, for example, this view is supported by 74% of the population. The survey also revealed that Israel’s image among the educated is deteriorating.25
Moreover, seemingly “small and insignificant” countries are making public anti-Israeli statements. Even countries that have no direct contact with Israel display anti-Semitic attitudes. All these phenomena are rooted in the Nature of Creation, as it is written, “It is known that Esau is hateful of Jacob” (Midrash Sifrey, Parashat BeHaalotchah, par. 11).
It should be pointed out that other nations relate to one another very differently from the way they relate to Israel. Even when two nations hate each other, they will unite under a common threat, just as animals cooperate to escape danger. But other nations’ attitudes toward Israel are different: even under threat. They point the finger at us as the reason for their perilous state.
At present, many nations believe that there is no place for the people of Israel in the world, not even in the state of Israel. Such beliefs stem from an instinctive sense that we are the source of all predicaments. However, even these nations cannot consciously explain that to themselves or to us.
In fact, Jews, too, cannot understand why everyone hates them, and why they feel oddly guilty. It is almost as if they were indebted to the other nations, recognizing that they deserve this distinctive, negative attitude.
In fact, anti-Semitism does not depend on the nations of the world, but only on Israel’s function. We must not rely on any one nation to assist us, or hope that the world’s approach toward us will change for the better. On the contrary, hatred toward us will arise even in countries that today seem supportive of us, unless we begin to realize our destination.
THE RISE OF THE ISLAM
Besides increasing anti-Semitism, there is another recent phenomenon that is strongly affecting our situation: Christianity is surrendering its domination to fundamentalist Islam. This process is described in The Book of Zohar as part of the processes that will occur when Israel returns to its land: “And the children of Ishmael are destined to evoke great wars in the world, and the children of Edom will gather over them and they will wage war with them” (Zohar, VaEra, item 203).
When we study the rise of Islam, as when studying any process, we must first know that everything that happens in this world is a consequence of the balance of reality’s hidden forces. For example, we cannot sense the force of gravity; we cannot see or feel it, but we can sense the consequences of its actions. We measure its effects and thus learn how to handle it.
In much the same way, there are forces in reality that affect human society. However, unlike forces affecting lower degrees than the human level (the still, vegetative, and animate in Nature and in our bodies), we cannot clearly identify the forces that affect human society, or their consequences. This is so because researching a certain phenomenon requires observing it from a higher perspective. For example, a child cannot study what it means to be a child. Similarly, we cannot presently understand the forces that affect our degree, the human level.
However, since reality is complete, just as natural forces affect all of Nature’s degrees, human society is influenced by Nature’s forces, even though they are hidden from us. In fact, all of the phenomena we observe in human society, in human relations, among peoples or among countries, are the effects of Nature’s forces, which manipulate human society as a shepherd leads a herd.
If we want to change our situation, we must understand these forces and affect the place from which they affect us. And the degree from which they affect us is above the human level, hence it is called “Nature’s Upper Level” or “The Upper World.”
Kabbalists describe this modus operandi in the following words (Bereshit Raba, 10, 6): “There is not a blade of grass below that does not have an angel (force) above it that strikes it and tells it: ‘Grow.’” In other words, nothing changes in our world without a force that operates it from a higher degree, the Upper World.
Therefore, to understand the relations among religions in general, and the rise of the Islam, in particular, we must know the Upper Root of religions: the three lines. In fact, man’s evolution toward equilibrium with the inclusive Nature unfolds along the right, left, and middle line. There are many degrees to this path, and in each degree one gains egoism from the left line, and acquires altruistic balancing force (to correct the ego) from the right line. Our task is to coalesce the two lines in the middle, meaning use the ego altruistically.
Corresponding to those lines is a system intended to sustain them, like a rind that guards the fruit within it. For this reason, the system is named, “the Klipot (shells, peels) system.” Its task is to guarantee the functioning of the lines.
The consequences of the work of the forces of the right and the left in the human society are Islam and Christianity, respectively.
The left and right lines help Israel keep a straight course in the middle line toward the realization of Nature’s plan. During the exile, the force that operated on Israel came primarily from the left line. But toward the end of the correction of the collective human egoism, the right line is becoming increasingly active.
During the exile, the evolution of nations was characterized by the intensification of the egoism. Hence, the left Klipa (singular for Klipot) was the dominant force in designing the people of Israel and distinguishing it from the other nations of the world. It did that by hating Israel—that is, anti-Semitism. In doing so, it guarded the people of Israel from assimilating in the nations of the world throughout the centuries of exile.
However, since the end of the exile, this was no longer sufficient. Now the right Klipa, the force that stands opposite the balancing force, must be awakened and goad Israel to acquire the real quality of altruism.
Nature’s inherent forces operate the elements in human society: the nations, the countries, and so on. Hence, since the time of Israel’s exile, the left Klipa, Christianity, dominated our world. It took the place of Athens and Rome (which were not religions, or Klipot), dominated the world and suppressed all other methods.
But as the time approaches when Israel must correct itself and ordain the quality of altruism over ego, the domination of the force of the Klipa of the right is appearing in the world. This is what we feel today as a global intensification of the power of Islam over Christianity.
When the people of Israel begin to tackle the two Klipot and stabilize themselves in the middle line, they will encounter the Klipa of the middle line. It resides within them, in their own religion, and they will have to distinguish it, separate it, and uproot it from the world.
We should be aware that all the wars that Kabbalists describe can be decided at a higher level than the human-social level—it is the level of our desires. If we triumph there, succeed in realizing the correction method, and learn to use the ego altruistically, we will thus build the middle line. In that state, it will not be necessary for wars to materialize.
We should remember that the measure of balance or imbalance between Nature and us determines the corpo-real, external reality, and the intensity of suffering we will experience. The key to the change is in our hand because the only active part in reality, for better or for worse, is the people of Israel.
INTERNALITY AND EXTERNALITY
Bear in mind that in everything there is internality and externality. Israel, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is generally considered the internality of the world, and the seventy nations are considered the externality of the world. -- Baal HaSulam, “Introduction to The Book of Zohar” The people of Israel are analogous to the key organs in the collective body of humanity—the brain, heart, liver, lungs, and kidneys—which operate the rest of the organs in the body. When these organs function incorrectly, the whole body suffers and grows ill.
Thus, the process of healing human egoism depends on the success of healing the people of Israel. The rest of the body will be healed by consequence, smoothly and easily. Because Nature’s plan positioned the people of Israel to be in charge of the state of the world, we are considered the internality of the world, while the rest of the nations are considered the externality of the world.
In fact, whatever you examine, you will discover that it contains an internal part and an external part. The internal part in the object is called “Israel” and the external part is called “the nations of the world.” For example, any person awakened to correct his or her ego, comprises two kinds of desires: Israel—the desire to achieve equilibrium with the altruistic Nature, and the Nations of the World—the egoistic desires.
Perfect balance with Nature is achieved only when all of one’s egoistic desires are balanced with the altruistic Nature. It follows that everything in the world works in a similar manner. Thus, only when all people are corrected will we achieve the complete correction of human egoism. However, those who comprise Israel bear a decisive influence on the process, arising from the order of the correction rooted in Nature’s plan.
When an individual from Israel raises one’s internality, the altruistic desire, above one’s externality, the egoistic desire, one strengthens the internality among others from Israel and in the nations of the world. In doing so, the people of Israel come closer to carrying out their task, and, as a result, the nations of the world will want to support and be closer to us.
If, on the other hand, one from Israel extols and appreciates one’s egoistic externality above one’s altruistic internality, that person raises the value of externality above internality on all other levels, too. In consequence, the people of Israel grow farther from carrying out their duty, and the nations of the world overpower us and degrade us.
This perception, which positions the individual from Israel as the designer of relations in the whole of reality, is expressed in Baal HaSulam’s words: “Do not be surprised that the actions of one person bring ascent or descent to the entire world. … Moreover, the parts compose everything that is in the whole.” (“Introduction to The Book of Zohar,” item 68).
In his book, Orot HaKodesh (Lights of Sanctity), Rav Kook introduces a similar idea: “The magnitude of the value of man’s power of will, and how crucial is his degree in reality, is yet to be revealed in the world through the secrets of the Torah (Kabbalah). And this revelation will be the crown of the whole of science.”
Hence, although the people of Israel are few, they contain the necessary power and strength to carry out the required correction in the entire world. The awakening of the other nations depends entirely on the extent to which a person from Israel prefers internality to externality, or the Israel within over the internal nations of the world within.
Actually, the people of Israel determine the relationships between themselves and the nations of the world. The nations of the world are rising against us because we are empowering them. By increasing the importance of our egoistic part above our altruistic part, we are making the nations of the world overpower us on the outside, too.
If we could elevate ourselves even a bit toward equilibrium with Nature’s altruism, our enemies would not want to fight us. And if we rose one more bit, they would become friends. It is a direct reaction, completely irrespective of them. We, in fact, operate them!
If we touched that intrinsic point, our enemies would immediately discover completely different desires within them, as if the day before had been erased. They would begin to feel that with our help, they could reach eternity and perfection.
Thus, to the extent that we disparage internality, humanity disparages us. If we extol the importance of realizing Nature’s goal, humanity will regard us as the owners of the method that leads to happiness. This is the law of internality and externality, and it cannot be changed.
THE WAR OF GOG AND MAGOG
The struggle between internality and externality is called “The War of Gog and Magog.” It unfolds within the people of Israel, and its consequences determine the fate of the entire world. If we are triumphant, we will spare ourselves the horrifying depictions of the war of Gog and Magog as an apocalyptic global war.
The War of Gog and Magog is actually an internal war, occurring within individuals from Israel. It is not a physical war with planes and missiles, as is often thought. The planes and the missiles are not the real war; they are merely a physical manifestation of accumulated imbalance.
The war of Gog and Magog is a war between the internality and the externality of our desires. It is fought in our hearts and in our minds. As it unfolds, it gives us a choice. To which do we want to belong? Do we prefer the internality of the world or its externality? Where are our desires, minds, and hearts drawn? This is the war. And the purpose of this book is to make every person from Israel aware that his or her internality determines everything that happens in the outside world.
To win this war, we need a means that will increase the importance of the internality in our hearts. For precisely this purpose, the wisdom of Kabbalah has been revealed in our generation. Throughout our exile, which was both spiritual and physical, we have been disconnected from this wisdom. While a chosen few have been correcting their egos and perceived the inclusive Nature by using this wisdom, the rest of the nation has been completely detached from it, remaining with only superficial symbols of Israel’s tradition.
We should be aware that the method for correcting the ego, which Moses gave to Israel—the Torah (Penta-teuch)—was written in the language of the branches. It uses corporeal terms (branches) to point to spiritual elements (roots).
Kabbalists—people who have attained the comprehensive Nature and live in both the physical and the spiritual worlds simultaneously—know how to decipher the language of the branches. They identify to which spiritual root each corporeal branch points. Hence, they see the Torah as instructions for internal work in the three previously mentioned lines, which will correct the ego.
However, other people cannot see the language of the branches as anything other than corporeal depictions. They only see the superficial part of the Torah, and do not imagine that there is something hidden within it. Consequently, during the course of the exile, people began to treat the Torah as something superficial, like a history book or a legal constitution.
In “The Essence of the Wisdom of Kabbalah,” and in Talmud Eser Sefirot, Part One, Baal HaSulam refers to this phenomenon as “materializing.” He explains that it is a consequence of thousands of years of Israel’s detachment from the spiritual world.
Until our time, Kabbalists kept silent about it. But when the immigration to Israel began, marking the end of exile, they emerged from hiding and called on the people to reacquaint themselves with life’s purpose, which had been forgotten since the ruin of the Temple. They urged the people to use the wisdom of Kabbalah to that end.
Kabbalah is unique in the sense that it does not allow one to materialize, since the language it uses is not the language of the branches, but a “coded” language of worlds and Sefirot. It depicts all the elements of the ego and the phases to correct each of them in detail. Using graphs, charts, and calculations, Kabbalah leads the individual through the steps of the correction of the ego, points to the next step required at every stage, and explains how it should be done. It leaves no room for imagining that one can reach anything good in one’s life without correcting one’s ego. Finally, it shows that the way to achieve this correction is through internal, contemplative actions.
This is why Kabbalists explained that the people of Israel would regain equilibrium with Nature only through the wisdom of Kabbalah. This is also why they emerged to disseminate it to the masses. They realized that this was the only way the people of Israel and the whole world would come closer to redemption and deliverance from their adversities, as “this matter of the redemption… is the uppermost wholeness of attainment and knowledge” (Baal HaSulam, “Introduction to the Tree of Life”).
The GRA (Vilna Gaon) wrote, “Redemption depends primarily on the study of Kabbalah” (Even Shlomo, Chapter 11, item 3). Rav Kook explained similarly: “The great spiritual questions that were previously solved only to the fine and the great, must now be solved, in various degrees, to the whole nation” (Eder HaYekar ve Ikvey HaTzon). Likewise, Baal HaSulam determined (“Introduction to the Tree of Life”) that “only through the expansion of the wisdom of Kabbalah in the masses will we obtain complete redemption.” Hence, he wrote, we are obliged to “compose books, to hasten the circulation of the wisdom throughout the nation.”
But the Kabbalists were met with opposition. Not all orthodox leaders joined their call; some opposed it and tried to impede the dissemination of the Kabbalah. This reaction is a result of the people’s spiritual exile over the past two millennia. During the last, and spiritually lowest stage of the exile, people without spiritual attainment became leaders of their people.
A clear example of this approach is the treatment that Baal HaSulam received when he began to disseminate the Kabbalah among the masses. His task was clear: “I find a great need to break an iron wall that has been separating us from the wisdom of Kabbalah since the ruin of the Temple to this generation. It lies heavily on us and arouses fear of being forgotten from Israel.” (“Introduction to The Study of the Ten Sefirot,” item 1).
In an attempt to prevent the approaching Holocaust, in 1933 Baal HaSulam published a series of treatises.
The first treatise stated that there would be fifty such treatises, and the title of the first essay in the treatise, Time to Act, clearly indicated the author’s intention. Two weeks later, the second treatise was published—HaArvut (The Bond or The Mutual Guarantee)—and following it came the third, and last treatise, “The Peace.”
Baal HaSulam’s intention to disseminate the wisdom of Kabbalah to the masses was disagreeable to some public leaders, and they halted the publication of these essays to prevent the spreading of the wisdom. Baal HaSulam was not the first Kabbalist to receive this ‘treatment.’ The Ramchal, for example, who tried to awaken the people prior to the end of the exile, suffered from a similar attitude to his attempts.
In The Gates of Ramchal, essay: The Debate, p.97, he wrote: “Rashbi (Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai) had so screamed about it, and calls upon those who engage in the literal Torah, that they are asleep … It is the fruit of the exile that Israel, through our many faults, have forgotten this path and remained asleep, immersed in their slumber, and paying no heed to it. … Behold, we are in the dark, like the dead in the world, like complete wall-scraping blind.”
The battle for disseminating the correction method in to the public is the most important war in reality. Its consequences are indeed grave, since delaying the distribution of the method will make the internality unable to overpower the externality within each person, in the nation of Israel and in the entire world. It follows that this balance of forces determines the kind of world we will continue to live in.
Thus, it has already been written in The Book of Zohar: “Woe unto those people … that make the Torah dry, without the moistness of mind and knowledge. They confine themselves to the practical part of the Torah, and do not wish to try to understand the wisdom of Kabbalah. … Woe unto them, for with these acts they make poverty, ruin and robbery, looting, killings, and destruction exist in the world.” (Zohar, Tikkunim, Tikkun 30).
Rabbi Chaim Vital, the Ari’s disciple and scribe, sorrowfully wrote about it in his Introduction to the Ari’s Tree of Life: “Woe unto those people from the affront of the Torah. Undoubtedly, by engaging in the literal and in its stories alone, it wears its mourning clothes, and robes itself with a sack. And all the nations will say onto Israel, ‘What is thy beloved more than another beloved, what is your Torah more than our Torah.’ After all, your Torah is worldly stories of trivia, too.’ There is no greater insult to the Torah than that. Hence, woe unto those people from the affront of the Torah. And they do not engage in the wisdom of Kabbalah, which gives honor to the Torah, for they prolong the exile and all the evils that come into the world.”
After the Holocaust, from 1945 to his last day, Baal HaSulam was preoccupied with publishing The Sulam Commentary on The Book of Zohar. In the introduction to the commentary, he explained once more the urgent need to begin to realize the correction method: “Now it is upon us relics, to correct that dreadful wrong. ... Then, each and every one of us will be awarded the intensification of his own internality…That force will come to the whole of the people of Israel. … Also, the internality of the Nations of the World, the Righteous of the nations of the world will overpower and subdue their externality, which are the destructors. And the internality of the world, too, which are Israel, shall rise in all their merit and virtue over the externality of the world, which are the nations. Then, all the Nations of the World will recognize and acknowledge Israel’s merit.”
THE FUTURE OF THE WORLD IS IN OUR HANDS
From what has been said in this part, it appears that the solution to the global crisis depends particularly on us, on each and every member of the nation of Israel. Not on the leaders, but on every individual.
Every moment that we are not fulfilling our role is costing us a great deal. The duty of the people of Israel is one that cannot be avoided or turned down. It also cannot be ignored.
It is like the biblical story of the prophet Jonah, who was sent to warn the residents of Nineveh about the danger they were facing. Jonah tried to escape from the assignment he was given, but was forced to complete his assignment.
The story of Jonah is a pertinent allegory to all of us. This is why Kabbalists instructed that it would be read every year on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), the day of introspection. It is a reminder of our duty.
Even if we want to escape our responsibility in countries overseas, it will not help. Just as the sailors on Jonah’s boat sensed that he was to blame for the storm thatwasabouttodrownthem,andthrewhimofftheboat, today the nations of the world are sensing that we are to blame for the world’s predicaments, and their pressure on us will increase rapidly. The murky reality we are in today could be only the beginning of what lies ahead.
We have built in Israel an artificial bubble, and we are living our daily routine in it. Some of us believe that we will be able to overcome our neighbors by military force or that we will someday make peace with them. Either way, the general atmosphere is, “It’ll be alright.” We are unaware of the lurking blow, and so we are carrying on with our daily lives.
For the time being, we are allowed to live in Israel, even though we are behind in carrying out Nature’s plan. This state is similar to the one that existed prior to the ruin of the Second Temple. The signs of the ruin were there some seventy years prior to the ruin itself, as the people declined to the lowest degrees of corporeality—unfounded hatred. However, the Temple continued to stand for a while longer, and the people were not yet exiled.
At that time, the ruin had already occurred on the level of forces, but it had yet to materialize. It was “on delay” for several decades. Today, too, there is a delay, but it is so that we will perform the correction. As soon as even a few of us begin to “lean” toward carrying out our duty, the balance of Nature’s forces will change. The beginning of the realization of the method to correct the ego will produce an immediate change in the entire world. It is not surprising that the whole world thinks that Jews are manipulating the world, that they have some secret that they are unwilling to share. It is true, and others sense it subconsciously.
When our thoughts are egoistic, we are ill-effecting the world. However, if we want change, altruistic thoughts will enable us to change the world for the better, at lightning speed. We have been “chosen” in the sense that within us are powers of thought and will, which, if used correctly, will allow us to change reality instantaneously. We must recognize that and thus “sentence the world to a scale of merit” (Talmud Bavli, Kidushin, 40:2).
Today, it is recommended that every person become acquainted with the principles of the correction method, try to realize them within his or herself and pass this knowledge on to others. When we read books related to the correction method, or encounter similar material presented on the Internet, or watch a video on that topic, it strengthens our internality. This will intensify the sensation that our own future, our happiness and the happiness of our loved ones depends solely on achieving equilibrium with the altruistic Nature, and this will make us aspire for it. By doing so, we will immediately change the course of our lives.
To summarize, we should be aware that we are a special people. Everything that happens to us happens because of us. There is no one to blame but us. No one determines anything for us, and there is no other nation in the world that completely determines everything that happens to it.
It may be hard to accept and to take in, but everything is in our hands and depends on us. We are the only ones that determine our fate, and the fate of the whole world.
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