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August 21, 2017

Archive for Student Articles

Independence?

On the 4th of July holiday, I found myself reflecting on its meaning. So I Googled the holiday and discovered that the Second Continental Congress voted to declare independence from British rule two days earlier, on July 2nd. The Declaration of Independence, representing a formal statement of explanation, was approved on July 4th, and it is this day that we celebrate a national day of independence.

If you look up the definition of the word “independence,” you are likely to find something like this from synonym.com: “Freedom from control or influence of another or others.” Sorry, but now I have to laugh. (I have enough years on me to know better!)

Let’s try an experiment: Next time it rains, leave your umbrella behind and take with you a large, black plastic garbage bag. When’s it time to go out in the rain, put the bag on your head, tear out two holes for your eyes, and then go where you need to go. It works, at least to keep your hair dry. I know because I tried it.

Recently in a Panera Bread restaurant, I found myself without an umbrella as I needed to return to my car. So I did just that: I used a garbage bag as an umbrella. What reaction did I get? Can you guess? Several patrons laughed derisively while pointing their fingers at me, and subsequently my family became a tad bit mortified.

The point of this exercise is to highlight what you already know: Like it or not, we are all controlled by our environment. There are other factors, such as upbringing, but all in all, society largely determines what acceptable conduct is and isn’t. How, then, could we ever say we are independent, free from the control of another or others?

Ah, but what if you were at the top of the heap, so to speak, and therefore really could control others—through bribery, manipulation, influence peddling, whatever. Would you be free then? Think about it. Wouldn’t the desire to control others in and of itself be a taskmaster, in the same way that any desire of ours pressures for fulfillment? (I don’t think you have to be super rich to experience this, just a good egoist—or, at least to know one, and we all know at least one, right?)

There is a way to be truly free, but it’s not at all what you might guess or think. Kabbalah teaches us that it requires that we willingly give that control to another or others, relinquishing our own desires in favor of theirs. By doing this, we give no room for our own desires to enslave us by demanding fulfillment. Only then will we feel free from our personal ego, personal demands, and limitations.

The catch is that no one individual has the power to do this alone. The ego won’t allow it. But when we connect with others and practice doing this together, we awaken a special force that envelops us in a blanket of love. And from those feelings of warmth and love, we begin to feel that true freedom lies in connecting above our ego.

I was told that sharing a BBQ with friends is a good way to begin. I agree. Please, take your pick of the fixings, and have a happy 4th of July!

By Brenda Jones

  

Coming Home to Kabbalah


If you listen with your heart to one famous question, I am sure that all your doubts as to whether you should study Kabbalah will vanish without a trace. This question is a bitter and fair one asked by all born on earth: “What is the meaning of my life?—Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag, “Introduction to Talmud Eser Sefirot

I was born and raised in one of the eastern European communist countries. Ever since I can remember myself I expected life to be fair and for everybody to love and help each other. As I grew up the realities of life happened. The Communist regime made of me a faithful comrade, a condition that continued until I finished high school and entered the river of life.

Inconsistencies in the behavior of some authority figures planted the seeds of doubt and confusion deep inside of my heart. The search for idealism deepened but eventually started to wane because of the bleakness of the situation. Survival became the name of the game. I started feeling boxed in with no hope for change, until one day a chance for change presented itself. A chain of circumstances caused our lives to take a turn for the worst then eventually into blessing.

My husband had an opportunity to change jobs which was going to change our lives in several ways. The possibility of owning our own apartment was one of them. We lived with my in-laws in a small room and a half, no indoor plumbing. The other change, which was once in a life time opportunity, was that he was going out to a western country for training. What was special about it is the fact that getting out of the country was next to impossible, average citizens were not allowed.

He went for a month but… did not return. What followed was the saga of defecting from a communist country. To make it shorter, I had to leave the country with our little child illegally, crossing the borders on foot, after several prior unsuccessful attempts. Eventually my husband and I got together and after some time in a refugee camp we found ourselves in the US as immigrants.

Coming to the States was a miracle for our little family. It was wonderland. Not knowing the language, the customs, the ways of life here made every experience an adventure.

The first strong impression that is noteworthy for my journey to find Kabbalah came when we saw on TV a public call to prayer for the Apollo 13 incident. We realized that there are many people in this country that openly believed in G-d and it was allowed. Because of this I became driven to explore the phenomenon that was forbidden and shrouded in mystery for us in Communism. We were brought up as atheists. Our parents were forbidden to teach us anything about G-d, but their silent faith in deity left something in us, that now we were trying to sort out.

It was after 6 years of being in the US and learning how to read English that I experienced an unquenchable desire to buy the Bible and to start reading it. After that there was no stopping me.

In the 30 years that followed, I continued searching in the established faiths for the ideal that left me wanting. Questions that I had went unanswered because no one was thinking outside of the doctrine’s box. Looking for deeper meanings in the Bible I joined many studies in theology, history, languages, etc. In 2005 a group of friends and I started reading Attaining the Worlds Beyond by Michael Laitman, PhD, and coupled with the book Kabbalah Revealed by Laitman, and insight into the perception of reality, I knew I was home.

Home, where first the Creator, G-d, became real to me. Very rapidly my questions were being answered and the fragmented information that I gathered through the years was coming into place. I understood why all have sinned and have come short of the glory of G-d. All, especially man, being created as a desire to receive made sense and took the debilitating guilt away, replacing it with desire to be like the Creator no matter what it takes.

Knowing that He is behind everything gives one the feeling of being taken care of by someone that has one’s best interest in mind. Loving your neighbor as yourself becomes possible when one knows what the process is. Life became meaningful knowing that there is a master plan and the Master behind it is not a fickle, fallible individual human being, but the Force that created and sustains everything.  

Through continuing to study I found out that this Force, invisible to the physical eye, can become visible in this world only by us humans who are given mind and reasoning, to display It among us in the form of the glue called love (never to be mistaken with the Hollywood’s  version). We can’t do it by ourselves because we are egoist, selfish beings that look after our own interests, but the Creator that created us that way—hence no guilt—is here ready to help us become like Him. How? Through what is called prayer, a heartfelt prayer.

Prayer is not religion but it is our “hot line to heaven” that He provided Himself. The whole earth is filled with His glory is what comes to mind from the Bible. Yes, many, many Bible verses became alive through the wisdom of Kabbalah. It is His wisdom and it works, makes sense, can be proven, crosses all kinds of borders, and can be experienced by anyone that cares to ask the question “What is this life all about”? It is pertinent to every aspect of life—from the family to the highest government or corporate office.

It is wisdom that I feel privileged to study for the rest of my life. It can be seen very clearly that working on human nature according to the principles laid out in the wisdom of Kabbalah is the human’s task and the reason for us being here—if we are to succeed in correcting every aspect of our lives. Through it we can become the human beings that we were meant to be. I understood why my country did not prosper with communism. No one touched or considered addressing the human nature—our inherent egoism.

Real freedom is what I experienced in coming to Kabbalah!

By Margalit

  

The Unity Countdown to Shavuot

And by the exodus from Egypt they received the level of faith…and after Passover; the purifying work begins in preparation for the receiving of the Torah. And when the Torah is dressed in a person’s soul, this is the time of Shavuot, the time of the giving of our Torah.—Rabbi Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag, Letter 52

Like a whisper from Nature’s backwaters, there is a call to the Universe to return in integral maturity to Unity. From the faded glow of the Creation Event congeal particles, atoms, and molecular chains—the gases, liquids and solids of the still. With the soul of growth, come forth the walled, chlorophyll-filled cells into upwards drive—communities of trees, grasses into the lush plains, leafy forests, and vine-entwined jungles of the great vegetative ecosystems of Earth.

With the soul of movement does the flexible cell of animal tell of its rising to the buzz, squawk, squeal and growl—the herbage eaters, and carnivores on prowl. The balanced communities of colony, swarm, school, flock, herd and pack—do not hold back their cacophonous concert as they ever so await the organization of the Maestro—still coming back his greased hair with such ego. Where is he of soul of speech, some screech? Locked in his dressing room, and he won’t come out others shout!

So great is the human ego that we believe the journey to the ultimate is complete in our individual selves. We’ve played out our little chess game with Nature, placed It check without needing to blink. Ah, but Nature is a much more clever player than we think.

It whispers a little louder and a bit more, through a keyhole in our dressing room door. So the words most mistily penetrate through the natural straight into human history. “Yes, you individual humans are very important indeed. Why what nobility there is in your arrogance and greed—and you should succeed.

It is right and just that you simply must obtain the wealth and power you deserve. Ah, also deep knowledge your wisdom demands—I really respect your nerve. Now here’s the plan, you’ll need to use your fellow man. So relate to him, trade with him, and across the globe join into larger community—nothing real, fear no loss of independence in this pretense of unity.

Oh my, you’re getting a little uncomfortable? Your civilization has some discontents? It’s okay, all you need is an internet lollipop to feel less vulnerable, and gain some newfound confidence. Now there, some ties just a little stronger for just a little longer…

“Do you feel it now in your hi-tech sensation, globalization? Feel the interdependence, my arms about you my little darling? Oh, stop being so tense, and please quit the snarling! Come to me, grow up and be One, my son, truly it is the ultimate happiness, I promise! I love you. I don’t want to hurt you, you’ll strangle—don’t struggle!”

Every day, a voice goes out from Mount Sinai. Every year, we are reminded. We are taken out of the slavery of Egypt, as Kabbalists tell us, the external mask dropped—the slavery of ego.

There is a count each day, each week of this process towards the singular vessel designated to accept the Light of Love from above the mountain of hatred, Mount Sinai, at the end of seven weeks (Heb. “Shavout”) of seven days.

Hidden within this count are corrections of connections, the highways and byways of mutual responsibility, the tendons tying hated differences into beloved differentiated organs that make future life possible and take it to a higher plane.

By Shavout, we are “as one man with one heart” and worthy of the illumination that can lighthouse a world safely to shore through the stormy seas of globalization.

We don’t circle the square in the plane, but in the higher dimension of integral intricacy and intimacy, to found the column building block of the architecture of unity. Search out each other, learn together, do—and teach. For so we have been designated from time immemorial for this moment…

“’The quality of light of the Messiah, the place of the throne of God in the world—”this is his name that he will be called: The Lord-is-our-Righteous-One (Jeremiah 23:6)’—is built upon the foundation of the viewpoint of actual unity, growing so strong that it penetrates all particulars and all causes.” Rav Kook

By Eliyahu

  

Anti-Semitism Is a Phenomenon of Nature

Throughout our lives on this planet, we observe and feel within ourselves the perennial and unyielding cycles of nature. Anything that exists adheres to those laws. During the lifetimes of many of us, we have seen anti-Semitism sprout, grow into its most horrific manifestation, then abate again. And it seems that now we are on another upswing. Is another Nazi-like regime possible? Is this an inevitable outcome that can’t be prevented or overcome?

Nature is a vast system where harmony, altruism, interdependence, and interconnection thrive. These are principles that when carried out maintain the exquisite balance of the universe.

When the human level emerged out of the inanimate, vegetative, and animate phases of evolution, we came endowed with ego, a quality not present anywhere else in nature. Through the misuse of ego, we have developed into a society that creates incalculable separation through our exploitation of nature and each other in the quest for satisfaction of our desires. 

In the days of Abraham, the Jews understood that the only way to manage egoism was to rise above their egos and unite in that upper space. When Jews unite above all the disputes and disagreements, the positive force that can do wonders spreads in the world.

The fact is that the Jews were chosen to create unity among themselves, then teach the world how to do the same. The problem is that today Jews are not united. They are divided by geography, by internal polarization into liberals and conservatives, even in their loyalty to the state of Israel. In his article “Can There Be Nazism in America?” in The Jerusalem Post, Dr. Laitman says:

“If American Jews do not take their lives in their own hands and force themselves to unite above their mutual dislike, the Americans will force them to do so through bloodshed. There is no more time. The Jews must put aside all differences and unite because unity is the Jewish people’s sole salvation, and because when we unite, we are a light unto nations—giving the world what Abraham intended for humanity to have almost four millennia ago, and what the world so badly needs today.”

In another Jerusalem Post article, “The 2nd Holocaust—How We Can Prevent it,” Dr. Laitman tells us: “We can prevent the second Holocaust. All we must do is little-by-little, unite ‘as one man with one heart.’ We are still masters of our fate; the choice is still in our hands. Let’s not miss out again.”

In nature there is exquisite balance. As anti-Semitism rises again, like crocuses in the spring, Jews must restore balance by carrying out their role of becoming a light unto the nations, not only for themselves, but for the world.

“When the Children of Israel are complemented with the complete knowledge, the fountains of intelligence and knowledge shall flow beyond the boundaries of Israel and water all the nations of the world” (Baal HaSulam, “Introduction to the Book, Panim Meirot and uMasbirot,” Item 4).

By Annabelle

  

Let’s Connect for Our Children’s Sake

My daughter recently started kindergarten. No words can express the sensations a mother feels when she drops off her children for the first time in kindergarten or daycare. We worry, we fret, we want them to be safe, make good friends, and be happy.

The worry continues throughout our children’s lives and we experience the same trepidations as they begin dating, enter universities, and start their first jobs. We envelop them with as much love as we can muster and send them off hoping that they receive the support and nurturing they need to be happy and succeed.

From this perspective, the latest wave of anti-Semitism in the world is particularly troubling. Of course we always worry about our own safety and wellbeing, but when it comes to our children, parents would agree that it’s a whole different ballgame.

The sensations we feel when we know that our own children are alienated or ostracized, made fun of, or put in any sort of physical danger are sharp and painful. But this is exactly what I fear may begin to happen (if it hasn’t already).

As the world moves to more extreme forms of anti-Semitism as we are already seeing, everyone in our communities becomes a victim, and that includes our children. We see that community centers and universities are not exempt from the hatred the world feels towards us and it’s not long before our children become direct targets. My heart sinks at the very thought.

Is there anything we can do as parents and as a community to turn this around?

Yes.

As much as we would like, we cannot wipe out anti-Semitism overnight. However, we can take definitive steps to make it less aggressive and maintain it at a manageable, much less threatening level.

In order to understand the solution, we must first accept that anti-Semitism exists because of division, hate, and disconnection between Jews. Thus the remedy for it lies squarely in the hands of those who identify themselves as Jewish, in their connection. The more Jews work on their connection and the tighter their bond, the more it will become like a shield that protects them, guards and develops their children and strengthens their communities.

No matter what personal ideologies or belief systems, Jews have to connect with each other above everything and they must do this urgently or else, they risk putting themselves, and more importantly, their children in real danger.

The moment Jews start connecting, they will see how this threat dissipates, how news of anti-Semitism diminishes and how their children become happier and more confident in their dealings with the rest of the world.

Why not then start connecting for our children’s sake?

By Veronica Edwards

  
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