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October 23, 2019

Archive for Student Articles

Why Anti-Semitism?

I am not Jewish but I clearly remember the first time the reality of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism hit me. It was a history lesson in high school and our teacher had just shown us the movie “Schindler’s List.” My youthful innocence and naiveté vanished that day. I realized the extent of the evil that can exist and the questions began to nag me: How could this have happened? What drives civilized societies to such hate? Could it happen again? And why specifically the Jews?

I had many Jewish friends through my university years and upon graduation, my first manager and many of my work colleagues were also Jewish. I always looked at them with curiosity. What is it about them that spurred such hatred just a few short decades ago? What was the reason for it? What could stop it? I found it unsettling that my Jewish friends didn’t seem to have answers to these questions and many were in denial about the existence of a special treatment toward them.

My curiosity persisted and I found answers that made sense once I encountered the wisdom of Kabbalah. I share what I learned with you here with the hopes that if these questions have arisen in you too, you will know that there is reason for Anti-Semitism. And there is also a method that is designed specifically to banish Anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred from the world.  

This is especially relevant today given the unprecedented rise of anti-semitic incidents worldwide. Gravestones being vandalized at a Jewish cemetery. Anti-semitic notes left at the doors marked with a mezuzah at condo buildings. Jewish students feeling repressed at university campuses across Europe and North America. Swastikas spray painted on residence doors, sidewalks and cars. Bomb threats at Jewish community centers. Economic sanctions against Israel. UN resolutions that make zero sense. It seems the pendulum is swinging back toward hatred of Jews and the proof is both plentiful and alarming.

Why is it happening again?

The wisdom of Kabbalah explains that the hatred of Jews is ingrained in the people of the world. We are living at the cusp of human development when people’s ego or self-love is at an all time high. It is causing huge rifts in the relationships between people in all spheres of life, including between couples and family members, among work colleagues, political parties and countries. In such a conflict-stricken world and unable to do anything to resolve their differences, people are awakening and looking for the culprit and the solution.

What do Jews have to do with all this, you ask? Everything.

Jews are descendants of those who once implemented Abraham’s method, also known as the wisdom of Kabbalah. This method teaches people how to unite by rising above their differences. In essence, Jews are the owners of the solution that people the world over are so desperate for.  However, the Jews themselves are not embracing it and worse yet, are not passing it on to the nations. This is the sole reason for the hatred the world feels toward this tiny fraction of the world population and the cause of all its troubles.

History has already shown what could be the outcome of such oblivion and lack of responsibility toward the world. Unless we act quickly to implement the wisdom of Kabbalah and help the world overcome the huge ego that is ripping it apart, all signs indicate we will see history repeat itself.

If we do manage to implement the method and teach it to the world, good times await. “When Israel have unity, there is no end to their attainment,” writes the book, Noam Elimelech (The Pleasantness of Elimelech). “The prime defense against calamity is love and unity. When there are love, unity, and friendship between each other in Israel, no calamity can come over them,” adds Rabbi Kalonymus Halevi Epstein in Maor VaShemesh (Light and Sun).  

by Veronica Edwards

  

American Jews and the Rise of Anti-Semitism

We resist people that want us to change and especially those that demand change. Change under such conditions means that I have to give up something that I very much treasure: my self-importance. If the demand for change persists, if it’s really in-my-face, and especially if it goes against my core values, then what starts out as irritation can quickly become full-blown hatred.

You can find many examples of this in everyday life, but nowhere is it more evident than what is happening in America today, in the political and ideological landscape defined by the liberal left versus the conservative right, where each side stands firm on its views, across an ever-widening political divide that increasingly forebodes violence and riots.

Here it’s important to understand our nature: Conceding to any demand for change brings us such a sensation of lowness that our ego can’t tolerate it. We don’t feel any reward in sacrificing something for the sake of others—especially our righteous indignation—and so we oppose the ones demanding change.

In the America of today, this has taken the form of significant anti-change protests, unrelenting accusations against the other side (including efforts to delegitimize the Trump presidency), along with an explosion of hate crimes and inexplicable murders.

Interestingly, at the same time, we have also seen a significant rise in anti-Semitism, for example, vandalism of Jewish cemeteries and bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers, schools, synagogues, and Anti-Defamation League offices. This may give one pause to consider if there is there a connection.

Indeed, there is a connection. But to understand the connection, we have to step back and take a look at the ancient past of the Jewish people.

The Jewish people, specifically those in Abraham’s time that implemented his teaching of correction, achieved a spiritual state that enabled them to fulfill the main spiritual law of loving another as yourself; meaning, they acquired the ability to relate to others as if they were relating to themselves.

Just as we, in our current nature, operate according to an automatic inner program, egoism, that always chooses what is good for us, they acquired an additional program, altruism, that superseded any thought of self in favor of others. The benefit to this was, and still is, enormous: the attainment of oneness with the resulting sensation of belonging to an eternal, whole, and perfect system, that is, eternal life filled with enormous spiritual pleasures.

In order to share this blissful state with the rest of humanity, it was necessary that the people of Israel lose the sensation of oneness, descend once again to the level of separateness, and then become, as you may have heard, ”a Light unto the nations.” Now, in our days, by uniting once again above all their differences, Jews will become both an example and the means for the rest of humanity to achieve the exalted state of oneness.

This is important to understand because it explains the connection between Jewish opposition that leads to disunity and separation and the rise in anti-Semitism.

This is because once the Jewish people achieved the state of oneness—loving your neighbor as yourself, in complete contrast to our current nature—and with this attainment becoming their unique spiritual heritage, they became directly responsible for the happiness and well-being of the rest of humanity. And because non-Jews subconsciously recognize this dependence on Jews for their personal well-being, they automatically respond in negative ways whenever Jews bring about disunity.

This, then, is the root cause of rising anti-Semitism. In such a manner, even unknowingly, Jews evoke it upon themselves, and it will transform into positive support only when they accept their unique role and demonstrate to everyone the benefits of oneness in love and unity above all differences.

By Brenda Jones

  

Eyes Wide Open

In light of the recent Holocaust Memorial Day and the rise of anti-Semitism in the world, I felt the need to share my story.

I am Jewish. I was born Jewish. I come from a long line of Jews who migrated to America from Russia to escape the pogroms. I was raised to respect the Jewish traditions, and although we did not keep kosher, we did observe the holidays—mostly to please my grandmother, the matriarch of my family.

My uncle was a cantor (one who sings and leads the prayer in a synagogue), I loved to hear him sing but had no idea what he was saying. I never learned Hebrew, I didn’t go to Sunday school because my parents gave me a choice and my sister told me I would hate it. I grew up in a middle class neighborhood that was a melting pot of all, in an area known to be the home of many Jews with a great Deli within walking distance of our house.

We learned about anti-Semitism and Hitler in school, but it didn’t really affect us. That is until the Nazi Party of America planned a march in my home town in 1977. Then I learned that approximately 5,000 of the residents of Skokie, Illinois were Holocaust survivors.

I remember meeting my girlfriend’s aunt who always seemed so withdrawn and sad. One day I was invited to a dinner where, while sitting at the dining room table, I saw the numbers tattooed on her arm. She shared the story of how she was at Auschwitz. She was in line for what she called the ovens, the crematorium.

There was a mother behind her whose daughter was in front of her. The mother wanted to be with her daughter. If you were caught talking or changing places in line you were shot on the spot. But somehow they switched places. The mother moved up a spot to be with her daughter. That day the line stopped at my girlfriend’s aunt. The mother and daughter were killed and she was spared. Her story haunted me for many years.

After my son was born we took a trip to visit my own great aunt who was one of the last surviving relatives of that generation. She shared many stories of my relatives in Russia, and what it was like to be Jewish in the pogroms. She told me how my great grandparents hid in a neighbor’s basement during one of the raids with my then two year old great uncle. The neighbor did not want to hide them at first, because if it was known that she was helping a Jew, she too would be killed with her whole family.

But as she watched my grandparent’s turn away with their two-year-old son, she could not let it be, and invited them to come in and hide. When the pogrom police came to her house, she swore on a picture of Jesus that there were no Jews there. At first the police did not believe her and they started to search the house, but she kept swearing on the picture of Jesus, and finally they said if you swear on Jesus, we must believe you and they left. That day that woman saved not only my great grandparents and uncle, but me too, as I would never have been born if my family had been killed.

Being Jewish for me then became more of a stigma then a proud heritage. I couldn’t find my place in my religion. People would ask what you were, and my friends would say Italian, Spanish etc, but I was always labeled as Jewish, not Russian. I never understood what that meant.

Once when I was renting a house the landlord had to come and fix something. His wife came with him and somehow we got to talking and it came out that I was Jewish. She looked at me like she had seen a ghost, her eyes got really big and she said, “You are one of the chosen people.” I told her, “I thought we were all chosen because we are all alive.” I didn’t get why she treated me differently, but it again reaffirmed to me how my being Jewish was more of a stigma and something not to be shared.

Fast forward to today, where the rise of anti-Semitism seems to be skyrocketing all over the world. To be an American Jew who closes my eyes is to close my heart to all those who fought and struggled in my family, my girlfriend’s family, and in my childhood neighborhood. It means I am closing my eyes to all those living in fear and dying all over the world. Any time we close our eyes to hatred, we close our hearts to life and love and the meaning of our existence.

The first step to healing is to be informed, not to run away but to learn what it means to be a Jew and what our purpose is in this world. We must learn why Jews are so hated and what anti-Semitism is all about so we can speak out against the hatred of any and all human beings. We cannot let history repeat itself, we cannot turn a blind eye.

The following excerpt from the website Why Do People Hate Jews? spoke volumes to me. I am sharing it with the hope it will do the same for you, and we can all move forward together with our eyes wide open.

As the world deteriorates into chaos crisis by crisis, the pressure on the Jews will continue to grow. A few years ago, a second Holocaust was unthinkable. Today it is a concern that people are beginning to express openly.

In the early 1950s, Rav Yehuda Ashlag wrote The Writings of the Last Generation, in which he describes the progression he saw for the world’s political development, especially in the Western world. “The world erroneously considers Nazism a particular offshoot of Germany,” he wrote. “In truth, it is the offshoot of a democracy and socialism that were left without … manners, and justice. Thus, all the nations are equal in that; there is no hope at all that Nazism will perish with the victory of the allies, for tomorrow the Anglo-Saxons will adopt Nazism, since they, too, live in a world of democracy and Nazism.”

By Debra Lynn

  

The Miracle Of Hanukkah

It is the lovely and sublime season of the year when our days are filled with giving light, perhaps reflecting a general sense that light is associated with the Creator. The wisdom of Kabbalah talks about the inner celebration of Hanukkah, what the story and the practices of the celebration mean. This holiday period stands out among all the others because by immersing ourselves in it, we create the miracle inside ourselves and ultimately in the world. Here is the story:

In 170 BCE, the Greeks, led by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, captured the Temple. There was a division between the adherents of Greek philosophy and religion and those who remained loyal to the concept of a single Creator.

Some priests, including the high priest (Cohen Rishon), supported the Greeks. The Jerusalem Temple was desecrated and turned into a sanctuary of Zeus. Severe persecution and forced Hellenization of the population led to the Maccabean revolt, led by Matityahu Hashmonay who issued the call, “He who is for God, follow me!”

The uprising ended with the victory of the Maccabees. Having entered the Temple, they found that the pure oil to light the Menorah candles would last for only one day. But a miracle occurred. The candles burned for eight days and so is called the miracle of Hanukkah.

It is a rebellion against egoism. The Maccabees (love and bestowal) had successfully united the people, as they had been once before when following Abraham, and the Greeks (ego) disagreed with this, so set about destroying that unity. The miracle of a one day’s supply of oil lasting for eight days exemplifies the enormous force of love and bestowal against which the idols of the ego become helpless.

Today’s idols are abundant and we are cleverly and relentlessly drawn to them by the power of marketing and the greed of the elites. Our ego loves these idols with which we endlessly entertain ourselves.

The season of Hanukkah reminds us that we are bombarded with opportunities to create the miracle inside of us—stronger and stronger enticements to suck our pleasure from the idols. All we need to overcome this egoistic magnet is to wish for it, i.e. desire it. If we want to rise above egoism in our unity, then a completely new upper force will be manifested within us, and we will be able to create the same miracle in the same way as did the Maccabees.

Through their unity, the Maccabees attracted the Light that gave them the opportunity to stay in the state of bestowal, love and connection until they began to pull new masses of people towards themselves.

The desires of people who connect with each other in one whole symbolizes the oil, and their gathering in spite of their egoism symbolizes the wick. They burn in their desire to get closer, and when they unite somehow, a light appears within them that support the fire of their desires.

If they begin to be engaged in even greater dissemination and draw towards themselves greater masses of people, then the lamp will burn continuously.

The time is now. The time the Kabbalists wrote about, when humanity is called to follow the example of the Maccabees—to unite among us and move into the Light.

Hag Sameach! Happy Hanukkah!
By Annabelle

http://laitman.com/2014/12/hanukkah-the-miracle-of-unity/
Photo credit: “The Eight Light” by Andrew Ratto on www.pikiwiki.org.il under CC BY 2.5

  

Holiday Spice

Don’t you just love the environment at Christmastime? Even as a young child, I still remember it: the chilled air, the smell of pine, colored lights and the expectation of something wonderful. My brothers and I decorated a tree, made lists, left out milk and cookies and believed, without a doubt, in the wisdom, justice and mercy of Santa Claus.

Santa was the smiling giver of good things to those who did good. Santa could see every person in the whole world, all at the same time. And he knew everything too, including whether you had been naughty or nice.

I believed in God as a child too, and I knew that God was somehow different from Santa Claus, but I wasn’t quite sure how. So it wasn’t until I was about eight years old and I found out that “Santa” was a lie that I looked deep inside myself and attempted to separate the truth from the fiction.

Finally coming to what I intuitively knew to be true, I decided that God, unlike Santa, was very real. He’d made the world. He’d made the sun, the moon and the stars, He’d made the animals, and all of nature. And he’d made us, me and my brothers. He was the Creator, the Maker of all things. And God was magical too, because not everyone knew He was there.

As a grown-up I’ve been blessed to discover the science of Kabbalah and to have one of the most revered teachers, the great Kabbalist of the 20th century, Yehudah Ashlag (Baal HaSulam) verify my childhood insight. As he explains in his article, The Solution: “There is nothing more natural than coming into contact with one’s Maker, for He owns nature. In fact, every creature has contact with his Maker, as it is written, ‘The whole earth is full of His glory.’”

As this holiday season unfolds, consider that the delightful (but untrue) myth of “Santa Claus” can be transformed into a true metaphor of the Creator, who really is omnipotent and omnipresent, the maker and giver of all good things on earth.

Studying the wisdom of Kabbalah allows us to discover the Creator and how we can receive and share His many blessings. I invite you to learn more.

By Wendy Barker

  
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