Israel’s present reality does not look promising. Gaza rockets are reaching further and further, there is impending ground war, Iranian drones are flying in from Hezbollah, new unpredictable governments exist in Egypt and Libya, there is the ongoing Syrian civil war with a very unpredictable ending, the Iranian nuclear ambitions continue, and the present US leadership is gradually distancing itself from the nation.
Simultaneously, as usual with recent Israeli military campaigns, the Jews in the diaspora are cringing, trying to show their distance from Israel, sometimes wishing the country would not even exist so they could quietly settle and assimilate in their home countries. In Israel, during times of peace, the country is fragmented into small factions, even the religious population is divided, and it is the same in the diaspora, there is very little if any cohesion among Jews.
Is the trap closing? Everybody is pointing at Israel’s enemies and conditions, but is Israel truly fighting a war with enemies outside Israel?
Since the fall of the Second Temple, for more than 2,000 years there has been a debate about whether the Jews are a nation, a religion or a race. The Jews are not a nation in the usual sense of the word (1).
Especially today, the Jews are a collection of people from different countries, backgrounds and mentalities tied together by tradition, and most of the time, by the existential threats coming from their neighbors. The Jews, however, do not have a common, natural origin providing them with instinctive connections (2).
As Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag had said:
“[The Jews] are like a pile of nuts, united into a single body from the outside by the sack that envelops and unites them. Their measure of unity does not make them a united body, and each movement applied to the sack produces in them tumult and separation. Thus, they consistently arrive at new unions and partial aggregations. The fault is that they lack the inner unity, and their whole force of unity comes through an outside incident.” (3)
So is there any point in fighting, protecting that tiny land in the most controversial center of the world? How long can the external threat keep the Jews together, maintaining their heritage all over the world?
The answer has been around for thousands of years, it is in the sayings and writings of the sages who have been speaking about the special mission given to the Jewish nation for centuries. Behind the archaic language and the colorful stories, those writings provide a blueprint for how to resolve the problems and conflicts characteristic to modern times.
The festival of Hanukah, for example, explains that by trying to leave Jewish traditions, by assimilating into other cultures, the Jews jeopardize their very existence. It does not matter how deep the Jews want to settle into their actual countries in the diaspora, trying to show that they are primarily citizens of their settled country and keeping their Jewish origin secondary, for non-Jews, the Jews will always remain primarily Jews, and whether the Jews like it or not, they will continue being blamed for much of the problems that people in all walks of life experience. The many aggressive reactions against innocent Jews or Jewish symbols and objects all over the world, from France to India, from Europe through the US to Australia, provide enough proof of that point.
Israel and the Jews in the diaspora cannot continue fighting their “external wars” endlessly, and simply cannot escape their origin. In order to secure their future existence and find their harmonious place within humanity, the Jews have to form a true nation. What is a “true Jewish nation”? It is one that is not united by external pressures, but by a genuine desire to unite within, according to the condition of mutual guarantee.
“Therefore, it is a must condition for every nation to be strongly united within, so all the individuals within it are attached to one another through instinctive love. Moreover, each individual should feel that one’s own happiness in the happiness of the nation, and one’s decadence in the nation’s decadence. One should be willing to give one’s all for the nation in a time of need. Otherwise, their right to exist as a nation in the world is doomed from the start.” (5)
But the story does not end with self protection, or self sustenance. The writings also state that the Jews have a responsibility towards the world at large, i.e. to be “a light for the nations” (Isaiah 49:6), that by realizing unity and mutual guarantee among themselves, they would then be able to pass on the method by which these conditions can be realized to humanity at large.
“Abraham dug this well [Beer Sheba]. He established it because he had taught all the people of the world to serve the Creator. And once he had dug it, it emitted living waters that never stop.” (3)
Here the plot thickens. Today, it is not only Israel at war, but all over the planet, people are “fighting” and struggling with a global state of crisis, whether it be financially, culturally, socially, personally or ecologically. Moreover, humanity’s prevalent materialistic, individualistic and competitive values expressed in today’s modern lifestyle, place humanity in total opposition with the natural environment.
In the face of today’s worsening problems, nobody, no wise leader, expert, political or religious figure, provides any lasting solutions. This is precisely the place where the Jews as a united people come into the center of importance. As those who have connection with the 5,000 year old method of Kabbalah, which explains how nature works by fixed, absolute laws of unity and mutual guarantee, the Jews have at their root a method that can provide the solution to the world’s problems and bring about a harmonious and sustainable future.
“Rabbi Elazar, son of Rashbi (Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai), clarifies this concept of Arvut (mutual guarantee) even further. It is not enough for him that all of Israel be responsible for one another, but the whole world is included in that Arvut (mutual guarantee). Indeed, there is no dispute here, for everyone admits that to begin with, it is enough to start with one nation for the observance of the Torah for the beginning of the correction of the world.” (6)
Thus, it all starts with the mutual guarantee of the Jewish nation regardless of where they live or where they came from. Using the method that has been passed on through generations for this very purpose, the process toward uniting above all differences can get started with the method that allows for such unity to happen.
When the Jews start applying this method towards uniting, so too will non-Jews also start supporting them, and the course of the rising anti-Semitism will change. Non-Jews will also understand how important it is that the land of Israel remains the home of the Israeli people in order to spread the message most effectively. The threat against Israel from the neighboring nations, and the rising anti-Semitism, will simply vanish.
Thus, especially during this time of war the Jews should think about the force of unity. Their forefathers always put forth the attitude of unifying the hearts, that “all of Israel are friends.” Moreover, the word “Jew” (“Yehudi” in Hebrew) itself comes from the word “unity” (“Yehud”). It is thus time for the Jewish people to return to their roots, where they are united, where “all of Israel are responsible for one another” (Sanhedrin, 27b, Shavuot 39). It is time for the Jewish people to start taking this condition seriously and realizing it. By doing so, they will become salvaged from their enemies, and moreover, they will bring peace and correction to themselves and to the entire world.
“The genuine movement of the Israeli soul at its grandest is expressed only by its sacred, eternal force, which flows within its spirit. It is that which has made it, is making it, and will make it still a nation that stands as a light unto nations, as redemption and salvation to the entire world for its own specific purpose, and for the global purposes, which are interlinked.” (7)
1 ScienceDaily, “Common Genetic Threads Link Thousands of Years of Jewish Ancestry.”
3 Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag [Baal HaSulam], The Writings of Baal HaSulam, “The Nation” [Ashlag Research Institute, Israel, 2009], 487.
5 New Zohar, Toldot
6 Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag [Baal HaSulam], The Writings of Baal HaSulam, “The Arvut (Mutual Guarantee)” [Ashlag Research Institute, Israel, 2009], 392.
7 Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, Letters of the Raaiah.
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