“On this New Year, a reminder that the strength of the Jewish people lies in our unity,” was written in huge letters on the pages of the major newspapers on the eve of Rosh Hashana. The author, president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder wrote: “I have devoted my adult life to fighting for the global Jewish community. I have worked to build a world where we are all united, where our community grows, where children are not afraid, where nothing stops Jewish people from achieving their dreams. I have sought a world where we are accepted by –and collaborate with- people of all religions, where anti-Semitism and the horrors of the past are relegated to the dustbin of history.”
Lauder outlined the four basic principles that he believed were essential to remember as we entered the New Year:
(1) We are one people – Jews have always been strongest when they are united and cared for each other.
(2) Anti-Semitic lies and irrational hatred against Israel disguised today as anti-Zionism must be fought now.
(3) We must not be afraid to practice our faith but feel safe to express it.
(4) We must not remain silent – we must voice our position when people of any faith are attacked.
Lauder’s statement and sentiment are not only inspiring, but also a harbinger of great hopes for the future. As someone who consistently works to promote Jewish unity, I fully support the president’s words with my heart and soul.
What Jew does not want this to happen? We, Jews, have wandered in exile for two thousand years and suffered persecution, aggressions and pogroms. It is clear to us that without unity, it will be impossible to eliminate evil and live calmly and securely. However, once we want to implement this heartfelt wish for the New Year, reality hits us in the face.
At present, Mr. Lauder’s noble statements are but a lonely voice in the wilderness. The reason is that our innate, selfish nature drives us to maximize our life even when our benefit comes at the expense of someone else. It is written that “…every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood” (Genesis 8: 21). Therefore, no person or nation can hope for our lives to be better until we learn how to balance our own selfish nature. In fact, tomorrow may be even worse than yesterday and the day after tomorrow even worse than tomorrow if we don’t evolve from our current state of being.
Our ego has driven us to create a global environment that pollutes our social life just as it pollutes our natural environment, causing rifts and crises, instead of helping us pave the way for true human progress in all walks of life.
The only way to counterbalance the negative force of our egoism is by the opposite, positive force – the force of unity. We can awaken it from within us if we actively work on it. In fact, this was the blessing of Mr. Lauder’s message: our unity will save us.
UNLOCKING THE POWER OF UNITY
The wisdom of Kabbalah explains that only our unity will enable us to produce the positive force that will balance the negative force of our own egoism. Sooner or later, the threats and challenges we encounter on a regular basis will obligate us to systematically work to unite our hearts as one people and above differences.
How do we begin? The same way Moses did after the exodus from Egypt. Moses heeded the advice of his father in law, Jethro, and divided the people into groups of ten, also known as a Minyan. Above them in perfect hierarchy, he connected hundreds and thousands, as written: “Moses chose able men out of all Israel and made them heads over the people, chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens” (Exodus 18;25).
The positive force that unified every Minyan—first within itself, then connecting it with others—created an environment in which all people felt close to each other and positively connected like never before. Their joint effort to unite above their differences and the sensation of rising above their natural rejection of each other produced a force that was stronger than the sum of every individual’s egoism.
This is because the force of a united group of ten people, the Minyan, comes from a deeper, spiritual level that is hidden from our ordinary senses. Thus, the Israelites gradually learned how to penetrate that level of nature and discovered “the wisdom of connection,” or in other words, the wisdom of Kabbalah.
ONLY OUR EGO STANDS IN THE WAY OF OUR UNITY
After we became a nation under the foot of Mt. Sinai, we went through countless ups and downs as we wandered for forty years in the desert, entered the land of Israel, and built the First Temple. However, when we couldn’t overcome the eruption of our ego and lost our state of unity, unfounded hatred arose and the Temple was destroyed. The same thing happened with the destruction of the Second Temple, sentencing us to two thousand years of exile which has continued to this day.
The ingathering of the exiles in the land of Israel did not heal the internal rift between us. From here on, it is only a matter of time until we realize that the spinal cord of our people is a deeper force of unity that keeps us together, as one man with one heart.
The feeling of unity is sweeter than honey. It spreads peace, promotes equality, reveals wisdom, neutralizes anti-Semitism, and most importantly, lightens the darkness in our world, which is the main task as the Jewish people – to be a “light unto the nations.”
Let’s actualize our unity soon and in our days. Shana Tova and Gmar Chatima Tova!
By: Michael Laitman