El poder de una maldición

 

A pesar de que esta parashá se llama “Balak” debido al rey moabita que inició los dramáticos incidentes que aparecen relatados, la historia le pertenece en realidad a Bilam, el malvado profeta que Balak contrató para maldecir y destruir a los judíos.

Las profecías de Bilam que aparecen en nuestra parashá tienen el estatus de una obra separada dentro de la Torá (Talmud, Baba Batra 14b). A Moshé se le ordenó registrar las palabras de Bilam, las cuales no son consideradas parte de su Torá. El Pentateuco (en griego) o Jumash (en hebreo) se conoce como la Torá de Moshé (Malaji 50:22), pero las profecías de Bilam no entran en esta descripción. Incluso después de haber sido incorporadas a los Cinco Libros de Moshé siguen manteniendo una integridad separada como la “Parashá de Bilam”. Esta parashá se considera la Torá de Bilam, y no la de Moshé.

La importancia especial que tienen las palabras de Bilam está relacionada con el exaltado estatus que tenía Bilam como profeta; su nivel de profecía era considerado en cierto sentido similar al de Moshé.

“Nunca más ha surgido en Israel un profeta como Moshé” (Deut. 34:10). En Israel no ha surgido, pero hubo un profeta de ese calibre entre las naciones, de forma que las naciones no pudieran reclamar que si ellas hubieran tenido un profeta de la estatura de Moshé, entonces ellas también se habrían vuelto sirvientes de Dios. ¿Quién era este profeta que se levantó entre las naciones que tenía el calibre de Moshé? Bilam ben Beor” (Bamidbar Rabá 14:20).

Tal como la profecía de Moshé estaba en un nivel al que llamamos Torá, asimismo era la de Bilam; su mensaje profético también se volvió una parte integral de la Torá de Dios.

Nos referimos a Moshé con el título de rabeinu, ‘nuestro maestro’, porque él nos inició a los judíos en el servicio de Dios al enseñarnos las leyes de Dios. Bilam tenía el potencial de dar el mismo tipo de inspiración y de iniciar a las otras naciones de la Tierra en el servicio de Dios. Dios arregló que ellos tuvieran a Bilam Rabeinu, tal como Él nos proveyó a Moshé Rabeinu.

Sin embargo, Bilam es en realidad descrito en la Mishná en Avot (5:22) como un maestro de peor categoría que Moshé, donde es descrito de forma negativa:

Quien tenga las siguientes tres características de personalidad es contado entre los discípulos de nuestro patriarca Abraham. Si tiene las tres características contrarias es contado entre los discípulos del malvado Bilam. Quienes tienen un ojo generoso, un espíritu humilde y expectativas modestas están entre los discípulos de Abraham. Quienes tienen un mal ojo, un espíritu arrogante y expectativas codiciosas son discípulos del malvado Bilam.

¿Cómo pueden haber sido escritas palabras tan duras sobre Bilam, un profeta que es descrito como que estaba a la par del mismo Moshé?

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La descripción de un profeta

Este es un ejemplo de las cualidades espirituales que Maimónides enlista como prerrequisitos para la profecía:

La profecía es otorgada sólo a quien es un hombre muy sabio, de un fuerte carácter y quien nunca se ve superado por sus inclinaciones naturales en ningún aspecto. En lugar de eso, con su mente se sobrepone a sus inclinaciones naturales en toda ocasión. El debe [también] poseer una perspectiva amplia y correcta… (Iesodei HaTorá 7,1).

Bilam no sólo era un profeta, sino que era un gran profeta; su carácter obviamente cumplía con la lista de requisitos de Maimónides. ¿Cómo podemos reconciliar esta magnífica descripción del carácter de Bilam con la negativa descripción que trae la mishná en Avot?

El siguiente pasaje del Talmud nos proveerá la clave que necesitamos para descifrar el misterio de Bilam:

Rabi Iojanan dijo en nombre de Rav Iosi: “¿De dónde sabemos que uno nunca debería intentar apaciguar a una persona en el momento de su enojo? Está escrito: “Mi presencia irá y te dará reposo” (Éxodo 33:14). Dios le dijo a Moshé: “Espera hasta que pase mi aspecto de enojo y entonces te daré descanso (es decir, entonces estaré apaciguado)”. ¿Hay alguna vez enojo frente a Dios? Si, como aprendemos: “Dios se enoja en cada día” (Salmos 7:12), ¿y por cuánto dura Su ira? Un momento… y ninguna criatura puede determinar con exactitud cuándo ocurre ese momento a excepción de Bilam el rashá. Porque está escrito sobre Bilam: “El que conoce la mente del Ser Supremo” (Números 24:16). Si él no sabía ni siquiera qué había en la mente de su propio burro, ¿cómo puede conocer lo que está en la mente del Ser Supremo? El significado de este pasaje es que él sabía cómo averiguar el momento exacto en que Dios se enoja (Talmud Brajot 7a).

Bilam es comparado con Moshé porque ambos se pudieron conectar con Dios en el máximo nivel, pero eso no significa que se conectaron de la misma manera. Dios le dijo específicamente a Moshé que evite conectarse con Él mientras su enojo estuviera activo, mientras que Bilam era la única persona en la historia de la humanidad que era capaz de identificar el momento exacto de la ira de Dios, y era precisamente con este aspecto de ira con el que era un experto para conectarse. ¿Hay alguna manera en que podamos entender con mayor claridad la idea de conectarse con la ira de Dios?

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El aspecto de la ira

La verdad es que a pesar de que no nos demos cuenta, todos somos familiares con la idea de conectarse a Dios mediante el poder de la ira.

La percepción común de la humanidad es que para lograr santidad se requiere contemplación en silencio y meditación, separación de la vida ordinaria y de sus actividades mundanas. La gente santa de todas las sectas y religiones a lo largo del mundo tienden a vivir vidas en segregación. Viven en monasterios o ashrams, practican la humildad al subsistir de caridad y no establecen familias. El concepto de santidad está asociado con la ruptura de los fuertes lazos que atan al ser humano común con su ambiente social.

Es obvio que estos impulsos son parte de la naturaleza humana y que la gente que lucha para alcanzar la santidad no los sienten menos que el resto de nosotros. Ellos deben separarse a la fuerza de estos aspectos mundanos de la vida que les impedirían alcanzar la santidad. La energía emocional que se requiere para tener éxito en separarse del resto de la humanidad es la ira. Pero separarse de la vida ordinaria es la ruta hacia la espiritualidad y santidad con la que somos familiares; por lo tanto, es verdad que todos conocemos cómo acercarnos a Dios por medio del poder de la ira.

Obviamente esto no implica de ninguna manera que la gente santa sufra de un exceso de ira. Por lo general lo contrario es lo cierto. Al haber renunciado a los “premios” mundanos de la vida que la mayoría de la gente lucha por obtener, la gente santa está relativamente libre de la envidia y siente menos ira que el resto. Sin embargo, el combustible emocional que se requiere para mantener una vida basada en la autonegación es el poder de la ira. Quizás podemos clarificar este punto ilustrando cómo todos nosotros usamos a nivel personal el poder de la ira para resistir.

La mayoría de nosotros hemos tenido la siguiente experiencia espiritual. Algún evento traumático de nuestra vida hace que nos preguntemos: “¿Por qué me está pasando esto a mí?”, lo cual a su vez nos lleva a hacer introspección. Nuestra búsqueda espiritual nos lleva al descubrimiento de que estamos funcionando muy por debajo del nivel espiritual que nosotros mismos encontramos aceptable; de pronto, nos volvemos impacientes e iracundos con nosotros mismos.

No todos reaccionan de la misma manera ante tal experiencia, pero alguna gente convierte la energía espiritual de la impaciencia e ira en una firme resolución de desasociarse de su marco social actual y de su forma de vida, y de efectuar cambios drásticos en sus vidas. Ellos están llenos de convicción de que volver a alcanzar la sanidad depende de que dejen su yo actual atrás. Es claro que su ímpetu original para efectuar tal cambio es el poder de la ira.

Cada vez que Bilam buscaba tener contacto con la Presencia Divina, dejaba a Balak y a su compañía junto al sacrificio y se iba solo: “Párate tú junto a la ofrenda y yo iré… y fue solo” (Números 23:3); la habilidad que tenía Bilam para conectarse con Dios sólo estaba presente cuando estaba en un estado de disociación de otros.

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El aspecto del amor

Una forma totalmente diferente de conectarse con Dios es hacerlo por medio del poder del amor. El objetivo de este método no es escapar a una realidad más espiritual. El objetivo es agregar espiritualidad y cercanía a Dios en cada aspecto de la vida cotidiana. Por lo tanto, cada actividad es dedicada a Dios con la percepción de que Dios está presente y observando, e incluso participando por medio de proveernos la energía necesaria para completar la tarea.

Para la persona que sigue esta percepción, la separación del resto de la gente es contraproductiva a la santidad. Dios creó el mundo por la gente y le dio a cada persona un alma de forma que pueda apegarse a Dios. Mientras más grande sea el número de almas humanas que decidan apegarse, más manifiesta será la presencia de Dios en el mundo y por lo tanto más fácil será alcanzar la santidad por medio de las actividades del día a día. Apegar tu alma a las almas de otros que están ocupados en la misma búsqueda aumenta tus poderes espirituales. El nivel más alto de visión profética sólo está disponible para quien es miembro de un grupo social unificado que esté lleno de amor.

En este sistema de apego, el establecimiento de una familia es un paso necesario para alcanzar la santidad. La unión entre hombre y mujer puede resultar en la mayor expresión de espiritualidad en nuestro mundo; una nueva alma humana que será la expresión de una nueva conexión con Dios. Esta unión fue creada por Dios como la herramienta más efectiva en el arsenal humano que podrías usar para elevarte y apegarte a otra alma y, por lo tanto, a Dios.

Dedicarte a este método de conexión con Dios significa dedicarte en el mismo grado a la eliminación de la distancia que hay entre la gente. El mandamiento de “Ama a tu prójimo como a ti mismo” es paralelo al mandamiento “Ama a Hashem tu Dios con todo tu corazón”. En las palabras del sabio Hillel, a quien un converso le pidió que le enseñase toda la Torá mientras se paraba en un solo pie:

“No le hagas a otros lo que no te gusta que te hagan a ti”, esa es la esencia de toda la Torá; el resto es tan sólo una explicación más detallada. Ahora ve y apréndela” (Talmud, Shabat 31a).

El impulso emocional que está asociado con el apego a la otra gente es el amor; este segundo método de apego es llamado el camino del amor.

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Actitudes divinas paralelas

Estos impulsos emocionales —amor e ira— se ven reflejados en las actitudes divinas. “Dios es tu sombra protectora a tu mano derecha” (Salmos 131:5). Rav Jaim de Volozhin explica (Nefesh HaJaim, Puerta I, capítulo 3) que este versículo revela el verdadero significado de ser creados a imagen de Dios. La palabra imagen en hebreo es tzelem, la cual deriva de la palabra tzel que significa sombra. Dios hizo el mundo de forma tal que Él se comporta como la sombra del hombre.

Todo esfuerzo sincero por parte del hombre para acercarse a Dios provoca una respuesta divina, en la que Dios se acerca al hombre de la misma forma. El uso de ira y amor son métodos efectivos para acercarse a Dios y para conectarse con Él. El grado de su efectividad sólo está limitado por el nivel de dedicación que es invertido en ellos. No hay uno que sea más efectivo que el otro en términos de acercarse a Dios. Pero hay una gran diferencia en la naturaleza de la conexión que es establecida.

Dios también tiene dos formas de relacionarse con el mundo. Por un lado, Dios se distancia a Sí mismo del mundo. Es incapaz de conectarse con sus aspectos negativos; si el mundo se conectara con Él en su pobre estado espiritual, sería consumido por el fuego de Su santidad. La forma de proteger al mundo es por medio del alejamiento y la distancia. Por lo tanto, luego del pecado del becerro de oro Dios dijo:

Pero Yo no ascenderé entre ustedes, dado que son un pueblo obstinado, para que no los consuma en el camino… Son un pueblo obstinado. Si Yo asciendo entre ustedes podría aniquilarlos en un solo instante” (Éxodo 33-3:5).

Esta forma de relacionarse con el mundo se llama Midat HaDin, o Atributo de la Justicia.

Por otro lado, Dios quiere conectarse con el hombre. Él no quiere distanciarse incluso para proteger al hombre. La solución alternativa para asegurarse que el hombre no sea consumido por el efecto de conectarse con lo divino en su pobre estado es reducir la intensidad de la luminosidad de la Presencia Divina que está en contacto con el hombre. En lugar de retirarse, Dios reduce la intensidad del contacto de forma que se vuelva manejable para el hombre mantenerlo incluso en el bajo nivel en el que está. Como ilustración de esta idea la Torá describe la efectividad del servicio de Iom Kipur con las siguientes palabras:

Con esto Él procurará expiación sobre el Santuario para las impurezas de los Hijos de Israel, y de sus pecados de rebelión y de sus faltas inadvertidas. Y así hará con la Tienda de la Reunión que reside junto a ellos en medio de su impureza” (Levítico 16:16). La presencia de Dios se mantiene con Israel incluso en su estado de impureza (Sifra, Ajarei Mot 3:4).

En lugar de retirarse, Él encuentra la forma de mantenerse con ellos en su estado de impureza. Esta forma de relacionarse se llama Midat Harajamim, o Atributo de Misericordia.

Cuando el hombre se acerca a Dios empleando su propio atributo de distancia y aprovechando el fuego de su rabia, Dios responde mostrándole al hombre la faceta de Midat HaDin. Cuando el hombre se acerca a Dios mediante el amor y sigue su impulso de apegarse a otros sin cuestionar antes sus méritos, Dios responde haciendo contacto con la faceta de Midat Harajamim.

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El poder de Bilam

Volvamos a examinar la Mishná en Avot a la luz de esta información. Los tres atributos de Bilam —un mal ojo, un espíritu arrogante y expectativas codiciosas— nos son revelados en el contexto de los siguientes incidentes:

“Bilam se levantó por la mañana y la dijo a los oficiales de Balak: ‘Vuelvan a su tierra, pues Dios se rehúsa a dejarme ir con ustedes'” (Números 22:13). Rashi interpreta esta declaración como que “Dios sólo me dejará ir con oficiales de mayor grado que ustedes”. Esto, explica Rashi, ilustra el espíritu arrogante de Bilam; él estaba demandando una invitación que viniera por parte de una delegación más prestigiosa antes de responder. Balak inmediatamente envió oficiales de mayor grado (Ibid. 15).

Pero el asunto es más complicado de lo que parece a primera vista. Seguramente Bilam estaba justificado; después de todo, recordemos que él era el profeta de Dios y Su representante. Balak estaba interesado en su intervención porque quería que Bilam persuadiera a Dios de dejar al pueblo judío. Contactar a Bilam era la forma de contactar a Dios. Él era el profeta de las naciones y para ellos él representaba a Dios. Enviar una delegación de bajo nivel para escoltar a Bilam indicaba una falta de respeto hacia Dios mismo. ¿Acaso no era el deber de Bilam protestar por el insulto?

El mismo tipo de defensa puede ser hecho con respecto al incidente que ilustra la codicia de Bilam:

Si Balak me diera una casa repleta de plata y oro, yo no podría transgredir la palabra de Hashem mi Dios para hacer nada, ni pequeño ni grande” (Números 22:18). Rashi interpreta esto como una indicación de la codicia de Bilam; él deseaba dinero. Bilam estaba implicando que él debería ser compensado con una casa llena de oro por sus servicios.

Pero nuevamente el asunto es ambiguo. La alternativa de Balak ante emplear a Bilam era preparar un enorme ejercito en contra del pueblo judío, lo cual siempre es una alternativa sumamente costosa. Es más, un ejército como ese podría no salir victorioso de la batalla sin importar cuánto dinero se gastara en él; pero si lograba que Bilam convenciera a Dios de abandonar a los judíos, podría asegurarse un resultado positivo sin mayor riesgo o costo. Obviamente rebajaría la importancia de tratar con Dios si fuera más barato que pagar por un ejército. Dicho contacto divino debía ser altamente valorado. Como el representante de Dios entre las naciones, nuevamente dependía de Bilam resistirse a rebajar Su estatus.

Finalmente, enfoquemos nuestra atención en el mal ojo de Bilam.

Bilam vio que era bueno a los ojos de Dios bendecir a Israel, por lo que no fue como las otras veces hacia las adivinaciones, sino que dirigió su rostro hacia el Desierto. Bilam alzó la vista y vio que Israel habitaba según sus tribus” (Números 24:1-2). Rashi interpreta esto como que él intentó penetrar el campamento judío con el poder de su mal ojo.

Esta es la evidencia que es provista para justificar la tercera característica negativa de Bilam que es mencionada en la Mishná. Pero este incidente es probablemente el más complejo de todos.

Antes de ver los temas que están involucrados aquí debemos entender un poco cómo funciona el poder del mal ojo. Para poner la pregunta de forma ligeramente diferente, ¿cómo podemos relacionarnos con el poder de una maldición?

Como hemos explicado en otras ocasiones, la relación entre Dios y el hombre sigue un principio de reciprocidad: Dios se relaciona con el hombre de la misma forma que él se relaciona con Dios. Cuando Bilam veía algo con su ojo crítico, detrás de esta crítica no había crueldad sino que había un tremendo y santo fervor. Dios debía retirar su presencia del hombre indigno para que el fuego de la santidad no lo quemase e hiciera cenizas. Bilam no era un individuo común y corriente; bajo la influencia de su visión profética, el fuego sagrado del Atributo de la Justicia lo poseía.

Cuando él veía un defecto espiritual en alguien le molestaba de forma genuina; ¿cómo podía tolerarlo Dios? Y debido a su genuina preocupación, era capaz de enfocar todo el poder de la Midat HaDin en ello. Para evitar la destrucción total, la Midat HaDin no tenía otra alternativa que retirar la presencia Divina de aquello en lo que Bilam había puesto su mirada crítica. El poder de traer la retirada de la Presencia divina era el poder de la maldición de Bilam. Dado que toda bendición se origina en la Presencia divina y que recae en su recipiente mediante la conexión de Dios con el hombre, cortar dicha conexión genera de forma automática el retiro de la bendición de Dios. Ante la ausencia de la bendición, el sujeto queda expuesto a lo contrario.

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El antídoto

Es interesante notar el fenómeno que es presentado por la Torá como el contrapeso de este inmenso poder espiritual que poseía Bilam. ¿Por qué él era incapaz de hacer que el poder del mal ojo le afecte al pueblo judío?

Que buenas son tus tiendas oh Yaakov, tus moradas oh Israel” (Ibid. 5). Rashi comenta en esto: Bilam observó que las tiendas del campamento judío estaban ordenadas de forma tal que nadie era capaz de ver en la tienda de su vecino.

Los judíos no quieren ponerse a sí mismos en situaciones en las que puedan ser críticos unos de los otros. Quieren evitar notar los defectos morales en los otros que podrían generar incluso meras críticas. La cohesión social entre el pueblo judío y la preservación de una atmosfera en la que cada judío puede amar a su prójimo es más importante que buscar la fallas en el otro y distanciarse de ellos.

La preferencia por cohesión y armonía es la fuerza que los cuidó del mal ojo de Bilam. Todo el tiempo que no haya mal ojo o mala lengua acá en este mundo entre el hombre y su prójimo, Dios se comportará de la misma forma con el hombre; con la benigna faceta de Midat Harajamim. Incluso el mal ojo de Bilam no puede convocar a la Midat HaDin bajo tales circunstancias.

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De vuelta a Bilam

Las características de Bilam que son descritas en la mishná no son malas por sí mismas. Hay dos caminos hacia la espiritualidad; dos formas de conectarse con Dios: la forma de Abraham y la forma de Bilam. No son las características personales las que etiquetaron a Bilam de rashá, “malvado”. Fue su rechazo a tolerar y aceptar la forma de Abraham como igual de legítima. Cuando su mal ojo mostró ser inefectivo, en lugar de someterse a la voluntad de Dios, le ofreció a Balak un malvado consejo para lograr su cometido.

Le dijo que Dios no podía tolerar un comportamiento licencioso, y le recomendó enviar mujeres moabitas a seducir a los israelitas, consejo que finalmente resultó en el incidente de Ba’al Peor que aparece descrito al final de esta parashá.

Mediante su consejo, Bilam se las ingenió para crear discordia interna entre el pueblo judío y entre los judíos y Dios. Las muestras públicas de conductas libidinosas trastornaron la unidad interna del pueblo judío. Muchos consintieron, pero muchos otros estaban horrorizados. Puede que la situación se haya salvado al final con el fanatismo de Pinjas, pero el costo fue terrible. La solución requirió que un judío matase a otro judío, causando discordia y confusión, como es descrito al principio de parashat Pinjas. Bajo estas condiciones, no había defensa ante el mal ojo de Bilam.

Bilam no estaría contento sino hasta haber introducido la Midat Hadin al campamento judío. Su determinación de lograr su cometido a todo costo lo hizo merecedor del título de rashá.

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La forma de conducirse de las naciones

Bilam era el Moshé potencial de las naciones. Las naciones también podrían haber tomado parte en el servicio divino. Eso no quiere decir que se habrían transformado en judíos. Nosotros, los judíos, somos estudiantes de Abraham. Nuestro método de establecer contacto con Dios es introducir santidad en todas las actividades de nuestra vida. Esto requiere la aceptación de la Torá y de sus mandamientos. Sólo por medio de respetar los 613 mandamientos de la Torá, los cuales hacen referencia a todos los aspectos del día a día de una persona, es posible establecer contacto con Dios mediante Midat Harajamim de la forma en que nos enseñó nuestro patriarca Abraham. Esta es la forma judía de conducirse.

Las naciones rechazaron la Torá porque no era su forma de conducirse, a pesar de que ellas no necesariamente rechazan la idea de ser sirvientes de Dios. Su forma de relacionarse con el servicio divino es ser estudiantes de Bilam. No es una casualidad que en otras culturas distintas al judaísmo la gente santa tienda a alejarse de la vida normal. La forma de conducirse de las naciones con Dios es mediante el camino de la abstinencia, de la negación y de la autocrítica. Su santidad exige separación. Y esa sigue siendo la forma de conducirse de los santos de las naciones hasta hoy en día. El camino de las naciones hacia Dios aún es guiado por el poder de la ira.

La misión de Bilam era heredarles esta visión de santidad a las naciones de la Tierra. Si él hubiera tenido éxito, entonces las naciones e Israel habrían coexistido a lo largo de la historia con tolerancia mutua. La santidad en las naciones no habría sido el camino que escogen unos pocos, sino que habría sido un camino que transitarían grandes multitudes. Por lo tanto, no es ninguna sorpresa que la profecía de Bilam constituya una porción separada de la Torá y que no sea considerada parte del libro que nos fue entregado por Moshé.

Segun tomado de, http://www.aishlatino.com/tp/i/mayanot/El-poder-de-una-maldicion.html

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Lidiar con las marcas psicológicas de la infancia

Tengo mucha frustración, enojo, resentimiento, que no están resueltos…

Pregunta:

Tengo una pregunta fundamental sobre el enojo. ¿Qué pasa si alguien tiene asuntos profundos, cicatrices, sensaciones de abandono, enojo, tristeza, ansiedad, etc., pudriéndose por dentro? ¿Cuál es la punto de vista de la Torá sobre cómo hay que lidiar con esas cuestiones psicológicas?

Me uso a mí mismo como ejemplo: tengo problemas con mis padres y con la forma en la que me trataron que afectan la manera en la que veo el mundo. Tengo algunos interruptores que se levantan con facilidad; a veces me enojo y me molesto mucho. Sé que no es ni sano ni conveniente. Hago mucho esfuerzo por cambiar. Pienso en Di-s, en confiar en Di-s, en creer que cada momento en la vida es una oportunidad para crecer, cambiar y trascender. Intento tener fe en que él ha dispuesto esta vida para mí, con sus cosas fáciles y las difíciles, según lo que es mejor para mí, y que todas mis dificultades y tribulaciones son para crecer y experimentar cambios positivos.

Pero aun así, mis interruptores se levantan con facilidad, y tengo mucha frustración, enojo, resentimiento, que no están resueltos…

¿Alguna palabra sabia sobre esto?

Respuesta:

Me tomó un tiempo pensar esta respuesta. La cuestión represión versus expresión no es sencilla.

Con cuestiones como esta, siempre vuelvo a una obra clásica: el Tania, de rabí Schneur Zalman de Liadi. La escribió más de cien años antes de que Freud tuviera su epifanía, pero anticipó muchas de sus ideas originales. Freud estaba interesado en ayudar a las personas a ser productivas en la vida en sociedad, mientras que rabí Schneur Zalman tenía metas más elevadas: que las personas tuvieran un sentido de espiritualidad y de lo divino. Sin embargo, su consejo con respecto a la represión mantiene ambos pies firmes sobre la tierra.

En el capítulo 28 del Tania encontrarás unas líneas cargadas de significado sobre cómo lidiar con los pensamientos perturbadores: “No te equivoques tratando de encontrar la raíz de estos problemas y de elevarlos. Esto es sólo para los tzadikim (las almas iluminadas). Pero una persona normal, ¿cómo puede elevar estos pensamientos cuando está ella misma amarrada a lo bajo?”

En la jerga actual, a esto se lo denomina “tratar de levantarse tirando de los propios cabellos”. No te lleva demasiado lejos.

Luego está la negación. La negación no significa negar estos pensamientos. La negación es estar enojado porque un pensamiento semejante comete la desfachatez de aparecer en el radar de tu conciencia. O estar paralizado por la vergüenza y la culpa. Una reacción como estas, escribe rabí Schneur Zalman, es síntoma de un ego demasiado inflado. “Una persona así”, escribe, “no reconoce cuál es su lugar”. Cree que debería ser pura y honrada; y que a una persona así nunca le surgirían pensamientos como esos. ¿Entonces por qué aparecen en su cerebro?

En cambio, escribe, una persona equilibrada reconoce que estos pensamientos son naturales en un ser humano que vive en el planeta Tierra. Entonces ignora el pensamiento y sigue adelante con su vida. Cuando llegue el momento adecuado, encontrará la manera de mejorar. Pero no caerá en la trampa de pelear contra las sombras de sus propios pensamientos.

Todos tenemos dentro nuestra parte de animal hambriento: somos bestias salvajes que destrozan y devoran a su presa, burros que se niegan a moverse de su lugar, perros rabiosos que le ladran a cualquiera que pase y monos que se comportan como tontos. Sí, debemos domarlos. Pero no intentes domesticar a tu perro mientras ladra. En ese momento, lo que quieres es que se calle y se quede quieto.

¿Cómo y cuándo se lidia con esas pequeñas molestias? A medida que pasa la vida se presentan las oportunidades.

Cuando vives con otras personas, aprendes a hacer espacio y a compartir. Quizás descubras que tienes dentro un molesto rinoceronte al que no le encanta la idea de compartir espacio. Lo identificas y lo ahuyentas.

Cuando crías a tus propios hijos, identificas en tus propios comportamientos y reacciones los patrones que se alimentaban de experiencias dolorosas cuando eras niño. Ahora es tiempo de cambiar, y ahora tienes el poder hacerlo. Estás atento a esas reacciones, las reconoces: “Sí, esto es lo que soy. Pero no tengo por qué seguir siendo así”. Y haces las cosas bien.

Sucede algo similar con los demás desafíos de la vida: la profesión, las amistades, el matrimonio, la salud. Cuando un problema se convierte en un obstáculo real para progresar, es entonces cuando sabes que es momento de derribarlo.

¿Cómo lo derribas? Sólo tienes que hacer las cosas bien. Olvídate de buscar en tu pasado. Olvídate de las autoevaluaciones. Eso es más que aquel fútil “tratar de levantarse tirando de los propios cabellos”. Sólo haz las cosas bien y todo se arreglará, ya sea que llegues al fondo del problema o no.

La pregunta aún es la misma: al final del día, te seguimos diciendo que des impulso a tu vida. ¿Cómo se puede esperar que una persona escale la resbalosa superficie que es la vida sin la ayuda de la mano extendida de alguien que ya lo haya hecho?

La respuesta es que no se puede. Es por eso que cada uno de nosotros necesita de un maestro y un guía. Es por eso que el jasidismo tiene un Rebe: se establece un vínculo con un tzadik que está firme frente al precipicio de la vida con una fuerte soga en la mano para ayudar a otros a subir. E incluso entonces se necesita también un maestro más inmediato, alguien que esté más cerca de cada situación personal para ser un guía paso por paso. E incluso entonces todos dependemos de buenos amigos con los que podamos contar y en los que podamos confiar para que nos digan cuando nos equivocamos, con amor y preocupación.

Encuentra un único camino. Encuentra un Rebe, un verdadero tzadik que te enseñe en ese camino. Encuentra un maestro. Y encuentra buenos amigos.

Luego sólo avanza, paso a paso, camino arriba. No mires hacia abajo, a las profundidades de las que vienes; salvo para confirmar que “sí, es un gran desafío, y mira lo que he logrado para llegar tan lejos”.

Según tomado de, https://es.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/4057381/jewish/Lidiar-con-las-marcas-psicolgicas-de-la-infancia.htm#utm_medium=email&utm_source=94_magazine_es&utm_campaign=es&utm_content=content

A People that Dwells Alone

By Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

This is an extraordinary moment in Jewish history, for good and not-so-good reasons. For the first time in almost 4,000 years we have simultaneously sovereignty and independence in the land and state of Israel, and freedom and equality in the Diaspora. There have been times – all too brief – when Jews had one or the other, but never before, both at the same time. That is the good news.

The less-good news, though, is that Anti-Semitism has returned within living memory of the Holocaust. The State of Israel remains isolated in the international political arena. It is still surrounded by enemies. And it is the only nation among the 193 making up the United Nations whose very right to exist is constantly challenged and always under threat.

Given all this, it seems the right time to re-examine words appearing in this week’s parsha, uttered by the pagan prophet Balaam, that have come to seem to many, the most powerful summation of Jewish history and destiny:

From the peaks of rocks I see them,
From the heights I gaze upon them.
This is a people who dwell alone,
Not reckoning themselves one of the nations. (Num. 23:9)

For two leading Israeli diplomats in the twentieth century – Yaacov Herzog and Naphtali Lau-Lavie – this verse epitomised their sense of Jewish peoplehood after the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel. Herzog, son of a Chief Rabbi of Israel and brother of Chaim who became Israel’s president, was Director-General of the Prime Minister’s office from 1965 to his death in 1972. Naphtali Lavie, a survivor of Auschwitz who became Israel’s Consul-General in New York, lived to see his brother, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, become Israel’s Chief Rabbi. Herzog’s collected essays were published under the title, drawn from Balaam’s words, A People that Dwells Alone. Lavie’s were entitled Balaam’s Prophecy – again a reference to this verse.[1]

For both, the verse expressed the uniqueness of the Jewish people – its isolation on the one hand, its defiance and resilience on the other. Though it has faced opposition and persecution from some of the greatest superpowers the world has ever known, it has outlived them all.

Given, though, the return of Anti-Semitism, it is worth reflecting on one particular interpretation of the verse, given by the Dean of Volozhyn Yeshiva, R. Naftali Zvi Yehudah Berlin (Netziv, Russia, 1816-1893). Netziv interpreted the verse as follows: for every other nation, when its people went into exile and assimilated into the dominant culture, they found acceptance and respect. With Jews, the opposite was the case. In exile, when they remained true to their faith and way of life, they found themselves able to live at peace with their gentile neighbours. When they tried to assimilate, they found themselves despised and reviled.

The sentence, says Netziv, should therefore be read thus: “If it is a people content to  be alone, faithful to its distinctive identity, then it will be able to dwell in peace. But if Jews seek to be like the nations, the nations will not consider them worthy of respect.”[2]

This is a highly significant statement, given the time and place in which it was made, namely Russia in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. At that time, many Russian Jews had assimilated, some converting to Christianity. But Anti-Semitism did not diminish. It grew, exploding into violence in the pogroms that happened in more than a hundred towns in 1881. These were followed by the notorious Anti-Semitic May Laws of 1882. Realising that they were in danger if they stayed, between 3 and 5 million Jews fled to the West.

It was at this time that Leon Pinsker, a Jewish physician who had believed that the spread of humanism and enlightenment would put an end to Anti-Semitism, experienced a major change of heart and wrote one of the early texts of secular Zionism, Auto-Emancipation (1882). In words strikingly similar to those of Netziv, he said, “In seeking to fuse with other peoples [Jews] deliberately renounced to some extent their own nationality. Yet nowhere did they succeed in obtaining from their fellow-citizens recognition as natives of equal status.” They tried to be like everyone else, but this only left them more isolated.

Something similar happened in Western Europe also. Far from ending hostility to Jews, Enlightenment and Emancipation merely caused it to mutate, from religious Judeophobia to racial Anti-Semitism. No-one spoke of this more poignantly than Theodore Herzl in The Jewish State (1896):

We have honestly endeavoured everywhere to merge ourselves in the social life of surrounding communities and to preserve the faith of our fathers. We are not permitted to do so. In vain are we loyal patriots, our loyalty in some places running to extremes; in vain do we make the same sacrifices of life and property as our fellow-citizens; in vain do we strive to increase the fame of our native land in science and art, or her wealth by trade and commerce. In countries where we have lived for centuries we are still cried down as strangers … If we could only be left in peace … But I think we shall not be left in peace.

The more we succeeded in being like everyone else, implied Herzl, the more we were disliked by everyone else. Consciously or otherwise, these nineteenth century voices were echoing a sentiment first articulated 26 centuries ago by the prophet Ezekiel, speaking in the name of God to the would-be assimilationists among the Jewish exiles in Babylon:

You say, “We want to be like the nations, like the peoples of the world, who serve wood and stone.” But what you have in mind will never happen. (Ez. 20:32)

Anti-Semitism is one of the most complex phenomena in the history of hate, and it is not my intention here to simplify it. But there is something of lasting significance in this convergence of views between Netziv, one of the greatest rabbinic scholars of his day, and the two great secular Zionists, Pinsker and Herzl, though they differed on so much else. Assimilation is no cure for Anti-Semitism. If people do not like you for what you are, they will not like you more for pretending to be what you are not.

Jews cannot cure Anti-Semitism. Only Anti-Semites can do that, together with the society to which they belong. The reason is that Jews are not the cause of Anti-Semitism. They are the objects of it, but that is something different. The cause of Anti-Semitism is a profound malaise in the cultures in which it appears. It happens whenever a society feels that something is badly amiss, when there is a profound cognitive dissonance between the way things are and the way people think they ought to be. People are then faced with two possibilities. They can either ask, “What did we do wrong?” and start to put it right, or they can ask, “Who did this to us?” and search for a scapegoat.

In century after century Jews have been made the scapegoat for events that had nothing to do with them, from medieval plagues to poisoned wells to inner tensions in Christianity to Germany’s defeat in the First World War to the underachievement of many Muslim states today. Anti-Semitism is a sickness, and it cannot be cured by Jews. It is also evil, and those who tolerate it when they could have protested are accomplices to evil.

We have nothing to apologise for in our insistence on being different. Judaism began as a protest against empires, symbolised by Babel in Genesis and ancient Egypt in Exodus. These were the first great empires, and they achieved the freedom of the few at the cost of the enslavement of the many.

Jews have always been the irritant of empires because of our insistence on the dignity of the individual and his or her liberty. Anti-Semitism is either the last gasp of a declining culture or the first warning sign of a new totalitarianism. God commanded our ancestors to be different, not because they were better than others – “It is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land” (Deut. 9:6) – but because by being different we teach the world the dignity of difference. Empires seek to impose unity on a plural world. Jews know that unity exists in heaven; God creates diversity on earth.

There is one fundamental difference between Anti-Semitism today and its precursors in the past. Today we have a State of Israel. We need no longer fear what Jews discovered after the Evian Conference in 1938, when the nations of the world closed their doors and Jews knew that they had not one square inch on earth they could call home in the Robert Frost sense, namely the place where “when you have to go there, they have to let you in.”[3] Today we have a home – and every assault on Jews and Israel today only serves to make Jews and Israel stronger. That is why Anti-Semitism is not only evil but also self-destructive. Hate destroys the hater. Nothing has ever been gained by making Jews, or anyone else, the scapegoat for your sins.

None of this is to diminish the seriousness with which we must join with others to fight Anti-Semitism and every other religious or racial hate. But let the words of Netziv stay with us. We should never abandon our distinctiveness. It is what makes us who we are. Nor is there any contradiction between this and the universalism of the prophets. To the contrary – and this is the life changing idea: In our uniqueness lies our universality. By being what only we are, we contribute to humanity what only we can give.

NOTES

[1] Yaacov Herzog, A People that Dwells Alone, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1975. Naphtali Lau-Lavie, Balaam’s Prophecy, Cornwall Books, 1998. In the Introduction, Amichai Yehuda Lau-Lavie quotes this verse. In Hebrew, however, the work was entitled Am ke-Lavie, a reference to the later words of Balaam, “The people rise like a lion; they rouse themselves like a young lion” (Num. 23:24) – a play on the Hebrew name Lavie, meaning “lion”.

[2] Ha-amek Davar to Num. 23:9.

[3] Robert Frost, ‘The Death of the Hired Man’. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44261/the-death-of-the-hired-man

As taken from, http://rabbisacks.org/people-dwells-alone-balak-5778/

 

Si desea leer este artículo en español vaya al siguiente enlace: http://rabbisacks.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/SPANISH-Balak-5778.pdf

Scandalous Halachic Decisions Ethiopians and Wine

By Rabbi Jonathan Lopes Cardozo

When I joined the Jewish people as a young man of 16, being the child of a mixed marriage, I could not in my wildest dreams imagine that the Jewish tradition today, 56 years later, would be rewritten and distorted to such an extent that it has become almost unrecognizable.

After having linked my fate with that of the Jewish people, and having studied Judaism in great depth, I became convinced that it was the most elevated way of living on the face of the earth. Its moral message is supreme, its healthy attitude to life unprecedented. This conviction was deepened by 12 years of studying in ultra-Orthodox yeshivot, and many years studying Jewish and general philosophies, including those of other religions.

While I recognized that our sources were not without moral problems, I was deeply impressed with how the great Sages were able to solve them, sometimes by the most astonishing and daring means. They did so because it was clear to them that Judaism’s task was to uphold the highest standards of ethics, including the equality of all human beings. Nothing stopped them from advancing that goal.

And if any laws were developed that would undermine this fact, they understood that historical circumstances had forced earlier Sages to introduce these questionable laws, mainly due to anti-Semitism and the immoral behavior of some nations. Once these circumstances had changed, the later Sages undid these laws and returned to the original goal: supreme ethical standards. (See my book Jewish Law as Rebellion: A Plea for Religious Authenticity and Halachic Courage, Jerusalem/New York: Urim Publications, 2018, especially chapters 3 and 27.)


Alas, it seems that some highly influential rabbis today no longer see this as their task. Instead of developing Jewish law to its supreme heights, they have decided to do the reverse. They seem to be busy demeaning Judaism and its holy laws, seeking the lowest denominator, thereby causing tremendous damage to the image of Judaism. They are rewriting Judaism in the most catastrophic way.

As with many other highly debatable decisions and philosophies, one of the most disastrous consequences of all this is the manner in which these rabbis approach the non-Jewish world. They have fallen victim to racism and propagate a dislike for non-Jews. They seem to be unaware that such an attitude stands in total contradiction to Judaism. It is apparently unknown to them that the duty of Jews is to be a light to the nations, an example of integrity and deep, honest religiosity. They live in denial, oblivious to the fact that they are giving Judaism a bad name, even in the eyes of many fellow Jews. They are completely ignorant of the fact that any unfortunate statement or decision they make spreads like wildfire around the globe, causing a tremendous chilul Hashem (desecration of God’s name).

When I read some of today’s greatest authorities’ halachic decisions, such as the one that considers a gentile’s life to be of less, or of no, importance, and which could, under certain circumstances, even be deliberately terminated (Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch, Teshuvot veHanhagot, Jerusalem 5757, volume 3, # 317); or one where a corneal transplant from a non-Jew is not permitted, since he may have seen things that Jew should never see (Rabbi Ovadia Hadaya, Yaskil Avdi, Jerusalem 1982, volume 6, Yoreh Deah 26, sections 6-9); or when I read the appalling book Torat HaMelech, written by Rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur, which argues that one could kill non-Jews, even without proper trial, if they became a serious potential threat to Jewish lives; I am horribly shocked at how any rabbi can even express these ideas, which violate Jewish law and spirit, showing great ignorance of Judaism’s basic tenets.

Even more disturbing is the fact that such attitudes are stated in scholarly but mistakenly argued responsa, giving the impression that such positions are halachically sound and acceptable. It is not surprising that a large percentage of yeshiva students believe that this is all genuine Torah. They don’t know any better.

Over the last years, an atmosphere has been created and has taken root in certain halachic circles, where the great values of Judaism have been seriously compromised. This growing phenomenon is extremely worrisome and dangerous. (Jewish Law as Rebellion, chapter 22.)


Last Tuesday (June 26, 2018) we were confronted with yet another such enormous tragedy. According to Israeli radio and several Israeli newspapers, the Eida HaHareidit, an ultra–Orthodox organization that maintains one of the largest and most widely used kashrut supervision authorities in Israel, decided to ban Jewish employees of Ethiopian descent at Barkan Wineries from coming into direct contact with the wine produced there. The reason is that—despite a clear ruling by famous Chief Rabbi of Israel Ovadia Yosef z”l that these Ethiopians are surely Jewish (Yabia Omer 8, Even HaEzer 11)— the rabbinical council of the Eida HaHareidit decided that there is doubt about their Jewishness. (In the 1980s and 1990s, Israel clandestinely airlifted thousands of Jews from Ethiopia, bringing the ancient community to the Jewish state. Some were recognized as full-fledged Jews, while others had to undergo conversion so as to remove any doubt about their Jewishness.)

The above-mentioned ban is based on a Talmudic law that prohibits a Jew from drinking uncooked wine when a non-Jew has been directly involved in producing it, or has moved the wine bottle. The original reason for this law was that many non-Jews were idolaters and immoral people. Since wine was the main drink at the time (water was too dangerous to drink), the Sages introduced this law to keep Jews away from idolaters and vile people, who often used wine for their worship of idols, or during orgies. The Rabbis felt it would be inappropriate for Jews to drink wine if the bottle was even moved by such people, and they forbade its consumption even if the wine was produced by Jews. (It reminds me somewhat of my youth, just after the Holocaust had come to an end, when the Dutch would refuse under any circumstances to buy German products, or even have them in their homes. It was completely taboo.)

I call such a prohibition a “defensive law,” the outcome of tragic circumstances while the Jews lived in exile in earlier centuries. It was once of value but today is more or less meaningless. Idol worship has disappeared; most non-Jews believe in God and are civilized. Just as many other “discriminating” laws against idol worshipers and vile gentiles have been abolished (Rabbi Menachem Meiri [1249- c.1316] Beit HaBechira on Sanhedrin 57a; Avoda Zara 2a, 11b, 26a), so should this law be abolished.

In fact, we know that the authoritative Rabbi Moshe Isserles (c. 1525-1572), known as the Rama, wrote a responsum defending the Jews in Moravia who used to drink non-Jewish wine (Responsa HaRama, # 124). While others did not agree with the Rama, many indeed felt that the law no longer applied. Even Rabbi Shmuel Yehuda Katzenellenbogen of Venice (1521-1597), the leading Italian halachic authority, drank this wine. Another Italian halachist, Rabb Shabtai Be’er (17th-century Venice), ruled that it was permitted to use non-Jewish wine for Kiddush and Havdala—probably when no kosher wine was available—but not for general consumption. (Marc B. Shapiro, Changing the Immutable: How Orthodox Judaism Rewrites Its history, Littman Library, 2015, pages 96-97 and footnotes. For a full treatment of this topic, see Jewish Law as Rebellion, chapter 3.)

To be clear: I, myself, will only drink wine made by Jews because I feel gratified when it is “consecrated” by my fellow Jews for use during Kiddush or Havdala, and also because I want to help Israel’s economy. But I will surely drink that wine if the bottle has been moved by fine non-Jews. However, I will not drink that wine if the bottle is moved by anti-Semites, terrorists, rapists, financial swindlers, men who refuse to grant a divorce to their wives, self-hating Jews, and the like.

The ruling by the Eida HaHareidit is scandalous and deeply embarrassing, as well as discriminating toward the Ethiopian Jewish community. It disgraces Judaism and is as anti-Jewish as can be. That this community is still discriminated against in Israeli society in general is a stain on Israeli life, due to the lack of studying and absorbing Jewish ethical values.

Although I often disagree with the rulings and declarations of Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel Yitzhak Yosef, I am most pleased to read that he felt that this ban is the result of pure racism: “There is absolutely no explanation for this kind of requirement [to ban Ethiopian Jews] except for pure racism. Ethiopian immigrants are unquestionably Jewish. The real question is whether we can rely on a Kashrut authority which likes to think of itself as being strict, but engages in ‘whitewashing’ and [behavior that amounts to] shedding the blood of other Jews, just because of their skin color.” (Arutz 7, www.israelnationalnews.com 26/06/18)

The time has come to abolish the prohibition against drinking wine from a bottle that was moved by non-Jews. I am sure that if the Talmudic sages were alive today, they would agree. Ultimately, we —including our well-behaved non-Jewish friends—are all created in the image of God, and that alone is reason enough to let this prohibition be a law of the past.

Shame on the Eida Hahareidit and all those rabbis who discriminate against non-Jews! They have no place in Judaism.

This and many other rabbinical decisions are not part of the Judaism I converted to. I abhor them and want no part of them.

It is time we return to genuine Judaism, which I embraced when I was 16. I love it as never before.

As taken from, https://www.cardozoacademy.org/thoughts-to-ponder/scandalous-halachic-decisions-ethiopians-and-wine/?utm_source=Subscribers&utm_campaign=f04f0c99f1-Weekly_Thoughts_to_Ponder_campaign_TTP_548_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_dd05790c6d-f04f0c99f1-242341409

Los judíos son el grupo religioso más hostigado en el mundo, revela informe

Diario Judío México – El hostigamiento a los judíos en el mundo es el proporcionalmente más alto respecto a otros grupos religiosos, de acuerdo al informe elaborado por el Pew Research Center.

En 2016, los judíos con una población estimada de 15 millones de personas fueron hostigados en 87 países, ocupando el lugar luego de los cristianos, con aproximadamente 2.200 millones de fieles, que sufrieron acoso en 144 países, y los musulmanes, con unos 1.600 millones, fueron hostigados en 142 países.

El informe subraya el hecho de que los judíos sean hostigados en tantos países es “particularmente notable debido a su pequeño tamaño de población (los judíos representan solo el 0,2 por ciento de la población mundial)”.

Según Pew, el acoso a los miembros de grupos religiosos adopta muchas formas, incluyendo “agresiones físicas y verbales, arrestos y detenciones, profanación de sitios sagrados y discriminación contra grupos religiosos en el empleo, la educación y la vivienda”.

El Pew Research Center es un think tank con sede en Washington D. C. que brinda información sobre problemáticas, actitudes y tendencias que caracterizan a los Estados Unidos y el mundo.

El informe, publicado el pasado 21 de junio, analiza lo ocurrido en 2016, donde de los 193 que son Estados miembros de las Naciones Unidas, se produjeron acoso a grupos religiosos en 187 países, mientras que en 2015 fueron 169 países y establece que el número total es el mayor desde 2007.

Según tomado de, http://diariojudio.com/noticias/los-judios-son-el-grupo-religioso-mas-hostigado-en-el-mundo-revela-informe/273858/

Prominent Kabbalist Describes Near-Death Experience

If a man dies, shall he live again? Job 14:14 (The Israel Bible™)

It happened twenty years ago but I remember it as if it were yesterday. I was driving with a few of my long-time students on a road outside Jerusalem when another car violently crashed into ours. We all suffered severe injuries, but I was the only one declared clinically dead.

Right after the impact, I didn’t realize my state. All I knew was that I couldn’t breathe. My lungs began filling up with blood and I almost lost consciousness. Then, the ambulance arrived. While we were on our way to the hospital, I had only a vague sense of my surroundings, conscious one moment, and unconscious the next.

My Out-of-Body Experience

Once at the hospital, I was asked to sign a paper. They took my arm and I scribbled something. Afterward, I experienced a total blackout. I could, however, somehow see the doctor trying to resuscitate me. He aggressively raised and flexed my leg, pressing it very hard against my torso. He later explained to me that although I was technically dead, he had tried to stabilize my blood flow that had unsettled due to internal bleeding in my liver.

I had never met the doctor before, and I would not until after three weeks of recovery in the hospital. Interestingly, I clearly saw him pushing my leg. I did not see him with my eyes. I was seeing myself and what was happening to me from outside my body. Yes, this is what people commonly refer to as an “out-of-body experience.”

What Is an Out-of-Body Experience?

Since I’m a teacher of Kabbalah, my students have since asked me: If I didn’t see the doctor with my eyes, what did I see him with? Also, what exactly is an out-of-body experience? Is it connected to spirituality?

I did not see the doctor or my surroundings with my eyes, but with an internal sense. However, I do not connect this internal sense or my out-of-body experience to spirituality. Such experiences are mere psychological, non-coincidental impressions that are processed by our brain and manifest in a supranormal form.

After surgery, when I was recovering and going in and out of consciousness, I saw blurry, colorful images, but no concrete shapes. Yet it was clear to me that all this had nothing to do with spirituality. When people grasp images as if they are from outside, they actually see a resemblance of what they have learned, heard and processed throughout their lives.

Corporeal Laundry

First of all, there is no such as a thing as “clinical death” according to the wisdom of Kabbalah. Death is death, and there are undeniable scientific signs to measure it through the physical human functions or the lack of them.

The body exists only for the sake of wrapping the soul. The material body dies and disintegrates, but the soul lives on by clothing into a new body to continue the spiritual cycle until its full correction.

Only while we’re alive in this world is our spiritual advancement possible. So what happens when you die? Very simply, if we do not make efforts to develop a soul in our lifetime, we keep reincarnating. As explained by Kabbalist Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam) in his article From My Flesh I Shall See God, “The connection between the body and the soul is only that in the former, things happen to it naturally and by themselves, and in the latter they happen through work and joint relation between the spiritual and the corporeal.”

I remember when I came to Baal HaSulam’s son, Rav Baruch Ashlag (Rabash), who was my teacher for over a decade, one of my first questions to him was: “How does a person who has attained spirituality relate to life and death?” He answered: “I see that today you came to my lesson in a nice, new, white shirt and later you will change it. You know that you will have to change your shirt. This is exactly how a person living in his soul views his body: he knows that the time will come when it will have to be changed.”

So why do we make such a big deal about dying? From a Kabbalistic perspective, it is not important whatsoever. If we invest in our spiritual development and the correction of our soul, we remain alive after “taking off” the physical body in the same way we remain alive after we take off our shirt. It’s a sort of corporeal laundry; we just get rid of dirty clothing.

Unraveling Humanity’s Google

If a person does not develop his soul during his lifetime, it means that he did not prepare for the second stage of his existence, which is life above the corporeal egoistic desire, the self-aimed desire to enjoy. This desire renews itself and appears in different ways, undergoing an upgrade from one incarnation to the next. It gets a new opportunity to develop until it acquires what, according to Kabbalah, it was created for: the attainment of the soul—connection to the spiritual world—while still in this world.

When the material body dies, the remaining desire is called a Reshimo (from Hebrew roshem – a record or reminiscence), a sort of code that includes everything a person consisted of, a kind of spiritual DNA passed on from generation to generation. It is the particle from which we eventually develop a soul .

Baal HaSulam explains this in his article, The Peace: “Thus, in our world, there are no new souls the way bodies are renewed, but only a certain amount of souls that incarnate….Therefore, with regard to the souls, all generations since the beginning of creation to the end of correction are as one generation that has extended its life over several thousand years….”

This collection of spiritual information is “humanity’s Google ,” so to speak, a system where we are all connected. Through Kabbalah, we can open, explore, understand and use that system, entering its “control room,” a heightened sense of balance and harmony with our surrounding reality.

Moreover, Kabbalah states that reaching such a unified and harmonious state is the reason we’re alive: the purpose of our existence. Its attainment grants us the perception of our eternal soul and the connections between us, and sensations of unbounded tranquility and bliss, without departing from this material existence.

Freedom from Fear

What I felt in my near-death experience, and what many people have reported to feel, does indeed exemplify a certain sense of freedom from the corporeal body. While in that limbo between life and death, I thought about my state and felt it vividly. I did not feel fear or pleasure, only a sense of transition to a new state. I did not care about whether I died or stayed alive, and had no perception of good or bad. I only felt the sensation of some flow taking me wherever it wanted, here or there, and that nothing depended on me.

Fear is experienced only when a person is strongly attached to life and gets frightened by the unknown. However, on the verge of death, when the five senses are shut down, you become free from the corporeal body; there is no sense of belonging to it.

However, such feelings of freedom are temporary, limited and miniscule compared to the boundless sensations of fulfillment, connection and delight that come from attaining our eternal soul.

The wisdom of Kabbalah invites anyone who so desires to embark on the journey of the soul’s discovery during our lifetime. Moreover, both Baal HaSulam and The Book of Zohar (a principle Kabbalistic text), pointed specifically to our era as the one when more and more people would increasingly question the meaning of their lives, becoming ready to make steps toward their soul’s attainment, learning and using the wisdom of Kabbalah for this purpose.

The author, Dr. Michael Laitman is a Professor of Ontology, a PhD in Philosophy and Kabbalah, and an MSc in Medical Bio-Cybernetics.

As taken from, https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/110071/prominent-kabbalist-describes-near-death-experience/?utm_source=Breaking+Israel+News&utm_campaign=960255ce74-BIN_evening_6_18&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b6d3627f72-960255ce74-86605125&mc_cid=960255ce74&mc_eid=4e89dddeed

The Equality Myth. Few Israeli Women Succeed in politics.

Few Israeli Women Succeed in politics. Why and What Can Be Done?

May 22, 2018

The story of Israel’s founding usually  goes something like this: Sun-kissed male and female pioneers plowed the fields by day, danced the hora by night, did guard duty until dawn and together built an egalitarian utopia.

The equality of men and women, the narrative continues, was enshrined into law upon independence in 1948 when women were given full equal social and political rights. Three years later, gender discrimination was outlawed. Meanwhile, as part of universal conscription, women also fought alongside men. To top the story off, Israel was the third country in the post-World War II world to be led by a female prime minister, following Ceylon and India: Golda Meir was elected Israel’s fourth prime minister in 1969 after long stints as labor minister and foreign minister.

Although some of this is true, Israel is not an egalitarian utopia, least of all in the political field. No woman since Meir has served as the country’s head of state; no woman besides Meir and current Knesset member Tzipi Livni has served as foreign minister, and no woman has ever led the ministries of defense or finance. Only four members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s current cabinet are women, and just one, Ayelet Shaked, holds an influential position—minister of justice.

Women are better represented in the Knesset, making up 28 percent of members, the highest proportion ever. Although this is higher than in the U.S. Congress, it’s lower than in many European countries, and women head only two of the 12 permanent parliamentary committees—the Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality and the State Control Committee.

The worst disparity is in local government, where the political issues are closer to home, which should, at least in theory, make politics more attractive to women candidates. Of Israel’s 50 largest cities, only one has a female mayor, Netanya’s Miriam Feirberg. (In March 2017, the police recommended that Feirberg be indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust; the decision is still pending.)  Just 17 percent of city council members nationwide are women. And although 65 percent of civil servants are female, only 12 percent hold executive positions, according to WePower, an Israeli group working toward a goal of 50 percent political representation for women in Israel.

There are many reasons for these abysmal numbers. For one, it is not true that women ever were considered political equals in Israel, says Sharon Geva, a lecturer in the History Department at Tel Aviv University specializing in women’s history. “While the early women pioneers did believe in creating a gender revolution, their male compatriots were less excited about that part of the state-building effort,” she says. Theoretically, day care on the kibbutz freed women up to join men in this work, but in practice, most women were relegated to traditional female roles such as cooking and child care.

And despite the legal rights granted women, issues of personal status such as marriage and divorce were left under the control of the chief rabbis and the rabbinical courts. In 1947, soon-to-be Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, believing he was paying a comparatively small price for Orthodox support of the state, “sold out women in exchange for political gain,” says Frances Raday, professor emeritus at the Hebrew University, whose work focuses on human rights and gender equality. “The religious institutions are patriarchal,” she says. “When their personal lives are controlled by the male-centric rabbis, women cannot advance.”

Women’s political advancement is also stymied by Israel’s long-standing security situation. “It has always been easy to make women’s or any other particular group’s needs seem so much less important than our very survival,” says Raday.That women have never really had equal standing in the military, Israel’s most influential and respected institution, is a related problem. Throughout Israel’s history, says Geva, women have been assigned to support jobs such as communications and transportation. And although the military has opened many positions to women, including those in intelligence, most remain in support roles. “Former generals, chiefs of staff and other security experts have ‘old boys’ networks’ and are close to the political establishment,” says Hanna Herzog, co-director of the Center for Women in the Public Sphere at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. Plus “they are considered the experts in security.” As a result, Herzog continues, when women try to enter the political arena, “they are often perceived as intruding into territory that ‘isn’t theirs,’ because of their presumed nature and their lack of security experience.”

The security situation also reinforces the distinction between the “private sphere,” which is where women are supposed to be, and the “public sphere,” which is where men make decisions, says Herzog. “The feminist movement has struggled to erase this distinction,” she explains, “because it limits women’s political horizons, but in war situations, where men are portrayed as heroes who are willing to sacrifice their lives for ‘their women,’ it is difficult. It is especially difficult in Israel, because both the Jewish and the Arab traditions emphasize the importance of the family.”

Women who do enter politics are often pigeonholed and expected to represent the needs of families and children, not the needs of “the nation.” This, says Herzog, creates a “vicious circle where women are not seen in positions of power and authority, so the public, including women and girls, do not think that they have the ability or the right to be in those positions.”

This phenomenon was evident when former foreign minister Tzipi Livni and her Kadima party won by a slight margin in the 2009 election, providing her with the chance to form a governing coalition and become prime minister. She was unable to do so, and Livni now believes that her gender was a disadvantage. Even in  her own party, she says, it was suggested a woman “would not be able to answer the hotline in the middle of the night” or make military decisions. Livni recalls being taken aback by this. “When I initially entered politics, I didn’t relate to ‘the whole thing’ about women,” she says. “I came to politics because of diplomatic issues and knew that women were strong enough, but as I campaigned, I realized how difficult it is to accept strong women.”

Livni has come to believe that excluding women from decisions over security can lead to bad decisions. “The monopoly that men have assumed over security issues does not serve us well,” she says, adding that “men define security in a narrow way” by focusing almost exclusively on military issues, while women do a better job of  building consensus and finding common ground.

Despite these positives, Ofer Kenig, a research fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI), believes that exclusion of women from the political sphere in Israel is in danger of growing. He points to a campaign by rabbis and some military leaders to stop the integration of women into military combat positions because, they claim, it weakens the army and threatens religiously mandated separation of men and women. This is a troubling phenomenon, he says, and not only for security reasons.

“The under-representation of any social group in decision-making bodies fosters sentiments of exclusion, frustration and alienation,” says Kenig. It’s bad for everyone, he adds, since IDI research has found that female members of Knesset (MKs) are more likely to push bills on issues surrounding children and families. “It means that so-called women’s issues—which are actually of importance to all of us as citizens—are not promoted in the public sphere.”

Some female politicians resent being cornered into women’s or social issues. MK Ksenia Svetlova, 40, notes that while she pays attention to women’s issues, “my academic research has dealt with the Middle East, and I am an expert in Arab affairs.” Justice Minister Shaked also says that her “essence as a feminist” means that she does not have to focus on women’s issues. “I am dealing with issues of democracy and the future of the State of Israel, and I am confident that the public realizes that I am just as capable of doing my job as any man,” she says.

As in the United States, the general public’s attitudes toward women in politics are evolving, says MK Orly Levy-Abekasis, whose father, David Levy, served as deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs. Levy-Abekasis recently announced that she intends to start a new political party that will participate in the next elections, which have not yet been scheduled. “There are still some, both men and women, who believe that ‘a woman’s place is in the home,’ but their numbers are decreasing,” she says. Her new party, as yet unnamed, will place women high on its slate, “not only out of fairness, but because they realize that this is the right thing to do, and it is what the public expects.”

Even some ultra-Orthodox women are pushing for political office. Esty Shushan and Estee Rieder-Indursky co-direct Nivharot, an NGO dedicated to pressuring the ultra-Orthodox parties to include women on their slates for election to the Knesset, since currently only men are eligible for election in these parties. “Israel is a pluralistic democratic country with progressive legislation, but it has intolerable erasure, silencing and discrimination against women,” says Shushan. “The bylaws of the ultra-Orthodox parties, which include a structural exclusion of women, are in direct violation of democratic principles and the international conventions that Israel has signed. Only in Israel do large political parties, which form an integral part of the government, get to declare themselves to be closed old boys’ clubs.”

There are signs that Israeli women are now taking gender into consideration.  According to the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics, there has been a gender gap—a difference in the proportion of women and men voting for the same candidate—in every U.S. presidential election since 1980. Until 2009, most pollsters did not believe that a gender gap would occur in Israel because of security issues. Yet, in the 2009 elections, for the first time, a greater percentage of women voted for women, says Herzog, possibly in response to the chauvinistic attacks on Livni.

As a greater number of women take office, the dynamic will change, says Herzog. “Once more women’s political activity is seen as normal and desirable, it will lead to even more women running for office. And once we reach a critical mass of women who are active in the public sphere, we will be on the road to equality.”

Some of the women on the front line of Israeli politics.
By Eetta Prince-Gibson

Ayelet Shaked

Two years after arriving in the Knesset as a member of the right-of-center Jewish Home party, Ayelet Shaked was appointed justice minister, despite, critics said, her lack of legal credentials. (She studied computer engineering in university.) But Shaked learned quickly. Reserved and self-controlled—and nicknamed “ice maiden” by some of her critics—42-year-old Shaked is widely considered to be Israel’s most successful female politician since Golda Meir.

In media interviews, Shaked has repeatedly stated that while she believes in the rule of law, Israel as a Jewish and democratic state must be first and foremost Jewish. She supports Israel’s right to annex the West Bank without giving full civil rights to the Palestinians living there. As justice minister, she is a vocal and harsh critic of judicial activism, which, she says, is overly liberal and distorts the wishes of a majority of the people. As a member of Knesset, she sponsored a bill requiring nongovernmental agencies that receive the bulk of their funding from foreign governments—most of which are identified with the left—to be labeled accordingly.

Although she is an avowedly secular woman in a right-wing, national-religious party, her views have made her tremendously popular with nonreligious and Orthodox Jews alike. “There are chauvinistic men in every society, and in Israel, too, and sometimes they make things very difficult for me as a woman, as if I were less capable,” she has said. “In fact, in many ways, women are more capable—we are able to cross party lines to support each other and to promote issues of importance to everyone. Men are less willing to do this.”

Stav Shaffir

Elected to office in 2013 at the age of 27 on the center-left Zionist Union’s slate, Stav Shaffir is the youngest female Knesset member in Israel’s history. Shaffir brings a young, brash (her critics say arrogant) attitude to politics. Focusing on government corruption and social issues, especially the widening gap between the rich and the poor, she created and heads the Knesset Transparency Committee, which oversees governmental budgets and spending. Shaffir supports progressive legislation, although feminist and social issues are not her primary focus. “My generation and I view it as our main mission to return to a politics that is honest, transparent and truly dedicated to the people of Israel, and to encourage my generation to believe in politics as our way of taking responsibility for our communities and our lives,” she says.

Shaffir never thought of entering politics, she says, until 2011, when she was one of the leaders of Israel’s largest-ever, nonpartisan social justice protest, which brought tens of thousands of Israelis to the streets to demand more equal allocations of public funds and a better standard of living for all. Recruited by the Zionist Union, she agreed to run for Knesset “to prove that young people can get stuff done.” Shaffir believes it is a strength that she didn’t come up through the usual political channels. “I can see things clearly, and I am free to criticize corruption wherever I see it,” she says.

Orly Levy-Abekasis

Levy-Abekasis is widely recognized as one of the most effective legislators in the Knesset. She holds a law degree from the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya but never practiced law, pursuing instead careers in modeling and television. Levy is the daughter of veteran Likud politician and former Foreign Minister David Levy and says that although she grew up in a political home, she had never intended to pursue politics until invited to join the Israel Home party by its founder, Avigdor Liberman, in 2009. She quickly shed her “model” image and has gained a reputation as a serious and opinionated lawmaker who prepares more than most for Knesset deliberations.

In 2016, she broke from the party, and she recently announced her intention to start a new party, which will run in the next elections. Levy-Abekasis has repeatedly told Israeli media that she hopes to break free of traditional right-left paradigms and to focus on socioeconomic affairs. With a proven track record for her social agenda, supporters say that she may have the ability to draw in a diverse group of supporters, including women, Mizrachim and voters with strong social concerns. Although her party does not have a platform—or even a name—a recent survey predicts that it could win up to eight of the 120 seats in the Knesset.  This would mean that she could play a key role in shaping a future coalition, perhaps even holding the balance of power between the right- and left-wing blocs.

Tzipi Livni

Tzipi Livni, 59, was first elected to the Knesset in 1999. Both her parents were officers in the Irgun, the guerrilla group that fought the British in the 1940s, and she was a member of the militant Beitar youth movement. After her army service, she was a Mossad agent in Europe. Livni was a protégé of the late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the Likud Party but broke with him to support a two-state solution and joined the Kadima party. Under her leadership, Kadima won a plurality of 28 seats—the most of any party—in the 2009 elections, bringing Livni the closest any woman has come to being prime minister since Golda Meir. However, she was unable to form a coalition, in part, she believes, because her detractors focused on her gender.

Livni later formed the Hatnua Party, which, in the 2015 elections, ran with the Labor Party as “the Zionist Union.” Referring to these changes, her critics claim that she is an opportunist who does not hold clear-cut views; her supporters see these moves as proof of her flexibility and willingness to change her mind. Livni has been a top negotiator in some of Israel’s key negotiations, including those led by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with the Palestinians in 2014. Other than Meir, Livni is the only woman to have held the position of foreign minister and is considered to be among the most powerful women in Israel. In 2007, Time Magazine named her as one of the 100 most influential men and women in the world.

Miri Regev

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, 53, is one of the most popular—and most disliked—politicians in Israel. Regev came to the Knesset in 2009 after a 25-year career in the IDF, where she rose to the rank of brigadier general and served as the IDF spokeswoman during the Gaza disengagement and the Second Lebanon War. Regev is brash (her critics say vulgar) and boisterous (her critics call her violent). “In the political world they don’t know how to swallow me because I am a colorful person and different. I am unpredictable,” she told Al Monitor in an interview in 2013. Regev is determined to put an end to what she refers to as a left-wing, Ashkenazi, elitist bias in cultural institutions and to champion the culture of Israeli Jews of Middle Eastern and African origin. She has worked to take away state funding for any cultural events that glorify or humanize terrorists or that are overly critical of the government’s policies. All agree that she has amassed a significant power base. In a recent interview with the Israeli media, Regev announced that she hopes to be Israel’s next prime minister.

Tzipi Hotovely

A member of the Knesset from the Likud Party and deputy minister of foreign affairs since 2015, Tzipi Hotovely, 39, is a lawyer and a Ph.D. candidate at the Faculty of Law at Tel Aviv University. She holds some of the strongest right-wing views in the Knesset and has been called “the ideological voice of the Likud.” Her political statements are often filled with biblical references, citations from classical Jewish texts and modern legal interpretations to support her positions in favor of Israel’s right to construct settlements in and maintain control over the West Bank. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also holds the foreign ministry portfolio, has distanced himself several times from her more extreme comments. Hotovely has served as chairperson of the Committee on the Status of Women and worked on several gender-related laws, including the extension of maternity leave and a law that prevents photographing victims of sexual assault.

Aida Touma-Sliman

Aida Touma-Sliman, 52, entered the Knesset in the 2015 elections as a member of the Joint (Arab) party. Appointed to head the Knesset’s Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality, she made history twice: as the first Arab woman to head a permanent Knesset committee and as the first member of Knesset to campaign for election on women’s issues. She came to politics after founding two feminist organizations (Women Against Violence and the International Women’s Commission for a Just Palestinian-Israeli Peace) and serving as editor-in-chief of the Israeli Communist Party’s Arabic newspaper, Al-Ittihad. Touma-Sliman has successfully formed ad hoc coalitions across the political spectrum in order to promote her legislative initiatives. “I care about all women,” says Touma-Sliman. “But Palestinian women who are citizens of Israel face multiple layers of discrimination—as Arabs in Jewish society, as women and as women in our own patriarchal society. I very much hope that there will be more feminist voices in the Knesset and not just a higher number of women.”

Tamar Zandberg

Recently elected chairwoman of the Meretz party, 42-year-old Tamar Zandberg came to national politics from the Tel Aviv Yaffo City Council. She has been in the Knesset since 2013, one of a group of younger women who recently joined its ranks. Zandberg promotes a clearly feminist agenda. “If there were more women in the Knesset, the decision-making would be totally different,” she says. “There are a whole set of issues men don’t take into consideration.” Still, while holding left-wing views on social and security issues, Zandberg has also made it clear that she believes in realpolitik and is willing to join a coalition that could potentially include right-wing parties. “You can accomplish more from inside,” she says, “as long as you don’t sacrifice your core beliefs.”

Esty Shushan & Estee Rieder-Indursky

Esty Shushan (top), 40, and Estee Rieder-Indursky, 45, aren’t members of the Knesset, but they intend to be. Ultra-Orthodox feminists who are fighting for women’s rights within the conservative ultra-Orthodox community, together, the “Estys,” as they are known, founded Nivharot, Hebrew for “the elected women,” an NGO that demands that ultra-Orthodox parties change their bylaws to allow women to hold a place on the party slate for elections. In 2015, they petitioned Israel’s High Court of Justice to instruct the parties to change these bylaws. The parties argued that the justices shouldn’t intervene because it would disrespect a minority’s cultural differences. Given the precedent-setting national importance of the case, the Court referred the petition to a larger panel, which has not yet heard arguments

During the 2015 elections, Nivharot called on women to refrain from voting until they are represented, plastering broadsheets on billboards in the most religious neighborhoods with the slogan, “If you won’t choose us, we won’t vote for you.” Rieder-Indursky and Shushan argue that the exclusion of women—from decision-making institutions and, increasingly, from public space—within the ultra-Orthodox community has nothing to do with religious law and everything to do with increasingly misogynist ideologies and practices. No prominent rabbi from the community has denounced them, but none has expressed support, either. They do, however, encounter pushback from within the community, including from women. “The place of women within Orthodoxy is not only an issue for Orthodox women but for all Israeli women due to the Orthodox monopoly on religious life,” says Rieder-Indursky. “Furthermore, if the state allows the Orthodox parties to exclude women, then there is no guarantee that other parties won’t do so, and that other forms of exclusion won’t occur in the future.”

By Ellen Wexler

Golda Meir (1898-1978)

Meir was born in Kiev and moved with her family to Milwaukee in 1906, where she was exposed to socialism and Zionism. She persuaded her husband to move to Palestine in 1921, and after a brief stint on a kibbutz, she began her career in Israeli public life. She served as minister of labor and national insurance from 1949 to 1956, minister of foreign affairs from 1956 to 1966 and became the modern world’s third female prime minister in 1969. David Ben-Gurion once called her “the only man in the cabinet.” Popular until the 1973 Yom Kippur War, she resigned her position in 1974.

Beba Idelson (1895-1975)

Idelson grew up in Ukraine, where she became an activist in the Youth of Zion movement. In 1923, she and her husband were arrested and exiled to Siberia. Deported in 1924, the couple and their daughter arrived in Palestine in 1926, and Idelson served in various political positions. She was a member of the pre-State Provisional Council and a member of the first five Knessets, becoming the first woman to serve as deputy speaker. While she was in office, she laid much of the legal groundwork for women’s rights in Israel, fought the religious monopoly on marriage and divorce and tried to define women’s equality in terms of human rights.

Tova Sanhadray-Goldreich (1906-1993)

Born in eastern Galicia, Sanhadray-Goldreich moved to Palestine alone in 1934. The following year she helped found the women workers’ organization of HaPoel HaMizrachi, a religious socialist-Zionist organization. Before the 1949 Knesset elections, HaPoel HaMizrachi joined an alliance of four religious parties, which would not allow women on its list. In protest, Sanhadray-Goldreich formed the Religious Women Worker Party, although she did not win a seat until 1959. During her 15 years in office, she pushed for a number of conservative policies, including curtailing abortion rights and the rights of common-law spouses. In 1961, she helped draft legislation supporting equal pay for men and women.

Zvia Vildstein (1906-2001)

Vildstein managed an orphans’ home in Lithuania’s Vilna Ghetto during the Holocaust. When the ghetto was liquidated, she, like most of the Jews, was shot, but she survived and lived out the war under a false Polish identity. After the war, she returned to Vilna, where she established a school for orphans. Because of her Zionist activities, she was accused of treason, arrested and sentenced to eight years in the Gulag. She was allowed to immigrate to Israel in 1957 and settled in Givatayim, near Tel Aviv, where she taught in an elementary school. In 1965, she was elected to the Givatayim municipal council.

Haika Grosman (1919-1996)

An active member of the Zionist youth movement HaShomer HaTzair in Bialystok, in what is now Poland, Grosman moved to Vilna when World War II broke out. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union, Grosman returned to Bialystok, where she lived under a false name and became an underground activist. Upon arriving in Israel in 1948, she became secretary of Mapam, the Labor Zionist party. She served in the Knesset from 1969 to 1981 and from 1984 to 1993, advocating for legislation serving women, the elderly and the poor.

Shoshana Arbeli-Almozlino (1926-2015)

Born in Iraq, Arbeli-Almozlino joined the Zionist underground movement at age 20. After being arrested and interrogated by the Iraqi police, she made aliyah in 1947. In 1949, she cofounded Kibbutz Neve Or and joined the Ahdut HaAvodah party, an early version of the Labor Party. She served in the Knesset between 1965 and 1992, spearheading social legislation ranging from labor law to insurance reform, and was widely regarded as a supporter of the most vulnerable in Israeli society. As minister of health from 1986 to 1988, she pushed through legislation for organ transplants and government coverage of fertility treatments.

Yael Dayan (1939-)

Dayan, daughter of politician and military leader Moshe Dayan, the defense minister during the Six-Day War, was born in Mandatory Palestine. After serving in the IDF, she spent her early career writing novels and nonfiction, entering public life only after her father’s death in 1981. “I understand that because I went into politics so late in life, I was never able to achieve all that I had hoped,” she told Lilith last year. “But it never seemed right as long as he was still alive.” Dayan served in the Knesset from 1992 to 2003, where she founded and chaired the Committee on the Status of Women. In this role, she advocated for stricter sexual harassment legislation, and she championed affirmative action and LGBT rights. She served on Tel Aviv’s city council from 2008 to 2013.

Dorit Beinisch (1942-)

Beinisch spent her early career in the state attorney’s office, becoming the first woman to serve as attorney general in 1989. She was appointed to the Israeli Supreme Court in 1995, and in 2006 she was sworn in as the first woman president in the court’s history, a role she held until her retirement in 2012. She is known for her focus on government corruption, human rights, sexual harassment and the rights of individuals. In 2000, she wrote one of her most well-known and controversial rulings, banning parents from using corporal punishment. Today there are four women out of 15 justices on the Israeli Supreme Court.

Daniella Weiss (1945-)

Weiss was an early activist in Gush Emunim, a national religious movement dedicated to establishing settlements in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. In 1975, she helped establish Kedumim, a settlement in the West Bank, and was elected its mayor in 1996 and reelected in 2001. She has been arrested numerous times, for obstruction, for assaulting a police officer, rioting against Palestinians and other similar offenses related to her activities against demolition or evacuation of settlements; in most cases she was given a suspended sentence and/or sentenced to probation and a fine. Eight years ago, she founded Nahala, an organization that helps young people move to unrecognized settlements.

As taken from, https://www.momentmag.com/the-equality-myth/

¡No a la tristeza!

Si algo no es como yo quiero, entonces se trata de una oportunidad de ampliar mi campo visual, de abrazar una realidad superior

Nuestros sabios nos enseñan que “todo aquél que se enoja, es como si estuviera sirviendo ídolos”. La frustración es el resultado de idealizar nuestras expectativas, obsesionarnos con la forma que esperamos se den las cosas, al grado de condenar a Di-s cuando Su visión perfecta no concuerda con nuestra imagen limitada.

El mes de Tamuz contiene la paradoja que caracteriza al hombre, una que define el conflicto eterno entre lo ideal y lo real.

Sin embargo, existe una diferencia radical entre el enfoque judío y el del resto del mundo, cuando se trata de este desafío. Mientras el mundo percibe ideal lo que concuerdacon su voluntad; el judío idealiza lo que encaja con la voluntad de Di-s.

Es conocido que los nombres de los meses hebreos provienen del exilio en Babilonia. Lo curioso es que el nombre Tamuz representa un ídolo. El Rambam comenta que en la antigua Mesopotamia existió un falso profeta llamado Tamuz. Cuando el rey de la época lo torturó a muerte, sus seguidores fabricaron una leyenda, que en el día de su fallecimiento todos los dioses se habían reunido para coronarlo. De ahí apareció el ídolo Tamuz. Rashi explica que ese ídolo era de acero y cuando lo calentaban, los ojos de la estatua goteaban produciendo el efecto de lágrimas.

¿Cómo es posible que adoptáramos el nombre de un ídolo como parte de nuestro calendario? La respuesta radica en comprender que el objetivo de nuestra existencia en este mundo es sublimar los elementos negativos y acceder a la definición Divina que poseen.

El ídolo Tamuz personifica la raíz de todos los ídolos. De hecho, el Rey David llama a los ídolosAtzaveihem Kesef veZahav”, comúnmente traducido como sus ídolos son de oro y plata. Sin embargo, la palabra Atzaveihem está relacionada con la expresión Atzuv, que significa triste.

Para comprender esto, debemos analizar: ¿qué es un ídolo? Cuando aprecias algo en tus términos, lo conviertes en ídolo. Si el valor de una persona es que la valoras, entonces se trata de un ídolo. En otras palabras: si encasillamos a algo o alguien dentro de nuestra expectativa egoísta o inmadura, estamos transformándolo en un ídolo.

Si es así, entonces todos los ídolos conducen a la tristeza. Pues la vida nunca es exactamente como esperamos que sea, y esa es la raíz de nuestra frustración y tristeza.

La persona que se compadece de sí misma, que se percibe como una víctima de las circunstancias; está afirmando que cuando las cosas no son como ella las idealiza, están mal; y que ella es víctima de una fuerza mayor que interfiere con su expectativa.

El judaísmo representa la actitud opuesta: si algo no es como yo quiero, entonces se trata de una oportunidad de ampliar mi campo visual, de abrazar una realidad superior.

En el mes de Tamuz se penetraron las murallas del Gran Templo. Ese mes contiene la raíz del exilio y de toda la oscuridad que desencadenó. Sin embargo, la intención de nuestros sabios es que logremos elevar Tamuz.

En lugar de percibir la destrucción como una fuente de tristeza, y de vernos como las víctimas; nosotros comprendemos que se trata de un proceso, en el que los errores se convierten en plataformas de superación. El desacierto del pasado contiene un aprendizaje para alcanzar un futuro más prometedor, uno que nunca lograríamos sin ese desafortunado tropiezo.

La fuerza de nuestra identidad judía radica en que nunca estamos tristes, porque reconocemos que nuestro anhelo humano, carece de valor frente al ideal Divino.

En lugar de vernos como víctimas y caer en depresión, tenemos que sentir la responsabilidad de crecer. Aprovechar cuando la realidad nos supera, como un incentivo para abrir las puertas de nuestra mente y corazón. Empezar a reflexionar, a meditar extensamente y buscar esa verdad maravillosa que se esconde detrás del velo oscuro que percibimos.

El mes de Tamuz nos recuerda que la destrucción del Gran Templo y la oscuridad de este portentoso exilio, no son enemigos que interfieren con nuestro ideal, sino energías Divinas que superan la capacidad nuestra de contenerlas, rompen nuestras murallas personales. Pero no debemos frustrarnos ni entrar en depresión, sino aprovechar para cavar más profundo en nuestra consciencia y ampliar nuestra visión. Si la vida rompe nuestras murallas, si la realidad no penetra el recipiente personal que poseemos; entonces en vez de estar tristes y ser víctimas, lo vemos como una oportunidad de tomar la iniciativa, de trascender nuestros límites y crear una muralla nueva, más amplia, un hogar para la verdad infinita de nuestro Creador.

La manera de lograrlo es a través de transformar nuestra crítica impulsiva, en un silencio de reflexión. Si el comportamiento de Di-s no concuerda con nosotros, en vez de juzgarlo nos juzgamos a nosotros mismos, descubriendo qué debemos hacer para convertirnos en mejores recipientes, para dar cabida al bien Divino que Él está ofreciéndonos, dejando entrar la verdad y trabajando para que sea también nuestra verdad.

Esta es la característica principal del judío. La palabra yehudí viene del nombre Yehudá, que significa reconocer. Es decir: reconocemos que la verdad de Di-s es buena, y trabajamos con nosotros mismos para crecer y madurar y así, poder abrirle un espacio en nuestra vida.

Según tomado de, https://es.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/4057398/jewish/No-a-la-tristeza.htm

The ABC’s of Judaism

The ABC's of Judaism

Embedded deep in our consciousness is the knowledge of life’s precious secrets. The key to access them is the ABCs.


All systems are built on fundamental principles. The building blocks of the English language are the ABCs. So if you want to master reading and writing, you have to first learn the alphabet.

Judaism too has its “ABCs” upon which everything is based.

The “A” of Judaism

Here is a premise we can all agree upon:

Human beings are creatures of society.

If we were born in China, we’d probably be waving little red flags or a book of Mao’s favorite sayings. If we were born into a Catholic family in Sicily, we’d probably be waving rosary beads.

Question the origins of your “life philosophy. “Do you essentially have a Greek approach to life? Roman? Eastern? Jewish?

Ask yourself: “If I had been born into a family of Muslim fundamentalists in Iran, what would I be doing with my life today?” If you don’t ask this question, chances are quite good that today you’d still be a Muslim fundamentalist!

If we are profoundly influenced by society, how do we discern our primal beliefs and identity?

For the most part, unless we’ve done our own thorough investigation, “society” has most likely been our “default philosophy.”

If we are so profoundly influenced by society, then how do we discern our primal beliefs and identity? How do we distinguish between right and wrong? How do we come to an independent conclusion about reality? How can we avoid being mere products of our society?

The “A” of Judaism answers these questions.

The Power of a Children’s Story

Ideas seep into public consciousness in a variety of ways: through literature, schooling, religious practices, etc. One of the most powerful ways is through stories we’re told as children. These stories convey many subliminal messages and make a lasting impression.

Anyone born in America has heard of Little Red Riding Hood. What do you think a young child would do if Grandma came to visit right after hearing this tale? He’d run behind his mother’s skirt until they checked Grandma’s teeth to make sure it’s really her!

What’s the message of this story? On a deep subconscious level, Little Red Riding Hood teaches children to be suspicious of Grandma. You can never really trust who she claims to be…

A Jewish Consciousness Story

Judaism also has its own stories that shape the consciousness of our children. Here’s one from the Talmud:

While we are still in our mother’s womb, the Almighty sends an angel to sit beside us and teach us all the wisdom we’ll ever need to know about living. Then, just before we are born, the angel taps us under the nose – forming the philtrum, the indentation that everyone has. And we forget everything the angel taught us.

What lesson does this story forever imbue in the psyche of a young child?

Education is reaching what we already intuitively understand.

That we can look inside ourselves to learn about life. Embedded deep in our consciousness is the knowledge about the purpose of creation, how to love, how to reach our potential. It’s all there. We just need to make the effort to remember!

This lesson sums up Judaism’s view of education. Nobody can teach anyone anything new. Rather, a teacher conveys information in a way that allows the student to get in touch with what he already knows – and re-discover it on his own.

Define Your Terms and Gain Clarity

Judaism says if you probe into yourself, you can discover the definition of truth, reality, goodness, etc. All it takes is effort.

Let’s illustrate how this works:

“Are you a bafoofstik?”

“What do you mean?! I can’t possibly answer that question without a definition of bafoofstik.”

But what if I ask you, “Are you in love?” Since you use the term “love” in your everyday life, you have some understanding of what I’m talking about.

So why do so many people end up in relationships that they think are “love” – but turn out to be “infatuation”?

Because they don’t have a proper definition of the term “love.” And unless you can clearly articulate a concept, you don’t fully understand it.

The quest for truth is not a journey to the Far East or a climb to the peak of a mountain.

(By the way, the Jewish definition of love is “the pleasure of identifying people with their virtues.”)

When we uncover knowledge that jibes with what the angel taught us, then we’ve found truth.

Inner knowledge is what allows us to rise above the influences of society and become independent. In the quest for truth, you don’t have to journey to the Far East or climb to the peak of a mountain. Truth is right under your nose. Take your finger and place it on that “indentation.” You’ll stop talking and start thinking. The knowledge of reality is within each of us. This is the “A” of Judaism.

The “B” of Judaism

For a complete understanding of life, we need to know what is demanded of us. What were we created for? What is the meaning of existence?

Let’s ask this question: What do all parents want for their children? To be healthy, strong, and full of joy. To be clear, purposeful and accomplished. To have everything good under the sun. Why? So they can get the most pleasure out of life. Only pleasure.

Your son might have a lot of fun playing PacMan, but you won’t let him drop out of college to become a professional PacMan player. You know he deserves better.

God looks at us the same way. As our Father in Heaven, He created us to bestow goodness and pleasure upon us. And He gave us the Torah – our instructions for living – in order to teach us how to derive maximum pleasure from this world.

Human Beings are Pleasure-seekers

A pen is made for writing. But what if somebody told you that your pen is a toothpick? You’d say, “That’s ridiculous. Why would it have ink in it? And it doesn’t fit between my teeth!”

How do you determine the purpose of an object? Examine its construction. You know that a pen is for writing because that’s what all its components indicate, and that’s what it does best.

Judaism says that human beings were designed to have pleasure. In fact we see that every decision a human being makes is based on one final criteria: Will it give me pleasure?

Even when we do something altruistic, we do it because the act gives us pleasure.

Whether it’s what to have for dinner, what to do with spare time, who to marry, or what career to choose – underneath it all, pleasure is the defining criterion. If it looks like pain, we avoid it. If it promises pleasure, we go for it. Even when we do something altruistic, we do so because it gives us pleasure.

God designed the world – and everything in it – in order to give us pleasure. The goal of life is to get that pleasure. Just as parents want their children to enjoy life, so too the Almighty wants His children to enjoy their lives to the fullest. That’s the “B” of Judaism.

The “C” of Judaism

Now… if the Almighty wants us to have pleasure, and we all want pleasure, then what’s gumming up the works? Why aren’t we getting constant pleasure?

Everyone wants to be good. Everyone wants to fulfill his or her responsibilities. That is pleasurable. But we often take short cuts or choose the easy way out. We lose focus on what is real pleasure.

We want our marriage to work, but we don’t invest enough attention and commitment. We want to get along with our parents, but we lack the tools to avoid arguments. We want our lives to be meaningful, but social pressure sways us. We want pleasure, but we make mistakes.

In Hebrew, there is no word for sin. The Biblical word “Chet” appears in reference to an arrow which “missed the target.” The archer is not “bad.” Rather, he made a mistake – due to a lack of focus, concentration or skill.

The problem of mankind is that we are confused about what we want out of life. That’s why God is always trying to get our attention, helping to steer us away from wrong turns. If we’re not aware of that, we miss many important lessons. That is the “C” of Judaism.

The “D” of Judaism

(In Judaism, three ABCs is not enough!)

The worst mistake of all is not getting an education.

What kinds of education do people usually get? Calculus, Shakespeare, planetary orbits, the process of osmosis, the shape of Australia…

If you don’t know yourself, you don’t know much of anything.

But when it is all over, you still don’t know who you are. You don’t know why you were created or what you are living for. And if you don’t know yourself, you don’t know much of anything.

Judaism says: Get an education about LIFE. It’s buried deep inside you. The angel taught you, now find out why you were created. Understand the goal of life – and go get it. That’s the “D” of Judaism.

The “E” of Judaism

When we say that God created us for pleasure, are we talking about a two-week vacation after working hard in the office all year? No. That pleasure will dissipate the moment you touch back down and have to find your lost luggage and fight traffic.

To get maximum pleasure, God gave us the Torah.

You’ve heard the Torah described variously as the law, the ritual, the commandments. But what does “Torah” literally mean?

Torah means “instructions.” For example, Torat Hanehiga means driving instructions. Our Torah is Torat Chaim – “Instructions for Living.”

You do your best to impart to your children all the wisdom you have about life. You tell them:

“You have to learn how to read and write.”

He says: “Who needs it? I’m going to be a major league baseball player!”

“But sometimes you might want to write a letter or read the newspaper.”

“Don’t worry, Mom. When I’m a superstar ballplayer, private secretaries will do all my reading for me. Right now it’s more important that I practice my game!”

So what does a good parent do? You are determined to convey your understanding about how to derive optimum pleasure out of life. You’ll (figuratively) hit them on the head and say: “SIT DOWN AND READ AND WRITE!”

Our Father in Heaven does the same thing. He gave us the Torah – those same instructions for living the angel taught us before birth. Tools for how to have a happy marriage… a satisfying career… spiritual growth.

Focus on the Words

The Torah instructs us to put a mezuzah on our door post. But people often view the mezuzah as a ritual, something to perhaps ward off ghosts.

Open up the mezuzah and read what’s inside. You’ll learn about the greatest pleasures of life: how to be happy, how to love humanity and how to connect with God. Kiss the mezuzah when you go in and when you go out. But don’t kiss it by rote. Ponder the words and you’ll never lose track of the purpose of life.

SO REMEMBER

The “A” of Judaism: The angel taught us everything we need to know. That’s why we recognize truth when we find it.

The “B” of Judaism: The Almighty created us for maximum pleasure.

The “C” of Judaism: We are not sinners, we just make mistakes.

The “D” of Judaism: To avoid mistakes and achieve our potential, get an education about life.

The “E” of Judaism: The Torah is our instructions for living.

As taken from, http://www.aish.com/jl/p/ph/The-ABCs-of-Judaism.html

Is the Torah Anti-Semitic?

Who would write such negative, detrimental, and destructive descriptions of the Jewish people?


by Rabbi Boruch Leff

The authorship of the Torah has one of two possibilities: either God wrote it, or a human being wrote it. Let’s take for argument’s sake the side that a human being wrote it. If so, we discover a very strange phenomenon.

This human being could not have been a Jew! Can we actually believe that a Jew would write such negative, detrimental, and destructive descriptions of his ancestors?

Listen to what the author of the Torah describes: That his patriarch, Jacob was a liar and tricked his father, Isaac; that the sons of Jacob kidnapped and sold their brother Joseph into slavery; that the Jews of the Desert preferred slavery in Egypt rather than freedom; that the Jews are a stiff-necked people; that Moshe, the true prophet of God, complains to Him and does not want to be the leader of what he describes as such a rebellious nation; that the Jews of the Desert worshiped a golden calf; that they showed a lack of trust in God by believing the spies’ evil reports concerning Israel.

The list goes on and on.

Included in this list is the event in Parshat Chukat (Bamidbar 20:7-13) that tells the story of Moshe and Aharon’s failure in hitting the rock instead of speaking to it, in order to draw water to quench the people’s thirst. Moshe and Aharon are punished and not permitted to enter the Land of Israel.

Of course, the real meaning and interpretation of these difficult passages are explained by all the commentaries and they are not as negative as they seem. Sometimes the verses are simply misunderstood at the surface level and not meant negatively at all (as is the case with Jacob seeming to trick Isaac). But no Jew would ever risk the tarnishing of his ancestors’ reputations even if only at the superficial level of understanding.

Why would a Jew write such terrible things about his ancestors? No other nation records an unfavorable history of their ancestors. One cannot read of a single defeat of Egypt in Egyptian history books. One must turn to the Assyrian texts to read of Egyptian failures, and vice versa. Even today, there are major distinctions between British and American history books in their accounts as to what happened in the American Revolutionary War. But somehow the fact that descendants generally look at their ancestors with reverence in their historical writings is not true when it comes to the Jews and the Torah.

So which human wrote the Torah? It could not have been a Jew! The only possibility then is that an anti-Semite wrote it! But then we are left perplexed as to how this anti-Semite could have persuaded the Jews to accept it!

To suggest that a human wrote the Torah is not a realistic possibility.

If God wrote it, then we understand how the Jewish people accepted it. They knew what God writes is true and they trusted that He, at times, writes negative and critical descriptions only in order to teach important lessons. God, in writing such fact, does so to engage in constructive criticism.

This unique aspect of revealing negative-sounding ancestral history makes us stop and realize that God must have written the Torah. But there are other distinct facets described in the Torah that also lead to the conclusion of its Divine authorship.

The Torah makes prophecies that have come true. Now, there are many books that have made prophecies of the future such as Nostradamus, that some claim to have been true. But a close examination of these prophecies reveals them to be ambiguous and it is virtually impossible to prove their accuracy. Any ‘prophecy’ that can only be understood after an event has already taken place cannot be accepted as prophecy.

True prophecy is clearly comprehended before an event takes place and then we can see for ourselves whether the prophecy came to fruition or not. We find exactly such prophecies in the Torah. These prophecies are impossible for a human being to have predicted.

The fate of the Jewish nation, if they are to abandon God, is specifically described in horrid detail (See Vayikra 26, Devarim 28:15-68, 29:17-28, 30:1-10, 31:16-21, much of Yeshaya and Yechezekel). Sure enough, all of the details have indeed occurred throughout history. The Torah writes that the Jews will be thrown out of their land, return, and then thrown out again. It then foretells that the Jews will come back to Israel much later. The Jews held on to their faith in the Torah’s promises of their return to Israel for 2,000 years. And now in modern times, the Jews have come back. It is surely not coincidental that there have been no other nations who have not assimilated into their occupying or host nation after hundreds of years of exile and destruction. Moreover, not only did the Jews survive 2,000 years of exile, but they did so despite being scattered among various nations without a common language or culture.

This was all stated way in advance! The Torah, written over 3,000 years ago, teaches that the Jews will be dispersed to all the corners of the earth but would maintain their distinct identity. What human being would write such nonsense? How could he expect the Jews to accept it and live with faith in it?

But if God wrote it, it is obviously understandable. He can know that the Jews would never assimilate into the nations of the world. And if the Jews knew God wrote it by their witnessing God speak to them at Sinai, their faith in their eventual return to Israel is comprehended.

(There are more points to ponder concerning the veracity of the Torah’s claim that it was written by God. See Kol Yaakov V’etchanan and Behar)

If one takes the time to stop and think about the unique aspects of the Torah, one is inevitably drawn to the conclusion that the Torah could not have been written by a human being. It must have been authored by God.

As taken from, http://www.aish.com/tp/i/ky/Is-the-Torah-Anti-Semitic.html