The world is entering a new year, carrying on its shoulders a heavy weight. An unprecedented number of people worldwide, around 168 million, will need urgent humanitarian assistance and protection in 2020 due to global crises and conflicts, according to the United Nations’ overview for this year and beyond. Why should we continue repeating the same vicious cycle? Can we do no better as humanity? We certainly can and should. We just need to know how.
The number and intensity of highly violent conflicts has risen for the first time in four years, according to UN officials. One in 45 people are expected to require humanitarian aid with even the most basic needs such as food, shelter and healthcare as a result of the world’s instability.
Following every war, research is undertaken, books and plays are written all about the aspiration and desire for peace, but it seems to be a pipe dream. After all, what is peace? Is it the opposite of war, or something else? A penetrating examination of the term “peace” from the perspective of the wisdom of Kabbalah sheds new light on this important goal and how to achieve it.
Following difficult conflicts, wars and much suffering, people have no choice but to concede to ceasefires, armistices and peace treaties. And then it is always a question how long they will last till the next outburst.
The essence of the term “peace” in Hebrew (Shalom) means wholeness (Shalem). Is the mere absence of war sufficient to experience wholeness? Certainly not. A deeper analysis of the term “peace” brings us to the common root of our nature, the root from which we split into male and female parts, myriads of species, and diverse nations.
Today, we number billions of people. We perceive ourselves as separate from each other, and often not even at peace with ourselves. The lack of understanding concerning how to arrive at peace is humanity’s central problem.
The wisdom of Kabbalah teaches that nature develops us to a state of absolute peace. However, in order to approach peace, we need to recognize the global principle: nature is an integral system where all its components are mutually interdependent.
We humans are the sole violators of the delicate balance on the planet with our narrow egoism, i.e., the desire to benefit ourselves at the expense of others, with which we harm humanity, the world and nature. It is interesting to note that as far back as 1930, Rav Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam) recognized the interconnected state of the world:
“Do not be surprised if I mix together the well-being of a particular collective with the well-being of the whole world, because indeed, we have already come to such a degree that the whole world is considered one collective and one society.” (Yehuda Ashlag, “Peace in the World”)
Preparation for a state of absolute peace will require a comprehensive societal educational investment for many years to come. It will then be possible to actively start changing human behavior and the state of the world.
This is where the wisdom of Kabbalah’s knowledge of nature can help. It teaches how to bring about an internal change in human nature, which strengthens the will to reach the state of peace. What is needed on the way is the learning of how to work properly with the feelings of hostility that have separated people and nations. Just like a couple that makes up following a quarrel, it is precisely in uniting above the great hatred that a stronger connection can be built.
Proverbs (10:12) teaches us that, “love will cover all transgressions,” and it is the same in nature. Everything is defined by its opposite: light and darkness, heat and cold, sweet and bitter, and so on. Rabbi Nachman of Breslov explained, “The essence of peace is to try to make peace between two opposites.” (Likutei Etzot, “Peace”)
The peace process depends on the development of advanced connections between opposites, the incorporation of opposites to such an extent that a new perception emerges in which there is no longer “them and us,” but a commonality that grows and develops. There are no borders in a state of absolute peace; all exist as a common area and it makes no difference where one is. Government offices, taxes, harvests, resources, budgets—all become the property of the people who have united in peace, and thus they earn a new level of prosperity.
Nothing is more important than the genuine peace toward which human development is headed, and Kabbalah provides a method to do it swiftly and pleasurably, with growing awareness, understanding and sensation. We need only implement it.
Featured in The Times of Israel