Answers to Questions on Quora
There is indeed a lot of confusion regarding what it means to be Jewish, where Jews come from, and what is the true identity of the Jewish people. Most Jews themselves would be unable to tell you where they originated, why Arabs are also considered as Semites, and why there are Jews in such places as India, Pakistan and Africa.
Today, it’s customary that if your mother is Jewish, then you’re Jewish. However, this wasn’t always the case. At one time in history, Jewishness was passed down through the father.
In our world, Jews are considered to be a group of people who went into exile 2,000 years ago from ancient Babylon. Due to the dispersion of the Jewish people around the world, they have no culture, language, country or center of their own. Moreover, if you say that the Jews’ country is Israel, then note that the State of Israel has only been around for the last 70 years, and many Jews also disagree with Israel being their country. Therefore, if you ask both Jews and non-Jews who Jews are, you will hear no two same opinions.
The Jewish people are a strange phenomenon in humanity. They are like a stone in humanity’s shoe, something that increasingly presses for a solution. Also, the topic of Jewish identity is never raised in a serious widespread manner because it would awaken many problems among the Jews living in different countries and cultures. Therefore, it is a global-scale problem, and raising it means to ignite a massive flame around the world. Arabs everywhere would immediately leap onto the opportunity to deal with it, disagreeing with the definitions of Jews being the sons of Abraham. They also disagree with Jews and Muslims being brothers, as is written in the Torah, which describes Jews and Arabs coming from a single father. Another problem is that there are many conflicts in definitions of Jews in Christianity, and therefore, it also isn’t raised from that perspective.
The general atmosphere surrounding such a question is: Why raise the question about Jewish identity if it would create many more problems than we already experience in our world? So people from all nations, religions and cultures, including Jews themselves, generally don’t touch it. Specifically in our time, it is best not to awaken such a question.
A Jew of the flesh: we can see Jews living in and between different countries. They have no problem doing so, even though they feel different in their various countries of residence.
A secular Jew is like any secular person who lives according to the cultures and norms of their respective society.
A religious Jew is one concerned with observing religious laws.
A spiritual Jew is concerned with the revelation of the Creator (the force of connection, love and bestowal) to His created beings in this world.
Firstly, I think that there is no real need to deal with such definitions, because they change throughout history according to the tastes and views of different people and cultures. Likewise, “Semite” has many definitions according to various sources. According to what is written in the Torah, the Arabs are the outcome of Ishmael, the son of Abraham and Hagar, and accordingly, the Ishmaelites are relatives of the Jews. Today in particular though, anti-Semitism relates only to Jews, and Arabs themselves also relate to anti-Semitism as anti-Jewishness.
Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are definitely connected. Anti-Zionism only started being felt toward the end of the 19th Century and beginning of the 20th Century with the First and Second Aliyah. Arabs were against the return of the Jews. The Jews who wanted to return to Israel were met with Arab opposition. The Arabs even waged war against the Jews who came to settle in Jerusalem, Safed, Tiberius, and other nearby places.
Also, anti-Zionism is a result of the Turkish and British rule over Palestine. They used divide-and-conquer tactics to complicate relations between Jews and Arabs, cunningly positioning them against each other in order to establish their governance over them.
What’s the difference between being anti-Israel, anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic, and how do you know which is which?
Today, many American and European Jews are anti-Israeli. Moreover, today many Jews themselves, including those in Israel, are anti-Semites in how they relate to other Jewish groups scornfully.
“Anti” in and of itself is a Jewish characteristic. Why? It’s because the root of this people is spiritual: “spiritual” meaning that the Jews are a people founded on the spiritual idea of “love your friend as yourself,” and thus being Jewish means seeking unity (the Hebrew word for “Jew” [Yehudi] comes from the word for “united” [yihudi] [Yaarot Devash, Part 2, Drush no. 2]).
The spiritual unity of the Jews is one where they united among each other and with the single force of nature that governs everyone and everything. Therefore, whoever wishes to identify with that force is considered “Jewish,” and whoever doesn’t have that approach or whoever hasn’t received such an upbringing is against it.
Therefore, every Jew, to the extent of his lack of knowledge of what is true Jewishness—which isn’t religion, but a search for unification—is both anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli.
In relation to anti-Zionism, see my answer to this question: Are anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism the same? How are they similar?
Anti-Semitism – Examining the Phenomenon
Yes. We see that throughout history, there are periods where the hatred of the nations of the world toward the Jews rises and falls. Moreover, such hatred is distinct to Jews, and not to Arabs or other nations, and you could say that Jewish-directed hatred specifically has risen and fallen multiple times over 1,000s of years. Therefore, many have researched anti-Semitism but no one knows its causal foundation and how to solve it, and so it remains a problem.
The wisdom of Kabbalah explains the reason for anti-Semitism and why it rises and falls throughout history. According to Kabbalah, anti-Semitism depends solely on the Jewish people: To the extent that the Jews come closer to their spiritual root—a united people (“love your friend as yourself”) who shine an example of unity to the world (“a light unto nations”)—anti-Semitism lessens. Likewise, the more distant the Jews become from their root, anti-Semitism rises, reaching the genocidal extremes we have seen in the Holocaust and the pogroms.
Anti-Semitism depends on whether the Jews attain their spiritual root: to unite “as one man with one heart” and reveal that sublime connection to the world. The nations of the world sense that the Jews have a certain foundation, which the Jews are keeping away from them, and that this foundation holds the key for all nations’ happiness and prosperity. Thus, the nations of the world subconsciously hold a demand toward the Jewish people, that the Jews bring the abundance and truth that is locked away from them. The nations of the world think that the Jews know that they hold this key, but Jews themselves are completely unaware of it.
Therefore, in our era, the wisdom of Kabbalah carries an obligation to explain the role of the Jewish people, since a future of happiness and prosperity or a future of suffering and despair for everybody—Jews and non-Jews alike—rests in the hands of the Jews uniting and passing unity to the world.
Why is there so much anti-Semitism on the Internet such as in YouTube comment sections and social media?
I don’t think that there is a particularly unique role of the Internet in relation to the rise of anti-Semitism. It is simply a platform for people to express whatever they feel, and they can write as much as they want there. However, anti-Semitic comments on this electronic medium are merely an expression of anti-Semitic sentiment that has been around for generations, regardless of the Internet.
Anti-Semitism is a natural phenomenon depending solely on the Jews. The world is under nature’s governance, and Jews hold the potential to be above nature in their ability to bring themselves and the whole of humanity closer to the revelation of the upper force.
What does it mean that the Jews have the ability to be “above nature”? It means that the Jews became known as “Jews” through the spiritual unity (“love your friend as yourself”) they discovered under Abraham’s guidance in ancient Babylon (the Hebrew word for “Jew” [Yehudi] comes from the word for “united” [yihudi] [Yaarot Devash, Part 2, Drush no. 2]). Such unity is considered as above nature, because
- Human nature is a desire to enjoy for self-benefit alone.
- Unity with and love for others is foreign to human nature, and thus
- Achieving unity among people requires a special revelation—of the upper force, a connecting force of love and bestowal—in order to rise above our nature to the second, spiritual nature.
The Jews lost contact with this spiritual nature about 2,000 years ago when they went into exile and dispersed around the world. However, the fact that the Jews once attained spiritual unity remains latent within them, and as the need for such unity starts becoming sensed on a global scale—with a lot of problems revealing worldwide that have no comprehensive solution but in rising to a higher, spiritual level—then there is an increasing demand on the Jewish people by the nations of the world, who subconsciously expect a solution to their problems from the Jews. Thus, anti-Semitism rises in order to pressure Jews around the world to wake up to their role.
Yes. I can be an anti-Semite even if I don’t know what a Jew is, because I feel, without any intellectual grasp of what I feel, but I simply feel that my happiness, the world’s peace and my advancement in life depend on the Jews. I feel that this small nation of 15 or so million people runs and manipulates the world, squeezing out its juices and energies, preventing human society from enjoying a good life. That is a subconscious sensation of every person in the world. Also, if one doesn’t feel that way, then it can awaken very quickly, since it lies latent within every person.
How are Jewish people able to obtain such high positions in government, media, academia and Hollywood given the anti-Semitism they have faced?
Anti-Semitism actually helps Jews succeed in many areas of life since it pressures them to outsmart, outwork and outcompete others.
In addition, Jews experience disproportionate success because in addition to their corporeal root in this world, they embody a spiritual root. The spiritual root of the Jewish people comes from their ancestors becoming Jews in ancient Babylon some 4,000 years ago. Abraham gathered Babylonians from all walks of life according to a spiritual idea, to rise above people’s divisive drives of that time and reach “love your neighbor as yourself.” The attainment of this state is what made this gathering of all kinds of different people “Jewish” to being with (the Hebrew word for “Jew” [Yehudi] comes from the word for “united” [yihudi] [Yaarot Devash, Part 2, Drush no. 2]).
Therefore, due to once experiencing a spiritual state of unity, that special connection with the spiritual force of nature remains latent within the Jews till today. Jews themselves don’t know that they possess such a force, but they do, and this additional force is the reason for their disproportionate success in many fields. Especially in areas involving innovation and invention, the Jews are particularly sharp, which stems precisely from their inner connection to nature’s hidden unifying force.
There are a few reasons for the persecution of Jews throughout history. The main reason is rooted in the spiritual establishment of the Jewish people in ancient Babylon about 4,000 years ago. The Jewish people were originally a gathering of Babylonians from all walks of life who gathered under the guidance of Abraham, who taught them how to unite (“love your neighbor as yourself”) in order for unity to spread to all peoples (to be “a light unto nations”).
Having once attained a heightened spiritual state of unification, the Jews later fell from that spiritual state, when they entered the period of exile, and became unconscious of having ever experienced it. As such, persecution has befallen the Jewish people in various forms throughout history as part of the development toward a state where the Jews will need to re-attain the spiritual unity they once reached.
When the Jews were closer to their spiritual root, having an inclination and guidance on how to unite above their divisive egoistic drives, they were appreciated. This is exemplified in the periods of the First and Second Temples. Likewise, to the extent that the Jews became remote from their spiritual root, especially at times when a certain amount of spiritual unity was needed to expand in humanity, they received a negative response from nature through people subconsciously starting to hate them, fishing for reasons to place blame on them. This is because the role of the Jewish people, which they are idle in performing, is to unite among each other and with the upper force, and to spread spiritual unity worldwide. Specifically the idleness is the problematic point.
Therefore, today the Jews also experience increasing pressure in the form of exponentially rising anti-Semitic sentiment, crimes and threats in order to incentivize them to fulfill their function in the world.
The wisdom of Kabbalah, which is the method of unification that Abraham guided the Jews to unity with, has become disclosed today for the purpose of serving the world. Jews today need only access this method, apply efforts to unite through it, and by doing so, show an example to the world of what it does to them: how much it connects them and everyone, and how an eternal and perfect life becomes revealed through such connection. The Jews’ idleness in implementing this method—by not wanting to be a “light unto nations,” i.e. to the nations of the world—rebounds on them with a negative response from the nations of the world.
If the Jews will fail to perform their spiritual duty in the world, then a continued escalation of anti-Semitism will ensue. The Holocaust serves as an example of what could likely erupt in such a case.
We need to understand, as is explained in the wisdom of Kabbalah, that in history, nature doesn’t consider the amount of bodies in the world. The upper force, or nature, calculates only with regard to the implementation of the process toward the attainment of its final perfect state of complete unification. In this process, there are times when we Jews flow in the currents of the world, like a disease in its latent period, and there are periods when the disease surfaces and needs to be treated.
The wisdom of Kabbalah became open for all in the 16th century, during the time of the great Kabbalist, the Ari (Rav Isaac Luria). Since then, there has been a demand for its realization, i.e. the revelation of Godliness (the force of love, bestowal and connection) to all people in the world. Accordingly, if the Jews would have approached this method, wanting to engage in it and reveal Godliness both for their own sake and for the whole world, then we would be living in a completely different world today, filled abundantly with love, happiness and peace.
Since the Jews have made no significant steps toward the implementation of this method, then they cause all negative phenomena to appear in the world. Both Jews and non-Jews are unaware of this, but it subconsciously dwells within non-Jews that the Jews are to blame for the negativity in their lives. Therefore, the mass murder of Jews during World War 2 came as an extreme climax to implement the hatred toward them for that reason.
In his “Introduction to the Book of Zohar,” Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam) describes this phenomenon:
“In such a generation, all the destructors among the nations of the world raise their heads and wish primarily to destroy and to kill the children of Israel, as it is written (Yevamot 63), ‘No calamity comes to the world but for Israel.’ This means, as it is written in the above corrections, that they cause poverty, ruin, robbery, killing, and destruction in the whole world.”
Firstly, what is the Moshiach (Messiah)? According to the wisdom of Kabbalah, the Messiah is not a human being, but a higher force that unites people above all differences and divisions. It becomes revealed through people’s efforts to attract it through their efforts to unite to one another, above their differences. It is a force that we need to attract, to draw upon us, which connects us and fuses us into a single nation on this planet.
The word “Moshiach” (“Messiah”) comes from the word “Moshech” (“attract” or “pull”), since it is force that pulls us above our divisive drives, the human ego residing within each and every one of us. The act of attracting this force is reciprocal: We attract it to correct us, and we attract it to pull us above our destructive ego, and when we engage in this action, then not only anti-Semitism, but all problems, diseases and negative phenomena in the world will disappear.
Arab hatred of the Jews comes from Arabs and Jews being quite close to each other, struggling for the same land. However, beneath this surface reason, the deeper cause of the hatred is due to us Jews failing to realize our spiritual role and purpose in the world. This spiritual role is one of uniting (“love your friend as yourself”) in order to spread unity to humanity (to be a “light unto nations”), as we received it around 4,000 years ago in ancient Babylon under Abraham’s guidance. If we were to realize our role, then certainly we would be awarded with a different, positive attitude not only from Arabs, but from everyone in the world.
In relation to Nazi hatred of Jews, in the 1930s, the Nazis tried organizing Jewish emigration to the Land of Israel, as such a physical gathering would have been a major stepping stone toward the realization of the Jewish spiritual role in the world. The Jews, however, objected. As such, they received punishment. The punishment didn’t come from people, since people in our world aren’t running anything. The punishment came from nature, which acts also through the desires, thoughts and behaviors of people. If the Jews had wanted to emigrate to the Land of Israel, as the Nazis strongly recommended them to do over many years, then the outcome would have been very different. Jews, however, refused, and we thus experienced the Holocaust. (I elaborated on the Nazi efforts to move Jews to Israel in the 1930s in my answer to “Were Jews able to escape Nazi Germany in the 1930s as the Nazi party became increasingly aggressive towards them?” and in my article on “Holocaust Remembrance Day.”)
Today, as we discuss these matters, we also see a sharply rising anti-Semitic sentiment showing a tendency toward another Holocaust.
To state it concisely, it’s because the Jews have not made any steps toward realizing their spiritual role, to unite (“love your friend as yourself”) and become a positive example of unity for humanity (“a light unto nations”).
As human egoism—the desire to enjoy at the expense of others—grows from one day to the next, humanity increasingly suffers. The more humanity suffers, the more anti-Semitism increases and surfaces among people globally.
How does this work? It is because the Jews became known as “Jews” by uniting “as one man with one heart” some 4,000 years ago in ancient Babylon. It was at that time that Abraham guided Babylonians from all walks of life to unite above the growing human ego that was causing problems in society, and to be a positive example of unity to all people. These people who implemented such unity became known as “the Jews” (the Hebrew word for “Jew” [Yehudi] comes from the word for “united” [yihudi] [Yaarot Devash, Part 2, Drush no. 2]). Since then, the Jews lost consciousness of their spiritual unity (when they fell into the exile some 2,000 years ago), and developed among the nations of the world.
Over the course of human development, the human ego has grown to a state where today, it is overblown and demanding correction. The symptoms of having a continuously growing-yet-uncorrected ego are the myriad problems and crises that the world experiences on all scales: personal (e.g. depression, loneliness, anxiety, stress, suicide, drug abuse), social (e.g. social division, crime, war, poverty, unemployment, inequality), and ecological (e.g. natural disasters, global warming, food insecurity). The demand for the ego’s correction today coincides with a demand for unification above the division we experience in our world. Since the Jews fail to implement their spiritual unity—unity above egoism—and have it enter mainstream society, then Nazi and fascist versions of unity appear in society’s fringes. The Nazi and fascist versions of unity are dangerous because they are not unity above egoism, but unity within egoism, i.e. the unity of one people against others.
Last century, the climax of Nazism and anti-Semitism erupted in Nazi Germany, since Germany was the most developed country in the world at the time. Today, there is a strikingly similar tendency of rising Nazism and anti-Semitism that is headed toward a climax in the United States, Europe as well as all around the world, because of today’s tight global interdependence and interconnectedness.
Therefore, since the Jews have made no steps toward realizing the method for their and humanity’s positive unification, the negative form of unity surfaces as Nazism. And Nazism is a force that indeed once again threatens to rise in its power and inflict much suffering upon the Jews if they again fail to bring unity to the world in time.
Anti-Semitism in America
How could modern America become anti-Semitic? It is becoming anti-Semitic in many ways, not the least of which is through the education system. Colleges are notorious for fomenting hatred against the Jews.
I spoke about it many years ago, that the next Holocaust would be in America because it is the most developed, modern and multicultural country in our times. As America was still becoming established, it endured its labor pains through struggles with African Americans and Latin Americans. However, when America more or less became established, then anti-Semitism started appearing more and more.
When I visited America 20 years ago, I spoke with American Jews, explaining how anti-Semitism was going to ignite in the US. They all exploded in laughter when I said that. Today, the same American Jews I spoke to clearly see and agree that anti-Semitism is an intensifying problem in America. However, today I’m saying something even worse, that the next Holocaust will be in America. They still don’t understand that and say, “in the meantime, it’s still okay.” That’s also what the Jews in Germany said as they were being escorted to the trains to Auschwitz.
I have extensively spoken and written about the reason for anti-Semitism, which is that the Jewish people need to perform a special role in humanity—to unite (“love your friend as yourself”) and be a conduit for unity to spread to humanity (to be a “light unto nations”)—and anti-Semitism appears as a force to pressure the Jews to perform their role if they make no moves in that direction by themselves. This is the role that the Jews acquired when they gathered from all parts of Babylon some 4,000 years ago, under the guidance of Abraham, who led them to attain spiritual unity, where from unity among themselves they reached unity with the upper spiritual force.
The Jews lost connection to their spiritual unity some 2,000 years ago as they entered the period of exile. In our time, there is a renewed sense of urgency for unity to reawaken in humanity. As such, all fingers point at the Jews, albeit subconsciously, for them to implement the method of connection that they received in Abraham’s time. This is the reason for the exponential rise of anti-Semitism in our time, and especially in today’s most developed country, America. As myriad problems hit people around the world due to a lack of social cohesion, the need for unity above divisions becomes more and more prominent, and the more people feel pain in their lives, the more they subconsciously feel that Jews are behind that pain—for failing to come forward with the method of unification of all peoples.
As an American Jew, I am horrified by the anti-Semitism and racism that seems to have slithered out from under a rock since Donald Trump was elected. At what point does it make sense to leave the US? What would have to happen for you to leave?
It won’t help you to leave America. Don’t think that by leaving America you will do yourselves and the world any good. In order to make a positive impact in the world, which will also put an end to anti-Semitism and racism, you will need to start understanding what the nations of the world demand of you and what you need to correct. Your good future depends only on that. Therefore, I recommend, as quickly as possible, to recognize what is the role of the Jews toward all nations of the world, and let us approach this work because by doing so, we secure a good world for them, for us all, and our future generations.
Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam), the greatest Kabbalist of our era, explains how anti-Semitism is a sensation that exists in all nations, and that before people translate the hatred they feel toward Jews into all kinds of circumstances in our world, the hatred itself precedes all reasoning.
“It is a fact that Israel is hated by all nations, whether for religious reasons, racial reasons, capitalist reasons, communist reasons, or for cosmopolitan reasons, etc. It is so because the hatred precedes all reasons, but each merely resolves its loathing according to its own psychology.”
– Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag, “The Solution.”
Therefore, today there are people blaming the rise of anti-Semitism in the US on Trump’s election. Tomorrow, someone else will be blamed, and yesterday, anti-Semitism was due to something else.
Anti-Semitism is a historically reoccurring phenomenon that has taken place over 1,000s of years, so how could you explain its existence 1,000s of years ago? Was it because of Trump? Of course not. Everyone explains it according to however best suits them.
I think Trump is less anti-Semitic than those who shout at him that he is anti-Semitic—less anti-Semitic than American Jews themselves who hold government positions, especially liberal Jews.
Anti-Semitism is equal to everyone. However, for the time being, there is more anti-Semitism coming from the left, because the left can cover itself more and say “no, we’re liberal, we’re for equality,” etc. but it’s interesting to see that after all that, they’re more anti-Semitic than the right.
Also, why does the right support Jews, Judaism and Israel? It’s because, for the time being, it fits with their struggle against the left, the liberals.
These things, however, can overturn, because as I mentioned, anti-Semitism is equal to everyone.