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This article on the portion of the week was previously published in 2016.
The idea of a global spirituality is not a new idea.
We know from the story of Creation that there was a time in spiritual history when the Light of the Creator and His Creation, the Vessel -- which was the single united origin of all of our souls -- were one, and in perfect harmony. This is the story of the endless world which you have learned about in your studies of Kabbalah. This was the starting point, the origin of the desire that all human beings seek -- a desire to become one, with our mates, with the world, and ultimately with God. Somehow, deep in our spiritual DNA, we remember this ultimate union. For we cannot have a desire for that which we have not tasted.
We understand from the story of Creation that God’s purpose to create this world and everything in it was to shower upon us fulfillment and beneficence. We also understand that the nature of the Creator is only to create and fulfill. Therefore, destruction cannot come from that thought or intention. What is in the tree comes from the seed. Nothing more, nothing less. The thought of the Creator for this world was the seed, and his intention was to fulfill; if that is the thought, that must also be the end game, the outcome.
Yet we know that biblical history tells us there was a time the Creator wanted to destroy the world – the story of Noah’s ark. Well, the Zohar explains differently. It was not God that created the destruction. We know that is not in God’s nature. It was the deeds of humanity that brought upon themselves consequence to their actions. Not as a punishment, but as a result of their own thoughts, words, and deeds. For example, if we examine our own world today: Can we drink the water? What about the foods we eat, the fish we farm, the air we breathe? Did God pollute them? Did God make them unsafe for eating? Did God dump toxic waste into our waters? Is it God that brought those results upon us as punishment? Or are they a result of the decisions we make with our own free will? The Zohar explains it was the same environment during the time of Noah. The form with which the Creator presented himself was a force of result, not of punishment.
And yet, the world was not destroyed. In fact, we were given a chance to start again. After the flood, humanity began again. All were united. At the end of the portion of Noah, it says,
And the whole world had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the East that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and they settled there. And they said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick instead of stone, and slime for mortar. And they said, “Come, let us build a city and a tower that reaches to heaven, and let us make ourselves a name lest we are scattered upon the face of the whole earth.” And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the children of men were building. And the Lord said, “Behold the people are one, and they all have one language that they have begun to do, and now nothing will restrain them from what they plan to do. Come, let Us go down and confuse their language so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world, and from there, the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the Earth. (Genesis 11:1–9)
The entire world was united; one world, one vision. They wanted to build a tower to create a cleaving, a oneness again with the Creator. They wanted a new humanity based on this oneness. They wanted to attain heaven, to go back to the endless world. They spoke one language, they were one nation, with one religion, and a powerful desire to connect to God. To elevate to God, is that not a good desire? What was wrong?
Why did God see this and decide to create separation?
God scrambled their language. Though scripture says they forgot the language, the Zohar says they simply stopped seeing things in the same way. There was a bilbul. There was confusion.
A world of different nations, religions, and languages began at that moment in time. The story of Babel thus explains how the descendants of one man, Noah, came to be so widely scattered and divided into separate nations, religions, speaking so many different languages.
The story relates how, at the time when all men still spoke one language, there was a migration from the East. And it was decided to build a "city and a tower with its top in the sky," so that the builders would be able to make a name for themselves and avoid being scattered over the entire world.
The statement in Genesis 11:5 "… which the sons of men had built" is particularly meaningful. This tower was an object of pride of human endeavor.
It is clear from the story that the work on the tower displeased God, yet the specific sin of the builders is not mentioned directly. It was their ego in wanting "to make a name" for themselves, which incurred the chaos that ensued. Moreover, the desire to remain together in one place, as one nation and one religion, was in direct conflict with the divine purpose as is expressed by God to Noah and his sons after the flood: "Be fertile and increase and fill up the Earth" (Gen. 9:7) According to this interpretation the sin of these people was, therefore, not only a presumption or a desire to reach heaven and gain fame but rather an attempt to change the divinely ordained plan for mankind.
The Tower of Babel narrative is a turning point in history, as understood by the Bible, in that it signals the end of the era of universal monotheism.
Why did God stop the Monotheism?
Is that not what God wants? Clearly, we can understand from the story that it is not what God wants!
As the Bible tells us, all religions, all nations, all languages are the will and the protection of the Creator.
As God said to Noah after the flood,
… for in the image of God made He man. And you be fruitful and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth and multiply upon it.” And God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him saying: “Behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your seed after you; and with every living creature that is with you—the birds, the cattle, and all the wild beasts of the earth with you, from all that, go out of the ark to every beast on earth. And I will establish My covenant with you: Never again will all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said, “This is the sign of a covenant which I make between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it will be a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. And it shall come to pass when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh, and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.” And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between Me and all flesh that is upon the earth.” (Genesis 9:6-17)
Not only did God tell Noah to be fruitful and multiply over the Earth. God gave his word 6 times that everything is made in the image of God, and all will be protected.
One of the most important understandings we receive from this is that all of humanity is created by God, and protected by God, and therefore must exist. The spiritual lesson here is to learn to see as God does the beauty and sanctity of all flesh, all faiths, and understand that all paths are a path to God.
In his essay On World Peace, Rav Ashlag explains:
Everything that exists in reality has the right to exist, to the degree that destroying it and removing it completely from the world is forbidden. Rather, our duty is only to guide it towards goodness, for even a casual observation at the work of Creation that lies before us is enough [for us] to infer the high degree of perfection of Him Who has created it.
Therefore, we have to understand and to take great care that we do not find faults in any part of Creation, declaring [this part or that] to be superfluous and unnecessary, because this amounts to giving a bad name, heaven forbid, to Him Who created it.
But the Creator guards all aspects of His Creation with great care and does not let anyone destroy anything that is in His possession.
So, now that we understand from the Bible, the spiritual logic that supports Rav Ashlag’s direction, that all religions and all paths to God are good and right. The question is, how then do we take all of these differences and bring them back to one global spirituality -- to be in synchronicity?
Although we are all different, we can live with human dignity and be in sync. We can apply our consciousness to recognize that our differences and variables are beautiful. The idea is to have different shades of synchronicity. To see with our consciousness, the beauty of the world of God. Multiplicity is how God planned the world.
Every group, every community, every religion has its own process, and all are necessary in the scheme of the world. As the Bible tells us, God created all manner of Creation, and all were in the image of God. The caveat is that we need to respect each other’s differences, not to change each other, and to be able to have commonality, mindfulness of the purpose of life.
How do we do that?
Consciousness is our level of awareness of the spirit of God in everything. What does peace mean? Peace is when people respect each other and can see with our most elevated consciousness the spark of God that exists in everyone and in everything.
We are destined to be many, but to learn to act as One.
It is believed that Abraham was the first to bring in the idea of one God. What follows the story of Noah is the story of Abraham. How was Abraham’s work different than the work of those building the tower of Babel, who acted as One but did not see the importance of the many? Abraham did not want to make everyone One, but rather he was the first person to see the One (the Creator) in everyone and everything. Abraham fell in love with God. Once he looked outside and understood that all the beauty that he saw came from the Creator, his whole life became about knowing God. It is said that Abraham is like a person in love who, once smitten, cannot think of anything but this person, wants to know everything about this person and wants to share with the world all that he loves about this person.
Abraham wanted to share this love with the world.
Genesis 25:6 says, “Abraham gave gifts and sent them to the East countries. But unto his son Isaac, he gave all that he had.”
So, what kind of gifts did Abraham give? He gave them spiritual tools. He gave them access to spiritual understanding. And it says that in the time of Redemption, those tools will be gathered back together, not only from the East but from around all the world.
As God told Noah, “Be fruitful and multiply and remember that all of the Creations of this world are in the image of me. Look within everything and find me.”
Rav Ashlag told us that in 1954 for the world was ready for it. But there needs to be a paradigm shift.
This is why we opened the doors of the Centre to everyone. It used to be that Kabbalah was only studied by Jewish scholars. Today, it is for all who wish to a part. At the Kabbalah Centres around the world, our communities are peopled by those of all faiths and orientations, all working to share more, be part of a global community, and are aware of and seeking to diminish their ego.
When we read about the Redemption, it says that there will come a time when all the spiritual knowledge in the world will be gathered together. People of like minds will join together. Regardless of where they were born or what their specific pathway is to their Creator, they will find a common denominator.
Now we know there is only one aspect in this universe that does not diminish by its being shared, and that is light because we can light a thousand candles, and the light of the first candle is never diminished. The wax diminishes, but the light does not. This light of the candle is akin to the Light of the soul. This is the Light that binds us.
When we started this whole thing, I told Rav Berg that we were going to teach Kabbalah to men, women, and children, and he said, "How could that happen?" But guess what? It’s happened. And so too will it be with the different spiritual modalities coming together.
Don’t get me wrong, we do not want to change what we are, and we do not want to change what somebody else is either, but what we do want is to create a base where all of us can stand together, whether we pray lying down, on our knees, or standing up. We want to create a base where each one of us can embrace the other and say, "There is Light in you."
In the words of the prophet Malachi 2:10, “Are we not all children of the same Father? Are we not all created by the same God?”