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The Dark before the Dawn

The darkest time of night is right before the dawn. Similarly, the writers of The Book of Zohar said, almost 2,000 years ago, that humanity’s darkest time will come right before its spiritual awakening. For centuries, beginning with the Ari, who lived in the 16th century, Kabbalists have been writing that the time The Book of Zohar referred to was the end of the 20th century. They called it “the last generation.”

They did not mean that we would all perish in some apocalyptic, spectacular event. In Kabbalah, a generation represents a spiritual state. The last generation is the last and highest state that can be reached. And Kabbalists said that the time we are living in—the beginning of the 21st century—is when we would see the generation of the spiritual ascent, the last state of our evolution.

But these Kabbalists also said that for this change to happen, we must change the way we are evolving. They said that today, a conscious, voluntary evolution is required, born of our own free choice to grow.

As with any beginning or birth, the emergence of the last generation, the generation of free choice, is no easy process. Until recently, we have been evolving in our lower desires—still through speaking—leaving out the spiritual level. But now the spiritual Reshimot are surfacing in millions of people, demanding that we realize them.

When these Reshimot first appear in us, we still lack the appropriate method to deal with them. They are like a whole new technology that we must learn how to operate. So while we are still learning, we try to realize the new kind of Reshimot with our old ways of thought, because those ways helped us realize our lower level Reshimot. But those ways are inadequate for handling the new Reshimot, and therefore fail to do their job, and live us empty and frustrated.

When spiritual Reshimot surface in an individual, without the method to satisfy them, frustration arises, then depression, until one learns how to relate to these new desires. This usually happens by applying the wisdom of Kabbalah, which was originally designed to cope with spiritual Reshimot, as we’ve described in Chapter One.

If, however, one cannot find the solution, the individual might plunge into workaholism, addictions of all kinds, and other attempts to suppress the problem of the new desires, trying to avoid coping with an incurable ache.

On a personal level, such a state is very distressing but it doesn’t pose a problem serious enough to destabilize the social structure. However, when spiritual Reshimot appear in millions of people at approximately the same time, and particularly if this happens in many countries simultaneously, you have a global crisis on your hands. And a global crisis calls for a global solution.

Today, it is no secret that humanity is in a global crisis. Depression is soaring to unprecedented rates in the United States, but the picture isn’t much brighter in other developed countries. In 2001, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that “depression is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and worldwide.”

Another major problem in modern society is the alarming abundance of drug abuse. Drugs have always been in use, but in the past they were used primarily for medicine and rituals, while today they are being used at a much earlier age, primarily to alleviate the emotional void that so many young people feel. And because depression is soaring, so is the use of drugs and drug-related crimes.

Another facet of the crisis is the state of the family unit. The family institution used to be an icon of stability, warmth, and shelter, but not any more. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, for every two couples that marry, one divorces, and the figures are similar throughout the Western world.

Moreover, couples no longer must go through a major crisis or personality clash to decide on a divorce. Today, even couples in their 50s and 60s separate once their kids have left home. Since their incomes are secured, they’re not afraid of starting a new chapter at ages that only a few years back were considered unacceptable for such steps.

We even have a phrase that spares us facing this painful aspect of our social crisis: “the empty nest syndrome.” Yet, the bottom line is that people divorce because once their children have left home, there is nothing to keep them together, since there is simply no love between them.

It was therefore not surprising to read these words on The New York Times October 15, 2006 edition: “Married couples, whose numbers have been declining for decades as a proportion of American households, have finally slipped into a minority, according to an analysis of new census figures.”

At the end of the day, it is not the financial stability that sets us apart, it is the simple fact that people don’t love each other, only themselves. But if we remember that we were all deliberately created egoists by a force that wants to give, we might have a fighting chance. At least then we will know that we will not find the solution in ourselves, but in Him.

The crisis is unique not only in its universality, but in its versatility. This makes it much more comprehensive and difficult to handle. The crisis is happening in just about every field of human engagement—personal, social, international, in science, medicine, and the environment. For example, until just a few years ago, “the weather” was simply a convenient haven when one had nothing to contribute about other topics. Today, however, we are required to be climate savvy. Hot topics nowadays are climate change, global warming, rising sea levels, and the start of the new hurricane season.

“The Big Thaw” is what Geoffrey Lean of The Independent ironically called the state of the planet in an online article published November 20, 2005. Here’s the title of Lean’s article: “The Big Thaw: Global Disaster Will Follow If the Ice Cap on Greenland Melts.” And the subtitle, “Now scientists say it is vanishing far faster than even they expected.”

And weather is not the only disaster lurking on the horizon. The June 22, 2006 issue of the magazine, “Nature,” published a University of California study stating that the San Andreas Fault is now overdue for the “Big One.” According to Yuri Fialko of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, “the fault is a significant seismic hazard and is primed for another big earthquake.”

And of course, if we survive the storms, the earthquakes, and the rising seas, there is always a Bin Laden in the area to remind us that our lives can be made significantly briefer than we had planned.

And finally, there are health issues that require our attention: AIDS, avian flu, mad cow disease, and of course, the old standbys: cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes await us. There are many more we can mention here, but by now you’ve probably gotten the point. While some of these health problems aren’t new, they are mentioned here because they are spreading around the globe.

Conclusion: An ancient Chinese proverb says, “When you want to curse someone, tell him, ‘May you live in interesting times.’” Our times are indeed interesting; but let’s not consider this a curse. It is as The Book of Zohar promised—the darkness before the dawn. Now, let’s talk about the solution.

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