The War of Gog and Magog
The struggle between internality and externality is called “The War of Gog and Magog.” It unfolds within the people of Israel, and its consequences determine the fate of the entire world. If we are triumphant, we will spare ourselves the horrifying depictions of the war of Gog and Magog as an apocalyptic global war.
The War of Gog and Magog is actually an internal war, occurring within individuals from Israel. It is not a physical war with planes and missiles, as is often thought. The planes and the missiles are not the real war; they are merely a physical manifestation of accumulated imbalance.
The war of Gog and Magog is a war between the internality and the externality of our desires. It is fought in our hearts and in our minds. As it unfolds, it gives us a choice. To which do we want to belong? Do we prefer the internality of the world or its externality? Where are our desires, minds, and hearts drawn? This is the war. And the purpose of this book is to make every person from Israel aware that his or her internality determines everything that happens in the outside world.
To win this war, we need a means that will increase the importance of the internality in our hearts. For precisely this purpose, the wisdom of Kabbalah has been revealed in our generation. Throughout our exile, which was both spiritual and physical, we have been disconnected from this wisdom. While a chosen few have been correcting their egos and perceived the inclusive Nature by using this wisdom, the rest of the nation has been completely detached from it, remaining with only superficial symbols of Israel’s tradition.
We should be aware that the method for correcting the ego, which Moses gave to Israel—the Torah (Pentateuch)—was written in the language of the branches. It uses corporeal terms (branches) to point to spiritual elements (roots).
Kabbalists—people who have attained the comprehensive Nature and live in both the physical and the spiritual worlds simultaneously—know how to decipher the language of the branches. They identify to which spiritual root each corporeal branch points. Hence, they see the Torah as instructions for internal work in the three previously mentioned lines, which will correct the ego.
However, other people cannot see the language of the branches as anything other than corporeal depictions. They only see the superficial part of the Torah, and do not imagine that there is something hidden within it. Consequently, during the course of the exile, people began to treat the Torah as something superficial, like a history book or a legal constitution.
In “The Essence of the Wisdom of Kabbalah,” and in Talmud Eser Sefirot, Part One, Baal HaSulam refers to this phenomenon as “materializing.” He explains that it is a consequence of thousands of years of Israel’s detachment from the spiritual world.
Until our time, Kabbalists kept silent about it. But when the immigration to Israel began, marking the end of exile, they emerged from hiding and called on the people to reacquaint themselves with life’s purpose, which had been forgotten since the ruin of the Temple. They urged the people to use the wisdom of Kabbalah to that end.
Kabbalah is unique in the sense that it does not allow one to materialize, since the language it uses is not the language of the branches, but a “coded” language of worlds and Sefirot. It depicts all the elements of the ego and the phases to correct each of them in detail. Using graphs, charts, and calculations, Kabbalah leads the individual through the steps of the correction of the ego, points to the next step required at every stage, and explains how it should be done. It leaves no room for imagining that one can reach anything good in one’s life without correcting one’s ego. Finally, it shows that the way to achieve this correction is through internal, contemplative actions.
This is why Kabbalists explained that the people of Israel would regain equilibrium with Nature only through the wisdom of Kabbalah. This is also why they emerged to disseminate it to the masses. They realized that this was the only way the people of Israel and the whole world would come closer to redemption and deliverance from their adversities, as “this matter of the redemption… is the uppermost wholeness of attainment and knowledge” (Baal HaSulam, “Introduction to the Tree of Life”).
The GRA (Vilna Gaon) wrote, “Redemption depends primarily on the study of Kabbalah” (Even Shlomo, Chapter 11, item 3). Rav Kook explained similarly: “The great spiritual questions that were previously solved only to the fine and the great, must now be solved, in various degrees, to the whole nation” (Eder HaYekar ve Ikvey HaTzon). Likewise, Baal HaSulam determined (“Introduction to the Tree of Life”) that “only through the expansion of the wisdom of Kabbalah in the masses will we obtain complete redemption.” Hence, he wrote, we are obliged to “compose books, to hasten the circulation of the wisdom throughout the nation.”
But the Kabbalists were met with opposition. Not all orthodox leaders joined their call; some opposed it and tried to impede the dissemination of the Kabbalah. This reaction is a result of the people’s spiritual exile over the past two millennia. During the last, and spiritually lowest stage of the exile, people without spiritual attainment became leaders of their people.
A clear example of this approach is the treatment that Baal HaSulam received when he began to disseminate the Kabbalah among the masses. His task was clear: “I find a great need to break an iron wall that has been separating us from the wisdom of Kabbalah since the ruin of the Temple to this generation. It lies heavily on us and arouses fear of being forgotten from Israel.” (“Introduction to The Study of the Ten Sefirot,” item 1).
In an attempt to prevent the approaching Holocaust, in 1933 Baal HaSulam published a series of treatises.
The first treatise stated that there would be fifty such treatises, and the title of the first essay in the treatise, Time to Act, clearly indicated the author’s intention. Two weeks later, the second treatise was published — HaArvut (The Bond or The Mutual Guarantee)—and following it came the third, and last treatise, “The Peace.”
Baal HaSulam’s intention to disseminate the wisdom of Kabbalah to the masses was disagreeable to some public leaders, and they halted the publication of these essays to prevent the spreading of the wisdom. Baal HaSulam was not the first Kabbalist to receive this ‘treatment.’ The Ramchal, for example, who tried to awaken the people prior to the end of the exile, suffered from a similar attitude to his attempts.
In The Gates of Ramchal, essay: The Debate, p. 97, he wrote: “Rashbi (Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai) had so screamed about it, and calls upon those who engage in the literal Torah, that they are asleep … It is the fruit of the exile that Israel, through our many faults, have forgotten this path and remained asleep, immersed in their slumber, and paying no heed to it. … Behold, we are in the dark, like the dead in the world, like complete walls-craping blind.”
The battle for disseminating the correction method in to the public is the most important war in reality. Its consequences are indeed grave, since delaying the distribution of the method will make the internality unable to overpower the externality within each person, in the nation of Israel and in the entire world. It follows that this balance of forces determines the kind of world we will continue to live in.
Thus, it has already been written in The Book of Zohar: “Woe unto those people … that make the Torah dry, without the moistness of mind and knowledge. They confine themselves to the practical part of the Torah, and do not wish to try to understand the wisdom of Kabbalah. … Woe unto them, for with these acts they make poverty, ruin and robbery, looting, killings, and destruction exist in the world.” (Zohar, Tikkunim, Tikkun 30).
Rabbi Chaim Vital, the Ari’s disciple and scribe, sorrowfully wrote about it in his Introduction to the Ari’s Tree of Life: “Woe unto those people from the affront of the Torah. Undoubtedly, by engaging in the literal and in its stories alone, it wears its mourning clothes, and robes itself with a sack. And all the nations will say onto Israel, ‘What is thy beloved more than another beloved, what is your Torah more than our Torah.’ After all, your Torah is worldly stories of trivia, too.’ There is no greater insult to the Torah than that. Hence, woe unto those people from the affront of the Torah. And they do not engage in the wisdom of Kabbalah, which gives honor to the Torah, for they prolong the exile and all the evils that come into the world.”
After the Holocaust, from 1945 to his last day, Baal HaSulam was preoccupied with publishing The Sulam Commentary on The Book of Zohar. In the introduction to the commentary, he explained once more the urgent need to begin to realize the correction method: “Now it is upon us relics, to correct that dreadful wrong. ... Then, each and every one of us will be awarded the intensification of his own internality…That force will come to the whole of the people of Israel. … Also, the internality of the Nations of the World, the Righteous of the nations of the world will overpower and subdue their externality, which are the destructors. And the internality of the world, too, which are Israel, shall rise in all their merit and virtue over the externality of the world, which are the nations. Then, all the Nations of the World will recognize and acknowledge Israel’s merit.”