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Michael Laitman, PhD

Egoism as a Spiritual Desire

Q: Why are Jews such egotistical people?

A: Jews, Israel in the spiritual sense, are those who aspire for the Creator. Naturally, they need a special desire for that. The desire for spirituality is the greatest of the desires in this world. Therefore, the smallest spiritual pleasure is greater than all the pleasures of this world. Hence, in order to want spirituality, you must be the greatest egoist.

Q: I face an inner contradiction. On the one hand, spirituality is about loving your fellow man, altruism and bestowal. On the other hand, in order to develop in spirituality, we must acquire greater desires to please ourselves than the ones we have right now.

A: Our reality in this world is that the desire for pleasure is limited to minute pleasures, whereas the sensation of the Creator, which is the spiritual world, is about immense pleasures. Therefore, people who aspire to spirituality must possess immense desires.

But these desires must be identical to the pleasures that stem from the Creator, meaning that we will not want to please ourselves, but to render pleasure. The wants of man and those of the Creator must be identical.

If we want to give as much as the Creator, to that extent we can sense the Creator and enjoy Him. Man’s soul is made of small desires to give, called “Israel,” and great desires to receive, called “Gentiles.”

In the first stage, Katnut (infancy), man discovers within only the small desires to give. He corrects and fills them. Then, in the stage of Gadlut (adulthood), the greater desires to receive join in.

In our world, this process happens on a worldwide scale: Israel, meaning the Jews, must first reach spirituality, and all other nations must follow. But in this pyramid, too, are exceptions.

There are also incarnations, association and dissociation of souls. Therefore, it would be unwise to draw general conclusions from the above. (I recommend reading the Introduction to The Book of Zohar in that context, from item 66 on).

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