Kabbalah Video Clips


The House in the Orchard


Award-winning biographical author William Simon and promoter Bill Gladstone interview Michael Laitman, PhD, gathering in-depth information about Dr. Laitman׳s personal experiences with Kabbalah, his teacher, his family and moving to Israel.



ARI Films (in affiliation with Kabbalah TV)

The House in the Orchard
Part 1

A Talk between Rav Michael Laitman, William Simon, and Bill Gladstone

William L. Simon-Bill Simon has been a freelance film writer and bestselling book author for more than twenty-five years, with credits on over 800 published and produced works. As a documentary film writer, Bill's scripts have won many award including eight CINE Golden Eagles, an Emmy nomination, and recognition from the Venice, Berlin and Belgrade film festivals.

As the author of twelve books, his most recent work is The Art of Deception (Wiley). Famed computer hacker, Kevin Mitnick, Publishers Weekly called the book, "a tour de force" and said it is "like reading the climaxes of a dozen complex thrillers, one after the other. Before that was The Afterlife Experiments (PB/Simon & Scuster). Other major works include the story of an Apple Computer CEO building the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft. His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Bill Gladstone-Bill Gladstone founded Waterside Productions, Inc in 1982, and has personally places more than 5000 titles with dozens of publishers. He has represented stars from the technical world, ranging from Peter Norton to Linus Torvalds, and was responsible for selling the first "For Dummies" book. Dos for Dummies, by Dan Gookin, which led to the phenomenal series that now has sold over 100 million copies.

Mr. Gladstone has also been involved in the creation of many other book series. Mr. Gladstone advises publishing and training companies, and has been involved in transactions ranging from six to mid eight figure deals.

Rav Michael Laitman, PhD-Rav Michael Laitman is a foremost Kabbalist. He has an MS in Biocybernetics, and a PhD in Philosophy. He is a professor of Ontology and Theory of Knowledge, founder and Director of the International Academy of Kabbalah, and the scientific research institute ARI (Ashlag Research Institute). He is the author of more than 30 books, which have been translated into nine languages.

Dr Laitman is a member of the World Wisdom Council-an elite expert body, created by the Budapest Club, which deals with global problems of the modern world. Members of the Council, together with Michael Laitman, are the Dalai Lama, Milos Forman, Paulo Coelho, Ervin Laszlo, Peter Gabriel. His daily lessons are broadcasted live through the Internet (www.kabbalah.info) and on cable TV, to thousands of students around the world.

William L. Simon: Does Kabbalah offer people specific solutions for everyday life?

Rav Michael Laitman: No. General and for the entirety of lifetime.

William L. Simon: Yes, so do you know what we mean by "self-help?"

Rav Michael Laitman: [Nods].

William L. Simon (cont.): Is there in Kabbalah the material for doing a "self-helper"?

Rav Michael Laitman: Self-help, but for the whole of life, and for all reincarnations. But not how to be healthier, more successful, pretty, or skinny. Nothing relating to succeeding in our life, no.

William L. Simon (cont.): That's fine. Even including success with other people, in dealing with people?

Rav Michael Laitman: When a person studies, as a result, he certainly succeeds more in understanding other people, and in seeing the world more correctly because he understands the world better in general. But not that it helps him to do some magic tricks. It doesn't give him the ability to manipulate other people.

William L. Simon: Oh no. What we usually mean by a self-help book, is not one that involves manipulating people, it's understanding relationships with people, and being more successful in the life you create for yourself, by understanding people and understanding their problems, and understanding how to deal with it.

Rav Michael Laitman: This is also something that it doesn't do. Kabbalah connects a person to the Upper Force, it doesn't deal with this world at all. They can be compared to children who are playing their childish games on the floor, and next to them there are those who've already ascended above that level and they get to do serious work. So Kabbalah leaves all the games on the level of this world, and elevates a person to a different level. By doing that, it solves problems of the human being. Every other method, even if it's sold under the name of Kabbalah, teaches how to succeed in these "games." Actually, Kabbalah does come to help man, but I repeat that its uniqueness is in the fact that it gives man a higher fulfillment; not money, not respect...

Bill Gladstone: Yeah Yeah, I understand already, but my whole point is, what I'm trying to make is, if you can, I mean, it's not Kabbalistic terminology, but if you think of yourself as your teachers talk, as a human and a Divine-you are both parts, higher self, lower self. If you're able to move to the higher self, the perspective of the higher self, and you see yourself as a Divine being, at the soul level, it changes your relationship with all these other problems, even though it doesn't address them directly.
Rav Michael Laitman: Of course, of course!

Bill Gladstone (cont.): That's what I think we have to emphasize in this book; that the key.

Rav Michael Laitman: An individual sees the whole world as a means for spiritual ascent.

Bill Gladstone: So you're less attached to-"I'm not getting along with my wife," or "I'm not the exact body shape."

Rav Michael Laitman: Of course. One uses all these things purposefully. We function in this world according to our ego, which constantly grows. This ego needs to go through several levels in its growth until it reaches a level that it can't fill itself. That is what is starting to happen in humanity at this time. That's the reason for the global crisis, and all that an individual has to deal with in this world-the crisis of family, education, and even the general perception of who he is, what is the point of his life. Man can't find a reason to live, so he looks for an escape in drugs. We do anything to keep ourselves occupied, so that we don't feel empty.

All that has a goal. It is in order for us, after we have evolved, having gone through many reincarnations, and have accumulated a lot of bitter experience in all our previous reincarnations and in this life, that we are forced to face the question, "What is the meaning of life?" We are still trying somehow to quench that question, when it arises, but soon, people will not be able to do that. Even drugs will not help, they will loath them. They will simply feel a terrible void, and this is what brings humanity on a political level to a Nazi regime, and to terror.

It was written in the Book of Zohar-and this book has not lied or made any mistakes in the last 2000 years-it says, if we do not begin, by ourselves, to change the situation, we will reach a Nazi regime in all the developed countries, and we will have a third World War.

Why is there a need to bring us to such a situation? That after the development, from generation to generation, now we've reached a situation that our emptiness comes, because we don't feel the source of life. Where are we from, and what are we here for? This is the question that we need to solve, because it is initially found in our egoistical desire and that brings it to us, because our egoism has to bring us to Divinity, to the Upper Force. So, the wisdom of Kabbalah-which has been hidden by Kabbalists themselves throughout all the years, since the beginning of the history-is now is being revealed as a means for filling that emptiness, in order to help man feel the Upper Reality, or, the Upper Force. If one does not reach it, he will simply remain empty without any solution. We have encountered this problem for decades now.

Our experience shows, that when we present the wisdom of Kabbalah to people, it opens their eyes. It gives them vigor in life; it gives them a new life (I am speaking from experience with students, groups of students throughout the world, thousands of people in our network) the realization of the fact that our life has a purpose, and that the goal needs to be revealed to us, because that is what we need to discover.

The wisdom of Kabbalah was given to the Jewish nation, and that's why it is called, "the chosen people." It needs to be the "Light for the other nations," as written, in order to pass on this wisdom to humanity when it has grown. As long as we don't convey the wisdom of Kabbalah, anti-Semitism is going to increase. And conversely, the more that we do deliver it, we will be privileged with the opposite, with admiration from the rest of the nations.

We have students who are Arab, German, French, Italian, Turkish; they had no love for Jews before. I have students who have swastikas tattooed on their arm. My group of German students had their picture taken on Hitler's parade stadium.

In other words, Kabbalah is the salvation for our nation. And as much as humanity will advance, anti-Semitism will escalate, even in nations who never heard of or saw us. Because when man evolves, though he doesn't know why, within him he feels this emptiness, and he feels that the Jews have the solution. Thus, first of all it is a solution for us, and secondly, for the whole world. We are all in this together, and we're carrying out our obligation.

Bill Gladstone: Just out of curiosity, in terms of the souls and the whole cosmology of Kabbalah, how many souls are Chinese?

Rav Michael Laitman: You cannot count souls by heads because a soul is a like an electrical current that you repeatedly split. It can arrive through a large tube, or divided into thousands of small tubes.

By disseminating the wisdom of Kabbalah in the world, we want only one thing: that people will know that our evolution in this world, includes such a state that one realizes that his life is meaningless, "I do not know how to escape this question nor answer it," and in that state, Kabblah is the method of revealing Light to such a person.

People have to identify with what the wisdom of Kabbalah offers, and if not, then it is not for him-they need to grow more, maybe a few more years, or maybe another reincarnation.

I do not decide for man whether he needs to come and learn Kabbalah. Again, if man has grown, if he has matured and if he has a burning question, and does know why he exists, what his purpose is, then this method is for him. Otherwise, it's not.

There are millions or billions of people in the world today that are in this crisis. Depression is the number one illness, and drugs, are the second one, and they are really the result of that. And even cancer is direct result of an ego that cannot find itself, and starts to eat itself, on a bodily level. Also the crisis of families-so many are getting divorced, and it's a problem even with the children. Today in the world there are millions, even billions of people who need this. We see this according to the research. So we have to explain to them about the cure. I did not mean that there are only few people in the world who need Kabbalah, either. I meant that we do not introduce it by force. It is not Pepsi or Coca-Cola, and it can't be marketed that way.

William L. Simon: But "to dangle the bait" means to get people interested, to stimulate curiosity for many more.

Rav Michael Laitman: I want them to know that Kabbalah provides the answer to one question: "What is the purpose of my existence?"

My purpose is-for whoever is ready-that they should know that it exists. And in this we are changing the world.

William L. Simon: I think you are going to say 'no' to this, but I want to ask the question anyway. If you have a group of students who come to you for a period of time, not just for a lesson, and you want to convey to them the essence of Kabbalah, the principles, the basic ideas, are there five or twelve, or some specific number of ideas that you want to convey to them, that there are.

Rav Michael Laitman: Yes.

William L. Simon (Cont.): There are?

Rav Michael Laitman: Yes.

William L. Simon: About how many?

Rav Michael Laitman: There are maybe three, four, or five principles. Let's say five. First of all, that there is an Upper Force that we all live in. And we are the egoistic parts that are opposite to it. Our egos evolve, as we said, for the past few thousand years in this world. At the end of this development, we will reach a state that we have to unify with this Force.

Who are we? That's the second principle. This Upper Force is entirely good, bestowing, and giving. It created us opposite itself as egoists, in order for the ego to develop in us to a point where we can reveal that our nature is destructive, and that there is nothing worse than it; and that we want to burst out of this in the same way that we want to break free from an old skin, and to become like it. Then, by the method of Kabbalah, we will be able to become like it.

The third principle: we are one soul; one egoistical desire that was created by the Upper One as one desire-the desire to enjoy. And we were shattered into thousands and millions of parts, called "individual souls." They are what develops during this whole process.

We have to correct ourselves to become like the Creator, and that means that we all need to unify, together. All the souls have to come back into one soul, together. Really, in the egoistical manner in which we are divided, we hate one another. Our correction is to be the opposite: we should see that our ego is destructive, and that we want to connect back together.

The fourth principle: When we reach the immense destructive ego of our times that's starting to appear, we see just how bad it is. There are now two ways: to evolve either through the beating that we receive, which is basically how we live our lives now, that we run away from suffering all the time. I'm not sure where I should run to, just as long as it's away from what's hurting me. Or, that I reveal before me the goal, by the method of Kabbalah, and I develop in this so that it would attract me to my development. The first is the "path of evolution" and that's called the "path of suffering." The second, is called, "the path of Light." Our choice is whether to evolve one way or the other.

And all of the development of humanity, until this time, was without any freedom of choice. We were simply carrying out what the ego told us to do. Ego, DNA, it doesn't matter what you call it. Rather, people now have a desire that is for something beyond this world. They can't fill themselves with anything that they can find in this world, so they ask themselves why they exist, and they don't know why.

Now they have the freedom of choice: either to continue in the path of suffering, like they did before (you know, by getting punishment) or they can evolve towards the goal that is drawing them.

The path of spiritual development, the minute that one discovers the wisdom of Kabbalah, he begins to learn, with the help of Kabbalistic books, about his more corrected, and his more advanced state. Then, when he reads about it, he is drawn to this advanced state. Then he doesn't need any kind of affliction, rather, he is constantly drawn to more advanced stages. But this is on the condition that he learns from genuine books of Kabbalah, and from a correct guide.

The only genuine Kabbalah books in our time are the Book of Zohar, the writings of the ARI, and Baal HaSulam.

William L. Simon: I would want to talk about your childhood and growing up.

Rav Michael Laitman: I was born in Belorussia, in the year 1946 in the city of Vitebsk. My parents were doctors. I completed high school, then I went to University. I wanted my education to answer the question of the essence of life. Thus I went to study the most advanced field of study that there was at that time, Biological Cybernetics.

This field studies how cells live. It studies what is in them, the programming that operates them; cause and effect relationships that define their existence.

William L. Simon: Where did this interest in biological science come from?

Rav Michael Laitman: The reason was that I felt emptiness in my life.

William L. Simon: An emptiness that your parents weren't able to explain or...

Rav Michael Laitman: No, my parents gave me everything, just like any child in a Jewish family.

William L. Simon : They gave you everything intellectual, but not spiritual?

Rav Michael Laitman: Yes, of course. I received everything, including correct education. The question though, it was burning inside me. I thought that this field would help me to know a little bit more about this.

For example, how a plant can come from something inanimate. How does it develop? What is the essence of the difference between these two things? Why, all of a sudden, it comes alive and it develops? I wanted, basically, to find an answer to this emptiness that I felt inside.

What am I living for? I think that every child has that question. Afterwards it is suppressed by hormones, and also, there was the influence of my environment. I, however, was not successful in forgetting that question. After university, I realized that I was left even emptier, and I saw that I couldn't advance anymore. I reached successes in my research, but I saw no future for me.

William L. Simon: Because you were Jewish, or...

Rav Michael Laitman: Especially because of this, yes. The authorities refused to let me immigrate, and I spent four years trying. It was only in the 1974 that they gave me permission to go. Thus I moved from Belorussia to Russia and from Russia to Lithuania. Then, in the year of 1974, I arrived in Israel. I continued my research there, but I couldn't find any satisfaction in anything.

I sensed that in the developed world I would be capable of finding it, but I was unsuccessful. I turned to people and organizations of all kinds, and I discovered nothing but emptiness everywhere I searched until I was advised to look into religion. I went to religious people and saw that they were even emptier than the rest. After some time, I was advised that the answers for what I was looking for might be found in something called Kabbalah.

William L. Simon: Was there some particular person that told you that?

Rav Michael Laitman: I was told this by people who were half religious, half secular.

William L. Simon: What work were you doing at the time?

Rav Michael Laitman: At the time I owned a dental clinic.

William L. Simon: In order to tell the story, I would like as some questions that people would not ordinarily ask. Where did the money come from to start a dental clinic?

Rav Michael Laitman: When I come to Israel, I went to work for the army. I worked there for four years until 1978. My parents came to Israel in 1977. My father was a dentist, and my mother is a gynecologist. Because these professions are private in Israel, I opened a clinic for my father, and having done that, I realized that it is actually pretty easy to do, so I opened up 11 other people. And for that, I hired a group of doctors who worked in the field, and opened these clinics, and I managed the clinics, and I was very well off. All the while, I was still searching, only this time, I was searching among the Kabbalists, you know, the way I had been told.

I went from one to another, but I found that they studied without actually having any understanding. They did not address at all the question that I came to them with; they just read the Kabbalistic texts, and I couldn't tell if there is anything to it.

Until I found a person, in Rehovot, the town I lived in. He was just like me, he was a local Israeli; he could read Hebrew very well, and Aramaic, and we started to study together every evening.

William L. Simon: What was this man's name, and what did he do?

Rav Michael Laitman: His name was Chaim Malka, and he was a factory technician. We studied like this for about two years, until we reached a situation where we had checked everybody out. And one evening I was so despaired, I didn't know what to do. And suddenly I told them, "lets go to some place that we have never been at all; let's go to the city of Bnei Brak. Let's see if we can find someone who studies Kabbalah."

It was an ultra-religious city and I thought that maybe there we could find someone who teaches real Kabbalah. We saw in the books that there was really something about it, but we could not understand them, we were lacking the key. As a scientist, I had my reservations; I did not want to open just any book. If I was going to learn something, I wanted to study from the true sources. If you want to learn physics, then you n have to use a book of a well-known scientist in the field. The same is true with Kabbalah. So I wanted to study the Zohar and the books of ARI, and of Baal HaSulam. You could find them here in the US, but none of them are real. In these real books, there are questions, but the answers, they're not clear.

So when we reached a dead-end, I was still drawn to Kabbalah, I knew that at least it asked the right questions. We were looking for the person who had the means of how to realize it, and not just to hear about these questions. So I wanted to open it up for myself just as we perceive this world, feel and understand it. And thus one evening I said, "lets go to Bnei Brak." So we got into the car and we drove.

We got to Bnei Brak. It was a stormy and rainy winter evening and we did not know which way to turn; we didn't where to go. So I opened the window on one of the intersections and I called out to a religious Jew that was standing there with an umbrella in the rain, "Hey, where do they study Kabbalah around here?" It's was a really bizarre question to ask, but he was not surprised. He told me, "Okay, drive left to the garden, and then you'll find a few houses there and in one of them, that's where they learn." And we drove in that direction, and we reached a field that he said was there. There a desolate house, and we went in. It seemed like a very large building, but inside there was only one dark room.

There were five or six old Jewish men were sitting inside, between about 70 or 80 years of age. I asked them, "Are you learning Kabbalah here?"

I was a very modern person, from a very different world. I was dressed nicely. There was one who stood at the head of the table, and he told me, "Sit down." We sat down near the table and their lesson continued. Suddenly, I realized that they were talking in Yiddish and Aramaic; two languages that I absolutely lacked any knowledge of. We continued to sit there like this. In truth, I wanted to leave, because I really saw no point in studying at this place. These old people sitting here obviously had nothing else to do, so they sit and read all types of things. My friend, who is very well-mannered, less ill-tempered person than I, he said, "Let's sit; it's not proper to leave like this."

The lesson finished, and the head of the group of these old people started to ask us who we were, where we came from. I told them that we were from Rehovot and that we wanted to learn Kabbalah, but we do not know where. So he told us, "Do not worry, I will give you sources and you can learn with us." I told my friend, "Take the address from him if you want, but I don't think that this place is right for us." We already had seen such places. He took the address and directions, and then the same old person called him. He went to my house the next evening and he told me, "We have a lesson tonight." I did not really want to go because I was already despaired from all of that searching. But one more time he pressured me and told me that we should go, and I went.

The old man introduced us to one of his friends, who was of about the same age as him. And he told him, "teach them."

He took us to one of the corners in that really large hall and he said, "Let's sit; we'll start reading what we usually teach to beginners." He started to teach us the Introduction to the Book of Zohar. Already after the first few words, I felt that it was a real explanation because he was asking and answering exactly the questions that we wanted to ask. Even before you asked a question, he asked the question for you and immediately, he answered them.

That is how we found that place. Then we started to come two times a week, then every day. Soon we learned that they studied every day at three in the morning. So I started to come there at three in the morning. That's it.

After a few months went by, after one of the morning lessons, our teacher told us that the main Rav, the head of the group, of six old people, wanted to learn something special with me, so I agreed, of course. And he took me to his room and he started to teach me something. In truth, I did not understand anything. He took me aside and taught me on a few occasions, but really I did not understand a word. Then he left me, he did not call me anymore. I was furious; I did not know what to do. But really, he was right. From this I revealed an even bigger yearning inside me that I really needed this.

One morning he had to visit a doctor urgently. They asked me to take him in my car. I took him to the doctors, and they found that he has some problem with his ear and that he needed to go to the hospital right away. There they found that he needed to stay in intensive care. And I was with him the whole time. He spent a month in the hospital and I was beside him.

I used to come in my car early in the morning; I'd hop over the fence because the hospital authorities, they didn't allow visitors at that hour. So, I used to go up to the fourth floor and then quietly I would go into his room and we would learn. It continued like this for about a month. This was what tied us together. Then after he left the hospital, it continued.

William L. Simon: The first time you started working together, the Rabbi couldn't understand what he was teaching, how suddenly, did it make sense?

Rav Michael Laitman: Because in the hospital he started to talk to me the way that one speaks to a little child, and on the other hand, he sent me home to bring him one of his special briefcases. And he used to give me a few things to read from this case, something handwritten. That helped me a lot. And every day that I came to him, he gave me a little more of this hand written material.

William L. Simon: These were things that he had written himself?

Rav Michael Laitman: These were notes that he took from his father's words. Also, I did not know certain things, and he would explain them to me. Thus, little by little he taught me how to see things.

We continued to study together after he left the hospital. I would take him in my car to the doctors; we'd go to the beach and other places. It went like this: from three to six we would study with the group. Then there was an hour break, then after that, we would go to the beach at around 12 or 1 PM. Then in the afternoon, I would go to the clinic to check if everything was Okay and return to study a little more in the evening. After that I used to return home late at night. That continued until I left the clinics and moved to be close to him. Then we started to leave the city once a week, together, just to study for a few days. And that started to happen every week. We went to Tiberias, to Meron, to other special places. The Book of Zohar was written in Meron.

William L. Simon: Not places to see people, but to see the history of Kabbalah...

Rav Michael Laitman: No, we did not go visit people. We lived in an abandoned house there; all alone. And I would study, and nobody was around. In that manner, I slowly acquired the wisdom.

William L. Simon: And the purpose of going to these other places?

Rav Michael Laitman: The purpose of going to a place like that was, that there was a special force. Every place on earth is under the influence of a specific force. That's why when people move from one place to another, their appearance changes with time, because the force that influences them, changes. Even their character and mentality changes. So we used to go to such places, and it continued till until he passed away in 1991.

William L. Simon : How many years have you been together?

Rav Michael Laitman: From 1979 to 1991.

William L. Simon : And then, how did your life unfold from there?

Rav Michael Laitman: What happened further...Even before that, in the year 1983, I wrote my first three books on Kabbalah. Because of those, there were already many people that knew about me. And even while I learned from him, I also gave lectures. When he passed away I started taking students.

In the evening we used to get together and study. I named the group after him-
Bnei Baruch, the sons of Baruch. It has grown, and today it has become a very big group. I wrote dozens of books since then.

William L. Simon : It sounds as if you moved very quickly from starting to study with him, to getting to write books about Kabbalah.

Rav Michael Laitman: Yes, the first three books I wrote very quickly-three or four years after I started to study with him. It was, however, with his inspiration and agreement. Actually, I did not write there something that was a renewal or something that came from me, but rather the material that existed in the great books, which was passed through me, adapted in a simple way. Just as a student who writes only to the extent he is able to comprehend. That's why, until this day, these books are very popular.

William L. Simon: And this was something new then, to write this knowledge in a simple way?

Rav Michael Laitman: Yes, of course-it was revolutionary.

William L. Simon: But your teacher had recognized that this was an important thing to do?

Rav Michael Laitman: Yes, he was very supportive; he was very happy.

William L. Simon: What did he see in you that made him choose you to do this?

Rav Michael Laitman: First of all, I was very dedicated. I was by his side all the time. I came with a real need, and I did not loose that desire along the way. That is usually the problem. Those who come to Kabbalah, they cool off after a certain time. Their regular life captures them, it attaches to all kinds of corporeal desires, and I avoided that. That's it. Things turned out that way, what can I say.

Other than that I brought to him about 40 new students, young people in the year 1983-1984. We organized a group, they studied together with us. The connection between me and Rebbe was nevertheless very special. Even if we were present at all kinds of events, like weddings, and ceremonies, I used to always be next to him. I was his spokesperson and assistant.

Thus, when he passed away, in the obituary published in the ultra-orthodox religious newspaper, they wrote that the great Kabbalists of our times passed away, in the arms of his faithful student, Michael Laitman.

William L. Simon: What was your personal teacher died. Did you know that your teacher was near death, or was it sudden?

Rav Michael Laitman: He fell ill quite often. I had such a feeling that our world is entering a new era, and that he gave everything that he was able to pass on. He did not match our times. He was not able to change himself to match our times. As for me, I could continue to drink wisdom from him, but I felt that the old era of great Kabbalists was at an end, and that He was the last of the Mohicans.

When he passed away, all types of changes started to happen in the world-big ones, quicker and quicker. Modern-day phenomena started to appear: terror, drugs, addiction, it all escalated-miasmas of our day.

William L. Simon: The description that you gave did not sound as if he was sad at his teacher's passing. Did he see it as a time that had come?

Rav Michael Laitman: No, I wasn't sad at all, really. Kabbalah opens a man's eyes to a wider world. He feels that there is neither life nor death in corporeal manner. And our connection with Rav on the level of souls continues the same, even after he's passed away. It is the same even now. Thus there was no despair or any real sadness, because this person completed everything he had to, his role on this earth, in full manner; he left students after him. You can only admire him and want to be like him. Other than this, we continue on the same path his and the Kabbalists before him. I and my group of people go through the same process. The body plays absolutely no role in this. We do not relate to it that way. The connection is spiritual and it stays just as it was before. I felt that a new era was beginning, and that I really need to be more mature, more responsible. Six months after that my father passed away. That's it. When I came back from his funeral, I opened my own group and I started to teach.

William L. Simon: You say that your teacher was the last of the great Kabbalists...

Rav Michael Laitman: Yes.

William L. Simon: What makes you say that the line ended there. In what way are you not the next of the great Kabbalists?

Rav Michael Laitman: It is written in the Book of Zohar, also by Gaon of Vilno, and by Baal HaSulam, that in the year 1995 a new era in humanity begins. That the humanity begins to develop a desire for the spiritual, past all of the mundane desires, whether we want it or not, precisely at this time.

The second thing is that the method, that he conveyed, had such orthodox wrappings, that it was not suitable for the people in this modern time, in our time. The new method has to fit the masses, and humanity as a whole. His method was that of previous Kabbalists, and it was intended for individuals, where are a teacher passed it on to his students, just the way they had done through the generations. The new method has to be open before the entire world, and all of the world should be able to receive it, no matter who they may be.

William L. Simon: In telling the story of your life, as part of the book, I want to know what the story is that you will tell, after the death of your teacher.

Rav Michael Laitman: Of course I felt rather isolated. I was left alone. For about 12 years I was next to that great man, and now I had to start anew. The method itself needed to be renewed, and it need to fit a new generation of people. The new people started to come, and I learned on them how to develop a method that would match these new souls. And of course, without the group of students I wouldn't be able to do it.

I personally am not in need to have students near me. But in order to develop the method onward and to present it to the whole world, I need a laboratory, where I can develop it, test it and bring it to ripeness. Today we are still developing this method, from year to year, and we're succeeding to bringing it closer and closer to humanity. But the principle is the same: to learn from the unique books of true Kabbalists because only they can tell correctly about our spiritual state, and that's what we have to reach. When a man reads these books, he is drawn to it. So, we only have to pass to him that internal action that he needs to perform to be spiritually uplifted.

William L. Simon: The early part of your story, from your childhood in Russia, through learning under the teacher, is a wonderful story, and rich and colorful and meaningful. Are there events in your life, since then, that help a reader understand who you are, and what you are doing, that are as rich and colorful as those early parts?

Rav Michael Laitman: Just as I described how I was next to my Rabbi, so my students can tell you about me to help you complete the story. Because I am looking at this from the point of view of everyday work, with the material that is before me: daily lessons, publishing new books, how we are making films, appear before all kinds of media. We hold congresses every six months, opening new groups. It is only daily work. Of course, there are periods that we evolve spiritually, to a new level, and we are privileged to open ourselves more to the public.

My life revolves only around Kabbalah. I have three children. My son is distributor of my books in the North America, and he lives in Canada.

William L. Simon: Is your wife someone who was a student he met through the work in Kabbalah. I'll ask the question again-where and how did you meet your wife?

Rav Michael Laitman: I met my wife in Russia and there we got married there, and there my son was born. He was two when we came to Israel.

William L. Simon: And was your wife a student there? What was she doing?

Rav Michael Laitman: No, no! My wife and I used to work in the same place. I was about 24; she was 18-19. My wife understood that I was always searching for the answer to the question about the meaning of life. She accepted it as my nature, but when I found Rebbe, and she saw how faithful I was, how I dedicated myself wholly to him, she sat and cried until I succeeded to slowly explain to her what I have found.

She is a truly dedicated woman and she is helping me today, and she went with me through all of my searches.

When we move to live close to Rebbe, she was dedicated to him also; she would take care of him. When his wife passed away, she used to cook for him and took care of him. She really did it with all of her heart, and he felt it. He was like a father for her. She lost her father in the Stalin period and she felt toward him, like he was her father.

William L. Simon: This has been wonderful for me. These stories, and the teaching, are like a miracle. I'm eager to work on this book, to tell your story. It's a pleasure.

Rav Michael Laitman: Thank you.


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