Some twenty years ago, Israeli media showed a large women conference, organized by ‘Shas’ – the Haredi religious political party in Israel. During the conference, there was an “on-line blessing” transmitted by cellular means from the late Rabbi Kaduri – a renowned Mizrahi Haredi rabbi and “kabbalist”, considered by many ill-educated religious people as some kind of a “magician”. The strange scene was complemented by hundreds of women hands raised in the air, like antennae, as if to “intercept” as much of the magic energy of the blessing.
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There is a lot in common between religious belief and other competing “new age” trends or various mystic cults. Words like ‘light’, ‘spirit’, ‘soul’, ‘holy’, ‘energy’ etc. represent a distinct feeling of the believers: “There is something mysterious hiding here, it’s good and powerful. Others know it and manipulate it while I still don’t, so I better get close to this as soon as possible, so I also gain some of this good power.”
Prof. Yuval Noah Harari (‘A Brief History of Mankind’) writes about the evolutionary development of the human brain, associated with such feelings, which he calls “animistic beliefs” (from Latin ‘anima’: breath, spirit, life). These are characterized as the belief that natural entities have awareness and feelings, and can communicate with humans. Sort of a fascinating cosmic conspiracy, which in practice forms the basis for religions.
From the book ‘Games of Awareness’ (so far in Hebrew only): “… and the believer collects pieces of ‘information’ from others while building a whole virtual picture in his or her mind – a picture of a reality with its own rules: Next worlds, reward and punishment … prayers and texts in this world that benefit the souls in the other world, words and things that shouldn’t be used … bearded rabbis who seem to hide a secret, and their appearance clearly tells they know better what’s going on.”
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“I once thought there was some hidden secret, now I know there’s nothing there,” says Yuval Dayan – an ex-rabbi, and he also experience things first hand: “The aura you seem to have around you, as someone how knows the way … When I encountered those religion people for the first time, I thought God was there … We wanted the sacredness, the purity … As if they were not regular human beings, cold in the winter and feeling warm during summer.”
From the book ‘And Man Created God in His Own Image’: “Surprisingly as it might sound, the greatest heroes also had sex on their minds. Saint Patrick dreamed about naked women, the Rambam (Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon, also known as Moses Maimonides) had erections in the morning … In short – they were normal human beings. Just like you and me.”
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A couple of months ago I met a Haredi guy asking for money in the main junction near my home. I asked him if it didn’t bother him standing like that in the junction. “I’m in Heaven,” he answered. That’s exactly it – we need you here on Earth.