Sunday, October 07, 2007

Rav Kook

Last night, I stayed up until 5:00 AM learning a commentary on the teachings of HaRav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook. Okay, some of it was fueled by the excessive amount of sleep I got over another 3-day yom tov. And some of it was that, finally, I had no meals to plan, prepare, heat and serve.

But most of it was that his Torah sings to my soul.

In truth, I can’t learn his Torah directly. His language, even in English translation, is too poetic and symbolic for me. But the series of commentaries, called Lights on Orot by Rabbi David Samson and Tzvi Fishman takes his teachings and presents them in language I can access.

Here are some of the major points I gleaned from spending 8+ hours with the sefer. I hope they sing to your soul as well:

  • When Jews live in the Diaspora, we live as individuals. This is a profound diminishment of the potential of the Jewish people. We were created to live as a klal, as a nation in our own land, not as an assortment of individual Jews.
  • Jews can make contributions outside of Israel, but we do so only as individuals, not in fulfillment of our national mission. Only by living together in Israel can the Jewish people reach our potential.
  • Judaism outside of Israel is temporary. It is a punishment and a curse, an incomplete manifestation of the whole Torah. And it causes people to become preoccupied with personal mitzvot to the exclusion of seeing the whole Torah picture.
  • Everything tragic that happens to the Jewish people happens as a result of Jews becoming too comfortable in galus and forgetting our national mission.
  • The yearning to return to Israel is dawning on the Jewish people gradually, one soul at a time.
  • The Jewish people’s role in the world is to be conduits of prophecy. Although we are not on the level of prophecy now, we have been in the past and we will be again in the future. Our collective job, to bring the knowledge of Gd into the world, can only be accomplished when we are living as a klal in Israel.
  • When we see corruption in the Israeli government of our day, we have to remember that the Jewish people have been in galus for 2000 years. It is going to take time, perhaps several generations, to recover and rehabilitate before we can shake off the shmutz from chutz l’aretz and achieve what we are capable of achieving.
  • Gd wants the Jewish people to live in Israel.
  • When we could make aliyah and choose not to, we are rebelling against Gd.
  • The feeling of spiritual emptiness while living in galus is actually a sign of spiritual health. Gd is reminding you that you don’t belong where you are.
  • “If a Jew is not actively yearning for Israel, then something is wrong with his spiritual life.”
  • One of the manifestations of spiritual growth is yearning to live with the klal in Eretz Yisrael. To have the desire for it grow within you is to grow closer to Gd. Every Jew has the yearning, but it is dormant in the masses who are distracted along the way.
  • When one makes aliyah, one becomes more complete as a Jew. Olim chadashim are now participating in the building of the Jewish nation. Just by living in Israel, they are contributing to the klal in a way that is not possible while living in the Diaspora.
  • “The pathway and ladder to Gd is living a full life in Israel.”

2 comments:

rutimizrachi said...

Well said. Clarity is so important b'zman hazeh, and so difficult to attain. Your grasp of the material you spent 8+ hours ingesting and your ability to give it over is a welcome encouragement. For too many years, people were in a rush to tell us what is WRONG with chalashing for aliyah. Thank you for distilling Rav Kook's teaching, to remind us of what is not only RIGHT, but IMPERATIVE.

sonenthal said...

I agree with most everything Rivka says here, and it is real important to understand Rav Kook. I think it is especially interesting how he says outside of Israel you can get focused on mitzva observance without understanding the big picture of why Tora exists in the first place. Sounds like most of the Haredi/Yeshiva world to me.

However NOT everything bad happens because of the galut. Destruction of the first temple happened when there was no galut, when ALL the Jews lived IN Israel.

If we do not succeed in stopping the current Israeli government from fixing the elections-if we don't restore civil liberties to Israel such as writ of habeous corpus-and if we don't stand up against the Israeli government's suicidal policies-we can lose this state to the Arab Moslems.

And then all the warm feelings and funny "only in Israel" stories won't mean a thing when the towel heads start imposing sharia and ban Aliyah. Can't happen? Already has, many times before.