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.”