Monthly Archives: July 2014



“The world order that is now toppling due to the awesome storms of a sword covered with blood demands the construction of the Israelite nation. The building of the nation and the discovery of its spirit are one concept, linked to the building of the world.” -Rav Kook, TZ’L (‘HaMilchama/The War’ Chapter 9, written during WW1)

These are surreal days and nights in Israel. And Gaza. The war continues. The missiles, sirens,and Iron Dome shootdowns have become daily life for many in Israel. I have ducked from three while passing through Tel Aviv.

The main suffering is borne by the poor masses in Gaza.

Their lives have been ruined by the Amalek-level hatred of Israel by their Hamas overlords.  Approximately 1.82 million people are controlled by a regime whose ‘army’ numbers merely 20,000. Most of the fighters and all of their leaders are apparently hiding in safety underground. They are leaving  the general population unprotected while shooting from within their midst. The inevitable deaths of the innocent are used for propaganda. And the more the better in the perverse psychology of ultimate evil.

The daily funerals in Israel are heartbreaking.

The Torah invited us to always look deeper to better understand reality.

As the underground horror  chamber in Gaza is uncovered, the painful blessing imbedded in the tragic losses of so many innocent lives is becoming clearer. Many more lives would have been lost had Hamas been able to  continue their war plans undisturbed.

It is now apparent that for the last decade or so they have been unceasingly building tunnels that reach into Israel.The Hamas terrorists caught by the IDF have divulged that on Rosh HaShana- Sept 24, 2014, scores of terrorist dressed as IDF soldiers were going to emerge from the 16 exit points and enter the adjoining communities and commit massacres and kidnappings. The tunnels include chambers to lock up hostages.

The Torah’s response for this situation is clear.

“הבא להורגך השכם להורגו- If someone is coming to kill you, arise first to kill them.” (Brachot 58:a; Sanhedrin 72:a; Midrash Tanchuma and Rabbah on Pinchas).

 In “The Scroll of War and Peace” Rav Kook’s main disciple, Rabbi David Cohen-HaRav HaNazir TZ’L discusses the application of this  principle:

“Go out to war against your enemy before they come to your land. This is attack for the sake of defence. This is ‘מלחמת מצוה-a commanded war’…The good that is in this war will become revealed-the total devotion, the self sacrifice for the sake of the nation of Israel and the Land of Israel, for holiness and for the Holy, for the sanctification of the Divine Name!…

This type of war is a commandment and obligation-the obligation of the nation that is arising for its freedom and liberation…

 It is an obligation to defend against the murderer that is approaching us-the obligation of defending ourselves, of defending the lives of the threatened people-men, women and children- by using the weapons at hand, using every type of weapon that shields us.

According to the science of war, the best defence is offense. In a war of obligation it is necessary to attack the enemy where they are according to the principle: ‘הבא להורגך השכם להורגו- If some one is coming to kill you, arise first to kill them.’ (Ibid)…While this is said in the singular, the Rabbis taught that it also applies in wars against nations…In fact it is even more so for a nation as David said:

‘וַיֹּאמֶר לְלַמֵּד בְּנֵי יְהוּדָה קָשֶׁת -And he ordered the children of Yehuda to be taught the bow.’  (Shmuel 2-1:18)

From here we learn of the obligation to enlist in the army of Israel that is fighting for its survival and well being. As it says in Tehillim 29:11:

‘ יְהוָה–עֹז, לְעַמּוֹ יִתֵּן;    יְהוָה, יְבָרֵךְ אֶת-עַמּוֹ בַשָּׁלוֹם. -God gives strength to his people, God blessed his people with peace.’

Strength and power bring the blessing of peace.

A war of liberation is the war of the small nations against the large enslaving nations. It is not only for the protection of the physical body and resources from those that would exploit it. Not only protection from those who rob the weaker, who benefit from their toil and use it for their own pleasure. [freeing the Gazans from their Hamas enslavers]

This is a battle of the spirit, to emerge from slavery to freedom, from bondage to liberation.

This is a commanded war, a holy war.”

It is clear that the battles against the current main enemies of Israel (Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran) are wars of obligation.

It is ironic that Israel- the refuge for the Jewish people to live peacefully, has had to become very skillful militarily to survive this very real threat.  

The Nazir discusses this:

“Shalom needs גבורה-strength/heroism.

Armaments, military equipment, learning the tactics of war and educating the youth to bravery in battle are all necessary for shalom. All this is necessary in order to remove the fear and dread of the murderous enemy. ‘Teach the children of Yehuda the bow’. (Ibid)

All the nations are equipping armies and learning war. Some are doing this willingly and  others by necessity.

Because of fear and suspicion of each other, they are offering the best of their children to ‘מולך המלחמה-the false god of war.’

The hope and the yearning of the soul within is for the vision of the the end of days.

“וְהָיָה בְּאַחֲרִית הַיָּמִים…לֹא-יִשָּׂא גוֹי אֶל-גּוֹי חֶרֶב, וְלֹא-יִלְמְדוּ עוֹד מִלְחָמָה.“

And in the end of days… nation will not lift up sword against nation, and they will no longer learn war.”  (Isaiah 2:2,4)

To bring about peace, we will need to be able to militarily defeat those people and nations who are devoted slaves to   ‘מולך המלחמה-  Molech-the false god of war.’ Molech was a Canaanite false god whose followers practiced  propitiatory child sacrifice. Unfortunately much of the world is still enslaved to this same false god.


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הרב הנזיר זצל


“In these difficult and awesome days, the days of the birthpangs of the Messiah, the birth of the Kingdom of Israel, the time in which our enemies have arisen surrounding us in order to destroy us-Tzur [Tyre, Lebanon], Damascus [Syria], Ammon [Amman, Jordan], Moab [Jordan, East of Dead Sea], and Egypt. At their head are Amalek and Edom [southern Jordan and Israel-in Biblical times.] They have at their disposal weapons of destruction in order to terrorize and murder. G-d did not allow them to unleash their evil wrath. Many fell by the hands  of the many, the wicked by the hands of the righteous, and they fled in fright, in eternal shame. How can we not open our eyes and see the Hand of G-d in this, The Rock of Israel and its Liberator?” (Rabbi David Cohen-HaRav HaNazir TZ’L) (1)

Rabbi David Cohen TZ’L, Rav Kook’s main student, wrote these words in a letter to the Yeshiva students in  the Israel Defense Forces during the 1948 War of Independence. Sixty six years later these words continue to ring true as Israel is in the midst of another battle in this long war.

These are difficult days. The loss of lives, Israeli and innocent Palestinians is very painful. Daily funerals. Another phase  of this very long war.

The Kingdom of Israel began around 1100 BCE. The other Biblical nations that the Nazir names above as the progenitors of our current enemies were in their glory then as well. The nations surrounding Israel were at unrelenting war with Judah/Israel then and their modern equivalents are at war with Israel now. A 3114 year (approximately) war.

The Nazir names Amalek as the head of the forces.The actual identity of Amalek is an ongoing Jewish discussion with most claiming that we cannot identify Amalek with any current people or nation. “Erase the memory of Amalek from under the heavens” (Deut. 25:19)  is commonly understood as physically exterminating Amalek”. But since we cannot absolutely identify Amalek, we (fortunately) do not feel the religious obligation to go out and kill anybody.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that lots of people want to kill us.

The hate, ideology and actions of Amalek are deeply embedded in parts of human civilization and are wreaking  an ongoing destruction on masses of innocent people. It is very clear that a very powerful warring energy of hatred has been directed at the Children of Israel throughout history. It is also very clear that the culture of war that Amalek represents has taken over the entire planet. The spirit of Amalek lives and thrives.

In the aftermath of the Holocaust and during the brutal battles of the 1948 Israel War of Independence, HaRav HaNazir TZ”L was moved to write a document that he called “The Scroll of War and Peace”.

It was published during the throes of the Yom Kippur War. It is a remarkable largely unknown document. It begins by quoting three sources:

“War is also the beginning of redemption! (Megilla 17b)


Our rabbis say:

How great is the power of ‘shalom-peace’. Even in war, which a person enters with only swords and lances, the Holy One says: When you go to make war, you must begin it with a call for peace.

From where (do we see this)? From Deuteronomy 20:10:

‘When you approach a city to fight her, and call out peace to her…’

(Dvarim Rabba: 5:12)


Rabbi Ishmael used to say:

“The Children of Ishmael are destined to make three tumultuous wars in the End of Days; as it says: “For they have fled before swords, before the whetted sword” (Isaiah 21:15); one in the ocean…one in the dry land…and one in the large city [Jerusalem]…and the Son of David will then blossom, and will see the [Ishmaelite] loss of each of these. From there he will come to Eretz Israel.” (Yalkut Shimoni; Isaiah 42:1)

This Midrash suggests that battles initiated by Yishmael will be a central part of the return of the Children of Israel to the Land of Israel.

The scroll continues with the Nazir’s own writing under the heading of  “War and Peace”:

1) “War is a crime of mass murder. All the building that living nations are engaged in, their power and essence, is rooted in war. There is no generation that has not had small or large wars. And when a war ends they immediately begin preparations for the next one.

Thus it was, and thus it is from generation to generation.

ls this also be the way it will be?

How can we be proud of any righteousness and good when the foundation of everything is mass murder, the great war.

How can a human being be content with the level of personal and general ethics at the time when he and and the whole world is being led towards slaughter.

No, do not, do not murder- this needs to be an absolute decision, an absolute imperative!

This is not easy because all the relationships between nations are of conquerors and conquered to some degree. The powerful ones  rule and enforce their will through their armies, new weapons of war, and storehouses of ammunition. They struggle to control and subdue while the smaller ones gird themselves for opposition, defense and freedom.

Oy! Shalom, shalom in the mouth of all.

And in reality there is only war, subjugation, power, the control of the mighty through their strength, weapons and armies. They publicly educate in the ways of war, murder and bloodshed, day in, day out, with the agreement of all humankind.

2) War is the great plague of humankind in our generation and in all generations. Mass general murder has killed tens of thousands of  souls, the best of humankind. It leaves multitudes of sick and wounded, handicapped for the rest of their lives. It destroys cultural creations, beautiful buildings  and elevated institutions of literature and art.  And whoever continues to kill, murder and annihilate is considered the victor, the successful one, the praiseworthy.

And from the day that they establish a so called peace treaty, they return to plans for war. The wounded heal, the ruins are rebuilt, and food is stored while they strengthen the infrastructure for creating and storing more weapons of war and treasuries of money. Until they are once again ready to fulfill to fulfill the commandment of war for the sake of murder, killing and ruination in order to destroy humankind.” (p. 11-12)

The history of the world is the history of war.

A sizeable percentage if not the majority of human resources have been and are committed to the war effort. There are currently 12 wars in the world in which more than a thousand people a year are killed in. There are 32 wars in which less than a thousand people are year are killed in.(2)

In Chapter 2, the Nazir continues to describe the planetary immersion in war:

“There is national agreement that enables the slaughter of animals and chickens and the eating of their flesh.

So too there is a general agreement to allow mass murder and the theft of the property of the murdered.

Every  nation has ministers of war, armies and supplies of weapons. Even worse than this is that war is accompanied by hatred. It needs it in order to grow and strengthen. People are taught and reminded to hate, to hate the enemy, ‘remember what Amalek did to you!’ (Deuteronomy, 25:17)” (p.13)

This is an extraordinarily relevant drash. Normally this verse is connected with the commandment to recount the Amalek story. We practice this yearly by re-reading from the Torah the story of Amalek’s attack shortly before we re-read of the attempted extermination by Amalek’s descendant Haman in 356 BCE.

The Nazir however is using it poetically to depict the ongoing and varying societal efforts to identify and demonize the enemy.The historical examples of this are endless. All over the planet human beings are defined and bound together by their common identification of an other as ‘the enemy’- “Remember what Amalek did to you!”

Every nation (except perhaps for Canada), has their Amalek  Huge human and material resources are dedicated to continuing the battle against the identified Amalek.

What are we to do?

Let us return to the Nazir:

The call has to go out to the nations, to the masses and their leadership through  essays and book, to AWAKEN THE PEACE MOVEMENT in absolute opposition to mass murder, to war.

The leaders of the nations, their ministers, advisors and parliaments must legislate that the law  ‘Do not murder” includes the prohibition of the mass murder of war. They must forbid war, not declare it…

Each human being, each writer and thinker is commanded: “Do not stand idly by as your neighbour’s blood [is being spilled]” (Leviticus 19:16).

Let us call out with all strength to the destroyer: STOP!

No!  ‘Do Not Murder’ (Exodus 20:13/Deuteronomy 5:17), do not go out to war, to commit mass murder, “nation shall not lift sword against any other nation and they will no longer learn war”. (Isaiah 2:)” (p.12-13)

“Erase the memory of Amalek from under the heavens.” (Deut. 25:19)

And as Rav Kook wrote:

“The harmonic call…the voice of peace is much greater than the voices of war that is heard from all the places of emptiness…

Among all the calls of the world,the supernal call, the call that unites, raises and equalizes goes forth and penetrates. From the fullness of life this call goes forth to each creature, to each spirit and soul, to the inside of each being, to each individual, to each group, to each nation.

Inside the unifying souls, who are drenched in the dew of life of the harmonic call, is burning a holy fire thirsty for peace. They are the angels of peace in the world.” (Lights of Holiness, 4:493)

In this time of war-in this epoch of world wars-may we be blessed to hear and truly manifest the call of shalom.

[Note- the square brackets contain my  comments/clarifications within the quote.]

(1) The Nations of the Biblical times:


Your comments and questions are invited.


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“ When there is a great war in the world, the power of Messiah is aroused. ‘The time of zamir-song has arrived’(1), ‘the zemir-scything of tyrants’(2), the wicked perish from the world and the world is invigorated ‘and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land’.(1)” (HaMilchama-The War:1)

The war here is being aroused.

Missiles are flying all around. I had to duck two of them Saturday night the moment I arrived in Tel Aviv. There are better ways of beginning a week.

The Iron Dome system has proven extraordinarily successful in preventing Hamas’s missiles from hitting human targets and population centres. Israel’s newest hero is Brigadier General (Ret.) Dr. Dan Gold, Phd (Mathematics). Under his tenacious leadership and vision a small team of Israeli computer whizzes have created the most advanced  defensive tool in human history (to date). Necessity is the mother of invention.

And innocent people are dying in Gaza.

While the Israeli Air Force is making titanic efforts to limit the deaths of ‘non participants’, the integration of Hamas’s military infrastructure in heavily populated areas makes this very difficult and mistakes are inevitable. The most truly victimized and defenseless people in this sticky mess are the  many innocent people living in Gaza. They are the ones who are ultimately most terrorized by Hamas’s dictatorial leadership and agenda.

The Hamas leaders are however safe underground. The Hamas leadership and soldiers are hiding in military installations that they have been feverishly digging and building under Gaza since taking power in 2006.

From there they are lobbying missiles into Israel,1,200 so far. We are very grateful to the Iron Dome.

An Israeli ground operation is rumbling into motion as Bibi, the cabinet and the military conclude that it is necessary in order to truly weaken Hamas and prevent them from attacking again. At least for a while.

And as I write these words, Israel has undertaken a 5 hour ‘humanitarian’ ceasefire.

Not a boring day in Israel as history unfolds here.


How are we to deal with enemies?

Those people who wish to harm us?

I do not know how many of the readers of this identify enemies as part of their everyday existence. In my Canada years, I felt enemy-less.

The reality here is vastly different. Israel is surrounded by enemies.

The most immediate number one enemy is our next door neighbor, Hamas-The Islamic Resistance Movement. This ‘organization’ was founded in 1987 as an offshoot from the  Muslim Brotherhood which was founded in 1928. Its main raison d’etre according to its charter is ‘to liberate Palestine from Israeli occupation and to establish an Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip’.

Appropriately, Hamas in Arabic means ‘devotion and zeal in the path of Allah’. In Hebrew it means  ‘to do violence/wrong’ as a verb, and ‘violence’ as a noun. They are unfortunately an excellent example of the long time plague of the fusion of violence with religious zeal.

How are we-in Israel, of Israel-to deal with it?

The Torah is explicit about our responsibility:

“And you shall excise the evil in your midst” (Deuteronomy 17:7) Good must be willing to face evil and do what ever is necessary to protect the innocent.

Rav Kook was eminently practical:

“In matters of war, it is impossible that Israel is the only one not fighting at the time when all her neighbours are truly voracious wolves, If so, they would gather against her and destroy all her remnants.

She must  [if necessary] act cruelly in order to frighten the ‘wild ones’. While we must envision guiding humankind to where she must ultimately be, we cannot deny the needs of the hour.” (Letters 1:100)

We must do whatever is necessary.

As a child of Holocaust survivors, I am acutely aware of the consequences of not confronting evil. The political and military leadership of Israel is charged to protect her people from ongoing murderous assaults. It is a huge challenge.

Rav Kook explains that through this confrontation, the awaited transformation will emerge. As we stop evil, the good is enabled:

“Undoubtedly the power of evil aspires to do evil. It agitates, it imposes fierce control…it aspires to destroy and ruin, to toxify and pollute, to darken and obscure, to divide and explode [!]. It extends its evil until that time in which the world will be perfected, until a new spirit, the pure spirit of life will rest on humankind.”

(Orot HaKodesh 2:478)

Unfortunately, a central part of the world’s perfection requires the removal of evil from power-‘the zemir-scything of tyrants’(2)

Rav Kook was explicitly clear that “our ultimate purpose and destiny is to bring ‘shalom-peace’, happiness and blessing into the world, in line with the blessing to Avraham- “and all the nations of the earth will be blessed by you and your descendants”(Genesis 18:18,24:14) -in Letters:2:178

“It is necessary that all human beings recognize that they must live together as brothers [and sisters]…and [after the process of clarification and transformation] all will join together as brothers [and sisters] of one family.”(LeNevuchei HaDor-To the confused of the generation: Chapter 7)

This is our goal and our most profound desire.

In the midst of war, it is most important to re-iterate as Rav Kook poeticized in 1912:

“It is the good that I desire,

Its glorious expanses entrance me.

Its lips, its roses, I kiss,

Its beautiful vision exalts me.


Absolute good, without limitation,

Without end, constriction or boundary,

That is not separate from anything alive,

That with it’s love, fixes everything broken.


Good for me, good for all,

Good without bad  or tightness,

Good full of pleasure for all,

Full of tranquility without anxiety.


Good forever, good right now,

Good for every people and nation,

Who seek the good and not the bad,

And the light and the delight, ‘as the One is there’ (3).”

The Divine presence is with those ‘who seek the good and not the bad, the light and the delight’. And they will be blessed to experience ‘good for every people and nation, forever and right now’.

May we be so blessed, quickly and in our days.


(1) Song of Songs 2:12

(2) Isaiah 25:5

(3) Genesis 21:17

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The brotherly love of Esau and Yaakov,of Itzchak and Ishmael, will rise above all the ‘mehumot’-disturbances…and transform them to ‘or ve’chesed olam’-universal light and compassion.”(Letters 1:112)

I read these words  that Rav Kook wrote in 1908 while hearing radio reports about the rain of missiles being shot at Israel from Gaza. While an entire country is discussing what to do. While the miraculous  Iron Dome demonstrates extraordinary success. While the Israeli Air Force is pinpointingly striking multiple strategic targets (the homes of all the Hamas leaders). While the Israeli Defense Forces are rumbling and preparing for more.

How has your Wednesday, July 9th been?

This war began in the aftermath of the June 12th kidnapping and murder of the three high school students in Gush Etzion. 

The roots to this conflict however  go way back into history.The return of the children of Israel is toppling the Islamic hegemony that has reigned here since 637 AD. They are trying to prevent our return at all costs.The Zohar describes the larger overall picture thusly:

“And the children of Ishmael are destined to rule over the holy land for a long time, when it is empty of everything, as their circumcision is empty without perfection. And they will delay the children of Israel from returning to their places until the merit of the sons of Ishmael is completed. And the children of Ishmael are destined to evoke great wars in the world… one at sea, one on land, and one near Jerusalem. “(Zohar-VaEra:203/4)

Rav Kook was not a stranger to war. At the outbreak of WW1 (on Tisha beAv/9th of Av, 1914), he was in Germany to address the leading rabbis of Europe at a conference of Agudat Israel. He was going to address their doubts and theological conflicts with the Zionist effort. His goal was to effect a reconciliation between the Orthodox leadership in Europe that opposed the efforts of the G-dless irreligious and sometimes anti-religious Zionists in Palestine and those Zionists.

He had already explained that the ultra religious were contributing to the Jewish world and the world’s redemption through their devotion to the mitzvot/commandments of the Torah. He emphasized radically that the secularist Zionist were also contributing to the progress of Jewish history and the world’s ultimate repair through their return to the Hebrew language, to the actual land and their devotion to its physical survival and revival.

He controversially explained that their contribution was just as holy as the one made by the religiously observant. It was therefore important to understand and honor their inner Godly soul spark which was moving them to such extraordinary efforts to create  the renaissance in Israel. The outbreak of the war prevented this meeting and reconciliation from occurring. Rabbi Aryeh Levine TZ’L (the Tzadik of Jerusalem) (1), one of Rav Kook’s closest disciples, later commented on this saying that when too much light is about to emerge, Amalek steps in to ruin the day.

Rav Kook always directs our attention to the foundations of that which we are trying to understand. During WW1 in London he wrote:

“The building of the world, which is currently crumbling in the wake of the horrible storms of  bloodied swords, requires the rebuilding of the Israelite nation…World culture is toppling, human spirit is weakening, darknesses are covering all the nations. “Darkness will cover the earth, and a thick cloud (covers) the nations.” Isaiah, 60:2)  The hour has arrived for the light of the world, the light of the God of Israel to be revealed by  His people…All the cultures of the world will be renewed  through  our spiritual renewal,…all the faiths will wear new clothing, they will remove the soiled clothing upon them and dress in precious garments, they will abandon everything despoiled, impure and disgusting in their midst, as they reunite to suckle from the dews of the lights of holiness….the current destruction is preparation for a new revival, deep and essential. The light of the highest love-or chesed elyon-is sparkling. The Name of God-I Shall Be That Which I Will Be-Eheyeh Asher Eheyeh– (Exodus 3:14) is  becoming revealed.”(Orot-HaMilchama/The War, Ch. 9)

That’s the good news.However, history is a process.

Around the same time that Rav Kook became Chief Rabbi of Palestine in 1921, the British appointed Hamin Al Husseini as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. His major goal was to prevent the return of the Jews to Palestine and he devoted his efforts towards that end till his death in 1974. He initiated the massacres of 1929, allied with Hitler and lived in Berlin from 1942 till the end of WW2. He met with Hitler on the 28thof November, 1942 and asked him for a public declaration that ‘recognized and sympathized with the Arab struggles for independence and liberation, and that would support the elimination of a national Jewish homeland’. After the war, he fled to the protection of the Arab states and died in Lebanon in 1974.

The current militant anti-Israel movements, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others can all be traced to the influence of Amin Al Husseini and his followers. He is one of the most significant and perhaps most unknown evil people of the 20th century. (2)

Rav Kook was the spiritual titan that first fought against him. Unfortunately he outlived Rav Kook and the poison of his views and actions continues to infect the world.

Fortunately the Torah and Kabbala explain that human history in the story of the ‘goodification’ of the world and that the conflict with evil will result in the victory of the good. Evil exists in order to force the good to do something about it and thus grow the good. It is explicit that human history is directed to the rectification of all humankind by the choosing and doing of good.

Those of us who wish to be allies and agents for the good have much work to do. But we are to be encouraged when we understand how powerful our doing of good truly is:

“With every moral improvement, with every good attribute, every worthwhile subject of study, every good deed, even the smallest, even a goodly conversation, one raises their own spiritual state…It thus turns out that by raising ourselves spiritually, our whole being is raised to a higher status. Since each individual person is related with a firm bond to general existence, and automatically when one part of existence rises to a higher state, all existence is uplifted. Thus one truly improves endless worlds with every good action.”(Midot HaRayah/TheMoral Principles: Improvement:1)

How will this improvement come about in the Arab/Israeli conflict? Rav Kook offers a clear and hopeful vision of what can and will be. In a letter he wrote in 1908, he related to the Biblical reconciliation of Jacob and Esau-the twin brothers. Yaakov fled from Esau after he threatened to kill him for the deceit of the birthright episode with Yitzchak.

The Torah describes their reconciliation upon Yaakov’s return 22 years later:

“Esau ran to meet them (Yaakov and his entourage), He hugged Jacob…they both wept…Jacob said: ‘Seeing your face is like seeing the face of God (Elokim).: (Genesis 33: 4,10)

On this Rav Kook commented:

“The words of Jacob shall not go down as a vain utterance. The brotherly love of Esau and Yaakov, of Itzchak and Yishmael will assert itself beyond the conflicts –mehumot– that the evil brought on by our bodily nature has engendered. It will overcome them and transform them to eternal light and compassion. This broad concept…must be our guide on all our ways in the end of days, to complete our understanding of the Torah with the Messianic imprint, turning the bitter to sweet and darkness to light.” (Letters, 1:112)

In this perspective, the conflict between Yaakov and Esau is representative of the conflict between Judaism and Christianity and the conflict between Yitzchak and Ishmael is the root of the conflict between the Jews and the Muslims.

The Torah teaches us that at the root, we, who have been in conflict for so long, are destined to recover our brotherly love.

Bemehera bayemnu/Quickly in our days.

—————————————————————-(1) ,


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Rabbi David Cohen-Ha’Rav HaNazir TZ’L (1887-1972)-At the age of 28.


This teaching is dedicated to the aliyat neshamot of Eyal Ben Iris Teshura, Gilad Michael Ben Bat Degalim, and Yaakov Naftali Ben Rachel. Tears and tears…


HA’RAV KOOK TZ’L and HA’RAV HA’NAZIR TZ’L: THE 5 FOUNDATIONS OF REALITY There were two spiritual giants in modern Jewish/Israel history.

Rav Kook TZ’L was the great visionary-.הרואה הגדול

His primary student and receiver of his teaching, Rabbi David Cohen, HaRav HaNazir TZ’L was the great listener-השומע הגדול

On the morning of Rosh Chodesh Elul 1915, in Switzerland he heard Rav Kook pray and his life was transformed.  

Before we ‘hear’ the many particular branches and applications of Torat HaRav Kook, it is important to familiarize ourselves with the roots and foundations of his extraordinary expression of Torah. And our best guide for that is his תלמיד מובהק-his main student. It is my pleasure to introduce the reader of this to the most unknown (except in the inner circle of the religious-zionist-mystical world) great Jewish scholar and thinker of the 20th century.

David Cohen was 28 years old when he first met Rav Kook in August 1915 in Switzerland. He came from a distinguished rabbinic family, close to the Chofetz Chayim (as was Rav Kook) and was a profound spiritual seeker and scholar. At the outbreak of WW1, he was inspired by a mekubal/kabbalist  that he met at a German prisoner of war camp (he was arrested for a month as a Russian citizen), to undertake the practice of Nazirut-no grape products, not cutting your hair-as a well as vegetarianism, not wearing leather, and long periods of silence and meditation. He did this in order to cultivate his prophetic capacities-in accordance with the teaching that טהרה-purity and נזירות-abstinence were the pre-requisities for נבואה-prophecy. He was studying for his Phd in philosophy in Germany and after his release, continued at the University of Basel in Switzerland.

Rav Kook was also in Germany when WW1 broke out  on Tisha Be’Av, 1914 -to address the rabbis of Europe about Israel and Zionism. The meeting never took place (the hand of Amalek). He could not return to Israel and spent the war years in Switzerland and England. In historical hindsight it is apparent that the Divine unfolding required that. The Balfour Declaration would not have come into being if he were not in London at the time of  its deliberation. David Cohen upon finding out Rav Kook was also in Switzerland asked to meet him. In August 1915, he was invited to  Rav Kook’s abode in St. Galen. He describes the fateful meeting in his introduction to Orot HaKodesh-The Lights of Holiness:

“After taking a mikveh in the Rhine River, carrying a volume ‘Shaarei Kedusha-Gates of Holiness’ (by Chayim Vital), full of uncertainty and expectation, I made my way to the Rav on Erev Rosh Chodesh Elul -5675-1915. I found him engaged in halachic/legal studies with his son. We spoke about Greek wisdom and its literature; which did not satisfy one who knew the sources in their origins. (He was studying Greek philosophy by reading it in Greek.) I stayed to sleep in their home. My heart could not rest at night. My life’s destiny was hanging in the balance. I awoke in the morning and I heard the sound of footsteps back and forth. (I approached  the room from whence the footsteps came.) It was the Rav praying the morning blessings, the tefilla/prayer of Akeidat Itzchak-the almost sacrifice of Isaac in a sublime supernal melody.“From the eternal high heavens, and it reminded us of the love our ancestors.” (from the introduction to Yom Kippur Shacharit prayer) I listened and I was transformed and became another person. I quickly wrote in a letter that I had found more than I had hoped for. I found for myself a Rav.”

From this moment began an extraordinary relationship between two spiritual giants. In 1922, he was invited by Rav Kook to Jerusalem to help establish the “Central Universal Yeshiva”-now widely known as ‘Mercaz HaRav’- and write the curriculum for it. He arrived in Jerusalem and basically stayed by Rav Kook’s side for the rest of Rav Kook’s life.

One day in 1925, he asked Rav Kook: “Our rabbi, there is holiness and a very unique spirit with you. Is there also a Torat HaRav? Specific content of study? A methodology?” Rav Kook answered: “Yes, certainly” and  handed him the eight notebooks that he had filled with his illuminations between 1904 and 1919 while in Yaffo (1904-1914) and  Switzerland/England (1914-1919).

The Nazir pored through these for 10 years and selected representative portions and ordered them into the 4 Volumes of Orot  HaKodesh-Lights of Holiness. He presented the galleys to the first two volumes to Rav Kook on his deathbed on Rosh Chodesh Elul, 1935- exactly 20 years to the daythey first met. Rav Kook cried emotionally grateful to know that his deepest and most precious teachings would be shared with the world.

In his introduction the Nazir explained that he identified 5 foundational principles to Rav Kook’s ‘theology’.  An understanding of these principles is helpful as a context to understand the Rav Kook world view.

Let us review them briefly:

1. HAKODESH HAKLALI-EVERYTHING IS HOLY- “There is a holiness that builds and there is a holiness that destroys. The benefits of the holiness that builds are visible. The benefits of the one that destroys are hidden, because it destroys in order to build what is nobler than what has been built already” (Orot HaKodesh/Lights of Holiness 2:314). We must “take the deeper elements of good and holiness that have been embodied in the lower and superficial. Out of these we will build a new world, a world pervaded by a great light” (2:314).


“You live in a world full of light and life…. And everything aspires, longs, yearns, according to a pattern that is adorned with holiness and girded with beauty. This life of yours is not a meaningless phenomenon” (2:343).


“All existence is included in one point” (2:391). “The affirmation of the divine unity aspires to reveal the unity in the world, in humankind, among nations, and in the entire content of existence, without any dichotomy between action and theory, between reason and the imagination. Even the dichotomies experienced will be unified through a higher enlightenment, which recognizes their aspect of unity and compatibility” (2:411).

4. HA’TOV HA’KLALI-EVERYTHING IS GOOD After all, everything in the creation was deemed tov/good. We chose to also experience raa/bad. “And the Divine directive is to raise humankind and the world from the depths of bad to the heights of good. And humankind and the world [were] destined for this as was the bad itself…. It will be elevated and transformed to good as it recognizes that its negativity is actually directed towards the universal improvement of the good” (2:475).


In this case, I’ll introduce this principle with the quote from the Ramchal -Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato (1797-1746) that the Nazir chooses to illustrate this point. The  Ramchal was a primary elaborator of the Torah of the Ari HaKadosh-Isaac Luria (1534-1572) is hugely influential on modern Jewish thought: “The worlds were created in order to rise from their level. The descent and breakage is so that we can experience elevation little by little until everything will return to its wholeness. From the beginning of history the wheel turns towards one point — ‘ha’shlemut ha’acharon‘ — the final wholeness and perfection”(Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato, 138 Gates of Wisdom, 30,131).

These are the 5 foundational realities that Rav Kook invites us to integrate deeply into our understanding and resultant actions.

Everything is Holy. Everything is Alive. Everything is One. Everything is Good. Everything is Rising, Evolving, Elevating.

Imagine how our experience of life would be enhanced if we truly understand and experience the truth of these principles. How would our feelings and actions be affected? People around Rav Kook describe him as often, if not always, being in a state of bliss. He modeled for us the possibilities of a life lived in touch with the deepest and broadest truths. May we be blessed to truly live in their light quickly and in our days.

—————————————————————- The Nazir as an elder at his home in Jerusalem (r). He was the first one, along with Rav Kook’s son Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook TZ’L  brought there upon the liberation of the Kotel by his son in law, Rabbi Shlomo Goren-the Chief Rabbi of Tzahal/The Israeli Army at the time. He later became the Chief Rabbi of Israel (l).


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