Category Archives: Rav Kook

THE RAV KOOK REVOLUTION- The Jewish, Christian, Muslim Conflict (and Resolution):


The Jewish, Christian, Muslim Conflict (and Resolution):

וְשָׁפַט֙ בֵּ֣ין הַגֹּויִ֔ם וְהֹוכִ֖יחַ לְעַמִּ֣ים רַבִּ֑ים וְכִתְּת֨וּ חַרְבֹותָ֜ם לְאִתִּ֗ים וַחֲנִיתֹֽותֵיהֶם֙

לְמַזְמֵרֹ֔ות לֹא־יִשָּׂ֨א גֹ֤וי אֶל־גֹּוי֙ חֶ֔רֶב וְלֹא־יִלְמְד֥וּ עֹ֖וד מִלְחָמָֽה׃

He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. (Isaiah 2:4)

This is the day and the experience that all peace loving souls crave. And yet we seem to be so distant from that. How can we reach that mutual loving and caring state that Isaiah prophesies?

Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook, TZ”L addressed this in an  extraordinary letter that he wrote in 1908. He had been in Israel and serving as the Chief Rabbi of Yaffo and the new settlements for almost 4 years. The letter was written to Rabbi Pinchas HaKohen, chief of the Bet Din-Rabbinic Court of Birz in northern Lithuania.

After elaborating on the need in the Yishuv for “a new type of Yeshiva…in which the mystical aspect of the Torah…will have a prominent part”, he addresses Judaism and other religions:

“I will state to your honor my opinion, that it is not the aim of the enlightenment that emanates from Israel to absorb or destroy them, just as it is not our aim to destroy the world’s different nationalities. Our aim is to perfect and elevate them, to purge them of their dross.”

In the same way that Avraham Avinu worked to raise human consciousness beyond the blindness of idolatry and towards the clarity of a unified creation and Creator, Judaism is called upon to raise religious consciousness beyond “the conception of God (that) is crystallized among people in a particular form, going back to childish habit and imagination.”

(Orot, Essays-יסורים ממרקים-The Pangs of Cleansing)

The Torah describes the unfolding of human history in Breishit-Genesis.

The family of Avraham, Itzchak and Yaakov form the basis of the Jewish people. Avraham’s son and Itzchak’s half brother, Ishmael becomes the progenitor of the Arab people and the nation which was (forcibly) converted to Islam by Mohammed (570 c.e.-730 c.e. and his followers).

Yaakov’s twin brother, Esau was seen by Jewish theologians and historians as the spiritual forefather of Edom-Rome and then Christianity.

The Torah describes in great detail the process of Yaakov/Israel’s return to his homeland after fleeing 22 years earlier from Esau’s wrath for his deceptive ‘stealing’ of the birthright/blessing. After expressing his trepidation Yaakov divides his family into two camps so that “if Esau comes and attacks one camp, at least the other camp will survive” (Genesis 32:9).

And then the meeting occurs: Jacob “prostrated himself seven times as he approached his brother. Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, fell upon his neck, and they kissed and wept” (Genesis 33:4)  Their reconciliation continues and Yaakov says to Esau ‘seeing your face is like seeing the face of God (Elohim)” (Genesis 33:10).

Rav Kook derives a startling prophecy from this interaction and statement.

“(Jacob’s) word shall not go down as a vain utterance. The brotherly love of Esau and Yaakov, of Itzchak and Ishmael will assert itself above all the confusion that the evil brought upon us by our physicality has engendered.

It will overcome them and transform them to eternal light and compassion.”

The loving after years of enmity is a foreshadowing of the loving meeting that will occur historically between all the children of Avraham in the latter days of history. As Rav Kook says explicitly: “This broad concept, sweetened by the enlightenment of the true teaching of the Torah (perhaps a reference to Kabbala) must be our guide in all our ways in the end of days, to seal/complete our understanding of the Torah with the Messianic imprint by turning the bitter to sweet and darkness to light.” (Igrot 1:112)

Events of the past century have continued for the most part to grow the hatred between religions. These have turned to armed conflicts in numerous times and places with new potential battlegrounds looming all over the planet.

The Torah however teaches us that this is not the end of history but a turn of the wheel that is moving inexorably to reconciliation, harmony and universal love. There is much for us to do to achieve this aim, but an important beginning point is to realize that this is the goal of history and we are here to serve this divine unfolding of love and shalom.

May we be so blessed.

Rabbi Itzchak Marmorstein





ואנו באים לחוג את חג השבועות, יום אשר עמדנו בקומה הרוחנית הגמורה שלנו

We are celebrating the Festival of the Weeks-the day that we stood in our fullest spiritual stature. -Rav Kook TZ’L


ובכל שנה ושנה, כשהיום הגדול והקדוש הזה חוזר ומופיע – גדולת עולם מתחדשת בקרבנו, ונכונים אנחנו להקשיב שוב לקול ד’ בכח, קול ד’ בהדר (תהלים כט, ד), כאשר שמענו אז במדבר לפני בואנו לארץ…ועולמים חדשים הולכים ונפתחים לפננו

And every year when this great and holy day returns and manifests- the greatness of the world is renewed in our beings and we are prepared to again hear the ‘voice of the One in strength, the voice of the One in glory’ (Psalms 29:4) as we did in the desert….and new old world open before us.


מאמרו של רבי יהושע בן לוי: ‘בכל יום ויום בת קול יוצאת מהר חורב ומכרזת ואומרת: אוי להם לבריות מעלבונה של תורה-אבות ו:ב)

הבעל שם טוב אומר שאותה בת קול נשמעת בליבם של כל ישראל

And Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi said: “Each and every day a bat kol-heavenly voice emerges from Horeb (Mt. Sinai) and its call rings out “Woe to those who insult the Torah.”

The Baal Shem Tov added that this Bat Kol is heard in the hearts of all israel.


יעקב יוסף מפולנאה, תלמידו של הבעש”ט, תמה, אם בת הקול יוצאת בכל יום, מדוע אין שומעים אותה? והשיב, שהבעיה אינה בבת הקול, אלא במקשיבים. לו היינו מטים אזנינו היינו שומעים. -תולדות יעקב יוסף, ויקרא)

Yaakov Yosef of Polana, the student of the Baal Shem Tov asked: If this heavenly voice comes out each day, why do we not hear it? And he answered that the problem is not with the heavenly voice, but with the listeners. If we would tune our ears towards it, we would hear it.

Rav Kook TZ”L explains how this voice is hearable each and every day:

כל פעם שהלב דופק דפיקה רוחנית באמת, כל פעם שרעיון חדש ואצילי נולד, הרינו מקשיבים, כמו קול מלאך ד’ דופק, נוקש על דלתי נשמתנו, מבקש שנפתח לו את פתחנו, למען יופיע אלינו בכליל הדרו.

וכל מה שנפגשהו ברוח יותר משוחררה, בלב יותר טהור, ברגש יותר איתן ונערץ, בחשק יותר פנימי ורציני לאהבת היותד נשגב, היותר מכובד ומרומם, ככה המון נשמות מאוצלות אלינו יופיע, ויזריח בנגהו את חשכתנו. ג-שלט

“Each time that the heart feels a truly spiritual stirring, each time that a new and noble thought is born, we as though listening to the voice of an angel of God who is knocking, pressings on the doors of our soul-asking that we open our door to him that he might appear in its full majesty.”

יצייר לו כל אחד באמת ובתמים מה שנשמתו מראה לו, יוציא את תנובתו הרוחנית מן הכח אל הפועל, בלא שפתי רמיה. ומניצוצות כאלה אבוקות אור יתקבצו. ויאירו את כל העולם מכבודם, מחלקי אמת פנימית כאלה האמת הגדולה תופיע

“Let everyone express in truth and in faithfulness whatever their soul reveals to them, let him bring forth his spiritual creativity from potentiality to actuality, without any deception. Out of such sparks torches of light will be assembled and they will illuminate the whole world out of their glory. Out of such fragments of inner truth will the great truth emerge.”

The Holy One is speaking with us always. ‘May this great truth emerge’.

Chag Sameach-a Joyous Shavuot


שופר של חיה טמאה נהפך לשופרו של משיח. עמלק, פיטלורה,  היטלר וכו’, מעוררים לגאולה

“The shofar of the impure animal is transformed into the shofar of Messiach. Amalek…Hitler and their ilk are awakening redemption.”   -Rav Kook-Rosh HaShana, 1934.

It is soon to be  (Wed. Night/Thursday- April 11/12)  Yom HaZicaron LaShoa ve’Gvurah- Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day.  The nation wide 11 a.m. siren to mark a moment of silence will blow throughout Israel.

This day-Nisan 27- was chosen by the Israeli Knesset in the early 1950’s because  in 1943 it was the close to the day of the outbreak of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and a week before Yom HaAtzmaut-Israel’s Independence Day-Iyar 5. They were interested in making explicit the historical connection of these events. My personal research has convinced me that the Holocaust did not need to happen for Israel to come into being.

But the Holocaust  did happen…it very certainly did. I knew of it from the womb.

My mother, Bluma -Zichrona LeBracha, arrived in Auschwitz from Cluj, Transylvania in June 1944 and saw her younger sister go directly to the crematoria upon their arrival. Most of my father’s family (he is the youngest of 12 children) were in the same transport and perished there. My father, Yosef, Zichrono LeBracha,  worked as slave labor for the Romanian-German army and thus survived as did my mother. They arrived in Israel in spring 1948 after a number of months incarceration in the British detainments camps in Cyprus.

It became obvious to me at a young age that they had experienced a very traumatic event. I wanted and needed to understand what actually happened there. At the too young age of 10 or 11, I began to read books containing eyewitness reports and testimonies. Not a great idea. I cut back somewhat after the night I saw a large illuminated face of Hitler shining outside my bedroom window.  

My obsessive fascination with the Holocaust continued for many years. I was a tour guide at Yad Vashem for a while.

At one point in my late teens, I made the conscious choice that the only responsible response to  such great darkness is to seek the greatest light and shine it in the world. A few years later, this brought me to study Torah in  Israel in 1973 and that journey brought me to the Torah of Baal HaOrot-the Master of the Lights-Rav Kook, TZ’L in August 1980.

What would Rav Kook say about the holocaust?  I can not know for sure, though I could speculate. What we do know for sure is what he did say about the Nazis and Germany before he died in 1935. Please allow me to share two remarkable statements that he made.

The first was on the first day of  Rosh HaShana -October 22, 1933. Hitler had come to power in January 30th of that year and by this time was Chancellor and Fuhrer. Mein Kampf was a bestseller in Germany and it was obvious that this wasn’t good for the Jews (or anyone else.) These events were being followed closely and anxiously in the Jewish communities in Palestine. It was announced that on that day Rav Kook would doven at Beit Yaakov-also known as the Hurva-Destroyed- Synagogue in the Old City and would speak about ‘inyanei de’yoma’-matters of the day. The synagogue was packed Rav Kook arrived with his entourage and the prayers began. After the chanting of the haftarah, Rav Kook stepped forward to speak.

In a hushed voice he began: “We say in our prayers, “Sound the great shofar for our freedom, and raise the banner to bring our exiles together. What is the significance of this ‘great shofar’?

There are three types of shofars that may be blown on Rosh Hashanah. Preferably, one should blow a ram’s horn. If this is impossible, one may use a shofar made from the horn of any kosher animal other than a cow.

But if neither of these types is available, we may blow the horn of an animal which is ritually unclean and do so without reciting a blessing.

These three shofars of Rosh Hashanah correspond to three ‘Shofars of Redemption,’ three Divine calls summoning the Jewish people to be redeemed and to redeem their land.

The preferred Shofar of Redemption is the Divine call that awakens and inspires the people with holy motivations, through faith in God and the unique mission of the people of Israel. This elevated awakening corresponds to the ram’s horn, a horn that recalls Abraham’s supreme love of God and dedication in Akeidat Yitzchak, the Binding of Isaac. It was the call of this shofar, with its holy vision of heavenly Jerusalem united with earthly Jerusalem, that inspired Nachmanides, Rabbi Yehuda HaLevy, Rabbi Ovadia of Bartenura, the students of the Vilna Gaon, and the disciples of the Baal Shem Tov to ascend to Eretz Yisrael. It is for this ‘great shofar,’an awakening of spiritual greatness and idealism, that we fervently pray.

There exists a second Shofar of Redemption, a less optimal form of awakening. This shofar calls out to the Jewish people to return to their homeland, to the land where our ancestors, our prophets and our kings, once lived. It beckons us to live as a free people, to raise our families in a Jewish country and a Jewish culture. This is a kosher shofar, albeit not a great shofar like the first type of awakening. We still recite a brachah over this shofar.

There is, however, a third type of shofar. (At this point Rav Kook burst out in tears.) The least desirable shofar comes from the horn of an unclean animal. This shofar corresponds to the wake-up call that comes from the persecutions of anti-Semitic nations, warning the Jews to escape while they still can and flee to their own land. Enemies force the Jewish people to be redeemed, blasting the trumpets of war, bombarding them with deafening threats of harassment and torment, giving them no respite in the Diaspora.

The shofar of an impure animal becomes the shofar of Mashiach. Amalek, Petilura [a Ukranian Jew killer-1879-1926], Hitler and their ilk- awaken us to redemption. The one who did not listen to the sound of the first shofar and the ones whose ears are closed up and do not want to listen to the sound of the second, ordinary shofar will listen to the sound of the impure, invalid shofar. They will listen against their will. Over this shofar, however, no blessing is recited. “One does not recite a blessing over a cup of affliction” (Berachot 51b).

We pray that the Holy One does not force us to listen to the invalid and impure shofar. We also do not long for the ordinary, medium sized-almost secular- shofar.

We pray, “Sound the great shofar for our freedom”, a shofar which comes from the very depths of the sanctity of the Jewish soul, from our Holy of Holies. We all await that  great day of  which it is written: ‘It shall come to pass on that day that a great shofar will be sounded, and those who are lost in the land of Assyria, and the oppressed in the land of Egypt will come and worship God at the holy mountain in Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 27:13)

Rav Kook explained that Hitler and Nazism was the call of the impure shofar calling upon the people to flee, to return home to the Land of Israel. This drasha had a deep impact on all who heard it and was repeated in the newspapers of the time.

Shortly before he died in Elul 1935, Rav Kook wrote his last words of Torah. They are contained in a short notebook entitled “Jerusalem, notebook 34″. After a number of pithy spiritual insights, Rav Kook wrote a short essay entitled-’The Land of Israel, The Land of the Tanach (Bible)’. He began by explaining the Biblical connection of Israel to the Land of Israel and the importance to encourage the return of the Jewish people to its land. He concluded the piece thusly:

“The events that are occurring recently are stirring spiritual and national recognitions within Am Israel-The Nation of Israel in relation to its return to its ancient land. This understanding is also penetrating into the hearts of the refined among the nations of the world… England and all people with a more developed sense of hearing have begun to understand this wondrous secret that will bring life to the world in the near future.

Germany has begun to stand against the spirit of pure prophecy of the Book of Books as it unveils its vicious hatred to the people of the Bible. It must return in complete penitence to save itself from absolute destruction.

And finally the Land of the Tanach must be rebuilt by the Nation of the Tanach in order to bring the Godly Biblical spirit of peace/wholeness [רוח השלום] in all its supernal refinement to the lives of all the nations on planet Earth.”

The reference to Germany was chilling then and continues to be in hindsight.  This is basically the final teaching that Rav Kook left for us.

“The Land of the Bible must be rebuilt by the people of the Bible in order to bring universal Divine peace to the entire planet.”

Be’Meheira be’Yamenu-Speedily in our days.



“The core of freedom is to be…loyal to our inner essence; to the ‘Tzelem Elokeem-Divine Image’ that is within us”.

In Erev Pesach 5694/April 30, 1934 Rav Kook TZ’L wrote an impassioned call to freedom as his Pesach message to the children of Israel. He was weakened from  the disease that felled him two weeks before his 70th birthday a year and half after this was written. It was published in HaYesod, a newspaper of the time and has the special significance of being one of the last public statements we have from him.

When the Rav Kook Haggadah was collected, this piece introduced the seder. As my Korban Pesach/Offering, please allow me to share selections of it on the eve of the Pesach we are approaching. The Hebrew is included.

It is entitled- Cherutenu-Our Freedom and the Burning of Chametz:

.אלה השנים המסמנים לנו את חג הגאולה”

?  ולדורות מה אנחנו למדים מאלה שני הנושאים הללו התלויים זה בזה

Freedom and the burning of chametz symbolize for us the Chag HaGeula-Festival of Liberation. What are we to learn for all generations from these two interdependent realms?

תשובה הנצחית היא, שתנאי הגאולה שנים המה:

החירות העצמית, חירות הגוף מכל שיעבוד זר, מכל שיעבוד הכופה את צלם אלקים אשר באדם להיות משועבד לכל כח אשר הוא מוריד את ערכו, את תפארת גדולתו והדרת קדשו, והחירות הזאת אינה נקנית כי אם על ידי חירותה .של הנשמה

חירות הרוח מכל מה שהוא מטה אותו ממסילתה הישרה והאיתנה היצוקה במהותו העצמית.

אבל אלה שני סוגי החירות אינם באים, ואין האדם בתור אישיות פרטית ולא העם בתור קיבוץ שלם בעל רוח מיוחד זוכה להם, כי אם על ידי הביעור מכל גבולו את כל דבר המעכב את חירותו, שזה חמצו השאור שבעיסה שהיזקו מצוי ביותר בעת אשר אור של גאולה מתנוצץ עליו

The eternal answer is that there are two conditions necessary for liberation to occur. The first is cherut haguf/ freedom of the body [our physical experience] from any external enslavement, from any enslavement that subdues our Tzelem Elokim/Divine Image. Freedom from anything that reduces our sense of value, our splendrous greatness and glorious holiness.

This Cherut/Freedom can not be reached except through freedom of soul. This is the freedom of the spirit from anything that diverts  it away from its direct powerful path- cast of its inner essence.

These two types of freedoms do not come, to individuals or nations, except by the act of biur-excision of anything and everything that delays liberation from our midst. This is the ‘leaven in the dough’ whose damage is particularly felt at the time when the light of geula/liberation is shining upon us.

להתלמד אנו צריכים איך לסגל לנו את אותו הרוח הגדול של החירות…

We need to learn how to experience this great spirit of liberation

ההבדל שבין העבד ובן החורין, איננו רק הבדל מעמדי, מה שבמקרה זה הוא

משועבד לאחר, וזה הוא בלתי משועבד. אנו יכולים למצא עבד משכיל שרוחו הוא מלא חירות, ולהיפוך, בן חורין שרוחו הוא רוח של עבד.

The difference between a slave and a free person is not just a difference of status. This one is enslaved to another and this one is independent. We can find an enlightened slave whose is spirit is filled with freedom and a free person whose spirit is that of a slave.

החירות הצביונית היא אותה הרוח הנשאה, שהאדם וכן העם בכללו מתרומם על ידה, להיות נאמן להעצמיות הפנימית שלו, להתכונה הנפשית של צלם אלקים אשר בקרבו, ובתכונה כזאת אפשר לו להרגיש את חייו בתור חיים מגמתיים שהם שוים את ערכם

The foundational essence of freedom is that elevated spirit by which a human being and a nation rises to be loyal to their inner being-to the Tzelem Elokim-The Divine Image within. In this way we can  experience our lives as purposeful, worthy of their value.

מה שאין כן בבעל הרוח של העבדות, שלעולם אין תוכן חייו והרגשתו מעורים בתכונתו הנפשית העצמית כי אם במה שהוא יפה וטוב אצל האחר השולט עליו איזה שליטה שהיא

This is not so with the one whose spirit is enslaved.

They do not experience their lives illuminated by their inner essence. They are controlled by that which others define as tov-good and yafeh-beautiful…

נסע ונלך להבליט יותר ויותר את עצמאותנו הרעננה הפנימית, אותה שקנינו על ידי גילוי שכינה, אותה החירות שקנינו על ידי הפלא הגדול היחיד בעולם, שנעשה עמנו בעת אשר גאלנו השם יתברך, וגאל את אבותינו ממצרים לחירות עולם.

Let us go forth and express more and more our inner vibrant independence. We acquired our freedom at the singular wondrous event of Pesach: Gilui HaShechina- The Revelation of the Divine Presence.

We experienced this at the time that the Holy One liberated our ancestors from Egypt to eternal freedom…

שמרו את החירות ואת ביעור החמץ, והגאלו מהרה גאולה שלמה.

Let us protect this freedom, let us fully excise our chometz. We will be quickly and completely liberated.”

Amen ve Amen. To freedom.

Chag Kasher veSameach



“The perception that dawns on a person to see the world, not as finished, but as in the process of continued becoming, ascending, developing-this changes us from being ‘under the sun’ to being ‘above the sun’ from the place where everything takes on new form. The joy of heaven and earth abide in us as on the day they were created.

In this luminous perspective one looks at all the worlds, at the general and human development, at the destiny of each creature, at all the events of all times.” -Rav Kook TZ’L (Orot Hakodesh 2:517)

We are beginning again.

The new year. For the 5778th time.

The book of Breishit/Genesis. For at least the 2000th time.

The Torah describes the reality of time in existence as a simultaneous recycling circle and a spiral moving forward. And as a gateway to the Divine Presence.

בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים- In the beginning Elohim Created” (Genesis 1:1)

Rav Kook explains that: “The Israelites are blessed with the capacity to see the Divine Light that fills the entire creation. The Torah begins with the creation followed by the name of Elohim. For the entire creation speaks of the glory of the Creator and even when His Name is not mentioned it soon becomes clear that the Divine will be revealed afterwards.” -(Maamrei HaRayah-246)

The Torah describes the discovery and experience of the Divine Presence through the experience of life of the people of the Bible. This is imbedded into our very beginnings.

” וַיִּבְרָא אֱלֹהִים אֶת הָאָדָם בְּצַלְמוֹ, בְּצֶלֶם אֱלֹהִים בָּרָא אֹתוֹ:   זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה, בָּרָא אֹתָם. –And Elohim created the Human in His image, In the image of Elohim He Created Him- Male and Female He Created Them.” (Genesis 1:27)

Rav Kook explains: “A foundation of the Torah is that the human is created in the Divine Image. The essence of this is found through the absolute freedom that humans have. As Maimonides points out in Hilchot Tshuva-The Laws of Return (4:5)- ‘without the foundation of absolute human freedom, there would be no space for the Torah to exist’.” (Pinkasei HaRayah, 2:16)

We are as the Divine, completely and utterly free.

What a blessing and a responsibility.

We are free to create, we are free to destroy.

We are free to love, we are free to hate.

And our choices have huge impact on reality. 

In the story of Noach, the Torah describes the Creator’s decision to end most human life:

” וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים לְנֹחַ, קֵץ כָּל-בָּשָׂר בָּא לְפָנַי כִּי מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ חָמָס, מִפְּנֵיהֶם; וְהִנְנִי מַשְׁחִיתָם, אֶת-הָאָרֶץ. And Elohim said to Noach: ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me. The world is filled with human crime. I will therefore destroy them with the earth’.” (Genesis 6:13)

Rav Kook explains: “The Torah of Israel clarifies how the existence of the world and human ethics are dependent on each other. It is clear that the improvement  of the world is dependent on ethical improvement. This is the essence of the Israelite understanding of the Creator. ” (Notebook 1:499)

Therefore our doing of good is the most powerful tool we have for personal and planetary transformation.

“When the longing to be good to all is intensified in a person, then they know that an illumination from a higher realm has reached them. Praise be if they prepare a proper place in their heart, mind, actions and feelings to receive this noble light, which is the most precious asset on earth. Hold on to it, do not let it go.  Do not allow any physical or spiritual impediment to keep you from welcoming this holy thought into your inner being. Battle against them, remain resolute. ‘Draw your knowledge from afar’(Job 36:3). This is emulating the attributes of the Divine, who is good to all and ‘whose compassions are over all His works’(Psalms 145:5).” ” טוֹב יְהוָה לַכֹּל , וְרַחֲמָיו, עַל כָּל מַעֲשָׂיו-The Creator is good to all and His compassions are upon all his works.” (Ibid).

We, created in the Divine Image, are invited to be good to all and extend our compassion to the whole creation.

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’ (Genesis 21:7).”

May our desire for the absolute good be our catalyst for manifesting it.

With blessings from Jerusalem







“In the depths of the human soul the voice of God calls ceaselessly. The tumult of life can confuse the person so that most of the time they will not hear this voice.”  (Maamarei HaRayah, p.113)

Yom HaKippurim-The Day of Atonement is our best yearly opportunity to hear this voice. In ‘Kol HaNevua-The Voice of Prophecy’ Rabbi David Cohen -Ha Rav HaNazir TZ’L, Rav Kook’s main student (1)  explains the Kabbalistic understanding of Yom Kippur:

“On the holy day, on Yom HaKippurim- we can eat and drink from our holy inner voices of understanding. The fast is connected to the secret of inner eating and drinking.” (Kol HaNevua p. 249)

On Yom Kippur we are invited to step away from engagement with the material daily world and enter our inner Holy of Holies. Just like the Cohen HaGadol/High Priest entered the Holy of Holies for a full experience of the Divine Presence 5 times during the Yom Kippur Temple service, we are invited to reflect that process and experience through our Yom Kippur prayers.

The act of fasting enables that process. The liberation from pursuing our material sustenance frees us to tap into our spiritual wellsprings. Interestingly the numerical value of ‘עינוי-affliction’ (the things we desist from on YK), ‘צום-fast’ and ‘קול-call,voice’ are all 136. This is a hint to the reality that our fasting and separating from the physical allow the spiritual to come forth.

With this perspective we experience Yom Kippur not as a harsh day of suffering and deprivation to expiate us from our sins but as a glorious day of being in the Divine Presence more intensely and joyously than at any other time in the year.

A major theme in Rav Kook’s writings is the understanding that our capacity for communication with the Divine is deeply imbedded in our being:

“Waves from the higher realm act on our souls ceaselessly. The stirrings of our inner spiritual sensibilities are the result of the sounds released by the violin of our souls, as it listens to the echo of the sound emanating from the divine realm…All our endeavours in Torah and science is only to clarify whatever comprehensible words it is possible to distill from this divine voice that always reverberates in our inner ear.” (Orot HaKodesh 2:346)

Elsewhere, he writes:

“Understanding from within our own consciousness is the higher expression of spiritual progress. All that is learned by study is absorbed from the outside and is of lesser significance as compared with what is thought through within the soul itself. All that is acquired by study is only a profound strategy as to how to draw on what is hidden in the heart, in the depths of the soul, one’s inner understanding, from the knowledge within.” (Ibid, 1:188)

The Cohen Gadol/High Priest performs a very special and unique divine service on Yom Kippur. It is described extensively in the day’s liturgy. Rav Kook explains that each of us has an inner high priest and Yom Kippur is our opportunity to tap into it and enhance our unique personal divine service:

“Every person must know that they are called upon to serve according to their distinctive comprehension and feeling-according to the promptings of their own soul. In that world, which embraces endless other worlds, will they find the treasure of their life.

Be not confused by suggestions streaming into you from alien worlds which you do not properly comprehend, which you are not conditioned to introduce into your own pattern of life. Those worlds will find perfection in their own place, among those especially suited to establish and perfect them.

Each person must concentrate on their own inner worlds which are full of everything for them and embrace everything.” (Ibid, 3: 221)

This is a great blessing. The Divine Imperative is for each person to hear  and amplify  the Divine Call within:

“The greater a person the more they must seek to discover themselves. The deep levels of our soul remain concealed from us so that we need to be alone frequently, to elevate our imagination, to deepen our thought, to liberate our mind. Final our soul will reveal itself to us by radiating some of its light upon us.

Then we will find our happiness.

We will rise above all lowliness.

We will elevate ourselves above the flux of events by submitting to and uniting ourselves with the events…

Then we will recognize every spark of truth, every spark of equity, wherever it makes its appearance in the world.

All all be drawn to us, without hostility, jealousy and rivalry. Peace and courage  will dawn on us, compassion and love will shine in us. A zeal for accomplishment and work, a desire for action and creation, a yearning for silence and inner contemplation will join together in our spirit.

We will become holy.” (Ibid 3:270)

May we be blessed this Yom Kippur (and always) to shine in the light of our inner illumination and bring true holiness to all life.

G’mar Chatima Tova-May we be inscribed in the Book of Life.




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