18)HA’OROT: RAV KOOK TZ’L ON HITLER AND THE SHOA/HOLOCAUST

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 (Sunday night/Monday-April 23/4) 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  in 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, Shlita Ad 120, 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.

 

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17)HA’OROT-THE LIGHTS OF RAV KOOK: PESACH-FREEDOM AND LIBERATION

“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

Itzchak

16) HA’OROT-THE LIGHTS OF RAV KOOK: THE POET OF LIGHT

16) HA’OROT-THE LIGHTS OF RAV KOOK: THE POET OF LIGHT

“All existence  whispers to me its secret.

I have life to offer, take please take…”

With those lines begins one of Rabbi Avraham Itzchak Hacohen Kook TZ’L’s extraordinary poems. I began reading it and some of his other poems when I was beginning to meet Rav Kook’s Torah and being over 30 years ago. In the last decade my engagement with his poetry has deepened and it is now a major focus of my learning and teaching.

Rav Kook was a being of immense illumination. His poetry is an expression of his most elevated  states of consciousness and insights. In this posting, I would like to share some of the  poems I am most moved by.

Rav Kook’s Hebrew is much better than my English and I did not try to duplicate the rhyming that is found in the Hebrew. I also have recorded and performed these poems with a New York based jazz group “Greg Wall’s Later Prophets”. A huge thanks to Rabbi Greg Wall, Shai Bachar, Aaron Alexander, Dave Richards for the recording and perorming. When appropriate, I will link the recorded tracks along with the poems. 

Let us return to the opening poem, ‘The Whispers of Existence’:

All existence whispers to me it’s secret:

‘I have life to offer, take, please take.’

If you have a heart and your heart is flowing with red blood

That has not been poisoned by the toxins of despair.

But if your heart is uncircumsized/covered,

And beauty holds no spell for you,

Then existence whispers to me:

‘Away from me, away, to you I am closed, locked, forbidden’

If every gentle sound,

Every living beauty, stirs you not to a holy song,

But instead awakens in you a stream of strange fire,

‘Away from me, away, to you I am closed, locked, forbidden.’

And a generation will awaken,

And sing to beauty and to life,

And draw unending delight

From the dew of heaven.

And from the splendor of the Carmel and the Sharon,

The wealth of life’s secrets

Will be heard by the ears of a people alive.

And from the eden of her song, and the beauty of her life

A holy light will fill all,

And all of existence with murmur lovingly to us:

‘My beloved, I am yours, I am yours.’

Here is the recording http://goo.gl/fKTM36 -in Hebrew.

Rav Kook’s passion found powerful expression through poetry. In 1902, he wrote a 42 verse poem about protecting Zion.  Its title ‘Encircle Zion, Surround Her’ is based on Psalms 48.

It’s words unfortunately ring as true as ever.. Here are the first four verses:

Encircle Tzion, encircle,

Like a wheel around the point,

Surround her, crown her,

With testimony and Torah.

Encircle, watch over Tziona

From every vengeful foe,

Surround, protect her many

From every fool pretending wisdom.

Surround her so that she will not be breached,

By terrorists, foxes of the vineyard,

Surround her so that she will not be swarmed

By smearers of lies and slander.

Encircle Tzion, encircle

With the fence of fire and law,

With might protect her

And fearlessly do it all.

Here is what it sounds like in Hebrew: http://goo.gl/jlrIU0

Through poetry he described his prophetic visions.    Here is one of the most remarkable ones. It is entitled‘ME’OLAM RACHOK: From A Distant World’:

From a distant world, full of illumination,

The suns there are as broad as the ocean,

And the stars, like the light of our sun,

On the face of the sapphire stone…..there.

—–

The news reaches me,

Like dew full of overflowing delight,

Guiding me to the hidden Eden,

There the treasure is stored.

All the faces there are joyful,

Every mouth is singing songs of praise,

The highest feelings fill each heart,

And all the legs are dancing in jubilation.

The past and the future are scrolled into one,

Nothing is hidden, everything is known,

And every soul is full of love for all,

Feelings for the multitudes, and the light is sown.

All the pasts flow like rivers,

And purity, illumination, strength and light,

Life renewed, freedom and liberation,

Fills all our thoughts and activities.

And without teachers, guides, judges or politicians,

Everything is good, everything is clear,

There is no crookedness or corruption, everything is with integrity,

And the night shines like the day.

To a world such as this my soul longs,

In life such as this my spirit soars.

It’s reassuring to know that the future is so perfect.

Though there is alot of fixing we need to do to bring it about.                                                                          

Here is the poem in Hebrew and English: http://goo.gl/I4iHU

Rav Kook wrote approximately thirty poems. Many of his prose pieces are also very poetic and can be read as poems. Let me conclude this introductory survey with one of my favorite poems to perform. We often end our show with it. It is called “Techiya-A Call To Renewal”:

Give me, give me

Rays of light,

Too much for me, too much

These pits of darkness.

Give me the gift

Of purity of thought,

Enough for me, enough

These prisons of confusion.

Gift me, gift me

With the the power of desire,

Extend to me

Balls of fire.

I’ll explode with them

The false towers and structure

And the vanity of vanities

That dwell within.

I call for liberation

For my words and my pen

Without keeping

My wine in its barrel.

And without fear

The anxiety of the enslaved

We will announce together

Words and matters of unity, uniqueness and unification.

And our words like arrows

Will hit their marks,

And to our brothers and sisters struggling

Speak of our wrongdoing.

To raise ourselves beyond the divisions,

For the greatness of the nation

To expand our consciousness

As broad as the ocean.

To shake the dust

From the lands of our exile

That are cleaving

To our sickly hearts.

To understand the principle

That is everything,

The Torah, our destiny,

The power of the Divine.

To be concerned for the soul,

The soul of our people,

That is turned over desolate,

In its exile from its home.

To awaken life,

For the renewal of the nation

On the earth and in the heavens,

As they are there.

Here is the  recording of the English: http://goo.gl/9lFBhf

May we and all existence be blessed to experience the light, love and complete wholeness that Rav Kook is pointing us towards.

Blessings from Jerusalem

Itzchak

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If anyone is interested in seeing films of the poems being performed, please go here:  https://www.youtube.com/user/HAOROTRAVKOOK

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This blog is kindly sponsored by Kef International-http://www.kefintl.com/

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15) HA’OROT-THE LIGHTS OF RAV KOOK: BEGINNING NOW AND AGAIN AND BETTER THAN EVER

“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

Itzchak

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14)HA’OROT-THE LIGHTS OF RAV KOOK: SUCCOT JOY AND UNIVERSALITY

14)HA’OROT-THE LIGHTS OF RAV KOOK:         SUCCOT JOY AND UNIVERSALITY                                 My etrog-5775

“Radiant is the world soul,

Full of splendor and beauty,

Full of life,

Of souls hidden,

Of treasures of the holy spirit,

Of fountains of strength,

Of greatness and beauty.” -Rav Kook TZ’L (Orot HaKodesh 2:247)

The new beginning of Rosh HaShana and the cleansing of Yom Kippur brings us to the joy of Succot. We are now invited to step out of our private perspectives and prisons and celebrate the great miracle and gift of life.

Rabbi David Cohen TZ”L -Rav Kook’s main student-in his masterpiece ‘Kol HaNevua-The Voice of Prophecy’ explains that Succot is חג החיים-the Festival of Life. He points out חיים and לולב-palm frond have the same numerical value- 68. The lulav is waved three times in the six directions for a total of 18 wavings. The numerical value of חי-life is of course 18. If any of the four species are dry or lifeless, they can not be used.

The life process of constant renewal is a great gift of our creation. Rav Kook appreciated it deeply:“Succa is a very high level of joy…Joy emerges from renewal and the renewal of the succa is constant, therefore it is the ‘season of our joy’.” (Rav Kook, Notebook 2:212)

He elaborates:“The perception that dawns on a person to see the world, not as finished, but in the process of continued becoming, ascending, developing-this changes one from being ‘under the sun’ to being ‘above the sun’, from the place where there is nothing new to the place where there is nothing old, where everything takes on new form. The joy of heaven and earth abide in them as on the day they were created.” (Orot HaKodesh 2:535)

The physical experience of the succa and the four species offers us the opportunity to experience and celebrate  the fusion of heaven and earth. The Succot prayers. songs and celebrations direct us to the larger creation. Our Succa is not blocked off from the world. Everyone is invited to our Succa and we are invited to everyone else’s.

For a week we live outside of our normal private boundaries and join together with all life.

Rav Kook explains that this is very important for us to be able to do if we wish to truly grow. (I am translating this in the first person though it was written in the third.):

“We must liberate themselves from confinement within our private concerns. This pervades our whole being so that all our thoughts focus only our own destiny. This reduces us to the worst kind of smallness and brings upon us endless physical and spiritual distress. It is necessary to raise our thought, will and our basic preoccupations toward universality, to the inclusion of all, to the whole world, to humankind, to the Jewish people, to all existence. This will result in establishing even our private self on a proper basis.

The firmer our vision of universality, the greater the joy we will experience and the more we merit the grace of divine illumination…

The call to be committed always to the principle of universality, to the divine ensemble, where all things their being, is the essence of the soul of the ‘tzaddikim-righteous’ who walk before God and whose delight is in the Creator.” (Ibid 3:147)

When we are able to experience life with this perspective our every moment is enriched with meaning and significance. Succot is a tremendous reminder of the precious and wondrous gift of life that we are experiencing.

Rav Kook of course said it much more beautifully:

“The realm of mystery tells us- ‘You live in a world full of light and life.

Let us know this great reality, the richness of existence that we always encounter.

Let us contemplate its grandeur, its beauty, its precision and harmony…

In every corner where we turn, we are dealing with realities that have life; we always perform consequential acts, abounding with meaning and with the preciousness of vibrant life.

In everything we do we meet sparks full of life and light, aspiring toward the heights. We help them and they help us…

And everything aspires, longs, yearns, according to a pattern that is adorned with holiness and girded with beauty. For this life of ours is not a meaningless phenomenon.  

With the light of Your own presence, You have gifted us, HaShem Elokeynu, with תורת חיים-The Torah of Life.” (Ibid, 2: 343)

חג חיים שמח-A Joyous Festival of Life to all.

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13)HA’OROT:YOM’HAKIPPURIM-THE DAY OF -AT-ONE-MENT

13)HA’OROT:YOM HA’KIPPURIM-THE DAY OF AT-ONE-MENT

RAV KOOK BEIT HAMIKDASH

“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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  1. https://haorotlightsofravkook.wordpress.com/2014/07/02/2-rav-kook-tzl-and-harav-hanazir-tzl-the-5-foundations-of-reality/

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12)HA’OROT:TSHUVA/RETURN-THE LIMITLESS POWER OF THE WILL FOR GOOD-

TSHUVA/RETURN-THE LIMITLESS POWER OF THE WILL FOR GOOD 

“The whole world is pervaded by harmony…Our inner moral sense and its powerful claims represent an echo of the unitary voice in all parts of existence.” (Orot HaTshuva, 8:7)

‘The whole world pervaded by harmony.’ The scientific description of reality certainly demonstrates that in countless ways. The growth  of human understanding has been the unfolding  realizationt hat we are all part of a precisely created unified unity. ‘It all fits together’.

With a few exceptions. War, disease, suffering, poverty are all strong experiences of the dis-harmonious. The physical world may be created perfectly, but we, human beings,  are experiencing major imperfections in much of our experience.

The harmony that pervades all existence is not widely experienced in the human realm. The trees, animals and most other living  things are all living in perfect harmony with the unfolding of existence. We are decidedly not.

Rav Kook TZ’L explains the reason for that:

“Every moral severance in thought or deed, in character or disposition, creates many wounds that inflict many inner pains in all aspects of the soul. The basis of these spiritual pains is the disturbing force of withdrawing the light of life emanating from the general order of existence from the life channels of sinning soul”. (Ibid)

Our actions cause us to either be in connection with the harmonious force in existence or to separate and distance ourselves from it.

The pain of this separation serves as the fuel to our return to the harmonious:

“Sins are the essence of melancholy. When the soul undergoes cleansing, it experiences the very essence of its wrongdoings and the the melancholy of tshuva asserts itself. A fire of anguish, remorse, shame and a terrifying fear burns inside it. But in this very process it is purified.” (Ibid, 8:11)

That is the blessing of the Divine Goodness.The pain is the door to the liberation:

“Once our moral sense is awakened, the light of the soul becomes at once manifest, and by that light our whole self becomes subjected to probing. We see our defects. We become agitated with a deep sense of anxiety because of our low state of perfection and how grave deterioration.

It is, however, precisely then for us to consider that this awareness and the anxiety that comes with it are the best signs pointing to full liberation through the perfection of the self.” (Ibid, 8:16)

‘The perfection of the self’.Is such a level of being accomplishable?

Rav Kook teaches that it is and that we have a powerful inner force that can help us reach that pinnacle:

“When the light of tshuva is constantly active, the important principle -that the goodness of the will is basic and all the inclinations in the world are only its implementation-becomes clear. The quality of will ennobled by holiness…asserts itself increasingly within us. We then come to recognize the true value of genuine success that depends only on the person and is independent of external conditions–and this is a will for the good.” (Ibid,9:1)

Our inner commitment to expressing our will for the good is our secret tool for personal and planetary transformation:

“For a good will that always abides in the soul transforms all life and all existence towards the good. By looking at the basic nature of existence with an eye for the good, one exerts an influence on existence and on the complicated processes of life so that they emerge from their deficiencies. All things then bloom and live in a happy state, as a result of the spiritual riches and the abundance that is contained in the good will.” (Ibid)

‘A good will…transforms all life and all existence toward the good.’ Through manifesting our will for the good we are instantly aligned with the Divine Will. Extraordinary power then rests within each human being:

“The mighty will…becomes a living force that engenders great and lofty things for good and for blessing…Morality, the impulse for equity and good, represents the central direction of the will of existence…As the tshuva process is deepened…the deeper becomes the attachment of our good side to the domain of free choice. Thus the light and the spiritual riches of our life are magnified now and for all time, and we and all existence rises to greater heights. We are illuminated with a higher perception of the highest good–that a disposition for the good is the universal foundation, the beginning and the end of all existence. ‘The Holy One is good to all and God’s mercies are over all His creations (Psalms 145:9)” (Ibid 16:2)

Our inner return/fusion with the universal will for good is transformative:

“We thus become a new being, we release with a resolute spirit the vibrations of a new way of life on all who are around us. We bring to our generation and to future generations the glad tidings of the joy of integrity, the joy of song out of our confidence of liberation, with celebration and jubilation.” (Ibid, 16:7)

There is no limit to our possibilities once we harness the power of the good.

“From the moment the mighty stream for the universal will for life turns toward the good, many forces within the whole of existence are stirred to disclose the good and to bestow good to all…Tshuva is inspired by yearning of all existence to be better, purer, more vigourous and on a higher plane that it is. Within this yearning is a hidden life-force for overcoming every factor that limits and weakens existence.” (Ibid, 6:1)

May we truly be agents for this life-force.

Bee’mehera be’yamenu-speedily in our days.’

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Translations of Rav Kook are based on Rabbi Ben Zion Bokser’s masterful presentations of selection of Torat HaRav Kook. I have sometimes taken the liberty to change the translation from third person to first person.

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HA’OROT-THE ILLUMINATIONS OF RAV KOOK

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