Orot, Inc. was founded in 1990 by Rabbi Bezalel Naor to disseminate the teachings of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook (1865-1935), first Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Erets Israel.
Rav Kook is considered one of the greatest Jewish thinkers and mystics of all time. The word Orot, Hebrew for Lights, is the name of Rav Kook’s seminal work (published in Jerusalem in 1920) and invariably serves as the title of his many works of Jewish thought: Orot ha-Kodesh (Lights of Holiness), Orot ha-Torah (Lights of Torah), et cetera.
Rav Kook himself is oftentimes referred to as Ba’al ha-Orot (the Master of Lights). This bespeaks Rav Kook’s vision of reality: a world basking in divine light. Over the past generation, Orot, Inc. has served as an important educational vehicle for spreading this divine vision of reality to the masses, both through live contact in the form of classes, retreats, seminars and workshops, and also through the printed word.
The publishing arm of Orot has produced fine translations of Rav Kook’s works into the English language that have earned the respect of both scholars and laymen alike. These include: Orot, the seminal work of Rav Kook’s thought; In the Desert—A Vision: Rav Kook on the Torah Portion of the Week (adapted from Midbar Shur); The Rav Kook Hagadah; Of Societies Perfect and Imperfect and Bringing Down Dreams (both adapted from Eyn Ayah, Rav Kook’s commentary to Eyn Ya’akov, Legends of the Talmud); When God Becomes History: Historical Essays of Rav Kook; and many others.
It is a known fact that Rav Kook’s Hebrew, due to its extremely poetic character, presents a severe challenge even for native Hebrew speakers. Rabbi Naor is an acknowledged translator of Rav Kook’s work from Hebrew into English. He has a gift for presenting Rav Kook’s thought in utmost clarity, without resorting to “dumbing down.”
Of late, Orot has ventured into other media as well, taking advantage of the modern technology available for audio and video. Toward this goal of further disseminating the “lights” of Rav Kook, funds are needed. There are plans to publish new books which will break open yet unexplored aspects of Rav Kook’s thought, as well as making once again available to the public the many works that are unfortunately, out-of-print. A recent grant from the Stefansky Family enabled the reissuing of The Rav Kook Hagadah in 2012 (out-of-print since 2004). Likewise, a grant from the Schottenstein Family has been earmarked for the reissuing of Orot, out-of-print after having gone through two editions. Eventually, we hope to make all Orot publications available in electronic form, as our civilization increasingly transitions from “dead tree” to E-books.
It is our fervent prayer that the God of Israel and the People of Israel—who work in partnership—will create the “vessels” (kelim) into which the “lights” (orot) of our holy teacher and his disciples can be infused. Amen.
Orot, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization incorporated in the State of New York.