Selected Readings from Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook, Orot, Naor trans. (1993). Copyright 1993 by Bezalel Naor.
The Inner Light of Torah in the Land of Israel
The delight of the Torah is ignited by an inner awareness. A man begins to sense the great tapestry of each letter and point. Every concept and content, every notion and idea, of every spiritual movement, of every vibration, intellectual and emotional, from the immediate and general to the distant and detailed, from matters lofty, spiritual, and ethical according to their outward profile, to matters practical, obligatory, seemingly frightening, and forceful, and at the same time complex and full of content and great mental exertion – all together become known by a supernal holy awareness. The simplicity of faith that is inherent in love of Torah finds its lofty truth and great song, for living, enduring things, that powerful currents of life, full of delight, joy and beauty, pass through and fill, and an infinite sweetness is felt in the palate of the thinker. Your palate is like the best wine, that glides down for my friend gently, exciting the lips of those that are asleep. How beautiful and how pleassant are you, delightful love!
The love wells up and is renewed. Waves upon waves roar, the sound of harps and lyres providing harmony for their secret conversation. From the depth of the nation’s soul, from the height of the soul of man concentrated in its midst, from the breadth of all existence that is within the inner point of Zion, source of delight, lacking any definable content or description, from there, from all, roars and storms the noise of life’s loud wheels, speaking in holy secret. The Torah is revealed in its charming beauty. The living, original soul of the nation, fresh and rich; the soul lofty of spirit, satiated with delight, is presented before us in its versicolor beauty. My soul longs for it. My heart and my flesh shout with the joy unto the Living God. As with fat and marrow will my soul be satisfied; and with tuneful lips shall my mouth prasie.
The Torah is revealed in its crowning majesty to the fresh generation full of the vigor of youth. The vision continues to pound at the doors of its (the generation’s) proud soul. It has not yet removed its veil of mystery; this comely “daughter of heaven” is concealed, but her rays of glory already penetrate through the veil, they fill our lives with brightness and thelight of life. She already rains down life-giving dew on the interior of our souls that are roused to renascence. The Torah of the Land of Israel is increasingly aroused, together with physical building, productive labor and self-awareness.
(Orot ha-Tehiyah, par. LXI [pp.209-210])
The Mysteries of Torah Bring Redemption
The secrets of Torah bring the redemption and return Israel to its land, for the Torah of Truth, with the strength of its inner logic, demands with its broadening the whole soul of the nation, and through it, the nation begins to feel the pain of Exile and how it is utterly impossible for its character to be actualized as long as it is opressed upon foreign soil. Yet as long as the light of the higher Torah is sealed, the inner demand of return to Zion is not aroused with the depth of faith. The arousal that comes as a result of the troubles and persecutions of the nations is but an accidental arousal, of purification. It is capable of firing up weak elements, but the foundations of life must come from the essence of the formal demand of the nation.
And this will be magnified and strengthened in proportion to the light on the inner Torah – the depth of its opinions and mysteries – coming alive in its midst with great genius. Toward this end, the wind churns about, uprooting mountains, making breaches, inducing labor and birth pangs, but the end is the breaking of a way before the supernal light that wells up from the powerful soul of Knesset Yisrael (Ecclesia Israel), the mysteries of its torah, its Kabbalah (tradition), the inheritance of fathers and mightiness of soul, with its particular charcter, its Weltanschauung and exalted ethic, which broadens infinitely, which is adorned with every higher culture and reaches to the heights of heaven, which marks the particularity of a peculiar nation, a nation that knows its God and gives rule to the high holy ones.
(Orot ha-Tehiyah, par. LXIV [pp. 209-210])
Fallen Giants and the Flames of Inner Torah
The return (teshuva) destines for Israel, to uplift their “horn” with complete redemption, will come about through the return of the might of divine inspiration (ruach ha-kodesh) which is the beginning of the prophetic ability, which envelops the entire nation. Since this supernal spirit stuggles to manifest, lesser spirits are banished and dispelled. The special content of Israel as a nation which dwells alone, will not crystallize solely through external, measured actions and academic pursuits but by the uplifiting of life with its inner quality. The result will be produced by an inner mighty will, to be crystallized by the great of soul, who recognize the pulsebeat of the entire nation as a whole.
They are the exalted masters of the foundation, who will raise up all the descents, whether their own, those of the Jewish People, or those of the fallen giants, who stood to be messiahs but fell, were trapped and broken. their (the fallen giants’) sparks were scattered and seek a living, enduring correction in the foundation of David, king of Israel, The breath of our nostril – the annointed (meshiah) of God. The spirit of Messiah pervades the light of the inner torah, and the more the great and pure of heart combat the forgetting of the higher Torah and its supression, the more the power of national renascence will be aroused, will remove its soiled clothes and don holy rainment. It will become apparent to Israel and the whole world that the footsteps of these poor, are (in fact) the footsteps of eternal redemption, for Israel and the entire world, for all who are connected to life, and for the souls of those who slumber in dust, who also await the day of redemption, a new light upon Zion.
(Orot ha-Tehiyah, par. LXX [pp. 213-214])
Atheism and Higher Belief
Because the picture of the greatness of the divine light is so immense inside the souls of the last generation os “the footsteps of Messiah,” to the extent that they do not yet have the capability of structuring real life according to the lofty greatness, there results the disbelief and spiritual impoverishment resembling destruction, which we witness in our generation.
But the way of healing is to generate vessels, explications, and plans, which will pave paths to actual implementation based on the loftiest illuminations. For this reason, there is such a demand for freedom of spirit and strength of body, for only a strong spirit and healthy body can contain without shattering the highest illuminations and withstand active life full of vigorous creativity, and derive therefrom ways of life. All these preparations are necessary for the complete Return (teshuva) that stands beyond our wall.
(Orot ha-Tehiyah, par. XLVII [p. 197])
On Modern Hebrew Literature
It is impossible for israelite literature to succeed without the sanctification of the souls of the writers. Any writer who does not labor to purify his character, to crystallize his deeds and thougts, until his internal world itself is full of light and internal wholeness perceptible within him, together with concern to make up for lackings, to be filled with humility mixed with strength and tranquility of spirit with an intense intellectual and emotional arousal to benefit and comprehend himself, and an exalted desire to reach the pinnacle of purity and holiness – as long as one does not stand on such a niveau, he cannot rightfully be called a writer.
Only “the early ones were called scribes, for they would count the letters of the Torah.” The counting of the letters in the Torah raised them to a niveau of pure spirit and powerful soul, so that the title “scribes” was fitting for them. If we desire to resurrect Israelite literature, we must follow this holy way, to come to writing from holiness. There will be there a route, a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness. And they shall go redeemed.
(Orot ha-Tehiyah, par. XXXVI [p.191])
Redemption an Ongoing Process
The redemption continues. The redemption from Egypt and the complete redemption of the future are one unending action: the action of the strong hand and outstretched arm, which began in Egypt and works though all eventualities. Moses and Elijah are redeemers in a single redemption; the beginner and the ender, the opener and closer together fill the unit. The spirit of Israel hears the sound of the movements, the redemptive actions, brought about through all eventualities until the sprouting of redemption will be complete, in all its plentitude and goodness.
(Orot me-Ofel, par. XXVIII [p. 139])