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geula- redemption- why does it pre-occupy Rav Kook?

Rabbi Ari ShvatCheshvan 17, 5777
Rav Kook (as is evident from many places, including Chazon Hageulah) places great emphasis on the role of Geulah- redemption as a central component of our lives. Do you know the root of this concept? Why did this occupy such a central place in Rav Kook’s thought? What was the origin of this driving force which has animated so much of his teachings and the life of Religious Zionists today?
1. Ge’ula is not “just” the mashiach, and the national revival of Israel, but includes: the revelations of democracy, the equal rights movement, the technological revolution and spiritual evolution and maturation of the world and mankind (= Orot haTshuva 5, 3; 4, 3). That’s what our world is about, so how can you not write about it! 2. Just as in life and history, most of the ge’ula process is “slow but sure”, nevertheless there are some “leaps” which change the entire picture forever. Such was the industrial revolution, the Balfour Declaration, the Holocaust, the War of Independence, the huge Aliya after the shoah and from the sfaradic countries, the Six Day War, the Yom Kippur War, Sept. 11th, etc. Rav Kook writes a lot about the importance of hashgacha pratit and kal vachomer: “hashgacha klalit”, i.e. how Hashem runs history. There aren’t many topics in life more important than G-d, how He runs the world, and what’s going on in your life and times, kal vachomer regarding what’s going on in the life of the Chosen People! True, in America most of life centers around the money of the individual, but that’s not how Torah sees it. We’re part of something big, historical and eternal! 3. If after the Holocaust many people were looking for G-d, now when He appears, how can we ignore it! Galut was and is a terrible Chilul HaShem (Y’chezkel 36( where many people, even Jews, ask “where was G-d?” Rav Kook didn’t see the sho’ah, but he already recognized the beginning of the Kiddush Hashem (ibid) and G-d’s reappearance in the world, already in his time with the beginning of the flourishing of Eretz Yisrael, Kibbutz Galuyot, etc. When the Tanach is no longer a book of the past, but is coming back to life, how can anyone ignore it! Hashem and Tanach are also pretty central topics. 4. Rav Kook writes a lot about the natural track of ge’ula which we see is taking place in our time period, and that’s obviously a central reason he writes about it a lot: bc it’s no longer theoretical or blind belief but actual and real! For 2,000 years Jews dreamed and spoke day and night about ge’ula [just in America, things are so good that there is this new phenomenon that religious Jews forget to really want ge’ula, and that it’s necessary. BTW, even this leap in the standard of living is also part of that very ge’ula process.]. When you look forward to something for 2,000 years and then it comes true, of course it’s going to jump to the top of your agenda and pre-occupy you. 5. Ahavat Yisrael is one of the central themes of Judaism, especially in Tanach (Am Yisrael is the “hero” of the Tanach) chassidut, and the writings of Rav Kook. Anyone who has Ahavat Yisrael cannot be indifferent to the ge’ula of our beloved nation which has suffered so much and is no longer downtrodden, “pogromed” and “Holocausted” (Ma’amarei HaReiya, p. 321). One should not only write about it, but actually get involved, participate and even work with Hashem to hasten the process! 6. The term “y’mot hamachiach” which chazal use, refers to a “period” and process, and not one magical super-natural day. See Megilla 17a which details that from the 9th bracha and on, the order of Shmoneh Esreh was set according to the order of the ge’ula process. We see there that Mashiach Ben David (=Et Tzemach David) is the final (!) stage of geula, only after the flourishing of Eretz Yisrael (Barech Aleinu), Kibbutz Galuyot (Tkah bShofar), reviving the Sanhedrin (hashiva shoftenu+v’lamalshinim+al hatzadikim… v’ten Sachar Tov…), and building the Beit HaMikdash (v’l’Yrushalyim Ircha). In other words, Mr. Mashiach is at the end of the process but the heart of the geu’la is already taking place. If you daven for something, why not recognize and benefit from it when it finally comes true! Anyone who believes in Hashem doesn’t attribute all this just to Herzl or Ben-Gurion but to Hashem Himself. 7. Rav Kook writes, if anyone wants to speak about tshuva today, and doesn’t relate to Zionism and the revival of the Nation of Israel, he is “missing the boat” and ignoring the most potent of topics (Igrot HaReiya, II, p. 37). In summation, if Hashem, Kiddush Hashem, the Tanach, Am Yisrael, tshuva, mankind and life itself aren’t worth writing about, what is worth writing about? Shabbat Shalom!
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