Yeshiva.org.il - The Torah World Gateway
Sell Your Chametz Online - Through the Yeshiva Website
Beit Midrash The Art of T'shuva

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter 17

Eretz Yisrael

1070
Click to dedicate this lesson
We have learned that t’shuva encompasses far more than personal repentance. Its ever-streaming waves effect the world in its entirety, lifting it toward perfection. Furthermore, we have learned that it is the nation of Israel who will lead the world to redemption, marching in front of the parade of nations wit hits shofars blaring away.
The Art of T'shuva (20)
Rabbi David Samson
16 - Israel And The World
17 - Eretz Yisrael
18 - Torah, Torah, Torah
Load More

This is all well and good. But what will bring the Jewish people to t’shuva? What will awaken the Divine voice in its soul? What causes the scattered, exiled Jewish nation to return,as we beseech G-d in our prayers, to the glorious days of our past?

Rabbi Kook writes that the rebirth of the Jewish nation in Eretz Yisrael is the foundation for the ultimate t’shuva, both for the nation of Israel, and for the whole world.

THE HOLY LAND
To understand this concept fully, one must understand the incomparable holiness of Eretz Yisrael and its importance to the nation of Israel. While it is beyond the scope of this book to explore this subject in depth, we will mention a few of the things which point to the unique connection between the Jewish people and their Land.

The Jewish people possess true national vitality only in the Land of Israel. Outside of the Land, Jews can excel as individuals in all fields of endeavor; there can be great Torah scholars,but the light of G-d cannot appear in a national format. Only in the Land of Israel can the Jews be a KINGDOM of priests and a holy NATION. The Zohar emphasizes that the Jews can be a nation only in Israel, and not outside of it. Prophecies of redemption all involve the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and the restoration of Jewish sovereignty over the Land. The Jewish people’s unique prophetic talent is dependent on being in the Land of Israel. The Temple can only be rebuilt on Har HaBayit, and the full revelation of G-d’s Presence is exclusive to Eretz Yisrael, as the prophet teaches, For Torah will goforth from Zion, and the word of the L-rd from Jerusalem.

In a letter, Rabbi Kook writes:
"The source of the moral baseness which continues to darken the world stems from the lack of recognition regarding the value and wisdom of the Land of Israel. Thus the sin of the Spies, who spoke derogatorily about the pleasant Land, remains uncorrected. To rectify this, the Land’s praise, splendor,holiness, and honor must be declared to all of the world."

While Rabbi Kook emphasizes that the t’shuva of the Jewish people and a return to the Torah go hand-in-hand, he indicates that a preliminary stage of national revival will bring this spiritual awakening to pass. First, the Jewish people must return to Zion to rebuild their homeland. Once the physical body that houses the nation is built, then the revitalized Jewish soul will yearn for spiritual completion as well, and our people will flock back to the Torah.

HOMEWARD BOUND
We shall try to explain this in a simple manner. We have mentioned that the concept of t’shuva means to return. Suppose a man is expelled from his house by thieves. The wrongdoing will only be corrected when the owner returns to repossess his house.

For the world to reach perfection, G-d decreed that the Jewish people must live a life of Torah in Israel. G-d’s first commandment to Abraham is to go to the Land of Israel in order to serve G-d in the most complete way. Afterwards G-d commands Moshe to bring the Jews out from Egypt to Eretz Yisrael.Over and over, the Torah repeats that the Jewish people are to live their unique Torah life in Israel. When the holy Jewish nation lives a holy life of Torah in the Holy Land, the vessel is formed to bring the light of G-d to the world. The nation of Israel becomes an international beacon, an example and light to all of the nations in the world.

At the time of the Second Temple, when we failed to uphold the high moral standard demanded of us by the Torah, we were punished and exiled from the Land. G-d’s worldly vessel was shattered. Israel was conquered, Jerusalem was razed, the Land was laid waste. G-d’s chosen people were scattered and debased. Like the Jews, G-d’s Presence went into exile. His light in the world became hidden. In effect, mankind was cut off from G-d. Thus to rectify this tragedy and return the world to G-d, the Jewish people must return to their previous stature, including a national life in Israel, the only place in the world where the Torah can be observed in all of its wholeness because of the many commandments unique to the Land.

On a deeper level, the Zohar teaches that the nation of Israel,Torah, and G-d are one. Each Jew has a bit of the Shekhina, or the Presence of G-d, within him. When a Jew returns to the Land of Israel, he is, in effect, bringing G-d back with him. This is the Kabbalistic concept of "raising up the buried sparks of holiness from the klipot."Since the soul of a Jew is infused with the light of the Shekhina, when the Jewish people return en Masses to Israel, the light of G-d in the world returns with them.

A visual illustration will help us envision what Rabbi Kook is seeing when he looks at the awakened Zionist movement. It is a global vision, spanning all human history. To raise ourselves to a more encompassing perspective, imagine being in a satellite orbiting the earth. Down below, scattered all over the globe, are tiny, little lights. These lights are the Jews, scattered all over the world. Slowly, lights begin to travel to a certain point on the globe - the Land of Israel. More and more lights begin to congregate there. From all over the world, the scattered lights start to unite in Israel. Lights that do not make the journey begin to flicker and disappear. Soon, a great beacon of light is formed in Israel, sending out rays of light to all of the world.These rays are the lights of t’shuva, summoning mankind back to G-d.

ZIONISM AND NATIONAL T’SHUVA
Rabbi Kook teaches that even in the return of the non religious Zionists to Israel there is a profound holy core. The inner source of their desire to return is the Divine Ideal itself. With time, it will surely be awakened. This great transformation may take fifty years. It may take one hundred. We need to remember that after nearly two-thousand years in exile, a few generations is like the blink of an eye. The important thing to know is that the t’shuva of the nation is sure to come.

"The awakened yearning of the Jewish people as a whole to return to their Land, to their roots, to their spirit and way of life - truthfully, there is the light of t’shuva in this."

The book of Ezekiel includes an overview of Jewish history which traces Israel’s exile among the gentile nations, and her ultimate return to the Land of Israel and Torah. Only after thenation’s physical revival in Israel do the Jewish people undergo the period of spiritual cleansing which leads them back to Torah.

For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all countries, and I will bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle pure water upon you, and you shall be clean; from all of your uncleanliness, and from all of your idols, will I Cleanse you. A new heart will I also give you, and a new spirit will put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit in you, and cause you to follow My statutes, and you shall keep My judgments and do them. And you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and you shall be My people, and I shall be your G-d.

The return to our true national identity, and the spiritual revolution which follows, encompasses all aspects of Jewish life.This great return, while still in its nascent stages, is something we have witnessed in our century. First, out of the graveyards of exile, came a new hope and zest for life, as if our scattered,dry bones were rising to rebirth. Out of the ashes of the Holocaust, the Jewish nation was reborn in Israel. The Hebrew language was restored. After two-thousand years of wandering, the Jews returned to being an independent nation in their own Land. An incredible, new awakening of Jewish valor and physical prowess, epitomized by the Israel Defense Forces, startled the world. The in gathering of exiles from the four corners of the earth led to the building of a dynamic, progressive society. Yeshivas were opened all over the country. Today, Israel is unquestionably the Torah center of the world. All of these things are aspects of t’shuva, of a nation returning to its roots.

As Rabbi Kook writes:
"Without question, the light of Mashiach and the salvation of Israel, the rebirth of the nation and the Land, the revival of its language and literature - all stem from the source oft’shuva, and out of the depths to the heights of the highestt’shuva, everything will be brought."

The return of a scattered people to its Land is no simple matter. Because of the magnitude of the undertaking, there are numerous problems. Nonetheless, Rabbi Kook assures us that our inner longing for G-d will overcome all of the barriers. Even the brazen secularism, which seems so contrary to the nation’sholiest goals, will become a powerful vessel bursting with Torah.

"Out of the profane, holiness will also come forth, and out of wanton freedom, the beloved yoke (of Torah) will blossom.Golden chains will be woven and arise out of secular poetry,and a brilliant light of t’shuva will shine from secular literature.This will be the supreme wonder of the vision of redemption.Let the bud sprout, let the flower blossom, let the fruit ripen,and the whole world will know that the Spirit of G-d is speaking within the nation of Israel in its every expression. All of this will climax in a t’shuva which will bring healing and redemption to the world."

FIRST THE BODY THEN THE SPIRIT
Indeed, the revival of the Jewish people in Israel is a wonder that is impossible to explain in any mundane fashion.Clearly, there are powerful inner forces at work as we return to our homeland and slowly turn away from alien cultures and creeds. Increasingly sensitized to our own national longings, we realize that gentile lands cannot be called home. The process takes time. The nation is not transformed overnight. But gradually, the curse of galut is erased. From being a scattered people,the Jewish nation returns to have its own sovereign state. G-d’sblessing is revealed in all facets of the nation’s existence; military success, economic prosperity, scientific achievement, the resettlement of the nation’s ancient cities and holy sites - all leading to a great national t’shuva, the renewal of prophecy, and, of course, the return of the Divine Presence to the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem, in fulfillment of our prayers.

Rabbi Kook explains that the secular, physical rebuilding must necessarily precede the spiritual building. The Talmud teaches that the Beit HaMikdash was first constructed in a normal, profane manner, and only after its completion was its sanctity declared. First, Adam was created from the dust of the earth, and then the soul was placed within him. So too, a Jewish youth only becomes responsible to keep the Torah at the age of thirteen after his body and mind have developed in strength.This is the pattern of spiritual building; first comes the physical vessel, and then its inner content. First the ark is constructed, and then the Tablets are placed within.

It must be remembered that the Zionist movement did not begin with Herzl, but rather with the giants of Torah, the Baal Shem Tov and the Gaon of Vilna, more than a hundred years earlier. He sent his students to settle Eretz Yisrael, teaching that the active resettlement of the Land was the path to bring the long-awaited redemption. Other great Rabbis, Rav Tzvi HirshKalisher, Rav Eliyahu Guttmacher, and Rav Shmuel Mohliverwere the actual builders of the early Zionist groups like the "Lovers of Zion." As the movement spread, its message attracted many non religious Jews as well. Rabbi Kook explains that the newcomers embraced the call to Zion in a way which fit their own understandings, national aspirations, and dreams. While this temporarily lowered the loftiness of the message, it insured the necessary first stage of physical rebuilding.

"Occasionally, a concept falls from its loftiness and its original pureness after it has been grounded in life when unrefined people become associated with it, darkening its illumination. The descent is only temporary because an idea which embraces spiritual goodness cannot be transformed into evil. The descent is passing, and it is also a bridge to an approaching ascent."

The original, pure, lofty idea of Zionism, as handed down by our Sages, is that the revival of the Jewish nation in Israel is the earthly foundation for the revelation of the Kingdom of G-d Ianthe world. For the secular Zionists, the return to Israel become something else. For some, the Land of Israel was merely a refuge from the persecutions of the gentiles. For others, it was a place to build a Utopian socialist society. Because of their large numbers, the influence of the secular Zionists was widespread. Additionally, Rabbi Kook explains, the secular Jews were more suited to the task of settling the barren, swamp-ridden land. The religious Jews of the time lived in a spiritual world, having little contact with earthly matters. The physical sides of their natures were neglected and weak. The secular Jews, on the other hand,had an abundance of physical energy and prowess, along with the subsequent "will and desire to work and achieve, to carry outone’s goal through physical force and concrete endeavor."

When a holy idea needs to be grounded in reality, it necessarily descends from its exalted elevation. When this happens,people of lesser spiritual sensitivities seize the idea and profane its true intent. Because greater numbers of people can grasp the idea in its minimized form, its followers increase, bringing more strength and vigor to its practical implementation. This trend continues until powerful spiritual figures arise, girded with the strength of Divine righteousness. They grasp the idea in its original purity and hold it aloft, rescuing it from the depths where it had plunged, stripped of its holiness and spiritual splendor. Asa result of this new infusion of light, the original idea is resurrected in all of its majesty and power. All who embrace it are elevated with its ascent. Even those who attached themselves tithe idea in its fallen state are raised up, and they are inspired to a powerful, lofty t’shuva.

"This process will surely come about. The light of G-d, which is buried away in the fundamental point of Zion, and which is now concealed by clouds, will surely appear. From the lowly valley, it will raise up G-d’s Temple and Kingdom and all of its branches. All those who cling to it, the near and the distant, will be uplifted with it, for a true revival and an everlasting salvation."

At the turn of this century, as the Zionist movement grew in influence and attracted more and more followers, many religious Jews rose up in protest. In their eyes, the movement to resettle the Land of Israel was brazenly secular, even defiant of Torah. While Rabbi Kook exhorted the pioneers to return to a sanctified life of Torah, he saw the inner source and positive side of their courageous endeavor. The return of the nation to Israel was in itself a great, holy act. Simply because they were Jews, Ianthe depths of their proud Jewish souls, the Zionists also shared the yearning for a full Jewish life. Their scorn of the commandments was a blemish that was destined to heal.

SPIRITUAL REBELLION
Rabbi Kook’s deep spiritual insight did not blind him to the unholy lifestyles of the secular pioneers. However, he knew that the holy essence of Am Yisrael guaranteed that the nation would return to its roots. Long before the establishment of the State of Israel, Rabbi Kook described this process in almost prophetic terms:

"We recognize that a spiritual rebellion will come to pas sin Eretz Yisrael amongst the people of Israel in the beginnings of the nation’s revival. The material comfort which will be attained by a percentage of the nation, convincing them that they have already completely reached their goal, will constrict the soul, and days will come which will seem to be devoid of all spirit and meaning. The aspirations for lofty and holy ideal swill cease, and the spirit of the nation will plunge and sink low until a storm of rebellion will appear, and people will come to see clearly that the power of Israel lies in its eternal holiness,in the light of G-d and His Torah, in the yearning for spiritual light which is the ultimate valor, triumphing over all of the worlds and all of their powers."

In another essay, Rabbi Kook writes:
"Our nation will be built and reestablished; all of its foundations will return to their full might, through the reactivating,strengthening, perfection, and spreading of its faith, its Divine inner holiness, and its reverence of G-d. All of the nation’sbuilders will come to recognize this truth. Then with a mighty,valorous voice, they will call out to themselves and to their brethren, ‘Let us come and return to the L-rd.’ And this will be a true return. It will be a t’shuva filled with valor, a t’shuvawhich will give strength and vigor to all of the nation’s spiritual and physical aspects, to all of the endeavors needed for the building and perfection of the people, inspiring it to rebirth and to stability. The nation’s eyes will be opened, its soul will be cleansed, its light will shine, its wings will spread, a reborn nation will arise, a great, awesome, and numerous people, filled with the light of G-d and the majesty of nationhood. Behold, the people shall rise up like a great lion, and like a young lion, it shall lift itself up."

LAST STOP - JERUSALEM
It can be seen that the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel is a necessary stage in the t’shuva of the nation.It follows that a Jew who becomes a Baal t’shuva in Chicago has only returned a part of the way home. While his personal character and behavior have been purified by the light of the Torah,he has traveled only half of the journey. The "t’shuva train"is continuing on to Israel. The final stop is Jerusalem. Every Jew needs to bring his little light home to the Holy Land where it can join the great flame. He has to raise up his private, individual life, to the higher life of the Clal, to merge his personal goals with the goals of the nation. To rectify the blemish caused by galut, he has to stop being in exile and join the ingathered. He has to actualize the words of his prayers, "And gather us together from the four corners of the earth."

Rabbi Kook writes that the true t’shuva of the Jewish people is in our return to Eretz Yisrael. Again and again, in his letters and speeches, he called the Jewish people to return home to Zion. One public proclamation, sent out all over the Diaspora, years before the Holocaust, was entitled, "The Great Call."

THE GREAT CALL
"To the Land of Israel, Gentlemen, To the Land of Israel!Let us utter this appeal in one voice, in a great and never-ending cry.

"Come to the Land of Israel, dear brothers, come to the Land of Israel. Save your souls, the soul of your generation, the soul of the entire nation; save her from desolation and destruction, save her from decay and degradation, save her from defilement and all evil - from all of the suffering and oppression that threatens to come upon her in all the lands of the world without exception or distinction....

"Escape with your lives and come to Israel; G-d’s voice beckons us; His hand is outstretched to us; His spirit within our hearts unites us, encourages us and obliges us all to cry in great, powerful and awesome voice: Brothers! Children of Israel,beloved and dear brethren, come to the Land of Israel, do not tarry with
arrangements and official matters; rescue yourselves,gather, come to the Land of Israel...

"From the time we were exiled from our Land, the Torah has accompanied Israel into exile, wandering from Babylon to France, Spain, Germany, Eastern and Central Europe, Poland,Russia, and elsewhere. And now, how happy we would be if we were able to say that she has returned to her first place, tithe Land of Israel, together with the people of Israel, which continues to multiply in the Holy Land.

"And now, who is so blind that he does not see the L-rd’shand guiding us in this, and does not feel obligated to work along with G-d? A heavenly voice in the future will cry aloud on top of the mountains and say, ‘Whoever has wrought with G-d, let him come and receive his reward. Who can exempt himself from doing his part in bringing additional blessing and swifter salvation;from awakening many hearts to return to the Holy Land, to the L-rd’s legacy, that they may become a part of it, to settle it with enterprises and buildings, to purchase property, to plant and sow, to do everything necessary for the foundation of life of as table and organized settlement...."

BANNER OF JERUSALEM
Another public proclamation was addressed to Orthodox communities to urge their Aliyah to Israel. In establishing a movement called "The Banner of Jerusalem," Rabbi Kook called upon all religious Jews to come to Israel to rebuild the nation’sspiritual life, just as the secular Zionists were rebuilding the physical.

"Jews! We call you to the sacred task of building our Jewish nation in our Holy Land, in Eretz Yisrael. Come to us, rally together under the "Banner of Jerusalem" which we now raise aloft before the whole Jewish religious public.

"We all know the ‘Banner of Zion’ which unites a certain portion of our brethren on the basis of our Jewish secular interests in the Land of Israel. But there are many who have not joined the union of those who bear the Zionist flag, and a great many who feel it impossible to do so. We simply record the plain fact that this is so, without questioning its veracity.

"Yet it cannot be that the largest, most natural, and earnest portion of Jewry, the majority of the Jewish religious public,should remain indifferent to the wonderful events of the present, and not lend a hand in the holy task of building our nation on our sacred soil because of so called objections....

"Jews, all the loyal believers in the Jewish faith, there can be no doubt that the Divine power is now manifesting itself in us amidst the great world events. We are certainly called to return to our ancient home in the Land of Israel, there to renew our ancient holy life....

"We religious Jews must all profoundly know and believe that the Divine hand is now leading us openly to our high,ideal destiny. We must make known to the whole world, the true meaning of the present wondrous happenings, whose purpose is so clearly the hastening of our redemption and salvation, from which alone will also spring forth the redemption and salvation of all mankind.

"With the flaming, illuminating, Divine faith, with all the luster of our holy Torah, with the vitality of all of the most refined and devout Jews, we shall carry our flag, the ‘Banner of Jerusalem’ by which alone the ‘Banner of Zion’ will also be properly hoisted. For the value of Jewish secular power will be elucidated to the world only in the light of our holy Jewish spiritual power, emphasized by the uplifted voices of the whole religious Jewish world community, setting with holy enthusiasm to the task of our national construction, of our return to the Land of Israel, by the grace of the Divine and illuminating light, O House of Jacob, come, and let us walk in the light of the L-rd."
More on the topic of The Art of T'shuva
Ask a Question

It is not possible to send messages to the Rabbis through replies system.

את המידע הדפסתי באמצעות אתר yeshiva.org.il