Why is it that throughout history, from Avraham Avinu, to Egypt, to the M'raglim, to the time of Ezra, and until today, most Jews don't want to make aliya? This sharp question, pertinent to this very day, will davka help us understand the secret and the beauty of Eretz Yisrael! Aliya is not just a problem of having "guts", but even the most motivated religious-Zionists who intend to and would like to make aliya, deep down have difficulty believing how my connection to God and His Torah is really improved by being in a particular place. We tend to think that spirituality is not connected with the physical. This sheur shows 6 "contradicting" midrashim, which, upon analysis, helps us understand the problem & the secret beauty of Eretz Yisrael.
The Talmud in masechet Shabbat teaches that women who are careful to light candles (especially on Shabbat) can affect their children's spirituality. Rav Kook, explains this aggadita very uniquely, as well as that which is written there, that there's also a connection between our childrens' education and our care to observe Tzitzit & Mezuza.
Anyone who has opened a page in the Talmud or entered a Beit Midrash, is puzzled with the question of why are there so many differences of opinions among rabbis, and why they're always arguing? If the Torah comes from 1 God, shouldn't there be 1 absolute truth? Why are there so many commentaries on just about every pasuk in Tanach? This concise class summarize this large topic, addressing halachic, logical, technological and technical reasons, analyzing & summarizing in 10 clear categories, what stands behind all those machlokot?
The most basic quesion in religious-Zionism, is how can we religious Jews support & even selebrate on Yom HaAtzma'ut, a non-religious Jewish State? True, it's a lot closer than anything else around, and today, Israel is clearly the Torah Center of Judaism, and aside from the holiness and mitzva of Eretz Yisrael, what should our relationship be towards Medinat Yisrael? The Rambam already presents a precedent where we celebrate 200 years of sovereignty on Chanuka, even though admitting the Macccabean dynasy was problematic religiously (they were Kohanim & also for most of the 200 years not that religious, hellinists etc.). The she'ur concisely explains in 5 points, why a Jewish State is so important, even if it's not as religious as we like.
One of the most basic questions is how should we strive to live? The differing approaches to this issue is seen to this day, whether just to learn Torah (as claimed by the Haredim) or to also merge work as an ideal, as proclaimed by the modern-orthodox or religious-Zionists. If one is a millionaire, and doesn't need to work for a living, perhaps nevertheless, he should work, if it's an ideal. This machloket is found already among chazal, but even in the time of R. Shimon Bar Yochai, who had claimed that just Torah is the ideal, he surprisingly & apparently changed his mind, and joined Torah vaAvodah! The Chatam Sofer also differentiates between those living in Israel, where work is a mitzva and holy, as opposed to work in the diaspora.
How can the Torah command us to love every single Jew? How can the Torah command us to feel an emotion? Apparently we're referring to a mindset that is achievable, but how? Rav Kook was famous for his love of each and every Jew, even those far from Torah. This approach was very controversial in his time, but has since been almost unanimously accepted, even within haredi circles. What is the halachic and philosophic explanation and basis, and how can we practically acquire this difficult trait?
These oft-debated issues of "hasbara", demand good answers. Rav Shvat suggests 4 replies to the accusation of Israel occupying arab "territories" based upon the difficulty western & rational man has in understanding why the arabs could be the aggressors if they always suffer more casualties? The world doesn't understand the Jihad mindset which doesn't mind losing wars and being suicide bombers which in fact, defies logic and prevents deterrance. History, both old and new also bolster the Jewish claims. Anti-semitism is an additional unfortunate clouding factor. Among several approaches to why the moral mitzvot are geared particularly to Jews: is simply that the Torah addresses Jewish life, among Jews, in the Jewish Land for the Jewish People, and more.
Should Orthodox Jewry relate to the Reform movement as a threat or as Jewish partners and brothers? Understanding the roots of the Reform movement and its evolution will help us understand the proper approach today.
We obviously can't understand how God runs the world. On the other hand, the questions, ramifications, and thoughts that inevitably arise out of our Godly intelligence and curiosity, in such an extreme and rare world crisis, are surely part (!) of what is meant to preoccupy us. Rather than seeing this as a "punishment" of an angry god, which is more fitting for a childish or pagan world-view, we believe that our loving Father works through sending us "educational lessons" or challenges, which build us and help us notice problems or shortcomings in our current routine. These 20+ social, familial, religious, universal, national, and Zionist outcomes, are surely meant to be noticed, to reap the benefits of "Gam zu l'tova!", "all God does is for the best!"
What is the definition of "Kedusha" in general, and in particular, how should we understand the holiness of the Jewish Nation and the Land of Israel? Is kedusha (translated: holiness) essentially inherent, or is it acquired through Torah and mitzvot? Rav Kook's harmonic approach, based upon Tanachic and rabbinic sources, helps us make sense of these most basic issues.
Most shuls declare weekly in the prayer for the welfare of the State of Israel, that it is the "Atchalta DeGe'ula", the beginning of the national redemption, but the obvious question is: "Can we be sure?!" Could Zionism simply be another "false messiah"? Or in other words, can we be sure that there won't be another exile? This she'ur convincingly proves in 3 concise points gleaned from many classic sources, that in fact, we are in "Y'mot HaMashiach", the historic period of national redemption, and that "Children of Israel, our Father wants us Home".
The young State of Israel has seen so many wars, and the question is: We would have thought that the redemptive process of Y'mot HaMashiach would include gradually having more and more peace! We shouldn't be surprised because the prophets teach us that Milchamot Gog u'Magog, where the nations try and take away the Land of Israel, is part of the plan, but why? Rav Kook relates to the Godly altruism and unity which inevitably are part of war, not only on the battle field but where all Jews especially help each other, more than usual. The class deals with the innocent and righteous who are killed in war, and the special status of the non-religious soldiers in their especially unique altruism.
Much has been written on the cause of Anti-Semitism, but, as usual, Rav Kook has an innovative take on the issue. The she'ur deals with this unique historic phenomenon of hate, but also sees the light, regarding the optimistic, but inevitable solution. Am Yisrael, as the conscience of mankind, inevitably is going to be hated until the world matures, but maturation is just an issue of time.