We are accustomed to the problem that when we dedicate time or effort to one issue or person, it inevitably comes at the expense of others. Rav Kook utilizes the hassidic/kabbalistic way of seeing the world, & the midrash on Ya'akov being complete in health, in money, and in Torah to analyze and suggest how to harmonize life, in a way that can save us great anxiety in our daily and life decisions.
Why Donate a Kiddush?! Life of Greatness With Israel or Life of Smallness Alone
Ein Aya, Shabbat 2, 283
Rav Kook explains why our sages teach us the custom to donate a Kiddush, contribution etc. to the shul, community or to Israel, to commemorate & celebrate an individual simcha, milestone or recuperation. Most people are preoccupied with their small and immature self-centered concerns, but a more worthwhile, mature, satisfying & idealistic option is to live a life of greatness as part of Am Yisrael, the Chosen Nation, adding depth and meaning to an otherwise, small life.
Forego Humility to Let Our Children Know About Our Good Actions
Ein Aya Shabbat 2, 281
Parents, educators and rabbis often grapple with the question: "I don't want to sound like I'm bragging, but if I don't tell my children/students about my volunteering, learning, tzedaka and the good deeds that I do, how can I educate them of their importance?!" It's not enough to speak theoretically about ideals, but the best is to show by personal example, and my kids aren't always around to see! Similarly, certain topics are uncomfortable to speak about, but if we shy away from them, our children won't learn of their importance.
9 Tips from Rav Kook on: How To Argue, Debate & "Do Kiruv" Successfully
Ein Aya Shabbat 2 279
Arguing is part of every marriage and relationship, and there must be a constructive way to do so. Similarly, so many Jews are far from Torah, that there must be some guidelines how to "Mekarev" them in the most beneficial way to return to Judaism. Rav Kook, as always, has some innovative tips.
As always, Rav Kook has an innovative take on the challenge of staying young and energetic, as well as the importance of the sense of smell and fragrance. The class also elaborates on the relationship between our lives and spirituality, and how to harmonize them properly.
Much has been written, especially in Hassidut, about the powers and influence of the "Tzaddik". As usual, Rav Kook has an innovative approach harmonizing the rational, the hassidic and the Lithuanian yeshiva approach.
Rav Kook teaches that opposing legitimate ideals inevitably first appear as contradictory, but eventually harmonize with each other. So by all partnerships and inter-personal and relationships, as well as ideological rabbinic machloket.
What is the idea behind what the Talmud teaches that we must respect clothing? Rav Kook, as always, has innovative ideas behind the topic of clothing, not just in regard to tzniut and modesty, but philosophically, as well.
When Does Judaism Allow Tzaddikim to Separate From the Physical World?
Ein Aya, Shabbat 2, 267
ome righteous people, like R. Shimon bar Yochai, already live as if they were in the world-to-come, with just minimal physical pleasure. Their priorities are so clear that they even have difficulty tolerating those who work & live in the "regular" world. The carob tree that miraculously grew for them in the cave, represents selflessness, where even one's planting is for their descendants, not for themselves. Similar to God, Who created this world out of altruism, for us, so too when one plants in Eretz Yisrael he's doing so for generations to come for Israel is our eternal home, as fruit-trees benefit coming generations. In Israel, when in Jewish hands, there's no ideal to separate from this physical world, for even the physical is holy.
Why Did Moshe (& Rashbi!) Separate From His Wife & Life?
Ein Aya, shabbat 2, 265
We all know that Judaism stresses and even obligates us to marry and the importance of having a family life, but the question is, why was Moshe, the ideal Jew, davka told to separate from his wife? Rav Kook deals with the issue as he deals with R. Shimon Bar Yochai's similar separation from his wife and from his regular life. In addition to several other explanations, he compares Moshe Rabbenu with Adam and Mashiach..
The "Sinking" of the Gedolim & the Rise of the Masses
Ein Aya ii, Shabbat 2, 264
"Hitkatnut haDorot", means the generations are going "downhill" as we get further from Sinai. On the other hand, Rav Kook & Ramchal often refer to the "Evolution" built into the world, that mankind is continuously improving through trial & error, better conditions & techniques, not to mention computers and technology. Accordingly, today we see unprecedented masses are learning Torah, including women, unique & innovative programs, the web etc. but the Gedolim are still descending. Rav Kook sees the benefit of this phenomenon, showing the advantages of the massive quest for truth, who davka feel today's rabbis approachable, as a "step-down" mechanism. Similarly, ideas must be revealed in the right time & we can't skip stages nor take shortcuts.
"Hawks" & "Doves" in Our Relationship with Gentiles
Ein Aya, Shabbat 2, 263
There always were different approaches as to how we should relate to gentiles. Obviously different approaches are suited for various periods, but Rav Kook helps clarify which to use & when? R. Yehuda praised the Romans' bridges, markets & bathhouses, R. Yossi chose not to comment, & R. Shimon Bar Yochai totally derided them, saying that even those contributions to the Land of Israel were for their own selfish pleasures. The first approach posits to accept the good from the gentiles, & this is the most advantageous & practical approach towards the gentiles themselves, especially during exile. Contrarily, when we can be independent, we must fight evil, for the sake of the weak, for society, & also for the sake of the evil themselves.
"Unmasking" Christianity: Not Physical vs. Spiritual but Good vs. Selfish
Ein Aya, Shabbat 2, 261
Chazal liken Esav, the Romans and Christians to the pig= externally kosher but internally not. Rav Kook stands on the difference between Israel & Christianity, which did away with the observance of mitzvot, claiming that all God wants is morality, to looks nice but Crusade. The Romans legitimize physical pleasure even when it's selfish, the Catholics see physical pleasure as problematic, and especially the social, political, military & economic as void of God and belonging to "Caesar". They simplistically divide the world as black-white, good-bad, physical-spiritual, setting unrealistic goals which infer that God made mistakes in creating physical pleasure. Judaism believes God is Perfect and there is good phys. pleasure vs. the selfish.
"When Good Comes From a Bad Place..."- How to Take Just the Good?
Ein Aya, Shabbat 2, 260
Adults know that in the complex world, things often aren't good or bad, but usually a combination of the two. Rav Kook directs us that this sorting & classification to take the good & leave the bad, must generally be done by the experienced and well-rounded righteous, whose right & wrong are so clear, they will not be blinded or deceived to confuse the two. The complex world has matured and doesn't enable censorship, leaving us no choice but to utilize the Godly gifts of technology & knowledge wisely, as part of the modern Messianic Torah which knows to judge the essence & not the external. Similarly, secular Zionism was partially problematic, but will we not let the non-religious give charity?! Don't be naive but also don't deny reality!
Even the Details of a Sickness Like Corona- Are Important
Ein Aya, Shabbat 2, 250
For we, who believe that God runs the world, even the smallest details of a sickness, like Corona, are significant and meant to be noticed and analyzed. Just as Hashem speaks to us through Torah, He also does so through how He runs the world and its challenges, as well. We must utilize each challenge to grow, but our soul-searching must be within ourselves and not, as Job's friends tried, suggesting that he sinned on this or that, to deserve his sickness and tragedies. The class discusses also some of the inevitable outcomes of the Corona Covid virus.
All of Torah is Important: Halacha, Aggada and Kabbala
Ein Aya, Shabbat 2, 249
One of the major innovations of Rav Kook and his yeshiva is not only to learn the Talmud but to learn the broader Torah, including Aggada and Kabbala, as well. In many yeshivas they skip or learn the stories and aggadata in the gemara very superficially, and in doing so, are unfortunately missing out on one of the most beautiful, appealing and attractive parts of Torah. Similarly Kabbala and Hassidut are becoming more and more popular, and Rav Kook, already 100 years ago, writes that this "broad Torah" is what will keep Judaism's appeal in the modern and post-modern world, and can even help "return" those who left the derech, who are searching for something deep, emotional and intellectual.
Rav Kook's Life-Long 'Love-Affair' with "Kerem b'Yavne"
Ein Aya, Shabbat 2, 248
From age 14 (!) & on, Rav Kook had a long going love-affair with the concept of Kerem B'Yavneh, & dreamt of starting a new universal, modern & Zionist yeshiva there. The beginning of this class mentions the various stages of the implemention of this dream, which was ironically realized after his, & his benefactor, R. Gutz's passing. But the main topic dealt with is Rav Kook's explanation why this is the only yeshiva, & only "stop" of the Sanhedrin, which was uniquely & consistently called: Kerem (vineyard)? Rav Kook thought that if the Torah left Jerusalem via Yavneh, than it should conversely, 1st return to Yavneh, with the dream of Yr-m coming later. He connects this to division which enables indiv. development, & exile/sparks gathering.