The world runs both on the natural development of the individual, mankind and events, but also there are occasional significant turning points. Rav Kook analyzes the interplay of regular life with these "game-changers", and why both are necessary.
As chazan, I was unable to take three steps back after my silent Shemoneh Esrei because someone was davening close behind me even when the gabbai signaled me to start chazarat hashatz. What should I have done at that point?
The world is based upon evolution & constant improvement, learning from our mistakes. This central idea of Rav Kook's Orot HaTeshuva must be reconciled with the rabbinic teaching of "Hitkatnut HaDorot", or the 'Decline of Generations', how the more we are further removed from Sinai, the lower our level. Mankind is clearly advancing, having basically abolished slavery, & recognizing the wrong of chauvinism, racism, imperialism etc. so what do the rabbis mean? This class also deals with the apparent conflict between the direction today to make Judaism & rabbis approachable & relevant, with the importance of keeping their nobility & respect, & how (!) to keep the proper balance. The question of chumrot and leniencies is also addressed.
When Should We Use Experience, Logic or Kabbala to Decide?
Ein Aya Shabbat 4, 7
Life is full of choices and decisions, and Rav Kook analyzes when we should utilize personal experience, logic and/or kabbalistic means, and in which order? Similarly, in learning Torah and deciding halacha, these factors interplay.
I learned that one should prioritize giving tzedaka to relatives over others. I give a nice amount of tzedaka, almost exclusively out of the family (which also has a few poor people), which I feel is more altruistic. Can you explain this halacha and give some halachic guidelines?
My wife shopped at a special kedushat shvi’it fruit distribution. A few hours later, I spotted on the walkway to our building (of seven apartments) a single fruit. I took it home and asked my wife, who said it made sense that it fell from her, but asked how we can know it is not from a neighbor who might have also bought. Do I have to put up a sign or ask neighbors (whom I trust) if it could be theirs? Is it more lenient because there is no ownership of kedushat shvi’it fruit?
Should Jews Be Proud of Einstein, Freud & Bob Dylan?
Ein Aya Shabbat 4, 6
Many Jews have played disproportionally central roles in western science and culture, having 0.2% of the world's population winning 22% (!) of the Nobel Prizes. Instinctively, many of us are proud of our famous brothers, despite the fact that often their contributions are clearly "non-Jewishly" influenced, and sometimes even the antithesis of Judaism. On the other hand, Jewish pride is a clearly positive issue. Rav Kook has an innovative way of balancing the two, aided by the rabbinic disagreement regarding Joseph and Potiphar's wife.
Why is Kaddish in Aramaic? Isn’t it prohibited to pray in Aramaic and Arabic? In which arm does a lefty hold the sefer Torah? Do I join everyone in reciting Berich She’mei when I am in the middle of pesukei dezimra?
The Importance of Work & Secular Knowledge in Elevating the World
Ein Aya Shabbat 4, 5
The western world generally relates to work and secular knowledge as a means to make money, as opposed to Judaism who sees the spiritual and redeeming aspect of these "mundane" topics. Rav Kook, as always, has a surprising and innovative view, especially important for a polarized Judaism which sees just learning Torah as the goal and other issues as a nuisance, as well as today's high standard of living, which brings many to think that work is only a necessity for the lacking.
A Deeper Take on Shabbat: Why is This Allowed & That Prohibited?
Ein Aya Shabbat 4, 4
This important lecture helps answer the classic question we all ask: Why are certain things allowed on Shabbat and others forbidden? Rav Kook, based on Kabbalistic sources, explains that the 6 days of creation and the Mishkan- the 2 classic "constrictions" (Tzimtzum) of God, are the anti-thesis of Shabbat. Accordingly only and precisely those 39 types of labor which were done to construct the mishkan correspond to the 6 days of creation, from which we want to rise above on Shabbat, to get a taste of the original Shabbat which preceded creation, and the final Shabbat, when all of creation will be like Shabbat. This basic and beautiful idea is clarified here in a very understandable way
Which Keil erech apayim should I say? My wife is due to give birth shortly, and I am saying kaddish for my father. On the days that the Torah is read, should I l daven before the amud”, open the aron hakodesh, or do both? When do I recite Berich She’mei?
Mistake in Beracha on Delayed Laying of Tefillin – part II
After I fastened the tefillin shel yad, I realized that the beracha I had recited was not the one for tefillin but that I had instinctively said Yotzer Ohr. I continued davening with just the shel yad until the next semi-break, Yotzer Hame’orot, at which point I put on the shel rosh. Was that correct?
I do not understand why some people keep chalav Yisrael today. Do they really think that someone is adding pig's milk? My friend quoted his rav that it is more important to keep chalav Yisrael today than it ever was before. How could this be?
Mistake in Beracha on Delayed Laying of Tefillin – part I
After I fastened the tefillin shel yad, I realized that the beracha I had recited was not the one for tefillin but that I had instinctively said Yotzer Ohr. I continued davening with just the shel yad until the next semi-break, Yotzer Hame’orot, at which point I put on the shel rosh and the hand wrappings. Was that correct, and what should I have recited when?