In general there are 3 ways of coming close to God: most common, either through emotion or intellect, but then Judaism adds: or to be "similar" [=close] to Him. The greatest gift that He could give us is the "Tzelem Elohim", or capability of imitateo dei, being Godly. The she'ur discusses the advantages & disadvantages of each approach to Him. Most importantly, we can't understand His Essence, but we can amd should understand His actions. This is the ultimate in both the Rambam's rational and also the kabbalistic approach to Judaism. Rav Kook explains that the 13 traits of God, as well as the 10 sfirot, all detailus what to emulate. This has far-reaching ramifications for prayer, study as well as defining our goal and potential in life!
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?
When Stuart Mintz's life is saved twice by a Sefer Torah, he begins retracing his steps wondering if it might be the same one. A moving story that reminds us how Torah protects and supports those who support and uphold it.
When Jerusalem is built in her glory, and even already today, it's the religious, national and universal capitol of Israel. God placed the "checks and balance" system, comprised by this Triumvirate of the king (national leader), Nasi haSenhedrin (religious leader) and Kohen Gadol ("Lover of Peace"- the humanist/universal leader) on one mountain forcing them to unite and work together. Rav Kook analyzes that all human ideologies are either right-wing (natl.), left (humanist), or religious (all the above are religious, but here, in the limited sense), who are all necessary, and also limit each other from going extreme. As long as each stress the positive & compliments the others, and isn't "anti", we will reveal the Unity of God and Israel.
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.
Who must initiate the redemption of Israel? Will it be G-D through blatant miracles, or will the Jewish people gradually awaken to return home? The Or Hachaim answers that question based on this week's Torah reading.
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.
Why is the mourning period for the students of R. Akiva, so much more halachically serious than similar tragedies, in Jewish history? The class deals with the historic background of the time, as seen in the sources and archeology, which explicitly prove that the tannaim, R. Akiva's students, learned in a "Hesder" Yeshiva, combining Torah study with army service. They didn't wait passively for the redemption, but actively tried bringing it in the religious-Zionist way, which in their time was premature, but nevertheless serves as the Rambam's precedent for the future geula. Many other "innocent" sources in the Talmud are explained here, on the backdrop of the historic events of their time, and show that the Omer period mourns the fall of the 3rd State of Israel, a true national tragedy.
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.
This week's Torah reading of Emor discusses Kiddush Hashem and Chilul Hashem (sanctifying and desecrating G-D's name). The Navi Yechezkel explains how the entire nation is able to sanctify and desecrate G-d's name.
Residing in the land of Israel is equated to the rest of the Mitzvot put together. Firstly, the quantity the quality of the Mitzvot is much higher. secondly, the Mitzva has an impact on the whole generation, and for the later generations. The third reason is that it causes your whole life to be significant. The fourth, We simply love the land regardless of what it looks like. In addition, today they are more than nine reasons why the land of Israel has been upgraded.