Physical Abnormalities- Should They Be Covered or Not? Apparent
Ein Aya Shabbat 5, 6
Physical abnormalities are viewed differently by various societies. The issue of covering one's embarrassment has many ramifications also regarding the idea of Tzniut and covering our bodies. The class also relates to understanding the deformities or tragedies in God's perfect & holistic world. (Rav Kook's Ayn Aya Series, Shabbat v, 6)
Living Off of My Folks- The Tragedy of Unproductivity
Ein Aya Shabbat 5, 8
It's not uncommon in today's high standard of living and with the widespread fulltime Torah study of many kollel men for many years, for many people to continue living off of their parents or in-laws. Rav Kook deals with the problematic side of this phenomenon regarding both the individual, the society and the future generations (Ayn Aya Rav Kook English Series, Shabbat v, 8).
The Benefit & Necessity of Adam's Punishment of Financial 'Sweat'
Ein Aya Shabbat 5, 4-5
When God punishes, it is always educational and beneficial. How much more so regarding the famous human sin of Adam in the Garden of Eden which decreed that livelihood will be earned only through the "Sweat of your brow". Our rabbis teach that God will occasionally even do miracles and change nature, in order to keep this "law of nature" Rav Kook explains why this difficulty to make a living is so inherent, essential and basically "untouchable". (Rav Kook's Ayn Aya Series, Masechet Shabbat v, 4-5)
True Idealism is Practical- Not Naïve or Against Nature!
Ein Aya Shabbat 5, 9
Often idealists tend not to be practical or pragmatic, but Rav Kook stresses in thought, as well as in his life's work and projects, that if one really takes his idealism seriously, he should really want to implement it! (Ayn Aya Shabbat, v, 9)
Rav Kook relates to the overlap between the two strongest of drives: for spirituality and procreation to continue the existence of our species, and to the psychological & Kabbalistic partnership between the two. (Rav Kook Ayn Aya Shabbat v, 7)
The Claim Against Rav Kook of Antinomianism- Belittling Religious Details
Ein Aya Shabbat 5, 10
Some professors have accused Rav Kook of tendencies of antinomianism- and belittling the details of Jewish law, for the sake of unbridled and free spirituality. This class deals with Rav Kook's own answer and explanation, towards the end of his life, to such accusations.
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.
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.
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.
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
The Significance of 'Coincidental' Associations and Meaning of Numbers & Letters
Ein Aya Shabbat 4, 3
Often in life we come across small and apparently "coincidental" associations which somehow connect with something else we are doing. Rav Kook explains that this is one of the venues, how God runs the world. An example is how the number 40 and letter Mem consistently refer to the same idea, whenever mentioned in the Tanach or halacha, including understanding even the details of mikveh and family purity.
Self-Control with Smallest Body Functions Enables Spiritual & National Greatness
Ein Aya Shabbat 4, 1
Self-control and self-discipline are basically the Godly trait of "Gevura", to overcome, but Rav Kook explains that this good manner includes even regarding the smallest of body functions (e.g. burping, etc.). Having good manners and basic etiquette prepare us for higher levels of spirituality. Rav Kook explains here the story of Elisha, the "Master of the Wings" and the Romans who outlawed tefillin, and why we fold our tefillin with "wings" on 2 sides.
Some summarize the multi-faceted and complex ideology of Rav Kook as: "Uniting the Opposites". This class concisely explains this idea in a "down-to-earth" way, and its centrality to Rav Kook's thinking.