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.
Unfortunately, the Tanach, the most popular, most translated and most printed book in history, is not studied enough in the yeshiva world. Perhaps one of the reasons, is that it is clearly addressing religious Zionists, something which may "threaten" certain notions in those yeshivas. This class helps clarify different outlooks within orthodoxy regarding modernism and Zionism, and what the original Torah-True Judaism is really about.
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.
Remembering the 6 Day War- Yom Yerushalayim & Declaring New Holidays
It sounds complicated to declare new holidays, but it's actually not at all. Similarly to allow haircuts and music during the Omer also is simple. Just declaring Hallel with a bracha is more complicated, but an historic return to the forgotten background of the "6 Day War" helps clarify that, as well.
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.
Some yeshivot see the ideal Jew as a "space cadet" in his idealistic dream-land, and yeshiva learning as a separation from the world. Contrarily, Rav Kook brings many proofs showing that the original Judaism, before being warped by exile, saw the ideal as practical pragmatism & the importance of learning Torah as united with "living the Torah". Being part of a Jewish society to fix all aspects of the world to implement a Living Torah & her ideals. He explains the halacha that one should pray where there are windows to show that our prayers, as the Torah, should be connected with the outside world. Even R. Shimon bar Yochai learned 12 years in the cave, 1st in order to analyze, & then to plan Jewish leadership to pragmatically fix society.
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.
Why is the the Jewish Calendar Based Upon Pesach Falling in Spring?
The Jewish calendar, adding an additional month of Adar in almost every 3rd year, evolves around making sure that Pesach comes out in the spring. Most Jews are familiar with this fact, but Rav Kook explains beautifully why it's so crucial that the spring of the Jewish Nation (Pesach) must be synched with the spring of the Jewish Land (Eretz Yisrael). The class proves that the Torah was given to be observed and learned in the Land of Israel.
Irony & Hashem's "Sense of Humor" as Basics in Purim and Jewish Thought!
The Maharal, Rav Kook and others teach of the central theme on Purim of "Overturning"= V'Nahafoch Hu", but the question is: why is this so important? The class suggests 8 reasons why this concept is what convinced Yitro to convert to Judaism, and why this "boomerang" shows not only the irony and humor of God's history, but is so basic to understanding Judaism, justice, philosophy and more.
How to Understand Murdering Amalek & Other Mitzvot which Seem "Immoral"?
Every moral & thinking Jew has asked questions about certain mitzvot which don't seem to "jive" with the morality of God & the Torah itself! Rav Kook, as usual, bravely deals with these issues, & explains that "eternity" means that the Torah also had to be relevant to the primitive world in which it was given 3,300 yrs. ago. He differentiates between some actions, like slavery & bigamy, that had to be "allowed" temporarily in the ancient reality, but were never obligated. Nevertheless, 2 obligations (!) which seem "immoral" are regarding Amalek (killing & remembering-Zachor), & conquering the Land of Israel. But upon a closer look, they aren't immoral at all! When we lack prophets & Sanhedrin, the God Who runs History solves many problems!
Mitzvot Which Seem “Outdated” in General or Unfair to Women
All religious (or potentially religious) Jews have difficulty with mitzvot which seem to be outdated. How can a thinking Jew understand & identify with a Torah which allows slavery, bigamy or taking enemy women during war? This class also deals with many questions raised by women or feminists regarding the role of women in Judaism, laws of Aguna, divorce, the brachot of "Shelo Asani Isha" or "SheAsani KiRtzono", etc. Rav Kook, one of the most innovative & brave Gedolei HaDor, writes a lot on this issue of "updating", explaining & identifying with the Torah in a totally Orthodox way (on which no one can disagree), to bring the Torah closer to all. [It is the 1st part of the class on "Mitzvot Which Seem Immoral", also highly recommended!].
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..
Over the last century, mankind is less religious. Rav Kook suggests it's time to raise Torah to a higher level, that of "Being Godly". Ironically, both the rational Rambam & the Kabbalists summarize the goal of Judaism as Imitateo Dei, to copy God. The real "me" isn't my body but my Godly soul. When He finished creating the world, he told us to have children= to also create worlds. Similarly, when we observe Shabbat, it's not just because God said so, but bc He rests on Shabbat & our spark of God should naturally do the same! The Torah is not just commands, but God's ideals & advice how we can emulate His altruism. This eye-opening direction has proven very appealing today for those looking for something "higher" than ceremonious "religion".
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.