Natural Life in the Land of Israel & the Tragedy of Galut
...Outside the Land of Israel, our engagement with the physical world comes at the expense of Torah and sanctity. We in fact see that the Torah studied in Exile shuns in an extreme manner many areas of natural life. Only when the Nation of Israel is in the Land of Israel is "normal," natural life enabled – for, in fact, even that which is material and physical is holy...
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.
A Two State Solution- Land for Peace in the Middle East
The world, and many politicians, feel that a Two-State Solution in the Middle East is the only chance for peace. Without getting into the question whether we can actually trust our enemies and believe them that they may actually lay down their weapons, we must also deal with the question, what does Judaism say on this important topic? Both the Land of Israel and Peace are important Jewish ideals, so what should we do if the two conflict?
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.
Politeness, Manners & Etiquette- the True Israeli Approach!
Ein Aya Shabbat 3, 8
Sometimes we find Torah scholars, Yeshiva boys, and sometimes Israeli's, who look down upon certain manners, politeness and etiquette as external or western nonsense. Rav Kook teaches here how to explain to children, as well as the young, idealistic & religiously motivated, that these seemingly technical and outward acts contain true Torah and Israeli importance & ideals.
Motivating to Kiruv - Influencing Others is Essential for Me!
Eyn Aya shabbat 3, 3
Thank God, the concept of "Kiruv", bringing others close to Torah is clearly on the agenda & being discussed more and more, whether in the context of NCSY, Lubavitch, Bnei Akiva etc. Rav Kook shows here how to motivate people of this essential idea.
The centrality of the Land and State of Israel in Judaism is well known, and surely in the writings of Rav Kook. That just sharpens the question of why God sent us to exile? Even though galut is presented in the Tanach just as a deterrent, or a threat of punishment that isn't meant to be carried out, nevertheless, there must be some positive aspect of galut itself! Only after understanding the goal of galut, can we then understand when exile has "played out" its role and it's time to come home to Israel, to revive Eretz Yisrael and Medinat Yisrael, to return to the original Judaism.
How to Improve Motivation to Learn & Observe? Post-Modernism!
Ein Aya Shabbat 3, 1
Very often even the most motivated & religious feel a lack of enthusiasm to learn Torah or wake up for shul. Similarly, Post-Modernism poses a great challenge for religion. A culture which is based on democracy & freedom, is skeptical about truth, is over-run with "Fake-News", and stresses myself and my "self-awareness" seems like an inevitable threat to Judaism. Rav Kook was a century ahead of his time, and directs us practically how Post-Modernism is meant to be used to our advantage, and help us rise to a new level of spirituality where we do mitzvot out of identification rather than peer pressure. This is the solution to strengthen our motivation whenever it weakens! Also, if looking for "My" Torah, when can one disagree with his rabbi? A Super-Important lesson & Game-Changer in education!
Ten New Reasons for Making Aliya Today-What's Different & Changed?
Living in the Land of Israel was always important, but the sources also refer to some points which were not relevant for almost 2,000 years, and have occurred only recently. The halachic status of aliya has shifted into "high gear" in our generation.
The Torah Is for All Israel- Including the Ignorant!
The importance of Torah scholarship is clearly central to Jews- the "People of the Book", but Rav Kook feels it necessary to reveal the other side of the coin. God gave us the "Living Torah" relevant even to the masses even living primitively in nature. God explicitly wants a Nation of Israel, not just knowledgeable & religious individuals, not just rabbis & professors who can sometimes "outsmart" themselves, but also the common people. The intelligentsia needs the masses who are more healthy & natural in spirit, action & belief, just as the masses need the intelligentsia to lead & analyze the more complicated issues. In an era without prophets or Sanhedrin, only God's ignorant masses can sometimes solve historic & halachic difficulties.