From the Purim story, we understood that even the threat of total annihilation can be foiled and bring a new national "lease on life."
Why Should We Only Say "Yasher Ko'ach" in Israel?
What's the Difference Between Torah in Israel or in America?!
Judaism: Approachable but Noble
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.
Shabbat that Elevates Not Just the Secular but Even the Foreign
It's common knowledge that Shabbat elevates the secular to be holy, but Rav Kook writes that the ideal Shabbat will elevate even concepts which are foreign to Judaism.
When Should We Use Experience, Logic or Kabbala to Decide?
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?
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
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.
How Can We Know There Is a G-d?
How can we know with certainty that there is a G-d?
A Deeper Take on Shabbat: Why is This Allowed & That Prohibited?
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
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.
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