Rav Kook Torah

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Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaKohen Kook

The celebrated first Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel, Rav Kook (1865-1935) is recognized as being among the most important Jewish thinkers of all time. His writings reflect the mystic's search for underlying unity in all aspects of life and the world, and his unique personality similarly united a rare combination of talents and gifts.

Rav Kook was a prominent rabbinical authority and active public leader, but at the same time a deeply religious mystic. He was both Talmudic scholar and poet, original thinker and saintly tzaddik.



Due to Rav Kook's poetic style and abstract thought, his writings are often difficult to understand, even for those fluent in Hebrew and well-versed in traditional Jewish sources. For the English-speaking audience in particular, his books are hidden treasures whose light has not been fully revealed.

I have not attempted to translate his works. I doubt whether if it is possible to lucidly transmit his ideas when constrained to a literal translation. Instead, I have taken sources from his writings and tried to present them in a clear, straightforward fashion. Of course, this method runs the risk of over-simplifying and even misinterpreting the author's true intent. Still, this is a sincere effort that I believe to be faithful to the spirit of the Rav's thought.

Rav Kook did not write a commentary on the Torah as such. I have collected ideas from his writings – primarily from his commentaries on Talmudic Midrashim (Ein Ayah) and the prayer book (Olat Re'iyah) – and organized them according to the weekly Torah readings and holidays.

Chanan Morrison, Mitzpe Yericho

Awakening the Holiness in Every Language

(Kovetz Alef, section 887)

In an age when we witness a powerful attraction to the study of languages and sciences, it is impossible to battle against all who are drawn towards them. Indeed, the times and the signs of the day indicate the necessity [for these studies]. The inner righteous, with their mystical service, come to the rescue at this hour. With nobility of spirit, they open up the blocked conduits and establish the mystical secret of God in "His studies." These studies encompass all that is in the universe, especially that which advances the world's progress.

The righteous awaken the holiness hidden in each language. They utilize the power of Joseph, who incorporated all [of the physical world] with the Hebrew letter hey.1 They apply the power of the Divine word from Sinai, which illuminates with an ever-increasing light. "Each Divine command split up into seventy languages" (Shabbat 88b).

Similarly, we find that Moses explained the Torah "be'er heitev", "very clearly" (Deut. 27:8).2 Moses uncovered the essence of good in every language, the inner force that introduced it from holy Majesty. The language itself is thus clarified and refined. Then we may present a "language of clarity" to all nations, so that "all will be able to call out in the name of God" (Zephania 3:9).



1 In Psalms 81:6, Joseph's name is spelled with an extra letter, the letter hey. "As a testimony for Jehoseph... I understood a language that I had not known." According to the Midrash in Sotah 36b, the angel Gabriel gave Joseph the letter hey from God's Name so that Joseph would be able to learn all seventy languages.
The Sages in Menachot 29b wrote that God created this world with the letter hey.

2 The Talmud in Sotah 32a explains "be'er heitev" to mean that the Torah was translated to seventy languages.

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