Rav Kook [#1970]

March 4, 2019


What were the main teachings of Rabbi Avraham Yaakov HaKohen Kook? What can we accept from him, and what should we not accept from him? Are there are any of his sefarim which the Rav recommends to learn, as well as not to learn? Can the Rav elaborate on this please, because I am totally unclear about this matter.


[Two kinds of spiritual light exist]: There is “ohr penimi”, “inner light”, represented by the three [lower] levels of the soul called Nefesh, Ruach, and Neshamah. There is also “ohr makif”, “enveloping light”, which does not enter inside the contents of any spiritual vessel (kli), and it simply “surrounds” the kli/vessel, entering into only half of the outer part of the kli/vessel. This part [of the ohr makif] is the “Yechidah” part of the ohr makif. The part of the ohr makif which enters the contents of the kli/vessel, and also exits it, is the Chayah part of the ohr makif.

The part of the ohr makif which is called the Chayah is a division of the spiritual realm of Atzilus [lit. “Emanation”, connoting attachment with G-d, the highest of the four spiritual realms]. Part of it enters into the kli/vessel and descends all the way until the sphere of malchus, the “four cubits of Halachah”. It is a spiritual light which is constructed by the vessel, and it settles within the vessel. Therefore, there will only be a little bit of opposition towards it, as the Chazon Ish taught.

But part of the light cannot permanently enter into the vessel, due to the great intensity of this particular part of the light, so it cannot be properly contained. When this part of the light does enter into the vessel, it does not become settled in the vessel. This light, when it descends into malchus, will manifest as an intense love for Eretz Yisrael which cannot become constricted by the boundaries of the vessel. Since it doesn’t settle in the vessel, there is opposition towards it.

Furthermore, this light is the “Chayah” dimension of “Atzilus”, a realm that is entirely good [where evil is non-existent], which is descending into the sphere of malchus within the “realm of action”, which contains a mixture of good and evil, and the light of “Chayah” within Atzilus will illuminate its light which is entirely good [upon our world of action]. Part of the good that exists below on our world will oppose this light that is entirely good when it is being shined into a place that contains evil, because the good light is ultimately confusing the boundaries and definitions of evil, and is becoming attached to the evil.

On one hand there is a great spiritual illumination here, but it is also very dangerous, for anyone who mixes with it. If one is on the spiritual level of Chayah, he is in less danger, because he can enter and exit [the vessel], but if one is below the level of the Chayah, he may chas v’shalom become mixed with evil [when he accesses this light].

The spiritual illumination of the world that is entirely good, when applied to our realm which contains evil, is essentially meant to reveal an illumination of the good parts [on our world], meaning that the “288 sparks” within it can show the parts of good [that are on our world], and the evil parts then become “unseen”, as in the verse, “Sin cannot be viewed in Yaakov, and exertion [to do evil] cannot be seen in Yisrael.”

It should be understood that since this is the spiritual light of the Chayah, it is a light that enters and then leaves, and during the time that it leaves, the lower realm is then seen as it is, in all of its definitions. There are now two perspectives. There is a lower perspective which sees that there is evil which must be dealt with, and there is a higher perspective that sees an entirely good view [as mentioned earlier]. Sometimes the lower perspective must be used and the definitions of the lower realm are applied, when necessary. Or, the perspective will change based on the current level of the viewer. When one studies the surface level of understanding (pshat) he will then use the perspective of the lower realm, but when one studies the secret level of understanding (sod), he will view the lower realm through the higher perspective. This view can be reached through the mind, or through the current level of the soul, at the time in which one is having the view.

Understandably, since these concepts are very subtle, most will not absorb it well, and only rare individuals alone will be able to absorb the concept. This approach also existed in previous generations, but it was in the category of ohr makif [it was a perception that was on the “outside” which could not yet be acted upon], and it was never brought into the level of ohr penimi, to be practiced. For if this concept would have been brought into practical action, it would result in a mixture of a world that is “entirely good” with a mixture of good and evil.

The purpose of such a spiritual illumination was so that the light of the future could be shined within This World, which hastens the Redemption. There was an issue, however, of when it becomes the proper time to hasten the Redemption. The tribe of Ephraim tried to escape Egypt before the time of the redemption had arrived. They thought that the sound of song and redemption could be heard in Eretz Yisrael, and this was because there was already a spark of the light of the Redemption that was beginning to shine. But the illumination was not yet complete.

There exists a way to complete the illumination [of the Redemption] by way of “awakening from below”, which would increase the sparks of the light. On one hand, the side of evil opposes this awakening, for it will bring the light of rectification that will destroy all evil. But on the other hand, evil is nourished from this awakening, for it allows a mixture of good with evil. For if the light would only be shined as an ohr makif [it wouldn’t enter completely into our world], the Other Side [of evil] would cease, but when the light enters [into our world], evil can now be nourished from it.

Therefore, the good on our world will also oppose [such an awakening to expose the light of the Redemption], both because it is a light that causes good to become mixed with evil, and also because shows that the good on our world is not complete.

On a practical level [one should have some access to the great spiritual light of Chayah D’Atzilus, through], connecting to the source which is entirely good, amidst silence, solitude, and “listening” to one’s source. After this inner “listening” one gains a new perspective, of seeing the world from the perspective of an “outsider”, like the view of the ohr makif, a perspective that is “entirely good”, which is sourced in complete good and which brings one to a view that is completely good.

One needs to follow a cycle, back and forth (ratzu v’shav – “advancing and retreating”), between the boundaries of the Torah, the 4 cubits of halachah [with accessing this light of Chayah D’Atzilus], and then repeating the cycle. This concept of [Chayah D’Atzilus] should be accessed in three areas: in place, time and soul. In “place”, it should be manifest in Eretz Yisrael. In “time”, it should be accessed through reciting Tikkun Chatzos at midnight. In the “soul”, it should be accessed through an unbounded love for all of the created beings. Then one should retreat back into the boundaries of Torah, the halachah, which we are bound to on This World, and to keep repeating the cycle.

However, as mentioned, most souls cannot properly absorb this concept, and it would only cause them spiritual harm and destruction. The exception to this would be if they would nullify their own souls to this high neshamah. That is the root of why there was so much opposition [towards Rav Kook].