Avraham Isaac HaCohen Kook (1865-1935)
“Hear me, my people, I speak unto you from within my soul… from within that feeling that I sense deeper than all my sensations of life, that you, only you are the content of my life…” (The Rav Kook, His Chambers, p. 181).
Rav Avraham Isaac HaCohen Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of Israel, is one of the most prominent figures in the history of the Jewish people. He was a remarkable spiritual leader, a brilliant thinker, a great poet, and one of the leading adjudicators (ordinate/judge on Jewish affairs) in recent generations.
But above all, the Rav Kook was a great Kabbalist who dedicated his life to instilling the message of unity in the people. From the height of his spiritual attainment, he called upon the whole of the Jewish people to unite and to renew the spiritual connection among people.
The spiritual redemption of the people of Israel, the natural bonding among its factions, was for the Rav Kook a precondition for the establishment of the state of Israel. He repeatedly stated that the redemption of the land could come only through bonding among us, and that only by implementing the wisdom of Kabbalah would such a deed be possible. In that regard, he wrote, “The secrets of the Torah bring redemption, and return the people of Israel to its land” (Orot, p. 95).
Waking Up and Bonding
“Our whole work is only to unite all the different Jewish sects and mend the schisms already present in our midst,” (Igrot, Part 4, p. 104).
In 1903, when the Rav Kook moved to the land of Israel, the Jewish settlement was divided and separated into sects, or groups. Each sect tried to retain what it had brought with it from its birth country. The Rav Kook did not agree with the atmosphere of separation among the Jews in those days, and assumed an almost impossible task: to unite the nation under one concept.
His high spiritual degree revealed to him that the return of Jews to the land of Israel may have ended their physical exile, but did nothing to terminate their spiritual exile—the separation among Jews, which is the root of all our troubles. He tried to awaken us to return to the spiritual degree we had held prior to the ruin of the Temple, a degree that was expressed through love and unity.
He often stated that the secret of the power of the Israeli nation would be the bonding among its members, and that unity and spirituality were really one and the same. He wrote that when we do unite, we will climb back to our spiritual degree, return to the root of our being, and live peacefully and quietly in our land.
Advocating Love and Peace
“I wish that the whole of humanity could fit into a single body, so I could embrace them all,” (from a conversation of the Rav Kook with the author Alexander Ziskind Rabinowitz).
The Rav Kook was overflowing with love for the nation and indeed for the whole world. His love was as true and as unconditional as a mother’s love for her child. His sole desire was to bond us all with this love; he knew that only this love could bring true happiness and equality among us.
The Rav Kook explained that the quality of love is a spiritual quality, and that the only method to obtain it is the wisdom of Kabbalah: “The wisdom of truth teaches us the global unity… and how to go by its light without failing,” (the Rav Kook, Orot Kodesh, Part 2, p. 393).
The Study of Kabbalah Is the Key
“Now the days are nearing when all will recognize and know that Israel’s salvation and the salvation of the entire world depend solely on the appearance of the wisdom of the hidden light (the Kabbalah) of the internality of the secrets of the Torah in a clear language,” (the Rav Kook, Igrot, Part 1, p. 92).
The Rav Kook served in many public offices, but he often said that his true wish was to delve in the wisdom of the hidden, for this was most important to him. “What I feel, the contentment and pleasure in studying the hidden…is my prime goal. All the duties of the other skills are secondary to my essence,” (Mist of Purity, p. 31).
He aspired to connect us to the secrets of the wisdom of Kabbalah, and often criticized those who publicly opposed its dissemination. He knew that only by learning its secrets would we find happiness and unity. “In our lives, we need the hidden secrets to be revealed and exposed. By revealing these secrets we will know ourselves and we will know what is hidden within us” (the Rav Kook, Maamarei Raiah, p. 153).
Today, many years after spiritual giants such as the Rav Kook and Baal HaSulam brought Kabbalah’s wisdom into our world, their advice is more pertinent than ever. Their writings reveal the only way we can change our future for the better. All we need to do is open our hearts and minds to it.