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Shabbat Parashat Vayigash 5782

Igrot Hareaya Letters of Rav Kook: In Favor of Studying Kabala Seriously


Date and Place: Sivan 5667 (1907), Yafo


Recipient: Rav Tzvi Shimon Horowitz, a distinguished kabalist and founder of the Yeshivat Mekubalim in Jerusalem, Sha’arei Hashamayim


Body: I received your valued letter along with a copy of your important sefer, Kol Mevaser. With great joy I read that Hashem has redeemed His nation and the sound of the knocking of our Beloved can be heard in our fortress, the Holy City of Jerusalem, awakening the love and encouraging us to cling to the tree of life. I was also overjoyed to hear about the joining of pure Jews to dedicate themselves to the study of the wisdom of truth (Kabalistic study), which will emit a special light and cause salvation to flourish. My thanks to Hashem that unique, holy individuals in Jerusalem are inspired to do so. You have a special merit in facilitating such activity, exciting pure hearts and strengthening those who waver with the words of your holy book, which encourages people to set regular sessions for the study of the Torah of truth.

There is inestimable value in involvement in the words of the Living G-d, as learned through the Zohar and teachings of the masters of Kabala, especially the writings of the Arizal. Even if one is not on the level to understand these teachings in depth, study is still worthwhile both in the present and with an eye toward the future. Consistent study will reveal gates of light and wisdom for all who walk in Hashem’s path wholesomely and desire to approach the palace of the Eternal King. All who consistently partake in such study for even an hour or two a day shall be blessed, while their main focus in Torah study should be in other areas, as appropriate to each person according to his interests. Then we can apply the rule that one who intends to perform a mitzva but was unsuccessful is treated like one who performed it, in this case of entering Hashem’s palace through the study of Torah secrets.

However, for the choice few who are capable of approaching Hashem and arousing the hearts to inspire closeness to Him, it is a holy obligation to pronounce loudly that which the angel-like early teachers of Kabala said. Namely, a wise and pure-hearted person who is prepared and motivated to study the pure, hidden truths of Kabala should make it the main focus of his studies. Then he earns the crown of achievement in the world of internal Torah. He should also set times for the study of Tanach, Mishna and Talmud, halachic matters, and homiletical sections of the Talmud. Then he will succeed in attaining the hidden lights of truth. This is especially true of scholars above the age of fifty/sixty who are satiated with knowledge of basic Torah texts and skills. For them, Hashem’s voice calls out powerfully to act on His behalf to increase the number of “soldiers of the war of the books” to spread the hidden light.

It is almost impossible to capture the hidden light with a dull mind, without the finest characteristics and a deep relationship with Hashem. Therefore, one must prepare by studying on a simple level the writings of homiletics, ethics, and character improvement written by the great rabbis of the generations. The better one learns those matters the greater the capacity in the hidden Torah. However, the young who do not feel the interest or spirituality needed for the internal light, should feel obligated to take part in at least an hour or two daily of classes on Kabala. Over time, their minds will broaden, they will succeed in classical Torah study, and, as they grow older, their love for esoteric matters will increase like a flame’s light. They will cling to the “tree of life,” enjoying its shade and fruit. They will provide new light with special books and elevate and adorn Israel, especially inhabitants of the Holy Land, the place from which light emanates to the world for nations to see.

Rav Kook ends with blessings to Rav Horowitz and his disciples.

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Nir Rephael ben Rachel Bracha
Yisrael ben Rivka

Rivka Reena bat Gruna Natna

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Neta bat Malka

Meira bat Esther

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Those who fell in wars

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Rav Shlomo Merzel z”l
Iyar 10, 5771

Reuven & Chaya Leah Aberman z"l
Tishrei 9
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Sivan 17 / Av 20


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Tishrei 20 ,5781


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Rav Carmel's father

Iyar 8 ,5776


Mrs. Sara Wengrowsky

bat RMoshe Zev a”h.

Tamuz 10 ,5774


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Kislev 9 / Elul 5780

RMeir ben

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Tevet 16 ,5780


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Chana bat Yaish & Simcha

Sebbag, z"l


Rav Yisrael Rozen z"l
Cheshvan 13, 5778


Rav Benzion Grossman z"l
Tamuz 23, 5777


R' Abraham Klein z"l

Iyar 18 ,5779


Mrs. Gita Klein z"l

Av 4


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Tammuz 19, 5778


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Adar 28, 5781

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Tevet 15 5768

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