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Shabbat Parashat Vayikra 5782

Igrot Hareaya Letters of Rav Kook: Study of Spirituality

#95 part I

Date and Place: 8 Tishrei 5668 (1907), Yafo


Recipient: R. Nachum Kahana Shapira and R. Shlomo Rabb, young rabbanim or yeshiva students in Jerusalem.


Body: You have asked me to “satiate” you, through letters, on matters that occupy the loftiest ideals in the world about knowledge of Hashem and the depths of the spiritual matters of the Torah. This realm has been abandoned terribly in a manner that upsets everyone who loves Hashem and His nation. We know that this abandonment is the source of our lowly standing and that when we return to it, Hashem will show us the light of His salvation, which will glow over Zion. 

A young man like me would love to fulfill the desires of such pure spirits as yours. My dear brothers, you know that if I had the strength, I would not stop for a moment to call out in a booming voice to all the true servants of Hashem, especially the Torah scholars of Eretz Yisrael, to hurry with great strength to rectify the horrible crookedness and to return to the neglected part of the Torah, which is the source of our life. This spiritual study will be that which will give vitality to the tree of life, which is the broadest involvement in Torah and service of Hashem. The reason we are now so lowly and that the exile has lasted so long is that we have made the Torah “dry.”

However, I will never agree that I am the one who, with words alone, can awaken the sleeping and beleaguered hearts and spirits. What can an idea or ideas that are publicized once or twice be able to do if those who hear them return afterwards to their normal state of darkness? Therefore, what I write and try to inspire people to do is to rise up and take action to help our individual souls in a way that the national soul will be influenced. Namely, by making set allotments of time to study the special books, written by classical and more recent giants of ethics and fear of Hashem, both those that are based on “open” texts and those that are in the realm of the hidden world of Kabala. After learning book after book, one must strive to reach the heights of analysis and careful reading of the texts. One should not view the fear of Hashem in the accepted way, for this is just a shadow of a shadow of true fear of Hashem, which is acquired when one learns on a regular and organized basis without taking a break for even a day.

So, no, by means of writing letters, I have nothing to add (apparently the addressees asked Rav Kook to inspire them to spiritual growth with letters). However, if dear Torah scholars (like you) will listen to my advice, they will be able to open the door of those who are dependent on hope, to return to the spiritual fortress. In that way, they can increase the honor of Heaven and the power of love of Hashem by means of the light of the wisdom of true spirituality. Then, there will be a flow of life-giving light and power along with pure humility that elevates all the strength man can obtain. Torah will then become more uplifting in all of its realms of study, with honor, wealth, and wisdom emanating from the divine wellspring. This will bring grandeur to the beautiful Land and glory to the true Torah and Hashem’s Name will be sanctified from the Land throughout the world, when the faces of all of the Land’s Torah scholars will shine.

This can happen only based on the conduit of the study of “internal Torah” on a regular basis, which is nourished by the glow of the honor of such Torah. 

We will continue next week with advice and inspiration along these lines.

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Tishrei 20 ,5781


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Tamuz 23, 5777


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Av 4


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Adar 28, 5781

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Av 30, 5781


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Adar II 6


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Adar II 12


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