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Shabbat Parashat Shemot 5783

Igrot Hareaya Letters of Rav Kook: When Should Mitzvot Cease to Apply? #140

part II

Date and Place: 27 Iyar 5668 (1908), Yafo


Recipient: Rabbi Shmuel Alexandrov. Alexandrov was a yeshiva-trained scholar, who was an autodidact in languages, philosophy, and science. He was a very independent thinker who at times angered the Maskilim and at times angered traditional rabbis. He was a member of the Mizrachi movement and tried, over the years, to recruit Rav Kook to take a leadership role within that movement. This is one of many correspondences between the two on matters of Jewish philosophy.


Body: [Last time we saw that Rav Kook posited that all should agree that there are stages of the World to Come when mitzvot will apply and others when they will not, but that it is nonsensical to assume that in their time, they had reached anywhere near such a stage.]

This mistake, to think that the world is perfected, at a time that it is still full of impurities that need refinement and further refinement, [is the type that] costs a “high price of tuition.” In a few periods, this phenomenon already occurred. Special individuals, who indeed were great men of morality, extrapolated from themselves onto the rest of the world or based themselves on a certain element of light, at a certain uplifting time in the nation, and assumed that it was a constant thing. Based on these things, they tried to hasten the End of Days and tried to abrogate set obligations that apply to actions according to values set for certain stages in the world.

These people’s mistakes were always revealed by means of many painful events. Then, the world returned to “spin on its axis,” and the practical flow of history and spirituality returned to normal, advancing slowly in spirituality by following the practices of the Torah. One is elevated specifically by a slow movement to a high point of development.

A solid thought process would teach differently than [the spiritual but misguided people we have mentioned]. First, the unusually spiritual, who might have been elevated by the set obligations [of the Torah] or who might have been impacted by special times, should not judge the rest of the world as if they are also on the same spiritual level. To the contrary, the spiritual elite should connect themselves in a thousand ways to the masses, as the spiritual maladies that generally afflict the masses may afflict the elite to some degree or at some inopportune time, even when one is strong, based on the flow of life. Therefore, even the most special people or people at the most special times, should not jump in and destroy or weaken the set obligations. Rather they should bear their burden with love and draw out from them the dew of life for the sake of the good days that will come, when they are to come. This will be when the light will be so full and shining that there is no doubt that the time has arrived, as will be testified about by the form of life, internal and external, when the world will be full of truth and song.

However, as long as evil is greater than good and darkness is greater than light, every leader has the obligation to warn the nation about the path of light and intellect. That is to love set mitzvot and the obligations that apply to all, such as morality as it applies to the masses and indeed all of humanity, and the specific obligations of our nation, from minor to major. This will create a complete national unity, which will be best able to light the internal light of free and supreme morality, which we desire.


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Nir Rephael ben Rachel Bracha
Ori Leah bat Chaya Temima

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Prof. Yisrael Aharoni z"l

Kislev 14, 5783


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Iyar 10, 5771

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Sivan 17 / Av 20


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Tishrei 20 ,5781


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Rav Carmel's father

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bat RMoshe Zev a”h.

Tamuz 10 ,5774


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Tevet 16 ,5780


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Sebbag, z"l


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Cheshvan 13, 5778


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Iyar 18 ,5779


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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 17, 5782


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Adar II 18, 5782


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Nisan 27, 5782


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Tevet 15 5768


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