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Rav Kook's Journals
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When you sense that you have fallen because the spirit of your ethical awareness is weak, consider this: you have to draw forth precious pearls from the depths of the abyss.
When you know this, then you will rise. You will renew your abilities with strength and tranquility. You will approach the ever-lasting light with more capability than you ever had before.
This rule applies to the entire generation. It governs reality forever.
Orot Hakodesh III, p. 252
Do Not Set Aside Any Exalted Goal
Do not set aside any exalted goal that you can envision, even if it seems that the obstacles are many, whether from the outside or from your own personality.
As you strive, visualize inner truth. In this way, you will align your present knowledge with your conceptual insight. You will unify your aspiration with the ideal part of what you already know.
Arpelei Tohar, p. 42
Realms of Darkness
When you feel humiliated, empty, lacking all spiritual strength, when you fall and stumble, realize that a great light has been prepared for you.
All of your imperfections and all the damage that you have caused—this-worldly, spiritual, things you did or didn’t do throughout your life—all stand before you. Everything you ever did wrong testifies against you.
You are stunned. You feel great anguish, and from the midst of that anguish you experience regret.
Then you rise up and repent. You rise up from the depth of the abyss to the elevated pinnacle, from impurity to purity, from blackness to a great light.
As you emerge and rise, you have to pass through realms of darkness that overwhelm you and eclipse you.
But be aware that “God is merciful and gracious,” that “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall not fear evil, for God is with me.”
When you cry out to God from the midst of the confusions of the abyss, your voice will be heard.
When you call out for the light of knowledge, it will shine on you.
Wisdom and kindness will support you and crown you. You will swiftly return to the citadel, filled with wisdom, joy and strength.
Orot Hakodesh III, p. 252
I Had Set Aside My Harp
I had set aside my harp—but I did not break it.
I still see reason for hope.
It is a ray that streams from the East.
I know that I will return
To my song, which I had withheld.
Nafshi Takshiv Shiro
Waiting To Enter The Chambers Of My Soul
If my powers are shattered
And my nerves stricken
By accumulated anger,
By black thoughts
And confused effort,
Behind my wall,
Waiting to enter the chambers of my soul.
My shattered powers have been healed.
My mournful song will again be joyful.
She will enchant me with her eyes
And satiate me with her lover’s kisses.
Nafshi Takshiv Shiro
Do Not Fear
Exaggerated fear removes the radiance of life from people and from any creature that can experience feelings. There is nothing in the world, no matter how evil and cruel, that is quite like it. It magnifies all evils beyond comparison to what they really are, and it darkens the brightness of all good things, for it burrows beneath their foundations and excessively claims that evil is hidden beneath the obvious good. The source of all weakness and all feebleness, whether physical, ethical, or intellectual, solely a fear that crosses beyond its proper boundary. Such a fear terrifies a person so much that he will do nothing to save himself. He will not even lift a finger to help himself, because he is afraid that he might be hurt, he is afraid that action may bring an evil that he cannot escape. And finally, this fear weakens and enfeebles him so much that out of his inertia and inaction, he falls prey to every evil.
The most damaging fear is mental fear. This falsity casts a delusion upon the most sensitive and beautiful members of the human race, people who stand as a banner, who serve as luminaries that will brighten the paths of life for everyone. Shadow always follows light, and so the more a person is able to understand and grow wise, the more does his delusional fear, resulting from his thoughts, increase.
[Various] nations have the ability to grow wise, to gather together and connect everything of an elevated and holy nature that was scattered and separated into one inclusive bloc, with counsel and knowledge in matters that stand at the apex of the world. But superior to all of them is the people of Israel. They are the one nation that carries the flag of the most raised thought in the world, the thought that contains all that wisdom stores within itself: the thought of oneness. “God is in the heavens above and upon the earth below; there is no other.”
Indeed, [we] must always broaden the boundary of consciousness to an infinite degree—with a brave heart, without fright, without any recoil and fear at all. Fear “due to the oppressor who prepares to destroy” (cf. Isaiah 51:13) has lowered the universal spirit of our nation, which is girded in might, until it recoils from and fears every thought and idea—and thus [it recoils from and fears] every action and any great and inclusive act. And since the essence of the foundation of [our nation’s] might is the strength of God, when it is spiritually weak, it grows very weak and feeble. At such a time, the most honorable help for our nation is removing from its heart this fear that comes from spiritual delusion, and demonstrating, as clear as the sun, that it has nothing whatsoever to fear.
Let the nations that boast of their idols fear that the general power of delusion that affects their communal society will shatter. Let every evil government fear that the light of truth and honesty will show that the goal of all their longings is a willful criminal fist and perverted justice. Let it fear that when the light of pure thought gains strength, it will show how disgusting that government is. And thus the universal chains will snap, and their national strength will fall totter.
But why should Israel fear? We are the nation whose strength and refuge is the most elevated light of the purest and most uplifted thought, whose glory and beauty, hope and desire, is the purest and most unalloyed justice. We need only to rise, only to grow wiser and wiser, with that which is already planted in us and gathered in our innermost essence. Only then will we be filled with salvation and light. Then we will see our great worthiness, and how degraded are those who trample upon us with the foot of pride. And the more our nation’s thought grows and is broadened, the more will we recognize our nation’s soul and the beauty of its glory, until it will rise and ascend to show everyone the treasure of life hidden within it, until all the inhabitants of the world will recognize and see that our nation’s spirit is the spirit of God, and the soul of the Almighty is its soul.
Divine inspiration and divine light can come upon Israel only when the evil and wild fear that clings to it like an encompassing wound, that extends days of exile and the persecutions of our degraded, evil enemies, is removed from within its soul.
God’s Presence only rests upon a person who is wise, mighty, and wealthy (Shabbat 82a), and only in a place of joy (ibid 30b). Since this is true of an individual, how much does it apply to the entire nation. “Wealth” can be read in its simple meaning: a present from God given from the heights, usually only this-worldly effort. “May Hashem your God bless you in all that you do” (Deuteronomy 15:18). But there is [also] a wealth of consciousness, when a person knows how to rejoice in his portion. This too can be experienced by an individual or by the entire nation. But as for might—and joy, which is its consequence—that can come only by means of a rectification of the spirit, a rectification of consciousness and thought. And in regard to that, we have been assured that “If a person says, ‘I toiled and I did not find’ or ‘I did not toil and I found,’ do not believe him” (Megillah 6b).
In the end of days, in the [age of the] “heels of the Messiah,” when the divine light stands behind our walls, the first of all preparations is the removal of fear, the excrescence of thought, from the general spirit—in particular from the spirits of outstanding individuals, those people who are graced with a good mind, with a talent for holiness and justice, for it is they who are most affected by fear and weakness.
The impetus to accomplish this is provided by its opposite force: the force of arrogance, which must grow stronger at such a time—for where there is arrogance there is no fear. [It is true that arrogance] comes from a degraded place, from a place of intoxication and confusion. As great as the distance from the heavens to the earth, so is the distance between arrogance and the might that results from the heavenly blessing of the wealth of the soul and the strength of its righteousness. Nevertheless, we act utilizing the strong power of arrogance in order to take the good from it, the sparks of holiness, the innermost core: the cease of mental fear. And that is due to the strength that is promised, that is hidden, in the treasury of our lives.
Then, might will become a part of the weave of holiness, and thought will blossom.
“Do not fear, for you shall not be shamed. And do not be abashed, for you will not be shamed, for you shall forget the shame of your youth, and the shame of your widowhood you will no longer recall” (Isaiah 54:4).
Hador, pp. 119-121
The Good Treasure
Everything that is said about the greatness of man as well as everything that is said about his insignificance is true. If he is worthy, he takes precedence over Creation. If he is unworthy, a flea is more important than he.
Thus, we must always use these opposite points of view for the good.
When it comes to divine, supernal teachings, when it comes to pouring forth our spirit for the sake of glorious and elevated ideals, we must draw power from the perspective of our greatness: of how man is the central point of the most primal creations, of how all acts of creation are included within him. When man rises, everything rises; when he falls, everything falls.
But when it comes to concerted action and societal endeavors (communal or private) within the secular sphere, then “Go to the ant, lazy one; look at her paths and grow wise.” We must then make use of the perspective that “a flea is more important than you.”
Arpelei Tohar, p. 100