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Spirituality and Physicality
To Love This World Well To love this world well, we must submerge ourselves deeply in the love of the world-to-come. We must carry out all the improvements of this world in the most comprehensive way possible. These in fact are comprehensive preparations for the sake of each detail and the complete entirety of the life of the world-to-come.
Only then will culture stride forward with confidence.
This is a great wisdom, which is known to faith. This wisdom is so great that it will ultimately conquer the entire world.
When despair fills each soul and the life of this world is devalued, then the love of the world-to-come approaches, offering the dew of life that will vivify the life of this world.
Elders and youth will gaze towards it together, and shine.
And kings and ministers, fighters and warriors, will find within it the source of the rich dew of their lives.
Orot Hakodesh III, p. 178
Even When Your Body Is Broken and Shattered
Even when your body is broken and shattered and your spirit is dismayed and maimed because of so many miseries—spiritual and physical—spiritual pleasantness does not cease giving its honey and sweet influence. These soothe your spirit and give it an inner pleasure even in the midst of its darknesses. This sweetness is drawn by every one of us from our own outpouring of Torah and mitzvos: from performing them and from our intent when we do so.
Just as this applies to each one of us, so does it apply to the entire Jewish nation, which draws constantly from the sweet goodness of the inner holiness of the pleasantness of God, which sweetens life and pours forth a pattern that has achieved honor and rectification.
Then life is filled with a content of inner satisfaction in the depth of the universal soul of the community of Israel, whose rays and sparks of light stream toward every one of us, according to how much we have cultivated on our soul’s illumination, and according to the extent of our inner connection to the whole.
Orot Hakodesh III, p. 174
The Two Extremes of Sleep
Sleep—and, generally, the natural character of the night, which causes sleep and which is appropriate for sleep—influences the aspects of life within us in two separate directions.
Our higher, spiritual aspect can rise very high. Our imagination is freed from the framework of the senses. If it is constantly connected to the intellect and to a supernal, holy desire, it can visualize and imagine, gaze and recognize those things it will not sense when we are awake.
On the other hand, the power of life within our body now lacks its connection to our spiritual aspect. That power acts alone, expressing its natural tendencies in a dark, cloudy form.
To these two points, archetypes cling. Pure lights cling to our supernal soul from a higher illumination. On the other hand, darkness, the desiccation of pollution and gross negative energies cling to the vital spirit, from the dark muck that had been lying within ourselves, that now bubbles up in the mud of a life limited to the physical.
Every morning, we deal with both these energies in serving God. We purify our vital spirit, and we connect ourselves to the lights that have been added to our supernal human soul.
Once again, we fuse the two polarities in felicitous harmony.
Orot Hakodesh I, p. 230
The Month of Spring: Enjoying the New Fruits
The forces of divinity spread throughout existence, each finding its own level. In matter, in plants, in animals—these forces appear as still requiring improvement. They only reach their perfection when we human beings make use of such an object, when we raise its energy into moral, honest consciousness—according to the divine, supernal awareness and light that shines in our soul.
When we make a blessing on food, it affects the energies of blossoming and growth like a holy lightning bolt, like a blessing from heaven. All of existence is blessed with an abundance of light. Holy joy spreads from our soul upon all of creation: from the depth of its roots to the heights of its branches, buds and fruits.
Moadei Harayah, p. 287
Spirituality and Materialism
When there is an excessive tendency toward materialism, out of balance with the tendency toward spirituality, nations disintegrate.
As regards the people of Israel, that balance is chiseled into the essence of who we are. However, that is so only to a degree that prevents the disease of an exaggerated disposition from becoming so permanent that it is beyond repair.
But we can be damaged by an excessive disposition—in fact, because of our sharp character, we can be damaged even more than any other nation.
Idolatry—which harmed us during the long era that lasted until the destruction of the first Temple—was the result of an excessive physical orientation. In addition, it became the basis for consequences that ultimately conveyed many degenerate traits. During the time of the second Temple, although idolatry weakened, those damaging consequences came forth and were revealed in the form of causeless hatred.
There was only one medicine for that disease: the nation was shattered in such a way that it had few days to deal with physical matters as a nation. And so, during all the days of the long exile, the entire nation turned only to exalted and elevated matters. There were individuals who turned toward their physicality, following the measure of the drive of life and their desires. But the nation as a whole was not been involved with physical matters since the time it went into exile.
However, an excessive, unbalanced orientation toward spirituality is also very damaging. Ultimately, it destroys the true glory of spirituality itself. However, in the role of medicine for an extreme physical orientation, it is effective any way that it is used.
Our time, however, marks an awakening national revival. This is the sign that the general illness has already been healed: permission has already been granted to us to deal with physical matters as a nation.
The first shift from the spiritual to the physical extreme must be a little bit uncontrolled and drastic. That is the source of “the arrogance preceding the days of the messiah.” But the time of this extremism will not be long, because our nation is, in its core, balanced. The storm will grow calm. Matters will proceed to the highest side and toward a fit balance.
People of influence must discover the spiritual light in physical orientation, together with its inner goal. In accordance with how they will reveal this in public, so will the illness of arrogance be healed and lose its evil signs. The nation as a whole will awaken to its natural existence, and the beauty of its soul will be revealed to it.
Orot, p. 159
The Power of Life
Your natural intellect is no replacement for your physical well-being. Rather, you must take care to fill yourself with the power of life and bodily strength so that your intellect can be housed in your body in its (?) full strength. As those who are familiar with nature put it, you need “a healthy spirit in a healthy body.”
In the same way, your heavenly, supernal intellect, which has the form of a holy phenomenon, cannot replace your natural intellect. The relationship of your supernal to your natural intellect is literally parallel to the relationship of your soul to your body.
You must always satisfy the intellectual measure of your natural intellect in all its areas. This is necessary to make sure that you maintain, on a spiritual level, that parallel to a healthy spirit in a healthy body. In other words, the holy spirit, shining and evolved, must appear in the framework of your natural intellect that is enlightened, pure and clear, influenced by all those visions that are able to enter the circle of your sight, with all their depth of penetration.
It is the nature of the Holy One, blessed be He, that an empty vessel cannot hold, but a full vessel does. As it is said: “Give wisdom to the wise and understanding to those who have understanding”; and “In the heart of all who are wise of heart have I given wisdom.”
Orot Hakodesh I, pp. 66-7
The Sound of the Many Waters
Just as physicality in its influence contradicts the spreading out of spirituality—and so, “it is fitting that the righteous break their bones for the sake of the honor of the Holy One, blessed be He”—so are there holy people who hide their eye from any revealed knowledge so that their mind may be free and pure to spiritual, elevated knowledge, which are hidden, which are considered in relation to the revealed like spirituality in relation to physicality.
And just as the highest level is to come to peace—so that one’s physicality will not at all disturb the spiritual illumination; and to the contrary, the more the body gains strength, the spiritual power will grow more exalted—so is there such a supernal level that the more the power of the revealed intellect is revealed, will grow the power of the hidden knowledge and the sharpness of its survey, in the depth of its insight.
And just as the essence of the disturbance of how physicality disturbs spirituality does not come from the strength of the body in itself—because to the contrary, the body must be healthy and whole for the sake of the spiritual illumination—but the essence of the matter depends in the conceptual connection with the physicality; so will not harm spirituality the essence of practical knowledge of the world and life and all paths of utilizing them, even on the first level.
And the essential care is necessary in the open influence of metaphysics—which is also a spiritual influence, and one species is harmful to its own species—until the power of the holy in the full meaning is built and established.
Then one will be able to gaze at all the spiritual aspects: in revealed and hidden matters, in the holy and in the secular. And the more one increases the wealth of study, one increases spiritual strength for one’s soul; and the revealed will investigate for itself the hidden, and the secular will do so to the holy.
From the sounds of the many waters, breakers of the sea, mighty in the heights is Hashem, Your testimonies are very faithful, to Your house is holiness fitting, Hashem, for length of days. And in “length of days” are included all days and all influences, all phenomena and all illuminations, all sciences and all feelings, all aspects of gazing and all paths of knowledge.
Orot Hakodesh I, p. 65-66
The Holiness of the Jewish Body
The illumination that is drawn down on this day comes from the aspect of the holiness of the Jewish body. On the first Purim, the Jews kept and accepted the Torah of their own free will (Shabbos 88b).
Therefore, on this day, the shadows flee—for our joy is on a high level, clinging to the illumination of the mind. And even if the light of the mind rises from the vessel of the body, the energies of the body are already holy, and cling with true perfection to the light of the countenance of the King of life.
And so, how great is the mitzvah of getting intoxicated on Purim! By doing so, we draw down a great light (as the Ari explains).
Olat Harayah, quoted in Moadei Harayah, p. 240
The Tangle of Physical Life
Do not be affected by the fact that at times your heart is drawn to some lust or some character trait that is inappropriate. Do not conclude that the supernal expression of the wisdom of holiness is not suitable for you. This is a deception.
We are placed constantly in the tangle of physical life. But the wisdom of God sanctifies our life and expands it as well. At times, fantasies and undesirable tendencies rage within our heart. But they stand ready to be annulled before the glory of God, which appears in our soul in the glory of holiness.
Arpelei Torah, p. 78
The exercise that the youth of Israel engage in in the land of Israel, strengthening their bodies to be strong and mighty children for the sake of the nation, perfects the spiritual power of the supernal tzaddikim who engage in unifications of the holy Names to increase the prominence of spiritual light in the world. The revelation of one light cannot stand at all without its fellow. “Dovid made a name” (Shmuel II 8). [He actually made God’s name (Zohar, Bechukotai 113). “Dovid was just and charitable to all his people, and Yoav, son of Tzeruyah, commanded the army” (ibid.). [The two were interdependent (Sanhedrin 49a).]
“Avner was punished because he made the blood of the youths a sport” (Vayikra Rabbah 26). [But] when young people engage in sport to strengthen the power and spirit for the sake of the might of the entire nation, that holy service raises God’s Presence higher and higher, as it is raised by the songs and praises that Dovid, King of Israel, expressed in the book of Psalms.
By means of supernal intentions, the inner soul rises. By means of actions that strengthen individuals’ bodies for the sake of the all, outer spirituality rises. These two together bring to perfection the arrangements of all holiness, emphasizing the character of the nation in that small phrase upon which all the limbs of the Torah depend: “In all your ways, know Him.”
Do not be surprised to find imperfections in the way of life of those who are engaged in physical strength and in all types of earthy might in the nation of Israel. Even the manifestation of the holy spirit must come forth from the admixture of drops of uncleanness with which it was mingled. It grows ever more pure, more holy and more clear, and redeems itself from its exile, until it comes to a general path of the righteous. “A radiant light grows ever brighter, until the day is full” (Mishlei 4).
Orot, Orot Hatechiyah 34
The Living Kernel
The deep holy spirit of Judaism strives to unite the life of activity and the life of transcendence. This spirit is the soulful power that generates Jewish law and its minutiae. It provides a living kernel for Talmudic logic, expanding its borders in the this-worldly environs of Jewish law and Talmudic reasoning.
Orot Hatorah 8:3
A GREAT AND DANGEROUS WAR
At times, when we struggle to cling to supernal spirituality, all the forces of spiritual life ascend in the world of supernal thought. Our body is bereft of our soul, and as a result, we are ruled by evil traits.
Afterwards, when have finished gazing and the force of life returns to its regularity, our soul finds our body broken, with all its qualities impaired. Then begins a very great and dangerous war.
And so, repentance and the desire to purify our traits must precede the ascent of our gaze. Then these prepare some aspect of contact between the body and soul—even in the soul’s supernal ascent.
Arpelei Tohar, p. 16
A GOOD INCLINATION
by Simcha Raz
Dr. Folk Schlessinger was Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook’s physician in his last days.
Close to the last Tisha B’Av of Rav Kook’s life, when he was very ill, he consulted Dr. Schlessinger about fasting on Tisha B’Av. Rav Kook told him, “My evil inclination is telling me to fast, while my good inclination is telling me not to fast.”
Malachim Kivnei Adam