- Teachings (1)
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Rav Kook's Journals
- From My Inner Chambers
- Thirst for the Living God
- The Pangs of the Soul
- Yearning to Speak a Word
- Singer of the Song of Infinity
- Wellspring of Holiness
- I Take Heed
- To Know Each of Your Secrets
- Great is My Desire
- To Serve God
- To Return to God
- Land of Israel
- My Love is Great
- Listen to Me, My People
- Birth Pangs of Redemption
- New Translations
- Lights of Teshuvah
- About the Translator
- Contact Me
The Pangs of the Soul in Its Exile
One May Not Oppose the Essential Soul
One may not oppose the essential soul when it reveals itself—and it constantly reveals itself.
Even when thick clouds cover its glittering light, it shines with all its strength, carrying the world and mankind to the goal of his full happiness, which transcends any label of “goal.”
The soul speaks without speech, acts without action. With it, only with it, do we rise those levels, an enterprise to which the entire drive of the life of reality, with the depths of its secrets, pushes us.
“Then you will take delight in Hashem.”
That is the thirsty secret, and the slaking mystery.
My faith is drawn from the depths of my soul, and I must deeply appreciate its holiness.
The Truth Of My Character
The truth of my character is revealed in my moments of greatness.
The essence of my person grows prominent only when my soul stands at its full height. My pride is the pride of Hashem. I take pride in the God of the universe, great in counsel and broad in deed, Whose greatness is infinite. The pride of the heavens girds me with greatness.
I have been lowered to the earth, I am impoverished and of a lowly spirit. I bear within myself the pains of the world and all of its abasement, and the abjection of its oppressed paupers, prisoners of poverty, who have abandoned all hope, filled with the venom of bitterness in the depths of their shattered heart. I am a comrade to those bitter of spirit, I suffer with the suffering of their soul.
They are destined to be delivered with an eternal deliverance. The light of Hashem will shine upon them, and in His name will their horn be uplifted.
It Feels That Its Wings Are Broken
How great is the suffering that the soul experiences. It rises upwards and feels that its wings are broken. It cries out within itself from the intensity of its pains—woe, who will save it?
“From the depths have I called out, God. Answer me with the breadth of divinity.”
This Riddle Cannot Be Solved
Great is the hardship of my spirit. What does it seek?
This riddle cannot be solved with intellect and logic, but only by delving into the quest of the soul at the foundation of its being.
The Source of the Pain of My Heart
Is it possible that I shall not find the source of the pain of my heart, which shrivels because of its imprisonment in dark shackles, in chains of boundaries and constrictions?
Is it possible that my help will not come from the holy, after all the sufferings of the soul that have no limit, after a burning desire, a fire that is never extinguished, which ignites all the strands of my soul in its inner being?
And what are these pains of mine? Only a blazing thirst for the light of Hashem, for the light of truth, for the light of the purity of Your might and Your splendor, my Maker and Creator, Master Who brings everything into being, my Father in heaven, compassionate Father, Master of all worlds.
I Find No Satisfaction
My broken and despondent heart, my inclination toward depression comes because I find no satisfaction in anything in the world except for the illumination of the light of God, the appearance of the holiness of the delight of Hashem. And at a time of hiding and concealment, I suffer a great deal, I experience much bitterness, and from the depths I cry out to Hashem.
“To Him has my mouth called, and He has been extolled by my tongue.”
“In suffering you called and I saved you, I answered you in the concealment of the thunder.”
Who Knows the Depth of My Sorrow?
Who knows the depth of my sorrow, who can imagine it? Behold, I am imprisoned in many straits, in various limitations, whereas my spirit aspires for elevated breadths.
My soul thirsts for God. The emanating light is the life of my soul. The faith in God is great without obstacle, whether that of nature, logic, manners, ethics—it is the joy of my life.
Whatever is defined is mundane when compared to the supernal holy, which I seek. I am sick with love.
How difficult learning is for me, how difficult it is to grow reconciled to details. I love the oceans [or: days], the heavenly lines; I yearn for them.
“Unveil my eyes and I will gaze upon wonders of Your Torah.”
My Soul Desires the Breadths
My soul desires the breadths, the breadths, the breadths of God. Do not enclose me in any structure [prison], neither physical nor spiritual.
My soul soars in the breadths of heaven. The walls of the heart cannot contain her, nor the containers of deed, ethics, logic and etiquette. My soul soars beyond all these and flies upward, beyond anything that can be given a label, higher than any pleasure, higher than any pleasantness and loveliness, higher than anything uplifted and rarefied.
“I am sick with love.”
My Soul Cannot Hide Itself
My soul cannot hide itself in any corporeality, not even in the corporealization of Torah and the corporealization of the fear of heaven, as long as they are not refined at their zenith of their refinement and do not rise to the peak of purity of the yearning of the pure soul, with its pure awareness and inner yearning.
Whatever is refined, whatever is elevated, whatever is holy and uplifted, noble and lofty, is all included within this penetrating desire, the terrible thirst of my soul for God, the living God.
Man Does Not Want To Rise
My soul cries out with a great outcry, because I do not allow the power of my thought to spread forth in its fullness and goodness. This is a great cruelty.
That is the trouble of man in general—he does not want to rise, to spread out and upwards, and so he sinks into the mud. This comes because of two causes: because of a superficial, coarse and corporealized reverence, filled with foolishness and fatuous images, and because of the thickness of physicality, which draws down to itself, to lowliness and to the bottom, whatever it takes hold of.
And one must cause the length of thought, the refinement of will, the power of life to overcome everything, in a full manner, in the height of power and splendor.
Let Us Flee from the Abyss
Let us flee. Let us flee from the abyss of corporealization. Corporealization pursues us like a shadow every morning, every day, every hour, every minute.
Let us have morals without waste, faith stripped of corporealization! Let us have light, let us have light, air and life for the soul—let our soul not be strangled.
Behold, I Seek to Free Myself
Behold, I seek to free myself from the constraints upon thought, to free my individual soul and the communal soul immersed within it of all vain anxiety and of all false pride, of all humility that comes from a fearful heart and of all self-imposed oppression, whatever form it may take.
I see the paths to the great emancipation. But if I find them, who will know of it?
I lift my eyes to the heights. Only Hashem has the salvation to aid a person as helpless as I.
Why Has My Mind Ceased to Soar?
What have I grown entangled in? I do not know.
Why has my mind ceased to soar? Who prevents the blossoming of my thought? Who so thoroughly depresses my soul within me?
I shall circle about in the city, in the marketplaces and in the streets. I shall seek that which my spirit hates, that which oppresses my life, that which subjugates my awakened, fresh spirit.
I will kill it. I will shatter it in a moment so as to bring forth from its prison house my pure, proud and robust ability, in order that I may bring life and redemption to the world.
The Fear of Thinking
How many losses has the fear of thinking caused me, when (in place of spaciousness of thought) constant repetition and deed thrust themselves forward, imperfect as they are because of the minimal amount of moisture of the vitality of thought [that they receive].
How much must we crouch beneath the burden of this yoke, this iron hand placed upon thought. Yet how difficult it is to be gain freedom of this tribulation while at the same time not giving up the significant and necessary goodness to be found within repetition and deed, [a goodness] that constantly seeks [to fulfill] its role in the life of the public sector and in the life of the individual.
I Cannot Deny
I cannot deny my desired thought, although [as a result] I suffer without measure from inner insult—so much so that it would be difficult to find another like me. Despite that, my inner core shines with the light of Hashem. It will constantly grow stronger, and all who stand by it give it more might.
“Hashem is my strength and my shield, in Him does my heart trust, and I am aided.”
I Am Filled with Freedom
If I am physically weak, should my soul also suffer?
If my body casts me down a thousand times, should that cast down my spirit?
I am filled with freedom, I aspire to light and liberty! And with my aspiration for enfranchisement I am already liberated. When I stand in my full stature, I am a free man.
Why Should I Cause Suffering to My Soul?
Why should I cause suffering to my soul, which desires freedom?
If she experiences herself as a free agent, why should I place upon her feet the shackles borne by those manacled in distress?
Let her soar in the breadths, let her imagine and arise, in accordance with her aspiration, higher and higher.
If I feel that my sins have imprisoned her in chains, I will immediately bring her the might of repentance, supernal repentance, the repentance of which I speak, so dear to my heart.
And that contemplation of repentance (a thought that is a hidden mystery) immediately illuminates all of her shadows and gives her a mighty deliverance.
If I Have Been Cruel to My Soul
If I have been cruel to my soul because I lacked faith in her greatness, shall I continue on that path?
If all of dark motivations are [rooted in] lack of self-knowledge, can one think that descending yet further down that slope shall bring goodness and spiritual redemption? No!
We must the manacles, break them in one instance, and fulfill our supernal soul’s desire in every way possible.
She shall go upward, elevated, uplifted, she shall fly upwards, soar in the inner chambers, in the great palaces. She shall sing, she shall trumpet joyfully, she shall make melody and rejoice with song. She shall delight in silence. She shall visit the holy palace. She shall constantly proclaim, “Hashem is great.”
Awaken, My Spirit
Awaken, my spirit, awaken to your divine greatness.
Do not be self-effacing. Do not humble yourself before those who are raucously proud, those who cannot understand the path of your spirit, the refinement of your soul in regard to its visionary purity, and in regard to its supernal longing for the refined state of loftiness, the divine eminence, and for straightness, truth, and acclaimed purity.
Know your worth and arise.
My Soul Is Broad
My soul is broad, great and mighty.
I feel my splendor and the glory of my soul within. I am filled with might and freedom. The fearfulness that wraps itself in the garment of fear of heaven cannot lead me astray. I gaze upon the face of the truth, holy grandeur sparks within me.
I must think without constraint. Without no hindrance, I must inscribe paper all the contemplation of my heart.
I do not so much care how these matters will [be expressed], whether in a hidden or a revealed manner. It is all one—in the end, the light will sparkle.
Flash After Lightning Flash
Flash after lightning flash illuminates my soul. Flame after flame sets my soul aflame.
The entire world may see and be astonished, may look and wonder, and awaken as from sleep to turmoil from my light.
A new light will shine on Zion. Those who are [now] distant will come and speak truth. “From Zion, which is entirely beautiful, will God appear.”