- 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
Thirst for the Living god
I Must Recognize The Holy Fire
I must recognize the holy fire that blazes in my heart—my yearning that burns ceaselessly within it for the living God—as a great and mighty ability.
I am obligated to honor that holy illumination, which constantly appears to me and at times gains in strength, all in accordance with the amount of deed and learning and in accordance with the amount of the depth of thought, freedom of mind and health of body—and the joy of the heart that is dependent on all of these.
I Myself Do Not Know Myself
Who can know me, who knows the fervor of my heart, which burns in truth with the fire of a supernal love of God?
“My spirit expires for You; my heart and my flesh sing to the living God.”
Who can realize that I am unable to take interest in any limited matter because of my great yearning for the eternal delight of the infinite expanses—that I am sick with love?
And not only do others not know me, but I myself do not know myself.
How much must I battle against myself, to keep hold of an inner faith in the greatness of my soul? And that greatness has nothing to do with deeds; it is intrinsically great, because of what it is. It is a supernal freedom, and all teachings and mitzvot only serve to make a measure of its worth clear to it.
A Passionate Yearning
My spirit yearns passionately for the supreme light, the infinite light, the light of the God of truth, the God of my life, the living God, the Life-force of all universes.
This passionate yearning consumes my physical and spiritual strength. I have neither the ability nor the proper training to satisfy the totality of this great, passionate yearning.
I am filled with utter self-abnegation before the Monarch of all universes, Who opens His hand and satisfies the desire of every living being.
Satiate my desire. Satiate me in the light of Your manifestation, and fill my thirst for Your light.
“Make Your face shine, and we will be saved.”
This Great Distress
Is this great distress that I am not permitted to pronounce God’s Name as it is written an empty thing? Is it not a holy fire, burning and blazing in my soul, which indicates the depth of the hidden longings within it for the light of the true God, the God of Israel, Who makes the precious light of the truth of His manifestation shine only with the holy Name as it is written?
All the holy Names are general— they express a concept of divinity that anyone with intelligence in his mind and with feeling in his heart can express and yearn: to desire Him and to be connected to His being.
But “who is like Your nation Israel, a unique nation upon the earth”— connected to the truth of divinity, which is revealed only in a miraculous, wondrous fashion, in a way of total truth coming from the supernal holy spirit of the “clear lens”?
The verse, “This is My name forever,” is actually written, “This is My name: to be concealed.”
It is impossible for us to pronounce it within this darkened world as long as the light of Israel has not manifested itself in its holy location, in the House of its life: in the eternal Temple.
A thirst for truth flares up, and the longing for that essential expression to be impressed into this world is great. “I have been silenced, quiet. I have been silent, lacking good, and my pain is stirred up.”
I Am Filled with Love for God
I am filled with love for God. I know that what I seek, what I love, is called by no name. How can that which is greater than everything, greater than goodness, greater than quality, greater than being, be called by any name?
And I love, and I say: I love God.
The light of the Infinite One dwells within the expression of the Name, in the expression of the divine, and in all of the names and cognomens that the heart of a man teaches and expresses when his soul is lifted ever upwards.
I cannot satisfy my soul with the love that comes from chains of logic, from the search for the light of God via the world, via an existence that penetrates into the eyes.
In our soul are born divine lights—from the perspective of our spirit, many gods.
There is one true God—and higher than one, in the depth of His truth.
God is revealed, He rules over us, He conquers all of our spirits, the spirit of all existence.
Wherever there is idea, feeling, thought and will, wherever there is noble, spiritual life, the divine light rules, governs, conquers, scintillates, is magnificent, gives forth splendor and beauty, vivifies, elevates—all of it out of a clarity of the light of being. It rules—and it dies.
That rule is limited as long as it comes from the world, from being.
At times the light waxes. One desires a light that is more refined, more inward, more true, which is in its very essence more energetic.
The light overwhelms the vessel, thought overwhelms being. The structure cannot hold, the inner content is not congruent, the vessels shatter, the kings die, the gods die, their soul rises, soars to the heavens. The bodies descend to the world of separation, existence stands bare, isolated, torn away, scattered.
It contains within itself, hidden and concealed, an eternal desire for the supernal light.
The eternal love has placed within the shattered vessels its light, its sparks.
In every movement, in every content of life, in every quality is being. There is a spark, a spark of a spark, faint, exceedingly faint, the inner light, the light of the supernal God, building and setting a foundation, gathering the scattered, rectifying forever, organizing and joining together.
The eternal sovereignty is revealed from the light of the Infinite One that is within the soul. From God to the world a new light is born: the light of the radiance of the glory of the face of God.
Shall I Cast Away the Source of Love?
Shall I cast away the source of love and the wellspring of endless delights?
Shall I distance myself from that source—higher than all being and all non-being, than all nothingness and than all void—in its great radiance and exaltedness?
I constantly thirst for its light, and it is sweet on the palate. It always slakes my thirst, even as it increases yearning and amplifies thirst, elevating and refining, together with its refined humility within which my soul within me melts.
Mine is my secret, and my secret is my light, and my secret is with me, the treasure of my life.
[You are] august and sublime, living forever. Forever and ever I am filled with strength, with the glory filling Your being eternally—gladness and tranquility and eternal salvation.
And my eye is aware of every oppressed person. “You save an impoverished people”—the glory of repentance and the secret of worship and the hidden wisdom, whose gates are ever opening to pour forth many streams “in the breadths, streams of water.”
My Spirit Thirsts for Hashem
My spirit thirsts for Hashem.
True, at times this thirst is placed in an exile of imagination adulterated with dross.
It cries out for redemption, to be raised to its proper place, to the level of pure mind with clear knowledge, until it will be a power of rectified deed that brings about salvations in the midst of the land.
Why Do You Cry Against Me, My Heart?
Why do you cry against me, my heart?
Behold, I am filled with a thirst for the living God, a fire flames up within me.
“Give me a consuming fire!”—a fire with which I will slake my thirst, deeper than the fathomless depths and higher than the magnificent mountains.
How Will I Convey The Great Truth?
I am thirsty! I thirst for my God like a deer alongside the streams.
Oh, who will give tongue to my hurt, who will be the harp to the songs of my moaning, who will express my bitter voice, the pain of my self-expression, broader than the broadest oceans?
I am thirsty for truth. Not to attain truth--I already ride its heavens! I am entirely immersed in the truth! Rather, my entire being is filled with anguish that comes from the painful effort to express myself. How will I convey the great truth that fills my entire heart? How will I reveal to everyone, to the worlds, to created beings, to the fullness of everything, to nations and individuals, the flashes filled with treasures of light and heat that are contained within my soul? I see them, flames rising and leaping up to the highest heavens. And how will I make others aware of it? How will I describe their power?
I am not a divine warrior, one of those mighty men who find the entirety of universes within themselves and to whom it is of no consequence whether or not anyone knows of their abundance. Their attitude is: “Those flocks of sheep that walk on two legs—what good will it do them if they know about the stature of a man, and what harm will it do them if they do not?”
But I am connected to the world and to life. People are my fellow-beings. Many parts of my soul are intertwined with them. And so how can I illuminate them with my light? Whatever I say merely covers my radiance and dims my light.
My suffering is great and my pain is great. Oh, my God, help me in my hurt, create means of expression for me; give me lips and speech of the lips.
Amongst the masses, I will tell my truths—Your truth, God!