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Rav Kook's Journals
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To Know Each of Your Secrets
It is Not for Nothing
It is not for nothing that the God of all spirits has planted within me the constant desire for everything concealed, for everything eminent and exalted, and not for nothing did He bring me to the land of Israel, and not for nothing did He fashion within me a stalwart spirit and an inner purity.
Even though I am surrounded by numberless weaknesses and impediments, a great many, more than all the masses and all unexceptional people committed to the Torah, and perhaps even more than all elevated personalities with refined spirits who sense the whispers of the soul.
All of these have been planted within me so that I will use them to illuminate the world, to fashion a literature filled with the light of the secrets of Torah, popular and accessible to all, filled with poetry and might, supplied with proper acumen and reliable analysis, to raise the horn of the nation of God and for the sake of the redemption of the world that has begun to shine in the land of Israel.
Delight and Comfort
It is not circumstance but the essence of the nature of my soul that I feel delight and comfort of the spirit when I am involved in divine hidden matters, with breadth and freedom. That is the essence of my goal. All of the purposes of other abilities, relating to activity and to intellect, are no more than secondary to my essential being.
I must find my happiness deep within me, not in the agreement of other people and not in any career, whatever it may be. The more I recognize myself, and the more I allow myself to be original and to stand on my own feet with an inner awareness composed of knowledge, awareness, feeling and song, the more will the light of Hashem illumine me, and the more will my powers be developed to be a blessing for me and for the world.
I Must Make An Accounting With My Spirit
I must make an accounting with my spirit: why do I specifically desire spiritual matters and godly concepts?
If I would find within myself that this is due to arrogance or due to a desire to escape the responsibilities of this-worldly engagements, I would need to restrain myself and crush my exalted yearning.
But when it grows clear to me—from the past to this moment—that my spiritual yearning is a true yearning, and that if I fail to fulfill it I do not gain anything in any other matters, I am bound to guard this task that the God of spirits has apportioned to me and soar (in thought and feeling) in the chambers of the spirit and supernal conceptions of holiness, as far as I am able.
And although I grow very weary and dismayed when I sense the weight of my sins, and at times as well the impossibility of rising from the depths and the chasms of errors, which surround me like water the entire day, I can only hope for the mercy of heaven.
“Hashem is God, and He has illumined me; and my God enlightens my darkness.”
I Yearn For Mystical Secrets
And as for the fact that I yearn for mystical secrets—does that have in it anything of hypocrisy of falsehood?
Rather, a fire burns within me in longing for the hidden. And if I had not limited the natural tendency of my spirit to turn to different paths, then I would truly rise, and my visionary power would grow stronger and rise for the good of all who yearn for feeling and thought in the world.
Do Not Be False To Your Spirit
A person should not be false to his spirit. He should not deny his inner feelings because of the stormy pressure of societal assumptions.
If he feels the elevation and holiness of idea in a particular field, he should be sure to satiate himself constantly with the richness of supernal pleasures from that place that his heart desires.
And I—who am so filled with the consolations of God when I learn the secrets of the Torah—even when I feel myself exceedingly bare, my hands will not weaken. I must strengthen myself, even though it is impossible not to give this-worldly concerns the attention that they require, both in regard to the aspect of this-worldly well-being and in regard to the aspect of the basic obligation to study the Torah and attain its knowledge in all fields.
When I Sit In Darkness, Hashem Is My Light
Being by nature a person of aggadah and of mysticism, I have no need to look with envy upon the portions of halachah and the revealed Torah.
Nevertheless, I am also summoned and obligated learn those areas of the Torah, for it is not without cause that Hashem graced me with ability to study them as well.
But I must know my measure, so that I will grow depressed regarding the slightness of my portion in revealed matters (even though in aggadah and in the hidden I am [also] very poor and impoverished).
I must remain firm, because the cause of this imperfection of mine is that a multiplicity of areas constantly draws me in every direction, so it is my nature to taste a little of each matter. So if I am weak in the revealed Torah and halachot, that is caused by my inner attraction to aggadah and the hidden.
This phenomenon of my capacity is particularly apparent at a time of settled but unrehearsed speech with people who are qualified for such discussion, as well as at every moment that my spirit is awakened. Then I find within myself a hidden treasure, which must be my consolation even in a time of concealment and great darkness.
“When I sit in darkness, Hashem is my light.”
Yearning For The Secrets Of Torah
I will not, for the sake of an assumed honor, abandon my yearning for the secrets of Torah.
The knowledge of Hashem, the God of truth, constantly raises me, even when I am in the house of my sojourning, in the land of my wandering, in exile and in lowliness—which is the greatest atonement, which grants atonement for everything, and which is therefore very bitter, depressing the spirit.
Even though the coarseness of the lowly physical does not allow a person to feel properly, nevertheless there is a sense of an inner smallness, lowliness and the abandoning of a haughty spirit, the donning of humility and purity, and the desire for repentance.
I will place my refuge in Hashem God. And the yearning for our return to our holy land, to dwell in the courtyards of Hashem, to gaze upon His pleasantness, lift me up and give me life.
And Hashem will give me a tongue of learning. He will lift up my spirit and purify my mind and heart and all of my plans, and reveal to me the light of the inner being of my soul.
And from the holy land He will send His help, and a ray of light will shine for me from the heights, the very highest mountain, from the holy and from Zion, the house of our desires selah.
And I must strengthen myself in my Mighty One. “My spirit has desired in the shadow of Your hand to know all the mystery of Your secret.”
If I am very lowly, if my will is weak, if I have been taken captive in the hands of lusts and weaknesses, behold, Hashem helps me, Hashem is among those who support my spirit.
I will not fear and I will not be afraid. I will not be abashed and I will not be shamed. The Torah of truth will lift me up. I will exalt the name of Hashem in song. In the midst of the masses I will praise Him.
Summoned To Study Matters Of The Spirit
What do I feel when I am summoned to study matters of the spirit? A sickness of the heart and discomfort. Why is this so? Because as that spiritual demand grows stronger within me, my spirit grows especially aware of its moral poverty, and of its spiritual [poverty] in general.
But the spiritual weakness born of this phenomenon is an absolute imperfection, it is a stain upon the soul. One must battle against it with a stalwart heart. The spiritual gaze must be rich, constant and broad, powerful and straightforward.
The weakness and inner pain caused within the spirit by the conflagration of the fear of heaven is in itself an imperfection and sickness. One must acquire clear concepts in this area of holiness, until this uncultured aversion will decrease and be replaced with strength and a broad consciousness.
I Feel Ashamed
I feel ashamed to involve myself in the secrets of Torah, because of the lowliness that I feel in my spirit.
This itself must serve as a key to return and grasp the great light of the Life of the world, Who encourages the lowly and enlivens those whose hearts are broken.
One May Not Withhold The Mystical Imagination
One may not withhold the mystical imagination, which is the secret of creation.
Mystical thought causes new souls to sprout, redeemed souls, souls that redeem, messianic souls.
Within [this] secret of secrets, the hiddden and the revealed unite. From the concealed source, the revealed and exposed are blessed; all of the cultures of society are blessed from the source of straightness hidden within the depths of the secrets.
And I—behold, I yearn for the blossoming from Hashem, for the light of salvation to appear. I will not turn back upon my path, even though many are my enemies, those who rise against me.
But more than all my enemies, I myself rise against myself. My smallness rises up against my greatness. The degradation of my spirit berates its glory.
But my glory will not bow its head in fear of the shadows of smallness. Although [those shadows] may stretch themselves out a great deal, they are only shadows. And where the sun shines its light, they will flee.
Why Should I Be Confounded?
Why should I be confounded by mysterious parables, which cast such fear and fright?
Without them, is our world any brighter? To the contrary, in all of revealed reality, only a deathly darkness reigns!
Mystery calls out to life, reaching out to it with lights that come through the darkness of its parables, whose spiritual pains arouse us to a vigorous spiritual lifeBa life of strength, a life of liberation.
Flee, all fears! My heart is more powerful than the rockBeven though it is tender and absorbent, sensitive to every pure emotion and yearning with all its might for every elevated feeling filled with freedom.
A Taste of Spiritual Bitterness
Even if I feel a taste of spiritual bitterness when I study the secrets of the Torah, my heart will not fear.
I will increase my constancy and clinging in thought, until the bitter waters become sweet, as sweet as honey in my mouth.
May my heart not fall even if my thoughts are considered fantastical. Even then, when such imagination turns to holiness and morals, it is useful and necessary. And who knows the real truth amongst human beings—whose thoughts are vanity?
Each one of us can only develop the ability of his spirit in the way of light, truth and goodness—every individual in accordance with the root of the tendency of his soul.
And since I feel my inner tendency in the content of my thoughts, which pour and well forth within me at every moment—and in particular at a time of speaking with and influencing others—behold, that is my portion and inheritance.
Although I must strengthen myself in the other parts of the Torah, and in particular in practical halachah, it is impossible and unnecessary to go against the nature of my spirit.
If I express myself in extravagant terms, if I speak exaggerations, do these really contain falsehood? I am revealing the thought of my soul, I am uncovering the lights of my spirit!
And the revelations of lights and the uncovering of the soul constitute a creation of great worth. I stand upon the peak of “the remnant of Israel shall not do injustice, and will not speak falsehood, and a deceitful tongue will not be found in their mouths.”
Do I Need To Learn Torah?
This is the question: Do I need to learn Torah? Or doesn’t that learning disturb the meditation of my heart, the whispers of my soul, which are waves constantly emerging from the storm? Aren’t these waves that emerge from the spiritual depths the essence of perfect Torah as it comes from the highest unique aspect of the soul?
If learning Torah disturbs this, then that learning is the very essence of setting aside Torah study!
Who will solve this eternal riddle? Who can determine the boundary of the spirit? Who can tell it that it only reaches a specific point? Who can measure precisely, saying that the boundary of Torah and Torah insights stops here, and from here and onwards only secular thoughts appear—thoughts that I can label as positively as I want, calling them songs, poetry, rhetoric, visions, ideas, and meditations—but not words of Torah?
Indeed, how difficult is the spiritual life and how complex are its mighty pathways! Who can set down rules here? Who can delineate lines where the very foundations are hidden and grow ever more unclear to the eye?
Here we need the Holy One Himself to help by revealing Himself. “He hides counsel for the righteous, a shield for those who walk in simplicity.”
Depression And Joy
There is a depression that comes from spiritual wealth, and there is a joy that comes from a poverty of mind.
How can that be?
Spiritual phenomena overwhelm me. Visions of visions come before my spiritual eyes. I gaze into books, into the holiest and most elevated books, and their wellsprings are alive and pour forth. They cause many wellsprings to flow with their primal power into my inner spirit.
And with each vision an inner commotion is born.
I ask myself: Where does all this come from? The beginning of the vision and its certainty—where is that drawn from?
And with this self-questioning, my soul suffers in its sadness as it contemplates this joy of its wealth.
But this sadness is good, for it refines the spirit, sharpens the mind and moistens the richness of spiritual life. And knowledge that comes from the source, and from the source of the source, as well as a very precious ability to heed—both of which are great and broad—are born.
And they come with a certainty that is assured, and they raise the soul to a supernal place.
But in that supernal place the question returns anew regarding these new instances of certainty, which comprise a most supernal wealth. It at first makes its appearance with the diadem of its splendor, with the brilliance of its joy, but it is afterwards followed by the question: whose son is this youth? Is he fit to join the congregation?
And that inquiring thought is reawakened, it seeks paths—it seeks [them] and it finds them. So then there comes a new certainty that finds very deep roots in the soul, that comes to the power of deed.
A strong impulse to influence the world and to unify a broad circle of life comes and presents itself, until there is new ascent, as a result of which everything [before] is forgotten.
All of the previous wealth fades away, and images of a higher world come, a pure atmosphere, pure and fresh. Luminous bodies shine in a form that had never before been imagined. And there is no memory of the past; there is only the present and the future, heartwarming and pleasant. Creativity multiplies and certainty rises to its peak.
But [then] an inquiring spirit comes and inserts a new sadness. [But that is] in order to give birth to a supernal joy and the revelation of a rectified world.
“That which was not told to them they saw, and regarding that which they had not heard, they looked.”
Many Indeed Are The Obstacles
When I am not engaged in Torah, it is not out of carelessness but out of inner yearnings for the goodness of Hashem in the secrets of the Torah, for a supernal connection. “My soul has desired in the shadow of Your hand to know every mystery of your secret.”
Many indeed are the obstacles that keep me from actualizing the depth of holiness in my soul, but I will not allow that to step off my path. It shall be called the path of holiness, and the supernal Torah is the source of my delights, and that will bring me the blessing of the Torah, and depth of piety, and the humility of the just, the light of strength and elevation.
And my heart will be opened to succeed in the truth of the light of Hashem, and pray on behalf of every individual who groans and is oppressed, for every individual who needs compassion, for the entire world, for the generation, for the rejected souls, for every sorrow and lack, and my eyes will be illumined to feel the suffering of the world, the suffering of God’s Presence, with a good consciousness, with an understanding of Hashem.
And I will rejoice in Hashem, I will be happy in the God of Israel, the God of my salvation, the God who girds me with might and makes my feet like [those of a] deer, to “conquer with my songs.”
And as to the fact that my thoughts are oppressed, that the desires and longings come to me out of sequence, higher than my level, there is no reason to fear that, for that is the complexion of the generation, and of myself in particular—for I must unite everything: all feelings, all knowledge, fields of study, images, speeches, facts, poems and rhetoric, stories and halachot, aggadot and parables. And my mind must turn to the nation and to each individual, and gaze upon supernal sights, and know the lowest depths in order to raise pearls from there, sapphire and emeralds.
Despite all my poverty and impoverishment, I must know that the stance of my soul is a wonder, and all the various factors in my state of being.
And for all of them I will thank Hashem and rejoice in the gift of my portion, and I will strengthen and invigorate myself to serve Him, for the sake of His name with love, with a great mindfulness, and with a tendency for ultimate truth, for the sake of a love of the holy, the elevated, the good and the straight, to bring from the potential into actuality precious qualities, to turn the masses away from sin, to increase the light of supernal lovingkindness on His nation and upon all of His creations.