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The Judaism of Tomorrow
My Rav Kook
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#10 Division and Univision
8Collections 2:97; Glimmerings of Penitence 12:5; Patches of Clarity 3

When a person sins, he is in the world of division1,

and because this is so, each particular detail stands out distinctly,

and evil is evil unto itself, possessing [only] wicked and destructive value.

And when he repents out of love2,

the light of the existence of the world of unity immediately dawns over him:

that everything organizes into one unified design;

and when all the pieces are connected there is no evil at all,

for the evil fuses with the good to enhance its flavor3,

and to raise its precious value even further.

And this is how his willful sins actually become meritorious deeds.4

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Footnotes

  1. ‘Olma dePeruda (Aramaic). The Hebrew root p-r-d has the core meaning of ‘breaking apart, separation.’ The Biblical noun pered means ‘a wild ass’ (separate from the herd). In Mishnaic Hebrew, pered means ‘a part,’ especially (as a collective noun) ‘split and dried pomegranates.’ In Aramaic the collective perida means ‘pebbles, coarse sand.’ ‘Olma dePeruda is a world of scattered pieces, disconnected chunks, randomness. Back to text
  2. Repentance out of love is another name for what Rav Kook calls Teshuva ‘Elyona, the highest repentance. See Chapter VI, “Teshuva ‘Elyona: The Mysteries Within You.” Back to text
  3. Letavlo, literally, ‘to spice it, to season it.’ Spices preserve as well as flavor. Back to text
  4. Rav Kook adds the word mamash to the Talmudic statement of Resh Lakish (Yoma 86b): “zedonot na‘asot lo kezechuyot.” Resh Lakish’s own personal history (this great sage started life as a highway robber) gave him authority to testify to the huge transformative power of Teshuva out of love: that through this process of returning to God by becoming our authentic self, willful sinful acts in our past turn out to be good actions in our life story. Rav Kook adds mamash – ‘actually, concretely, palpably, truly, really’ – to make sure the reader understands this is a spiritual fact, not just a metaphor or a nice idea. Back to text
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