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The Judaism of Tomorrow
My Rav Kook
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#17 The Revelation of the United World in the Land of Israel
8Collections 7:62; Glimmerings of Holiness 2:423

When the display of the divided world overpowers the higher revelation of a united world,

materialism overpowers spirituality,

and then bodily cravings take first priority in the project of life,

and the darkness of the world is great.

And when the vision of a unified world prevails,

spiritual desires,

and all refined aspirations,

become more powerful,

and the world becomes more and more radiant.

It is the air of the Land of Israel that imparts wisdom1,

that provides illumination in the soul to understand the source of the united world.

In the Land of Israel, we suckle on the light of Israelite Wisdom,

on the essence of the spiritual life which is specific to Israel,

on the Israelite worldview and lifeview, whose core principle is:

the united world overpowering the divided world.

And this is the source of [the commandment] to thoroughly obliterate idolatry2,

along with all its aspirations and its manifold manifestations3.

In the impure Land of the Nations, the outlook of the united world cannot be discovered,

and the divided world is in powerful control [there],

and its worldview – individualistic and fractious, split off and alienated –

is what dominates all systems of life;

and despite all determined effort to breathe an Israelite breath [there]

and to contemplate the secret of the unified world,

the air of the Land of the Nations blocks it.

For this reason, the unclean land outside the Land of Israel is full of the stench of idolatry,

and Jews outside the Land [of Israel] are – in innocence – practicing idol worship.4

And there is no way to escape the disgrace of idolatry

except through the ingathering of the People of Israel into the Land of Israel:

‘I have given you the Land of Canaan in order to be your God.’5

The Land of Darkness is especially adapted for analytic debate6,

which comes from making divisive distinctions7;

but the Wisdom of the Light8 is only found in the Land of the Light:

there is no Torah like the Torah of the Land of Israel.9

עברית +/-


  1. Paraphrasing Bava Batra 158b with added emphasis. Back to text
  2. Totally wiping out all forms of idolatry in the Land of Israel is a central task of the Israelites “when God your Lord brings you to the land… you shall shatter [other gods’] altars and break their monuments and cut down their trees of worship and incinerate their carved idols in fire. For you are a holy people to God your Lord; God your Lord has chosen you out of all the nations on the face of the earth to be a special people for Him” (Deut. 7:1-6 inter al.). Back to text
  3. For example, see Glimmering #11, “Quintessential Sin – The Denial of Your True Self,” where Rav Kook says that becoming alienated from your true self and your own inner voice and letting your life be guided from outside yourself is the equivalent of idolatry. See, also, Glimmering #24, “Personal Work: Negating Alien Influence on Your Soul.” Back to text
  4. Ketubot 110b; Rav Kook adds “in innocence.” Back to text
  5. Lev. 25:38 Back to text
  6. Lepilpul haPeratim, literally, ‘the debating of particulars, of details, of distinctions’ as exemplified by the Babylonian Talmud, as well as by science and logic. Back to text
  7. E.g., this case/entity is not that case/entity; this has no logical/biological/causal/halachic relationship to that; this needs its own name and definition to distinguish it from that and to highlight its difference. Back to text
  8. Another name for the mysteries of Torah: the secrets of the universe. Back to text
  9. Bereishit Rabba 16:4, s.v. ’Amar Rabbi Tanhum; Vayikra Rabba 13:5, s.v. ’Amar R. Shmuel. Could also be read here as: there is no teaching equal to the teaching the Land of Israel itself gives a person; i.e., no Torah can teach you what living here can. I attest to the extraordinary truth of this. The Land itself works magic on a person, reveals him to himself, wholifies him. An inner oneness happens that translates into outer acts of oneness. Come live here, you’ll see. Back to text
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