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The Judaism of Tomorrow
My Rav Kook
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#20 Radiant Rebeginnings in the Study of the Mysteries
8Collections 2:17; Patches of Clarity 8

This is the nature of exalted matters:

that even though we delve deeply into their profundities,

and [even] derive many new insights

into their fundamental principles and their consequential corollaries,

nonetheless, [no matter how advanced we become,]

many a time we need to start all over again,

from the most basic, most uncomplicated, introductory ideas.

And a person should not be alarmed by this at all, rather the contrary,

for in this [rebeginning] there shines heavenly light:

‘the One Who in His goodness constantly renews the acts of Creation every day,’1

and all worlds, every one, become originally new,

ex nihilo – being from non-being –

at the word of God, Almighty Lord of Eternity.2

And the more that the greatness of [a person’s] soul becomes apparent to him,

the more grounded all his study subjects are

in the principle of radiant [re-]beginning;

and this illumination of [his] soul,

which is from a sublime, exalted place fit for prophetic seeing3,

is what validates and makes visible4 all [his] spiritual structures.

And this is why, when this illumination disappears [from the person's soul],

it seems to him as if all [his] spiritual structures have vanished and ceased to exist,

and he is left feeling depleted and drained, devoid of spiritual power.

But he must know that in a little while the sky will become clear,

and all the structures he built with the spirit of the higher wisdom will be revealed and visible

in their bold reality and their reborn light.5

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Footnotes

  1. From the first blessing preceding the Shema‘. Back to text
  2. ’Elohei ‘Olam, Is. 40:28. Back to text
  3. Mut’am lehistaklut shel ruach haKodesh. Here is the root tav-’a-m again, whose core meaning is twin. Back to text
  4. Notenet havlata, literally, ‘gives emphasis to, gives 3-dimensionality to,’ from the root b-l-tet, ‘to protrude, to project, be conspicuous.’ Soul-light becomes a kind of italics of consciousness drawing our attention to what is true, and allowing us to see the old in a new, expanded way. Back to text
  5. Vehadar zivam, literally, ‘their majestic, glorious light,’ where hadar means ‘adornment, splendor, majesty, glory.’ But Rav Kook may be playing on a second meaning of hadar, which Hebrew adopted from the Aramaic, where hadar means ‘to return, to repeat,’ related to the Hebrew chazar. In Modern Hebrew, mahadura means a new edition of a previously published work, i.e., the old and new: the same and not the same at the same time. This yes-and-no, comes-and-goes nature of spiritual and creative process is often referred to by Rav Kook, along with advice on how not to let it make you misunderstand where you are on the journey. See, for example, Glimmering #90, “Cycles in the Process of Creation/Self Creation.” Back to text
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