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My Rav Kook
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#24 Personal Work: Negating Alien Influence on Your Soul
8Collections 2:174; Glimmerings of Holiness 1:95; Patches of Clarity 6

[Regarding] anything that enters soul A, having been expressed by soul B:

even though this [transfer] benefits the receiving soul in some way,

for after all, she acquires some knowledge, or sometimes a good and useful feeling,

it simultaneously also damages her, in that it mixes an alien element into her own substance.1

And the world can only achieve wholeness through a stance that negates alien influence:2

“[For at that time to come],

no longer shall a man teach his fellow or a man teach his brother, saying ‘Know God,’

for all of them will know Me, from the smallest of them to the greatest.“3

With regard to each individual person, the process that negates alien influences

despite the fact that we [on the outside of the story] see it in its destructive form,

is the demolition that leads to a longer-lasting and more perfected structure [in the person’s life],

and this [structure] is that person’s unique gateway into the life of the World to Come;

for the Holy One, Blessed be He, makes an Eden unto itself for each and every person:

‘Your Eden’ is not written; rather, ‘Your Edens.’4

Common consciousness amongst the [Jewish] People to be on guard against alien influences

is the foundation of [Israel's] rebirth;

and this [consciousness first] penetrates in the form of a personal shakeup5

that results in damages6,

which make revolutions and build new worlds

[that are] long-lived and light-filled.

עברית +/-


  1. Yesod zar beMahuto. See Glimmering #11, “Quintessential Sin – The Denial of Your True Self,” where Rav Kook defines Adam’s sin as listening to the opinion of another rather than listening to his own inner voice, and equates this with idolatry. In that piece, zar is also a key word for ‘alien, not-of-the-self, inauthentic,’ along with neichar (‘foreign, alien’) and mamzer (‘bastardized’). Back to text
  2. Shelilat haHashpa‘ot haZarot. Sh-l-l means ‘to remove, refuse, negate, deny,’ a sense enlargement of the original meaning of the root, which was ‘to plunder, to take spoils,’ i.e., to appropriate the power and wealth of [a conquered enemy], to nullify their ownership. I have used ‘negate’ to translate this key root in this Glimmering, but Rav Kook is also alluding to the earlier, ‘plunder’ meaning. There is a whiff of violence in the process, as we yank out fears, thought patterns and self assessments that really weren’t ours, but have had tremendous influence in our lives. And the process yields ‘plunder,’ too. The sifting process of removing alien influences from our soul also leaves us with a wealth of knowledge and feeling that we took in from others, but which has been processed to now become ours in a truer, realer, cleaner way. Back to text
  3. Jer. 31:33. The full context of this world-become-whole, in which each individual person knows God personally, through his own unique self, with no need for intermediaries or teachers, is (Jer. 31:30-33) “Behold days are coming, says God, when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah. Not like the covenant I contracted with their forefathers on the day I held their hand to take them out of the Land of Egypt, which covenant they broke, although I kept My part as Master, says God. For this is the covenant I shall make with the House of Israel after those days [of return to the Land of Israel after millennia of exile], says God: I will put My Torah in their inward parts and I shall write it upon their hearts, and I shall be God to them and they will be My People. No longer shall man teach his neighbor nor man teach his brother saying ‘Know God,’ for all of them will know Me, from the smallest amongst them to the greatest, says God, for I shall forgive their wrongdoing and I will remember their sin no more.” “All of them will know Me”: this is the ‘Biblical know,’ i.e., to become fully and intimately familiar with God. Back to text
  4. VeNachal ‘adanecha [tashkem], in Ps. 36:9: “...You give [human beings] to drink from the river of Your Edens.” Back to text
  5. BeTor tesisa peratit. Tesisa comes from the probably onomatopoetic root tav-samech-samech which refers to fermentation, agitation, effervescence, fizz, excitement. Back to text
  6. Harisot, a hapax legomenon in Amos 9:11: “On that day I shall raise up the fallen tabernacle of David and repair its breaches and I will raise up his ruins (harisotav) and I will build it as in olden times.” Harisot clearly means human ruins, injury and damage to human relationships, as it relates to David (his), not to his tabernacle (it). The editors of Glimmerings of Holiness and Patches of Clarity altered Rav Kook’s Hebrew text to the singular, changing the simple meaning that it is the ruin of some intimate human relationships (plural) that result in revolutionary turnarounds and new worlds (not the singular ‘personal breakdown’). It is when we break our early pattern of relationships and change them into something wholer, something better and truer to ourselves, that there are some people in the past – some of whom were so crucial – who will disappear from our lives, people who cannot let go of the pattern of relationship that was fine for them but destructive for us. This yields space for revolution, for letting go of old givens, old dogma, old ways of seeing, for turning around to a new existence and building a new, light-filled, long-lasting and productive life. Back to text
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