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From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook
“Anyone who follows the progress of the Jewish population in Eretz Yisrael will see clearly how from every step backward comes an even greater development for the good, and out of every crisis comes a step forward…”
(Ma’amarei HaRe’iyah)

Rabbi Dov Begon – Rosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir

Message for Today:
The Footsteps of Mashiach
“In the footsteps of the Messiah, arrogance will increase… There will be no rebuke… Border dwellers will wander from city to city and be treated with disfavor. The wisdom of scribes will be deplored. Those who fear sin will be loathed, and the truth will disappear. Youths will insult their elders; the old will rise for the young; sons will denigrate their fathers; daughters will attack their mothers and mother-in-law. A man’s household will be his enemies. The face of the generation will be like the face of a dog. A son will have no shame before his father, and we will have no one to rely on but our Father in Heaven.” (Sotah 49b).
Rashi explains that the “footsteps of the Messiah” is the time at the end of the exile, before the Messiah’s arrival, i.e., our own generation, when we are already leaving the exile but still looking forward to the Messiah’s arrival. Indeed we see precisely how our sages’ words are being fulfilled in our generation, especially at this time when certain political parties are presenting a platform opposed to everything holy to the Jewish People down through the generations – our religion and tradition, and the unity of the Land and People of Israel. Yet we know full well that these crises will pass and will turn out for the best, as Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook wrote:
“We have a tradition that there will be spiritual rebellion in the Land of Israel and amongst the People of Israel at the beginning of our nation’s rebirth. The material welfare that part of the nation will enjoy, making them think that they have reached their entire destination, will diminish their spirituality. Days will come when people say they have no spiritual desire. The longing for lofty, holy ideals will cease, causing the spirit to sink and to descend. Our people’s need for this descent, and an aggressive proclivity towards materialism on a nation-wide scale, will come about as a reaction to the exile in which we had no state and we could not, as a nation, engage in the material.
“Yet the day is not far off when a stormy revolution will occur, and then it will be clearly evident that the strength of Israel lies in its eternal holiness, in the light of G-d and His Torah, and in the longing for that spiritual light which guides all worlds and all forces.” (Orot 84).
We indeed are seeing how wallowing in materialism causes both a moral and a spiritual crisis.
Today, a new generation has arisen of people who learn Torah and cling to it, who sacrifice their lives for the Jewish People and Eretz Yisrael, in the manner and spirit of Rabbi Kook. Theirs is the path of love of Torah, of one’s fellow man, of the Jewish People and of Eretz Yisrael. This population is the light at the end of the tunnel. It is a level that ultimately the whole Jewish People shall reach. The call of the hour is to strengthen that population.
With G-d’s help we will be successful in bringing light to our people.
Looking forward to complete salvation,
Shabbat Shalom

Thousands of hours of free Torah videos! –

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner– Chief Rabbi of Bet El
Time to get Back to “Orot”

Rabbi Yehuda Loew teaches in Netzach Yisrael, Chapter 11, that the Jewish People’s goal is not just to elevate the individual to holiness but to elevate both the individual and the Jewish People as a whole.
Elevating the nation to holiness means fulfilling G-d’s promise to make us a “great nation” (Genesis 12:2) and a “nation of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6).
This was our mission during the First Temple Period. At the end of that period, however, in the days of the Prophet Jeremiah and King Josiah, when the signs of the impending Destruction already loomed from afar, our greatest Torah luminaries were undergoing preparation to deal with elevating the holiness of individuals (Introduction to the Netziv’s “Kidmat Emek”, his commentary on She’eltot Rav Achai Gaon). That new focus continued on through the Second Temple Period. (see “LeMahalach Ha-Ide’ot BeYisrael” by our master Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook).
Presently, thank G-d, we are returning to our land. An enormous Zionist movement has arisen, replete with both light and darkness, which is restoring us to safe harbor (Orot, page 38). Yet how can we increase that light and overcome that darkness? Regarding belief and behavior of the individual, we are fortunate to have Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto’s great work, Mesillat Yesharim for guidance. Yet where shall we find a “Mesillat Yesharim” to guide in matters affecting the Jewish People? The answer is that the guide we are looking for is accessible in the Zohar, and the same ideas were later recorded in the writings of Rabbi Isaac Luria, the Arizal.So, is that the solution, for us to learn mysticism? Certainly not! As the Mishnah states in Chagigah, Chapter 2, the Torah’s mystical secrets are intended only for the spiritual elite, and the same point has come down as law in Shulchan Aruch, Hilchot Talmud Torah, that not everyone should learn mysticism, but only select individuals.
The masses, at best, do not understand anything of mysticism, and at worst, misunderstand it, which results in enormous damage.
All the same, mystical writings are fascinating – like drugs. We’ve got to be serious, however, not like a child who wants everything to be sweet, and to know that in our world we don’t deal with any problem without appropriate preparation.
The preparation for studying mysticism is in-depth study of the non-mystical portion of the Torah, including in-depth study of tracts devoted to faith and sterling character.
So where shall the Jewish masses find the inner light? Not in cheap mysticism combined with charisma, be it Ashkenazic or Sephardic, but in in-depth study of works of faith, hidden in which are secrets of the Torah, but translated to conventional language.
At this point we can go back to our original discussion: Where is the “Mesillat Yesharim” of the Jewish masses? It’s Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook’s book, “Orot”, which our master, Rav Zvi Yehuda Kook, son of the author, called “holy of holies” in his introduction to “Orot”. He called it that because the book deals with the holiness of the nation that is rising to rebirth in our land. Whoever examines the sources mentioned at the end of the book will see that it is all taken from the Zohar and the Arizal. Rav Kook, himself, in fact said that there is not one sentence in it that does not have a source in the words of the Arizal (“LiShlosha BeElul”). It is only that he translated those secrets to normal language. True, the book is poetic, but with effort one can understand it.
Yet the truth is that in the time of Rav Kook himself, very few people understood this book. Gradually, however, that light permeated the Jewish People, and today there are tens of thousands of people who study it. And just as regarding the character and behavior of individuals, one can immediately see an enormous difference between those who study Mesillat Yesharim and those who do not, so too with matters of the Jewish People, we can see an enormous difference between those for whom “Orot” is a major part of their life and those who do not learn it regularly, in depth. The latter will be very confused by the complex issues generated by Israel’s rebirth in their land, especially as regards our G-d-given Jewish State and army.
Thank G-d, however, the lessons of “Orot” are penetrating the entire Jewish People by osmosis, reaching both the Chareidim and the secular, without their being aware of it. Such is the way of great ideas which are slowly absorbed by the masses. Thus, the secular, in a long, involved process, are presently making peace with the Torah, and the Chareidim, as well, are being “Israelified” in the direction of the Jewish State and the army. Obviously, these are slow, gradual processes, as are all processes, but they are very large-scale processes all the same. We must arm ourselves with great patience, but the fact is that both groups are starting to realize how good is the approach of “Orot”.
Thus, our present task is to disseminate “Orot” all the more throughout the nation, both amongst the Torah scholars and the masses, and first of all, we must study it in depth ourselves. Then we will be the living fulfillment of, “G-d saw the light, that it was good” (Genesis 1:4).

Rabbi Elisha Aviner

Numerous youths tend to allow their emotions to burst outwards, without restraining or filtering them. They give their emotions and sentiments external, public expression. For example, young people do not hesitate to dance at weddings in a manner that expresses their feelings, without taking those around them into account. When they get together with friends, they express their joy without restraint, and the same holds with prayer (as when they clap!) and with all service to G-d. They do not keep their emotions inside. They don’t know what self-restraint is. Rather, they let their emotions burst forth naturally as they are. In a word, they tend towards spontaneity.
Every character trait has associated traits that are similar. Spontaneity is enthusiasm’s bedfellow, and that is what is good about it. It is also associated with naturalness and authenticity, and that is praiseworthy as well. Yet it has other bedfellows that are less praiseworthy such as poor judgment and lack of moderation. The Talmud relates to the relationship between enthusiasm and spontaneity on the one hand, and good judgment on the other, in Berachot 20a. The Talmud relates that in the early generations the Jews’ prayers were answered almost immediately and they merited numerous miracles, even though they did not know the entire Mishnah. By contrast, later generations that knew the entire Mishnah would pray and fast without meriting any response from G-d.
Our sages explain that the advantage of the earlier generations was in their self-sacrifice for G-d’s holiness. As an example, they bring the story of Rabbi Ada bar Ahava. Rav Ada saw a woman in the marketplace who was dressed immodestly. She was not Jewish, but Rav Ada thought she was. He therefore confronted her and tore her clothing. After it became clear that she was not Jewish, he was required in court to compensate her with four hundred zuz. Rav Ada asked her what her name was, and she responded, “Matun” [a word which means both “moderation” and “two hundred”]. Rav Ada then said, “Matun! Matun! Four hudred zuz!” Rabbi Kook (Ein Aya) explains that the Talmud’s main point was to emphasize the relationship between self-sacrifice, enthusiasm and spontaneity on the one hand, and moderation and caution on the other.
The later generations stood out in their wisdom and moderation, their self-restraint and their cautious judgment, traits essential for acquiring Torah. Indeed, they became great scholars of the Torah. By contrast, the earlier generations did not reach such a high level of Torah knowledge, but they had holy fervor, self-sacrifice for holiness. As a result, their prayers raced skyward and were answered. True, enthusiasm and spontaneity are liable to cause mishaps, as occurred in the story of Rav Ada. He was not moderate but spontaneous, and it cost him 400 zuz. Our sages, in pointing out the cost of the compensation, wished to teach us that the loss was trivial compared to the gain. All in all, the damage amounted to some zuzim. Better we should have spontaneity in holiness despite the mishaps, than a way of life characterized by much moderation but little spirit, enthusiasm and self-sacrifice for the holy. The shortcomings suffered due to “cold-hearted calculations regarding everything lofty and good” are harsh and severe.
Shall we conclude based on this that all spontaneity is blessed? No. Our sages did not praise all spontaneity but only that which found its source in holiness and self-sacrifice for holiness, such as that of Rav Ada, who was an enormous Torah scholar, brimming over with Torah and the fear of G-d. Spontaneity per se has little value. In someone spiritually empty, spontaneity is a recipe for corruption and spiritual destruction. It creates numerous mishaps and trespasses boundaries. Spontaneity is the natural behavior of children. Children, not yet having learned self-control, respond with spontaneity. When they respond successfully, their spontaneity adds special charm. Often, however, their responses are inappropriate, and their spontaneity is not an advantage but a shortcoming. An adult learns to conquer his emotions and feelings, to regulate and direct them. Not every emotion has to burst outward immediately. Over-spontaneity in adults generally attests to childish behavior. Moreover, even spontaneity in holiness has limits. For example, fanaticism is a kind of spontaneity in holiness, yet the Torah does not encourage it except in rare cases.
The Torah does not reject naturalness. Its goal is not to suppress it or to turn man into a programmed robot. It is not interested in fashioning a cold person. Naturalness is an important trait. It is the force in us that pushes us forward in life. The Torah admires naturalness, but it demands that man take control of it, regulate and direct it. Man mustn’t allow emotional outbursts to take control of him.

Translation: R. Blumberg

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