By RAV AVRAHAM YITZCHAK HACOHEN KOOK, 1920
1. The Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is not a peripheral matter, an external acquisition of the nation; it is not merely a mean toward the goal of the general coagulation of the nation, nor of strengthening its material existence, nor even its spiritual.
The Land of Israel is an independent unit, bound with a living attachment with the nation, bound with inner Segulot with the nation’s existence.
As a result, it is impossible to comprehend the essence of the inner Segula of the holiness of the Land of Israel, and to reveal the depths of its love, through any form of human conceptualization; but only through the spirit of God which acts on the nation as a whole.
This spirit of god on the nation, the natural spiritual formulation of Israel’s soul, sends its rays in natural colors in all paths of sensitivity. It shines its exalted rays in direct accordance with the exalted holy spirit which fills with life and exalted joy the hearts of the holy thinkers and those who are involved in the deep contemplations of Israel.
The though regarding the Land of Israel that it has merely a peripheral value to facilitate the substance of the unified nation; even when it comes to fortify the concept of Judaism in the Diaspora, in order to preserve its form, and to strengthen the performance of the commandments in a proper fashion – this orientation toward the Land of Israel is not worthy of lasting fruition, for its foundation is rickety in light of the towering, unshakable holiness of the Land of Israel.
The concept of Judaism in the Diaspora will only find true strength through the depth of its involvement in the Land of Israel. Only through its longing for the Land of Israel will Diaspora Judaism consistently receive its inherent qualities. The yearning for Salvation gives the Judaism of the Diaspora its power of stamina; whereas Judaism of the Land of Israel is Salvation itself.
2. The Secrets of Torah
By being alienated from the recognition of the secrets of the Torah, the holiness of the Land of Israel is understood in a foggy, unfocused fashion. By alienating oneself from the secrets of God, the highest Segulot of the deep Divine life become extraneous, secondary matters which do not enter the depths of the soul, and as a result, the most potent force of the individual’s and the nation’s soul will be missing, and the exile is found to be pleasant in its own accord. For to someone who only comprehends the superficial level, nothing basic will be lacking in the absence of the Land of Israel, the Jewish Kingdom, and all of the facets of the nation in its built form.
For him, the foundation of the yearning for Salvation is like a side branch that cannot be united with the deep understanding of Judaism, and this itself testifies to the poverty of insight which is found in this juiceless perspective. We are not rejecting any form or contemplation which is founded on truthfulness, one sensitivity of thought or on the fear of Heaven, in whatever form it takes; but only rejecting the specific aspect of this perspective which seeks to negate the secrets of Torah and their great influence on the spirit of the nation – for this is a tragedy which we are obligated to fight against with counsel and wisdom, with holiness and with valor.
3. The Blessing of Avraham
A uniquely Israeli creation, in thought, and in the full force of life and deed, is impossible for the Jewish people except in the Land of Israel. Additionally, everything which is done by the people of Israel in the Land of Israel, its universal form becomes subordinate to its special inherent Israeli form, and this brings about great benefit to Israel and to the world.
The sins which cause exile, they are the same sing which cause the pollution of our inner spring. As a result, this source begins to emanate defiled issues, “He succeeded in defiling the sanctuary of God” [Numbers 19:23]. And when this special, essentially Israeli source is destroyed, the basic originality takes one step upwards to the contracted portion above, which the Jewish people share with the general Segulot of all mankind. And this is drawn up specifically in exile.
The land is desolate and destroyed, and its destruction atones for it. The source stops issuing, and it refines itself, slowly, slowly. And the revelation of thought and life emanate through the general channel which is distributed through the entire world, “Like the four winds of the heavens I have scattered you” [Zacharia 2:10], until the individualized defiled issues cease, and the force of the source returns to its purity.
Then the exile is totally detested, because it is utterly unnecessary. And the general lifhgt returns to emanate from the self-contained spring, which is particularized with all of its force. And the light of the messiah, who gathers the outcasts, beings to appear. And the voice of the bitterly crying Rachel, who is crying over her children, is sweetened by an influx of consolation, “Refrain your voice from crying, and your eyes from tears. For thy work shall be rewarded says the Lord, and they will return again from the enemy land; and there is hope for your future, says the Lord, and your children will return again to their borders” [Jeremiah, 31:15-16].
And the creation of the special life with all of its lights and unique formulations is drenched in the general, rich dew of, “the man who is great among the giants” [Joshua 14:15]. The blessing of Avraham reappears precisely in consequence of this return to the source. “And you shall be a blessing – with you they shall seal” [Genesis 12:2].
4. The Land of Prophecy
It is impossible for a Jew to be devoted and faithful to his contemplations, logical reasonings, conceptualizations, and imaginations, when he is outside the Land of Israel, compared to the quality of their faithfulness in the Land of Israel.
Revelations of holiness, on whatever level, are clean in the Land of Israel according to their value; while outside the Land of Israel they are mixed with abundant dross and Klipot. However, according to the magnitude of an individual’s yearning for and connection to the Land of Israel, his contemplations become clear, due to the foundation of “the air of the Land of Israel” which hovers over everyone who desires to see her. “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you who love her” [Isaiah 66:10].
5. Wisdom and Imagination
The imagination in the Land of Israel is lucid and clear, clean and pure, and ready for the revelation of Divine truth, and for the embodiment of the high uplifted will of the idealistic trend which is found in the higher echelons of holiness. It is prepared for the explanation of prophecy and its lights, for the enlightenment of the Ruach Hakodesh and its illumination.
And the imagination which is found in the land of nations is ugly, clouded in darkness, in shadows of defilement and pollution. It cannot rise to the heights of holiness, and it cannot afford a basis for the influx of Divine light that rises above all the baseness of the worlds and their oppressive straights.
Because the intellect and the imagination are bound up together, and act and interact one upon the other, the intellect which is outside the Land of Israel is also incapable of being illuminated with the light which exists in the Land of Israel. “The air of the Land of Israel causes wisdom” [Talmud Bava Batra 158B].
6. The Holy Yearning
The activity of the Ruach Hakodesh that is received in the Land of Israel is constant – even if a person should happen to leave for Chutz La’Aretz [lit. outside the Land], through a mistake or because of some compelling reason. Behold, even a prophecy which has begun to appear in the Land of Israel does not cease outside of the land. “The word of the Lord is/was to Ezekial in the land of Kasdim – it is because it already was” [Ezekiel 1:3].
The influx of holiness that began in the Land of Israel gathers in all of the elucidations of holiness which are found outside the Land, in all their ranges, and draws them up with its gravitational pull.
The more one is incapable of tolerating the air outside the Land of Israel; the more one feels the impure spirit of the defiled land – this is a sign of a more interior absorption of the holiness of the Land of Israel, of the sublime kindness which will never abandon the person who has merited to take refuge in the clear umbrage of the land of life, even in his distant journeys, even in his exile, and in the land of his wanderings.
The strangeness that one feels outside the Land of Israel causes a greater bond with the inner spiritual desire for the Land of Israel and its holiness. The yearning to see the land increases, and the vision of the concrete, holy image of the land which the eyes of God are always upon from the beginning of the year until the end [see Deuteronomy 11:12] becomes deeper and deeper. And the depth of the holy yearning of the love of Zion, of remembering the land to which all the good things of life are bound – when the valorously increases in the soul, even in one individual – behold, it acts like an overflowing spring to all of the Clal, to the myriads of souls which are bound up with him, and the voice of the shofar of the ingathering of the outcasts awakens; and great mercy increases; and the hope of life for Israel sparkles; and the planting of God develops and bloods; and the light of Salvation and Redemption spreads out and like the dawn which stretches over the mountains [see Jerusalem Talmud, Berachot 1:1].
7. Letters of Holiness
The soul is filled with letters which are infused with the light of life, full of knowledge and will, full of spiritual seeking, and full existence. From the rays of these living letters all of the other levels of life’s buildings are filled with the light of life – all of the aspects of the will, of knowledge, and of deed, of the spirit, and of the soul, in all of their values.
Upon approaching a commandment, the commandment is always full of the light of life of all of the worlds – every commandment is filled with letters, big, incredible letters from among all of the 613 precepts which are in turn, interdependent on each individual precept – from all of the life of the worlds which is in the secret of faith.
The light of the God of life, the light of the life of the world, lives in complete harmony in the glory of every commandment. As soon as we approach a commandment’s performance, all of the living letters which constitute our essence expand – we grow bigger, and become stronger and more forceful in the light of life and sublime existence which is resplendent and rich with the wealth of universal holiness and with the light of Torah and of wisdom.
These same letters of the source of Torah stream toward us and parallel to them, the letters of life which are filled with the glowing inner light of our essence rise up to them, and a stirring which gives births to worlds transpires. The power of a pleasant tranquility, holy valor, and gentle joy exists in our inner spirits, and all of the universe is renewed with light and life. The judgment of the world turns meritorious because of our deeds; light and truth, good will and inward satisfaction grace every face.
In the Land of Israel, the letters of our souls grow bigger; there they reveal shining light; they are nurtured with independent life from the light of life Knesset Israel; they are directly influenced from the secret of their original creation.
The air of the Land of Israel stimulates the invigorating growth of these living letters with a splendorous glow, an intimate pleasantness, and with a joyous, valorous thunder that is full of an influx of holiness – “Everyone in Jerusalem who is written to life” [Isaiah 4:3].
The yearning to see the glory of the land of pleasantness; the inner longing for the Land of Israel, increases the letters of holiness, the letters of independent Israeli life that are at the depth of our essence and being; it increases their inner spiritual growth. “One who is born in it, and one who yearns to see it” [Talmud Ketubot 75A], “And to Zion it shall be said, a man, and a man who is born it, and He will establish it in exaltation, the Lord will count in the writing of the nation, this one has been born there, Selah” [Tehillim 87:5-6].
Judgment – the middle pillar upon which the entire palace rests, “A parable to a lady who is walking, and the hem of her dress is on this side and that, the laws and the center of Torah” [Midrash Rabbah, Misphatim 30:3], these are the essence of existence; “The judgment of the Children of Israel” [Exodus 28:30] – the essence of the desire which is infused in the soul of the Messiah, the spirit of our lives, who will be called, God who justifies Our Being, who with exalted valor will reveal in the land, the light of the judgment of God which condemns all war and killing.
The judgment of the Children of Israel upon the heart of Aharon – the extract of the letters of the soul of all Israel, lights upon the Urim and Tumim, “Either sticking out or joining together” [Talmud Yoma 73A].
8. The Eternal Flame
Within the inner heart, in its pure and holy chambers, the Israeli flame increases, demanding the strong, brave, constant connection of life to all of the commandments of God; to pour the spirit of God, the full, all-encompassing spirit of Israel that fills all of the vaults of the soul, into all of its many unique vessels, to express the full Israeli expression in its complete practical idealized form.
The sparks flash more brightly in the hearts of the righteous, the burning of holy fire blazes and rises up; and in the heart of all of the nation, it continues to burn from the days of yore, “a fire will constantly be burnt from upon the alter – it shall not be extinguished” [Leviticus 6:6].
And in the hearts of all of the empty ones, and in the hearts of all of the sinners of Israel, the fire burns and blazes in the most inward depths; and in the nation in its entirety, all of the desire for freedom and all of the yearning for life, all of the yearning of the life of the Clal and the individual, all of the hope for Redemption, only from the source of this inner spring of life do they flow in order to live Israeli life to its fullest, without contradiction of limitation.
This is the yearning for the Land of Israel, the land of holiness, the land of God, where all of the commandments are realized and expressed in their finished form.
And this yearning to reveal the special quality of the spirit of God, of rasiing one’s head in the spirit of God in its absolute greatness, this is what activates everyone’s hearts, and all wish to unite with it, to taste the pleasantness of its life; “Therefore I loved your commandments more than gold and refined gold” [Tehillim 119:127].
The bravery in the heart which demonstrated to the entire wolrd the valor of the nation in preserving its character, its name and its values, its faith and the uplifting of its soul, is included in the yearning for the life of truth, and for the life of all of the commandments which will be enveloped by the light of the Torah in all of its completeness and goodness.
If it be a wonder in the eyes of all those who stand at a distance, ‘how is it possible that there will beat the spirit of life with its inner force in all of the spirits which are apparently even far from possessing faith – not only to a general closeness to God, but to the true life of Israel, to the framework of the commandments in form and idea, in song and in action?’ – it will not be wondrous in the eyes of all those who are attached in depths of their spirit to the depths of Knesset Israel and who know of its wondrous Segulot.
This is the secret of the valor, the uplifting of life which will never cease. “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, that a man shall do and live by them; I am the Lord” [Leviticus 18:5]. “To walk before the Lord in the land of life, this is the Land of Israel” [Midrash Tehillim 56].
June 15, 2008
By RAV AVRAHAM YITZCHAK HACOHEN KOOK, 1920