On the 16th of Elul, 5625/1865, HaRav Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook TZ’L was born in Grieve, Lithuania. I am writing these words of honor and appreciation in Jerusalem, Israel exactly 156 years later on the 16th of Elul, 5781/2021.
Already as a young person it was clear to his family and teachers that he was an extraordinary soul who was to become a true leader of Israel (and the world eventually if not sooner).
The story is told that after his birth his father blessed him that he would become a great Rosh Yeshiva and his mother (whose father was close to the Tzemach Tzedek-the third Lubavitcher Rebbe;1789-1866) blessed him that he would become a great Rebbe. It is clear that he became both and much more.
As YNET reported in 2008: “In a survey conducted by Ynet and Gesher Society in honor of Israel’s 60th Independence Day, Abraham Isaac Kook was chosen to be the largest contributor to the shaping and building of the State of Israel. The Zionist-religious leader was awarded first place in the survey, which asked thousands to rank Jewish leaders according to their contribution to the State. In second place was Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, who also gave the State’s founding speech.”
There are many reasons why this choice is historically accurate. I invite anyone interested to read one of the available biographies to fill in the details. The most extensive explorations of his thought writings- 4 volumes by Rabbi Yosef Avivi- concludes that Rav Kook was drawing his Torah based insights from the elevated world of Atzilut/Emanation and explaining their implications for our intellectual (Briya), emotional (Yetzira) and material (Assiyah) realms.
I have come to the conclusion that when Rav Kook was deeply immersed in the Atzilut/Emanation realm, he would express the experience in poetry. Learning and sharing his poetry creatively in Hebrew and English is one of my core activities in my passion to share his illuminated Torah with the world.
In honor of the great gift to Israel, humanity and existence that Rav Kook’s life and efforts bestowed, I will share my English translation of two of his poems.
The people close to Rav Kook concluded that he was experiencing prophecy. Here is one of his prophetic visions, expressed poetically:
“ME’OLAM RACHOK-From A Distant World
From a distant world, full of illumination,
The suns there are as broad as the ocean,
And the stars, like the light of our sun,
On the face of the sapphire stone,…from there.
The news reaches me,
Like dew full of overflowing delight,
Guiding me to the hidden Eden,
There the treasure is stored.
All the faces there are joyful,
Every mouth is singing songs of praise,
The highest feelings fill each heart,
And all the legs are dancing in jubilation.
The past and the future are scrolled into one,
Nothing is hidden, everything is known,
Every soul is full of love for all,
Feelings for the multitudes, and the light is sown.
All the pasts flow like rivers,
Purity, illumination, strength and light,
Life renewed, freedom and liberation,
Fills all our thoughts and activities.
And without teachers, guides, judges or politicians,
Everything is good, everything is clear,
There is no crookedness or corruption, everything is with integrity,
And the night shines like the day.
To a world such as this my soul longs,
In life such as this my spirit soars.”
Rav Kook was deeply involved in explaining and encouraging the process of personal,national and universal renewal and liberation:
Give me, give me
Rays of light,
Too much for me, too much
These pits of darkness.
Give me the gift
Of purity of thought,
Enough for me, enough
These prisons of confusion.
Gift me, gift me
With the power of desire
Extend to me
Balls of fire.
I’ll explode with them
False towers and structures
And the vanity of vanities
That dwells within.
I call for liberation
For my words and my pen
My wine in its barrel.
And without fear
The anxiety of the enslaved
We will announce together
Words and matters of unity, uniqueness and unification.
And our words like arrows
Will hit their marks,
And to our struggling brothers and sisters
Speak of our wrongdoing.
To raise ourselves beyond the divisions
For the greatness of the nation
To expand our consciousness
As broad as the ocean.
To shake the dust
From the lands of our exile
That are cleaving
To our sickly hearts.
To understand the principle
That is everything,
The Torah, our destiny,
The power of the Divine.
To be concerned for the soul,
The soul of our people
That is turned over desolate
In its exile from its home.
To awaken life
For the renewal of the nation
On the earth and in the heavens,
As they are there.”
Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook TZ”L expressed the most illuminated, complete and clear expression of the true depth and power of the Torah’s guidance to Israel and humankind. May we be blessed with deeper and broader understanding of Rav Kook’s true illumination of the Torah.
Quickly in our days. Amen.