“The world order that is now tottering due to the awesome storms of a sword covered with blood, demands the construction of the Israelite nation.” (Orot, Lights from Darkness, Ch. 9) 

Rav Kook ZT”L wrote extensively about war and its manifold causes and effects. In Part 1, we examined some of his teachings on the roots of war. In this posting, we will review his teachings in “Orot” on the role of Israel in eliminating war from the world. He wrote this during WW1, it is equally relevant today:

“The building of the nation [of Israel] and the discovery of its spirit are one concept, linked to the building of the world, which is disintegrating and longing for a force filled with unity and loftiness. All of this is found in the soul of Knesset Israel/Community of Israel. 

The spirit of HaShem pervades Israel…It is impossible for a human whose soul beats within to be silent at this time. They must summon all the powers that lie dormant in the nation: ‘Awake, arise to your task!’

The voice of HaShem calls loudly and we can detect it from the interior of our soul and from life’s movements. Israel must uncover the source of its life and stand apprised of its spiritual character.

…World civilization is tottering, human spirit is weakened, darkness covers all the peoples, ‘darkness will cover the earth and fog, the nations’. (Isaiah 60:2)

The hour has arrived. The light of the world-the light of the true God, the light of the God of Israel, revealed by His people, a wondrous people-must be revealed in consciousness. This consciousness must be internalized within the nation, to recognize the unity of her talents, to recognize HaShem Who rests within her. When Israel will recognize that Elohim  is within her, she will understand how to tap the spring of her life, she will know how to establish her redemptive vision….

All of the world’s civilizations will be renewed through the renewal of our spirit. All the misunderstandings will be straightened out. All life will glisten with the joy of rebirth at our emergence. All beliefs will don new clothes, they will take off their dirty clothes and wear precious raiment. They will abandon all the abominations in their midst, and unite to suckle from the dew of the lights of holiness, which were pre-established in the well of Israel for each nation and individual. 

The blessing of Avraham to all the nations of the Earth [‘Avraham is to become a great and populous nation and all the nations of the earth are to bless themselves by him.’(Genesis 18:8)] will commence its activity forcefully and visibly….The present destruction is the preparation of a profound renaissance. The supernal light of goodness twinkles….” (Ibid)

The Torah emphasizes that Israel has a very important role ‘letaken olam be malchut Shaddai-to repair the world under the reign of the Almighty’. 

Rav Kook elaborates:Knesset Israel/The Community of Israel aspires to tikkun olam/repair the world in all its fullness and to effect purifying and original forgiveness. This comes not merely from the salvation of a human’s soul and improvement of their will….but rather from a comprehensive correction of the very cause of sins….

All must be fixed; all must be purified. 

The aspiration of  Israel for building the nation, for return to the Land, is an aspiration of the depth of good that wishes to penetrates to the root of all existence. 

It is not just the ‘upraising of a brick’ of some structure that is needed but rather a whole, in-depth transformation of the foundation of the entire structure in order to establish it correctly. Not a few trees or branches of the Tree of Life and Good, but rather we must uncover the source, the spring of life from which the sap of the Tree of Life is fed, with all its roots, trunks and branches, trailers and leaves. From this will come a spirit of life, a new spirit, and a new world will be built.” (Orot, Israel and its Renaissance, Ch. 10)

Israel cannot be satisfied with a partial rectification of the world. It will not rest until it has achieved a total tikkun/repair and overhauling of the entire structure of reality. 

As Rav Kook concludes in Orot HaTechiya/Lights of Renaissance:“Israel is the treasury of life in the world; in its existence is assimilated knowledge of HaShem, the true God.  Israel’s renaissance will enliven the world.

It will remove the mask spread over all the nations, the darkness of disbelief, which is a cruel death for the entire world which is flailing about demonically.

Israel will rise up on its legs. It will stand mightily in the land of its love. It will express its prophetic word from the source of life of its soul and thus it will awaken the seeds of divine life slumbering in the heart of every human being and every life-form. ‘Every soul will praise Yah, HalleYah.’ (Psalms 150:6)”

The current world situation desperately needs a powerful corrective force on every level.  Rav Kook is directing the Children of Israel to fulfill its destiny by offering the world a force filled with unity and loftiness. Thus the light of the world-the light of the true God, will be revealed in human consciousness. And we will merit to correct the very cause of sins. All will then be fixed. The foundation of the entire structure of our reality will be transformed for the good. 

BeeMhera BeYamenu- Immediately In Our Days.


Prepared by Rabbi Itzchak Evan-Shayish, www.haorot.com, haorot@gmail.com .

Based on Rabbi Betzalel Naor’s wonderful translation of Orot. Please see here for more: https://orot.com/


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