The FourFold Song

Four Worlds

שיר מרובע – The FourFold Song is one of Rav Kook’s most important and all encompassing teachings. He wrote it in Switzerland in 1915 as World War One was raging in all the countries around him.
He explained that the repair of the world depends on humankind respecting and integrating all aspects of our identity:
Self, National, Humanity, and Existence.

This prose poem is an expansion of a statement found in the Tikkunei HaZohar that the Divine Name – יהוה-YHVH – is a FourFold Song that unfolds into the Tree of Life. The Yud expanded into Yud Heh, then Yud Heh Vav, then Yud Heh Vav Heh – thus creating the ten dimensions of the Tree of Life (1+2+3+4=10).

Rav Kook explains how the integration of these four core letters represent the four core identities that we need to give full expression to in order to live a life singing the Song of Songs:

שיר מרובע

The FourFold Song

“There is the one who sings the song of their own life, and in themselves they find everything, their full spiritual satisfaction.

There is the one who sings the song of their own nation, attaching themselves with a gentle love to the whole community of Israel. Together with her he sings her songs.

There is the one who reaches toward more distant realms, going beyond the boundary of Israel to sing the song of humankind.

Then there is the one who rises towards wider horizons, linking themselves with all existence, with all God’s creatures, with all the worlds, and singing their song with all of them.

And then there is the one who rises with all these songs in one ensemble, all joining their voices. Together they sing their songs with beauty, each one lending vitality and life to the other.

These are songs of joy and gladness, jubilation and celebration, ecstasy and holiness.

The the song of the Self, the song of the Nation, the song of all Humankind, the song of all Existence merge together at all times,
in every moment.

And this full comprehensiveness rises to become the song of holiness, the song of God, the song of Israel,
Israel – Shir El- the Divine Song,
A simple song, a twofold song, a threefold song, a fourfold song,
The Song of Songs of Shlomo/Solomon –
The Sovereign with whom is Shalom-Peace.”
(Notebook 7: 112)

The Four Worlds