RAV KOOK ON PARSHAT TRUMA: HOW TO LIVE IN THE DIVINE PRESENCE OF THE SHECHINA
“דַּבֵּר֙ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְיִקְחוּ־לִ֖י תְּרוּמָ֑ה מֵאֵ֤ת כׇּל־אִישׁ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִדְּבֶ֣נּוּ לִבּ֔וֹ תִּקְח֖וּ אֶת־תְּרוּמָתִֽי׃ –Speak to the Children of Israel and tell them to take for me an offering; each person should give what their heart moves them to give.” (Ex. 25:2)
In Parshat Truma the children of Israel are directed to heartfully and freely donate what ever they are moved to give towards the building of the holy Sanctuary. This was to be the home for the Aron/Ark that held the intact and broken Tablets of the 10 Commandments.
“וְעָ֥שׂוּ לִ֖י מִקְדָּ֑שׁ וְשָֽׁכַנְתִּ֖י בְּתוֹכָֽם-They shall make a sanctuary for me and I will dwell within them.” (Ibid. 25:8)
Israel was thus blessed to have a physical home to experience the שכינה-Shechina-Divine Presence. The Midrash explains that the Shechina went into exile with the people of Israel after the destruction of the Second Beit HaMikdash/Holy Temple in 70 C.E.
We are now blessed to be returning to Israel. However, we cannot yet rebuild the Temple and re-establish a physical home for the Tablets. Apparently they were buried deep under Har HaBayit-The Mountain Of The Home by King Yoshiyahu at the end of First Temple period.
How are we then to experience the Shechina/Divine Presence in our life and times?
Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook ZT”L (1865-1835) was/is the Cohen Gadol/High Priest of our epoch. He wrote extensively about the reconnection of the reborn Israel with the living Shechina.
In 1912 in Yaffo he wrote: “The light of the Shechina-Divine presence is257890-Knesset Yisrael-The Community of Israel. It is the Israelite ideal [לַעֲשׂוֹת צְדָקָה וּמִשְׁפָּט- To Do Righteousness and Justice (Br.18:19)] that dwells in the entire people and forms it into one unit for all its generations.
Everything is blessed when this light is revealed in the Land [of Israel] and when it manifests into the Israelite life of action and thought.
The souls that are hidden in the realms above add their light and delight and every living being is elevated. The world rises in all its fullness. The [spiritual] dews hold within themselves an abundant flow of blessing. The [spiritual] winds and rains carry measures of life and vitality with them. Every spiritual being, above and below, is thus refined and filled with the resounding music of song and the joy of delight.
Everything rejoices, joyful and jubilant, when the Community of Israel is living happily in its land. Then the national eternal ideal, from the splendor of its Divine source-השוכן-ha’shochen- that dwells in the polished souls of Israel, will beat and pulsate.
It will strike waves in the ocean of life. Everything will be blessed, everything will rise.
“Blessed is YHVH the God of Israel forever and ever” (Tehillim,196:48) “Rejoice in YHVH, the righteous will exult and the upright will sing.” (Ibid, 32:11) (Notebook 3:156)
This entry describes the collective reconnection of the people of Israel with the Shechina.
A foundational goal of our holy Torah is to guide us to live in the Divine Presence in all our activities. In a remarkable Yaffo entry in Notebook 1 (written around 1911), Rav Kook offers a multi-dimensional guide to how each individual can live with the Shechina in their everyday lives. Rav Kook’s main student, Rabbi David Cohen ZT”L-HaRav HaNazir- entitled this piece of Rav Kook’s writing- “קריאה להסתכלות עליונה-A Summons to Higher Contemplation”:
“If you will it, human being, observe the light of the Shechina-Divine Presence that pervades all existence. Observe the harmony of the heavenly realm, how it pervades every aspect of the spiritual and material life which are before your eyes of flesh and your eyes of spirit.
Contemplate the wonders of creation, the Divine dimension of their being, not as a dim configuration that is presented to you from afar but as the reality in which you live.
Know yourself, and your world; know the meditations of your heart, and of every thinker; find the source of your own life, and of the life beyond you, around you, the glorious splendor of the life in which you have your being.
The love that is astir in your–raise it to its basic potency and its noblest beauty, extend it to all its dimensions, toward every manifestation of the soul that sustains the universe….
Look at the lights, in their inwardness. Let not the names, the words, the idioms and the letters confine your soul. They are under your control; you are not under theirs.
Ascend towards the heights, ascend. You are of mighty prowess, you have wings to soar with, wings of mighty eagles. Do not fail them, lest they fail you; seek for them and they will be immediately ready for you….
Do not swerve from the perspective that light flows from the incomprehensible to the comprehensible, by emanation, from the light of the Eyn Sof-Infinite.
And we are all summoned to delight in the heavenly delights, in all the particularized perceptions, which are included in the universal whole, from which all the proliferations of life are engendered.” (Lights of Holiness, 1:83-84)
Each of us is invited to observe and be illuminated by the “light of the Shechina in all of existence”. Then we will be blessed “to delight in all the heavenly delights” of life.
“And I will dwell within you-וְשָֽׁכַנְתִּ֖י בְּתוֹכָֽם” (Ex. 25:8)
Be’Mhera BeYamenu-Immediately In Our Days.