Monthly Archives: May 2013

Rav Kook 10 – Summary of Influences

In this series of shiurim, Rabbi Triebitz learns through a book of Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook entitled Ketzavim mi-Ktzav Yad Kodsho: vol. 2 – Pinkas HaDapim 1
This is published notebooks of Rav Kook’s that he probably never intended to publish or prepared for publication. However, they contain some profound (and extremely interesting) ideas.

Shiur 10

Rav Kook was speaking about the transition from paganism to monotheism. However he also applies this to thought and philosophy and not only paganism.

The only book published in Rav Kook’s lifetime was Orot, and there he writes (daf 122) in the section called zaronim. He writes there:

The souls of tohu are higher than the souls of tikun. They are very great. And they demand very much from the physical world. More than their vessels are able to contain.

Rav Kook understands that these soul  of tohu are the thinkers of his generation who are misguided. The modern heresies represent the kabbalistic concept of breaking the vessels, precisely because the vessel which defines man in unable to contain the perfect light which is demanded by these thinkers.

SUMMARY OF FIRST 9 SHIURIM

Rav Kook learned with the Leshem and was influenced by him. Rav Kook also speaks about Ramchal and quotes from Da’at Tevunot and Kelach Pitchei Chochma.

However, another big influence on him particularly in the non-kabbalistic aspect of his thinking, not mentioned by the Nazir in his introduction, was the Netziv.

Recently they published that Rav Shimon Shkop wanted to apply for a position teaching in Rav Kook’s Yeshiva, but Rav Kook wrote back that Rav Shimon was a student of Rav Chaim, and Rav Kook was seeking a student of the Netziv.

One idea which the Netziv repeats several times in HaEmek Davar, and in the introduction to Bereishit, is that of Yashrut. Netziv understands yashrut to be a universal humanity. That is why Bereishit is called Sefer HaYashar.

Look at the introduction that Netziv writes to Chofetz Chaim’s Ahavat Chesed where he also mentions yashrut.

Humanity is elevated through the Torah.

Another influence on Rav Kook is the Leshem. What characterizes the Leshem’s interpretation of the kabbalah of the Ari, is that he sees the kabbalah of the Ari not as contradicting, but as adding on to the rationalistic philosophy of Rambam (which is based on Aristotle etc.). Kabbalah builds upon rationalism and brings it to a higher spiritual level.

This is predicated on understanding tzimtzum literally. This allows for the physical world to influence the spiritual and to be part of the perfection.

The third influence is the Ramchal, with his concept of the ascension of worlds.

By combining these influences Rav Kook arrives at a philosophy which brings modernity into the continuum of enlightenment.

The role model for Rav Kook is Ramchal, who writes kabbalah hidden within philosophy. For Ramchal that is the nimshal. Rav Kook also writes in a philosophical jargon which is based upon kabbalah.

Tohu and the breaking of the vessels are a necessary part of creation. Without the breaking there would be no creation. This is similar to Rashi on Bereishit. Creation turns the tohu into tikun.

Rav Kook writes this in section 4, but also in Orot and other places. The concept of partzuf represents the way in which the elements of false ideologies are necessarily incorporated into an organismic process through which the world achieves perfection.

Rav Kook understood that this is the Ari’s concept of partzuf.

The Ari came at the end of the rationalistic period. Even the Ramak’s kabbalah was built on rationalism. The Ari sees that this needs to be broken in order to bring the world to completion.

The kabbalah of the Ari is very much a historiography. It is a Torah viewpoint of where every generation stands in history.
The rational view of the world, the necessity of the lights to remain within their vessel, inevitably implodes. Then man is in need of an ethic which mediates between rationalism and the Divine Revelation.

This is what Rav Kook writes, “The confusion of philosophy in our generation has to be based on ethics.”

We hope you enjoy these shiurim.
At the moment, these shiurim are free of charge because Rabbi Triebitz has generously volunteered his time and there are no overheads. If you would like to show your appreciation to Rabbi Triebitz, please contribute to this site by pressing the ‘donate’ button on the side of the page. Contributors will receive American tax receipts for charity upon request.

You can watch and download the shiurim below. As always please send any comments, thoughts, ideas or criticisms to admin at hashkafacircle.com


Video of shiur 10

Click here to download the shiur as an flv file
Rav Kook Notebooks 10
(you may have to right click on the link and click ‘save target as’)

Click here to download the shiur in audio mp3 format
Rav Kook Notebooks 10

AND FOR APPLE I-POD USERS:
Click here to download the shiur in mp4 video format
Rav Kook Notebooks 10

Rav Kook 09 – Civilising of Mankind

Rabbi Triebitz: Rav Kook Pinkas HaDapim shiur 9

In this series of shiurim, Rabbi Triebitz learns through a book of Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook entitled Ketzavim mi-Ktzav Yad Kodsho: vol. 2 – Pinkas HaDapim 1
This is published notebooks of Rav Kook’s that he probably never intended to publish or prepared for publication. However, they contain some profound (and extremely interesting) ideas.

Rav Kook views the goal of Torah to remove paganism/polytheism from the world. This leads to what the Ramchal describes as gilui yichudo, the revelation of G-d in the world. This can only come about through division/evil etc. which allows for the ultimate revelation of His Glory in the world.

Evil and Divine vacuum are necessary for the ultimate revelation of G-d’s Unity. This is clearly a Ramchal concept.
However, whereas Ramchal is speaking spirituality, Rav Kook is speaking about intellectual truth.

וסדרי המדרגות הללו יוכרו על ידי הסתכלות בהירה לא בתור רסיסים בודדים, שאין יחש בין איש לרעהו, כי אם בתור קוים ושרטוטים אורגניים, העושים כולם יחד חטיבה אחת.

Ultimately the paganism will be shown to be a stage in the revelation of G-d, this is turning the evil into good.

הקוים שעושים את הפרצוף האורגני, הרי הם משפיעים ומושפעים, כחק אורגן חי.

Rav Kook uses the term partzuf because he is referring to the Arizal’s concept of partzuf.
What is the concept of partzuf? The kabbalists before Ari speak of sefirot. However Ari speaks of partzuf. This makes things more complicated, giving it more dimensions.
Partzuf expresses itself anthropomorphically. It is not the terminology of the earlier kabbalists who spoke of light and vessels etc.

What is the significance of partzuf? If we look at the kabbalah of Rav Moshe Cordevero we find that it is mostly ontological, the description of a process.

The beginning of HaPardes (Remak) is a description of light and vessels and process.

However partzuf turns ontology into ethics. It places the ontology within an ethical unity. The sefirot become part of a phenomenon which has an ethical dimension.

Ramchal/Ari has partzufim speaking with each other, which is an ethical relationship.

Rav Kook bases himself on this concept, of different ontologies communicating with each other, which allows for a moral ascension of man’s thought and mankind.

הקוים שעושים את הפרצוף האורגני, הרי הם משפיעים ומושפעים, כחק אורגן חי.

The organic partzuf means that it is constantly changing, evolving, influencing and being influenced.

הננו צריכים להסתכל בכל מלא שיעור קומת הפרצוף על מתוח כל האברים מצד גשמותם ורוחניותם, כלומר מצד הקולטוס המעשי שלהם ומצד פנימיות הדעות החיות בקרבם. אז, על ידי שפיטה פרטית וכוללת, נוכל להבחין בין הערך של האברים כולם, ונדע להגביל יפה את ערכם בהפרצוף הכללי.

The partzuf allows us to understand how the parts fit together into a whole.

אם יבא אחד לבטל את כל חיי הרוח הכבירים המופחים בתוך התכונה האמונית שבמלא עולם, נדע שלא יוכל. אמנם בינה ברורה צריך הענין להתברר כראוי, איך מודדים את התחלת נקודת הרום שברוח זה עד שבאים לנקודת השפל שבו.

We must study all the cultures and paganism to understand the parts which make up the whole.

האליליות עצמה לא תוכל לבא למדרגה רוממה של השקפה כללית זאת. כיון שתשתלם עד מדרגה זו כבר תאבד את ערך אליליותה.

Paganism can never reach a holistic level, because in doing so it would become stripped of its polytheism. It can never become a religion of truth because it will ultimately self-destruct. This is the Arizal’s concept of shevirat hakeilim, breaking of the vessels.

האחדות האלהית כשהיא מאירה על פני כל מלא העולמים, מופיעה היא גם כן באורה על פני מרחב זה של הרוח האמוני לכל צדדיו וסעיפיו. בהארתה מושכת היא רוח חיים לכל הרסיסים הפזורים, שבהיותם מופרדים שכבו משכב ערלים ודמו כפגרים שאין בהם רוח חיים.

Rav Kook is using the terminology of the Arizal that the tikkun for the breaking of the vessels is the progression from paganism to monotheism, civilizing the world.

כח החיים כשמחל לזרח, מטהר הוא בעזו גם את כל הסיגים והרקבונות העלולים להמצא בעולם המת. והסירותי דמיו מפיו ושיקוציו מבין שיניו, ונשאר גם הוא לאלהינו, והיה כאלוף ביהודה, ועקרון כיבוסי. עתידים בתי תיאטראות ובתי קרקסאות שבחוץ לארץ שילמדו בהם שרי יהודה תורה ברבים (מגילה). לרש”י בתי עבודה זרה, ולתוס’ מקומות ועד, והא והא איתא, הקולטוס האלילי כשיטהר, יטהר גם כן את רוח המוסר הכללי הנושב בחיי החברה. 

Rav Kook is taking the thought of the Ari, and using it as the intellectual model for understanding the progression of the world from idolatry to monotheism, from barbarianism to civilization.

As Rav David HaCohen (Nazir) writes, the thought of Rav Kook is based upon the ideas of Ramchal. Whereas the Ari speaks spiritually, Ramchal brings it down into the physical world.

Steven Pinker wrote a book entitled The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (Rabbi Triebitz does not recommended this book for everyone) in which he speaks about the civilizing of mankind. The civilizing took place at the end of the 18th century, with the American and French revolutions.

Rav Tzadok, and Rav Kook in Orot explain that there is a confluence of ideas between Jewish and non-Jewish thought. These revolutions in thought, expressing the rights of mankind, parallel the views of Ramchal perfecting the world. Ramchal lived around the same time as these revolutions.


We hope you enjoy these shiurim.
At the moment, these shiurim are free of charge because Rabbi Triebitz has generously volunteered his time and there are no overheads. If you would like to show your appreciation to Rabbi Triebitz, please contribute to this site by pressing the ‘donate’ button on the side of the page. Contributors will receive American tax receipts for charity upon request.

You can watch and download the shiurim below. As always please send any comments, thoughts, ideas or criticisms to admin at hashkafacircle.com


Video of shiur 09

Click here to download the shiur as an flv file
Rav Kook Notebooks 09
(you may have to right click on the link and click ‘save target as’)

Click here to download the shiur in audio mp3 format
Rav Kook Notebooks 09

AND FOR APPLE I-POD USERS:
Click here to download the shiur in mp4 video format
Rav Kook Notebooks 09