Category Archives: Rav Kook

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

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Rav Kook Notebooks 10
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Rav Kook Notebooks 10

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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
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Rav Kook Notebooks 09

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Rav Kook Notebooks 09

Rav Kook 07 – Improving the World

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.

Pinkas HaDapim 2: Rav Kook gives reasons for mitzvot. There are different reasons for mitzvot.
There are six reasons for mitzvot (a six dimensional teleological space)
1. There is a basic personal “lowest” reason which is how the performance of the mitzva effects the person and his internal well-being.
2. Man relates to G-d as creator
3. Universal ethical dimension
4. Man through mitzvot affects the spiritual worlds
5. Man through effecting the spiritual worlds affects the entire body of klal Yisrael.
6. Upper lever, is most intellectual
There are two foundations to Rav Kook’s thought. He explains that mitzvot change due to culture, geography, sociology etc. The concept of these factors effecting halakha is based in Jewish philosophy.
E.g. Guide for the Perplexed section III discusses reasons for mitzvot. He explains that most of the chukim are a way in which a pagan culture which existed at that time was directed towards monotheism. Ramban argues with Rambam in Parshat Ki Tetzei (sending away the mother bird) and Vayikra (sacrifices). Nevertheless, he also sometimes explains mitzvot based on sociological factors (prohibition of blood etc.) See Ramban in Parshat Re’eh where Rabbi Chavel points out that Ramban contradicts what he wrote in Ki Tetzei and Vayikra. Both Rambam and Ramban agree that mitzvot bring the physical world to a higher level. Either sociologically or kabbalistically.

Rav Kook in other places mentions the concept of evolution in ethical, scientific and sociological areas. He rejects the concept of yeridat hadorot.

See Orot HaKodesh vol. 2 p. 539-542
There is an evolutionary ascension. Rav Kook identifies three changes for the better:
1. Social evolution: Openness to other cultures was increasing ethics in the world.
2. Advances in cosmology: which point to secrets of Torah
3. Thought:

These changes are part of the ascension of the world in general and lead to an increase of ethics in the physical world. Like Ramchal, Rav Kook claims that there is an ascension in the physical world, not only in Atzilut, but also in Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiya.

In earlier times man’s intellect was less developed, man was barbarian. The Divine influence was to bring the world out of barbarianism to a higher, sophisticated level in terms of thought, society and science.

In Pinkas ha-Dapim 19 Rav Kook notes that the eating habits of the Jews in Egypt were barbaric until Moshe came to improve them.

Rav Kook within the context of kabbalah (continuation and explanation of last shiur):
The four middle dimensions of the “sandwich” are:
a. Creation of the world is the metaphysical aspect of cosmology (science in general)
b. Ethics is the metaphysical aspect of social
c. Ritual does not necessarily have an aspect in the physical world.
d. Jewish people as a whole.

In Etz Chaim the Ari writes about what happens when a person performs a mitzva.

Within the physical world there are different parts (social, ethical etc.) which are in need of rectification. These result from the “breaking of the vessels” which accounts for the existence of evil in the world. When a person performs a mitzva or engages in prayer, they bring up the broken vessels to a higher metaphysical level. These levels are ethical levels (partzuf) which is composed of the sefirot which are ethical (kindness, justice etc.)
If we make a correspondence between Rav Kook’s 4 middle levels in his “six-dimensional reason for mitzvot” and kabbalistic thought we find that:

Creation==Ima (gives birth to lower Sefirot)
Ethics==Ze’ir Anpin
Ritual/mitzvot==Mochin/ Nukva
Kenesset Yisrael==Abba (neshama of the neshama)

This is the chidush of Rav Kook.
“Yisrael, G-d and Torah are one.” Nefesh HaChaim emphasized (sha’ar 4) that Torah and G-d are one. Yisrael are the people who effect this.
Rav Kook focusses more on the aspect that Yisrael and G-d are one. This represents the highest level. Through this unity man effects spiritual changes.
Rav Kook replaces “Torah” with “Yisrael”. (Torah now becomes the method of connecting with Yisrael across the ages.)


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 07

Click here to download the shiur as an flv file
Rav Kook Notebooks 07
(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 07

AND FOR APPLE I-POD USERS:
Click here to download the shiur in mp4 video format
Rav Kook Notebooks 07

Rav Kook 06 – Science, Biblical Criticism and Kaballah

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.

Last week we saw that in Pinkas HaDapim 2 Rav Kook gives reasons for mitzvot.
In this shiur Rabbi Triebitz finds an example where Rav Kook gives an explanation of two of the reasons for mitzvot. In Pinkas Rishon from Jaffe number 91(1) Rav Kook gives four reasons for heresy, and responds to them. Numbers three and four are (respectively) scientific contradictions to Torah, and Biblical Criticism. He explains why these claims are false and why they should not lead to a person to heresy.

Here are some highlights from his answer:

הג’, צריך לדעת צורת הנבואה לאמתתה. נדע שאין לה עסק כלל עם מדעים שאפשר לחקרם במשך הזמנים עם השכל האנושי, וכל מה שנמצא בתורה הוא לשבר את האוזן מה שהיא יכולה לשמע, לפי מה שהוא מפורסם אז, כדי לשכלל דרכי המוסר. ותחת הדברים הפשוטים גנוזים דרכים רחבים לעיונים אלהיים שהם יסוד התורה ומגמתה, ויכולים אנחנו ללכת במרחב בכל דרכי החקירה.

הד’, אף על פי שהאמת הוא ככל קבלתנו שלא נשלחה יד בתורה הנשמרת תמיד בזהירות רבה, מכל מקום אפילו לדעה הנפסדה שנכתבו איזה פרשיות בזמן מאוחר או שנפלו חלילה איזה טעיות סופרים, אין זה נוגע כלל לכלל התורה וקיומה, כי כללות קיום התורה תלוי בקבלת האומה, והאומה קבלה ומקבלת עליה באהבה, והאומה שמה את התורה ומצותיה כמו שהם נמצאים אצלינו לאות ברית אמונתה לאלהים. על כן אי אפשר כלל ליחיד להוציא עצמו מן הכלל, כי כן כל ענין קשר ברית שנערך לפי ההסכמה הכללית, והמעשים המוסכמים דומים להסכמת הלשון והמוסר המוסכם, שהיחיד אינו יכול לשנות נגד כלל החברה, וכשישנה יהיה חומס נפשו. על כן אנו מבינים יפה שהקישור האלהי שבתורה הוא לפי כל אותן הענינים ממנה שהגיעו לנו, ואין הבדל כלל איזה סיבות שיהיו בדבר עד שהגיעו לנו הדברים בצורה הזאת, מכל מקום כיון שהדברים נארגים בתורה הם נכללים בקדושה האלהית, שבזה ישראל מצוין מכל העמים שמציאות האומה היא קשורה בקריאת שם ד’ אלהי עולם שעליה נקרא. על כן כל המצות כולם שהם נקשרים בקשר אלהי, כיון שהם קשורים בתורה ונכתבים בה, הם כולם אחוזים בברית ד’, והשומרם הוא שומר הברית והעובר עליהם הוא מרשיע ברית. ואם ישנם דברים שימצא צורך להחמיר או להקל באופן אחר קצת, הלא הדבר מסור לבית דין כשיש טעמים נכונים אפילו לעקור דברי תורה בקום ועשה, ובלא בית דין מוסכם כללי לאומה כולה בצירוף מעוז לאומי כבר ודאי אין ראוי לשבור המרכז הרוחני של האומה במאומה

Look there yourself for the entire piece. Definitely some interesting ideas worth thinking about.

Rabbi Triebitz then returns to the 6 reasons for mitzvot, and shows the the 4 middle reasons correspond to 4 kabbalistic ideas of abba, imma, ze’ir anpin and mochin. He will go into this again more slowly and in more depth next week, so if (like me) you need to review the ideas a few times to understand them be sure to tune in next week.


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 06

Click here to download the shiur as an flv file
Rav Kook Notebooks 06
(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 06

AND FOR APPLE I-POD USERS:
Click here to download the shiur in mp4 video format
Rav Kook Notebooks 06

Rav Kook 05 – Six Reasons for Mitzvot

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.

Pinkas HaDapim 2: Rav Kook gives reasons for mitzvot.

There are six reasons for mitzvot (a six dimensional teleological space)
1. There is a basic personal “lowest” reason which is how the performance of the mitzva effects the person and his internal well-being.
2. Man relates to G-d as creator
3. Universal ethical dimension
4. Man through mitzvot affects the spiritual worlds
5. Man through effecting the spiritual worlds affects the entire body of klal Yisrael.
6. Upper lever, is most intellectual

ששה צדדים יש לנו לפי זה לבקש בכל מצוה, ולפעמים נמצאים כולם בגלוי, ולפעמים נמצא רק חלקים מהם גלויים ויתרם מכוסים. הא’, צד האנכיות, הטובה הפרטית. הב’, הצד העליון של הכל, עילוי ורוממות ההויה הכללית. הג’, הצד האלהי המטה את ההשפעה של החיים לרוממות שאיפת דעת אלהים בשכל או בהרגשה. הד’, הצד המוסרי, הרבות היושר החסד הצדק וכל הטוב. הה’, הצד האמוני, הרבות דעת האמונה והרגשתה, התגלות תמציתה העליון המכוון מהוייתה, וזיכוך הלב הבא על ידי חיזוקה ואומץ הופעתה. הו’, הצד הלאומי המקשר את האומה בצורתה הרוחנית ובמעמדים הרוחניים הנדרשים לה.

Different mitzvot has different values for each dimension.
In addition to the fact that these dimensions change in accordance with the mitzvah, there is also a co-efficient of space and time.
In number 19 Rav Kook describes two different approaches to reasons for mitzvot. On the one hand they raise the Jewish people from the level of barbarians and civilise us, on the other hand, they reach the heights of kabbalistic splendour.

טעמי מצות כוללים גם כן את הרעיונות היותר שפלים ופשוטים, והם בכל שפלותם אינם מונעים את כל הגובה היותר נשגב של הרעיונות היותר נעלים ורוממים. מצב דור המדבר הוא מצוין בתיאור בחיבור הרוממות הקיצונית עם השפלות גם כן בקצה האחרון. מעבר מזה רוח נערץ ונשגב, הכשר לקראת גילוי שכינה והתעוררות להיות לעם עליון ונשא, לממלכת כהנים וגוי קדוש, ומעבר מזה עבדות שפלה, ברברות שפלה, וחסרון כל תכונה תרבותית. על כן גם מצד ההוה של התורה בשעתה גם כן ראויים המה שני גדרי הטעמים להתאחד יחד, וקל וחומר שהיא נושאת בקרבה את כל העתיד היותר רחוק, נשגב ורומם. בתחילה היו ישראל דומים לתרנגולים שהם מנקרים באשפה, עד שבא משה וקבע להם זמן סעודה (יומא). להרים אומה ממצב הברברי, צריכים לסייג אותה בסייגים קולטוריים. לא רחוק הוא הדרך המוביל אל הפראות הגסה.

The different opinions of reasons for mitzvot; Rambam who holds that they are to cure paganism, and Ramban who holds that they are connected to kabbalistic concepts. The two kinds of reasons described by Rav Kook in number 19 are similar to (though different from) the reasons of Rambam and Ramban.
These are actually the two poles of reasons for mitzvot, with 4 other dimensions in between.
Both Rambam and Ramban agree that the mitzvot cannot change. The mitzvot that were given to Moshe are eternal (this is one of Rambam’s 13 Principles)
So what does Rav Kook mean when he says that there is an evolution of reasons for mitzvot? The answer is that when we speak about mitzvot we mean as they were given to Moshe. They cannot change.
But Rav Kook is speaking about the Copernican revolution, and how man’s perception changes over time. Man’s ever expanding intellectual horizons, and his internal psychic equanimity which changes throughout history, lead to a constant evolution of understanding of relationship between man and G-d and all the other elements of reasons for mitzvot.
That is why the two ‘man’ levels are bottom and top, and the intermediate levels are spiritual.


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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.

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Rav Kook 08 – the Intolerance of Monotheism

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 Pinkas HaDapim Section 4

הערבוביה הנמצאת בדעות בדורנו צריכה להיות מוּסרת מעיקריה. הכפירה מהרסת את כל אושר העולם, ומחרבת בית ישראל עד מאד. לכן חובה כפולה היא עתה להרגיע את הלבבות, בצורת הדעות, מצד בנין האומה, חוץ מההטבה האנושית הכללית. ההבנה של כללות האמונות צריכה להתחדש באורח יותר נח ויותר מובן מכפי מה שהיה הדבר מפורסם עד כה. מיום שנפֹצה אמונת האחדות בין עמים רבים על ידי ההשפעה הישראלית, ביחוד ההשפעה התנ”כית שבאה על ידי ההעתקה היונית, ונבנו בנינים תיאולוגיים גדולים בכל הכתות הדתיות, נעשה מצב הדתות זו לזו במעמד של איבה חדה, שזהו חסרון מיוחד שלא היה דוגמתו בעולם האלילי. טבע האליליות הוא שלא לדחק אחד רגלי חבירו, שהרי הריבוי של האלהות הוא בעצמו מניח את האפשרות לצאת ידי חובת רבים, וכיון שאפשר לאמונה אחת שתכלל אלילים רבים בקרבה, כן לא תצר עינה אם אחרים יעבדו אלילים כאלה שאין להם כל יפוי כח אצלה.

Religious wars only began with the invention of monotheism. Paganism (polytheism) does not preclude other beliefs, therefore there is no need to fight for paganism.

אמנם האחדות מוחה היא על כל אלוהות בכח עצום מאד, וממילא נתפשטה המחאה גם כן על פרטי הקולטוס הדתי, שיהיה דוקא בצורה זו שהאמונה המקובלת בזה הקיבוץ מחזקת בו, וסגנון אחר הרי הוא כאילו אין זה אותו אלֹה, וממילא נכלל הענין במחאה המלאה שנאה עמוקה של עבודה זרה.

Monotheism equates with intolerance (cannot be more than one G-d) whereas polytheism is tolerance.
Rambam (Moreh Nevuchim I:56) explains the mitzvah of destruction of the seven nations of Israel as kindness. The ethical truth (which is equivalent to the ontological truth) allows for the ultimate Divine truth of monotheism. Rambam also speaks about this in the third section of Moreh Nevuchim.

אבל אי אפשר כלל שיהיה מצב כזה, שיש בו פגימה מוסרית כל כך גדולה, עומד בציביונו לעד.

But it is impossible that there should be such a deep spiritual destruction that it will be eternal.
Monotheism equals intolerance, which requires a lack of ethics (religious war) but this will be only temporary and not in the essence.
Yoma 9: First Temple was destroyed because of idolatry. Second Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred.
It seems that Chazal are saying that rejection of idolatry leads to hatred and warfare.

הגרעין הפנימי צריך שיוקח בטהרתו, וסיגיו יבדלו. הטהרה העליונה של הנקודה האמונית, האחדות האלהית, מוכרחת היא לבא לעולם. ההתפתחות לא תעמוד על עמדה. היא תבא למרום פסגתה, והפסגה הרוממה ברוח תגיע עד האחדות האלהית בהכרח. אבל האחדות בעצמה תלמד, שכל הצורות שבעולם הנן לבושים שהיא מתגלה על ידם, ושההבדל הנמצא בין הלבשה דחוקה, מוגבלת, ומעורפלת במחשכים של דמיונות כוזבים רבים, עד אותה ההלבשה המתרחבת ומתעטרת בהוד שכל צח ונשגב, איננו כי אם הבדל של סדרי מדרגות שהאורה הגדולה הולכת ומתגלה על ידם. 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

What is the relevance for us today? The inner kernel has to emerge with purity. We have to connect with the inner Divine ontological truth in a pure way, and reject the husk.
The perfection of the world happens naturally, without human intervention.
Rav Kook is basing himself on Ramchal (Da’at Tevunot) whereby the revelation of the Divine Unity happens by itself. Gilui Yichudo happens by itself.

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.

. בחופש גמור הננו מדברים, בלא שום פחד, מפני שהאמת הוא נר לרגלינו, והוא מגדל עז שם ד’ בו ירוץ צדיק ונשגב.

“I am speaking without fear,” writes Rav Kook, “Because truth is my guiding light.”


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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


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Rav Kook 04 – Purpose of Creation

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
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.

Rabbi Triebitz continues this series of shiurim with sections 25 and 26 in Pinkas HaDapim.

Given that Rav Kook understands the physical world to be independent of the Or HaElyon and takes tzimtzum literally, how can the tikun occur in the physical world?

This tikun is an important part of the thought of Ramchal, but he learns that the Or HaElyon is connected to the physical world. The gilui yichudo begins through evil in the physical world becoming transformed into good and ascending to the higher worlds.

How does Rav Kook understand the machshava tachtona, the revelation of G-d in the physical world?.

The source for Rav Kook is the Leshem in Sefer HaKlalim daf 65c (כללי התפשטות והסתלקות: כלל ט”ו ענף י”א). The Leshem poses a contradiction between the philosophy of Rambam and the theology of Chazal.

(Rav Aryeh Levine writes in his introduction that Rav Kook learned the philosophy of the Rishonim).

Ibn Gabbai asks whether the world has a purpose.

Moreh Nevuchim III:13 says that one cannot formulate a purpose for the creation of the world.

Avodas HaLev attacks Rambam and says that of course the purpose of creation was for man.

The truth is that Rambam and the kabbalists are not speaking to each other in the same language.

When we speak about the purpose of creation we can only speak from our viewpoint. We cannot speak about G-d’s purpose in creation. This is the Leshem’s explanation of the beginning of Etz Chaim. So perhaps there is no real dispute between Avodas HaLev and Rambam, but are both looking from a different viewpoint.

Leshem sides with Rambam, and says that we cannot see one part of creation as more important than any other part of creation.

This is very similar to what Rav Kook writes, that the laws of nature operate by themselves, and the world appears purposeless.

Leshem asks, if so, how do we understand all the statements of Chazal that man is the purpose of creation? He answers (66b) that through learning Torah a person elevates the physical world and spiritualises it.

Through the light of Torah a person unites all the parts of creation and elevates them, including the physical world.

For the Leshem, man is the purpose of creation insofar as he is able to unite all aspects of reality, including the physical, and brings them to a higher level.

There are two fundamental pillars of thought that Rav Kook shares with the Leshem.

Kant describes his thought as a “Copernican Revolution” in philosophy. Kant puts man at the centre of epistemology and philosophy. It is man who furnishes the world with its structure and ontology.

This idea is also fundamental to the thought of Nefesh HaChaim, that G-d, Torah and Yisrael are one.

For the Leshem the purpose of creation is man, who brings the world to its purpose.

For Ramchal, it is G-d who brings the world to its ultimate purpose.

Both Leshem and Ramchal are speaking from the human viewpoint, but in a sense dividing that viewpoint into ‘His’ and ‘ours’.

Ramchal stresses throughout Da’at Tevunot that it is G-d who directs history and brings the world to its purpose. Man’s role is very limited.

Leshem (and Rav Kook) focus on man’s role in perfecting the world.

While the Leshem speaks about learning Torah, Rav Kook speaks about philosophy, nature and science.

It is this intellectual study and thought which allows a person to spiritualise the world and bring it to its ultimate purpose.

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 04

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Rav Kook 03 – Rav Kook and the Leshem

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.

Rabbi Triebitz continues this series of shiurim with the 3rd paragraph of section 1.

Here Rav Kook speaks about the distinction between the general, higher thought, and the specific, lower thought. If the higher apprehension penetrates into the lower apprehension it is dangerous, and destroys everything.

על כן אם על ידי ההשפעה של המחשבה העליונה יתמחקו כל האותיות של המחשבה התחתונה, הכל יועם ויוכת, המוסר יתנודד ושלמות האמונה תתרופף, החיים יחלשו והמרץ יחלש, והארץ תשאה שממה

Where is the precedent for this idea, that we should not let the higher light penetrate and erase the features of the physical world.

There was a very close connection between Rav Kook and Rav Shlomo Elyashiv, author of Leshem Sh’vo ve-Achlama. In the introduction to Chidushim u-Bi’urim. In the introduction by R’ Aryeh Levine it states that Rav Kook wrote the wording for the Leshem’s tombstone.
The Leshem writes in Sefer Ha-De’ah amud 57b in the paragraph beginning עוד … a strong attack explicitly against Nefesh HaChaim sha’ar 3 (though the view of Nefesh HaChaim is not so different in this respect from that of the Tanya). The Leshem rejects their view that the physical world has no independent reality, but is merely an illusion. He writes:
ולכן אמרו כי אין מציאות ודמיון לעולם כלל…

This understanding of the Leshem, that tzimtzum cannot be understood non-literally, is paraphrased by Rav Kook using metaphor of sun shining etc. This shows clearly that our goal must be focusing on the physical world, which has a reality.

The goal of humanity is to perfect the physical world, and through that G-d will perfect the spiritual world.

Ramchal learns tzimtzum in a non-literal way, but not in the same way as the Tanya and Nefesh HaChaim.

What kind of perfection can occur in the physical world without any ain sof penetrating into it, according to the Leshem’s understanding of literal tzimtzum.

How can Rav Kook synthesis these two diametrically opposed views of the Leshem and Ramchal which have different understandings of tzimtzum and rectification.

The answer to this question will have to wait until next week when Rabbi Triebitz will look at the resolution of perfection and tzimtzum in the thought of Rav Kook, and the nature of the relationship between spiritual and natural world. Next week: Sections 25 and 26


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 03

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Rav Kook 02 – Man’s view, G-d’s view

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.

In this shiur Rabbi Triebitz brings the sources of Rav Kook’s views from the Ramchal. In Sefer Klalim Rishonim Ramchal presents the mashal and the nimshal, connecting the theory of the Arizal/Etz Chaim to the reality of the physical world. Rav Kook takes that idea, but instead of focusing on G-d’s viewpoint (as Ramchal does) Rav Kook looks at it from a human point of view. He brings kaballah into the realm of philosophy and the evolution of ideas.


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 02

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Rav Kook Notebooks 02
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Rav Kook 01 – Introduction, Upper and Lower Lights

In this new 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.

In a general introduction, explaining the strong thematic links between Rav Kook and Ramchal, Rav Treibitz recommends learning the introduction to Orot HaKodesh written by the Nazir, Rav David Cohen, which describes his first meeting with Rav Kook and how he came to be a talmid of his.

Rabbi Triebitz begins reading the first section of the notebook, which discusses upper and lower lights of intellect. Rav Kook also mentions explicitly ideas of Spinoza and Kant, and discusses the development of philosophical ideas.

Rav Kook says that there is innate spiritual content to the mundane, physical world. This must first be rectified by the lower light before the upper light can penetrate. Otherwise it could cause more damage than good.


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 01

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Rav Kook Notebooks 01
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Rav Kook Notebooks 01

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