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

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