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.
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Rav Kook Notebooks 04
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Rav Kook Notebooks 04

One thought on “Rav Kook 04 – Purpose of Creation

  1. Betzalel

    Thank You for all the shiurim
    The name of the Sefer is Avodat Hakodesh not ha lev as said in the shiur and written in the write up on shiur .Thank you


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