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Rabbi Chanan Morrison

Rabbi Kook on Chanukah: Flickering Lights in Dark Times

Even wicks and oil that do not burn smoothly may be used for Chanukah lights. Why?, 12/21/2006, 3:52 PM

<I>Vayeshev</I>: Joseph's Labors in Exile

Perhaps our greatest question in life is: Do our actions have true significance? The performance of <I>mitzvot</I> is metaphysically meaningful, but what about our day-to-day activities? Ultimately, how much of our lives and pursuits truly matter?, 12/14/2006, 1:42 AM

Rabbi Kook on <I>Vayishlach</I>: Ancient Agronomists

Why does the Torah mention the agricultural expertise of the Canaanites? In general, why did God place these idolatrous and immoral nations in the Land of Israel? Would it not have been simpler if the Jewish people could have gained possession of <I>Eretz Yisrael</I> without needing to conquer it from the Canaanite nations?, 12/8/2006, 10:33 AM

Rabbi Kook on Psalm 103: Reaching Inwards to God

We sometimes read of extraordinary spiritual journeys, of people seeking out God and the meaning of life as they scale the majestic heights of a distant mountain or withdraw to the infinite vastness of an isolated desert. The psalmist, however, indicates that a more authentic journey would perhaps start much closer to home., 12/3/2006, 4:42 PM

Rabbi Kook on Psalm 111: Divinity in the Details

This psalm expresses our wonder at the beauty and splendor of God's works, both in the world of nature and in the Torah. The importance of this praise of God's works is evident in a dispute that took place between Rabbi Abahu, a third-century scholar in <I>Eretz Yisrael</I>, and an unnamed heretic., 11/26/2006, 2:04 PM

Rabbi Kook on Psalm 94: Fortunate Misfortune

Why did King David think that afflictions are such wonderful, providential experiences? And what exactly is this connection between suffering and Torah study?, 11/19/2006, 1:06 PM

Rabbi Kook on <I>Chayei Sarah</I>: The Torah of the Patriarchs

Even the sages were puzzled why the Torah describes in such detail the doings and dialogs of Abraham's servant, in his search for a wife for Isaac., 11/16/2006, 12:24 AM

Rabbi Kook on Psalm 3: Enemies From Within

Our most dangerous adversary is the enemy within. And this principle, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook wrote, applies to both the individual and the nation., 11/7/2006, 2:29 PM

Rabbi Kook on Psalm 49: Parables and Riddles

Maimonides wrote that the method of truly great thinkers is "to employ the style of riddle and parable." Why do the wise speak in parables and riddles?, 10/29/2006, 4:02 PM

Rabbi Kook on Psalm 128: Striving for Excellence

We usually think of self-reliance only in terms of livelihood. Actually, it is a mindset, relating to all aspects of life, material and spiritual., 10/25/2006, 3:05 PM

Rabbi Kook on <I>Breishit</I>: The Hidden Light of Creation

The sages referred to the light of the first day as the <I>Ohr HaGanuz</I>, "the Hidden Light". What is the nature of this special illumination introduced at the beginning of Creation?, 10/19/2006, 10:48 PM

Rabbi Kook on the Full Cup of Blessing

The Talmud (<I>Brachot</I> 51a) teaches that this cup of wine should be filled to the brim: "Whoever says the blessing over a full cup is given a boundless inheritance" and "is privileged to inherit two worlds, this world and the next.", 10/16/2006, 3:00 PM

Rabbi Kook on Sukkot: All of Israel in One Sukkah

All viewpoints and ideas become integrated and unified. We are elevated and attain a perfect unity - a unity that spreads its holy light over all the dispersed communities of Israel., 10/10/2006, 12:14 PM

Rabbi Kook on Yom Kippur: The Value of Life

Were I to dedicate my life towards fulfilling the purpose for which I was created, this would confirm and justify my existence. , 9/27/2006, 2:14 PM

The <I>Teshuvah</I> of Rosh Hashanah

We do not recite any confessional prayers, nor do we make any promises to improve. Instead, the Rosh Hashanah prayers deal with a completely different theme: the entire world accepting God's sovereignty. How does this aspiration fit in with the overall seasonal theme of <I>teshuvah</I>? , 9/21/2006, 3:23 PM

Rabbi Kook on Psalm 82: The Holiness of the Synagogue

The Hebrew word for a synagogue is not <I>beit tefillah</I> (house of prayer), but <I>beit kenesset</I> (house of gathering). The Greek word <I>synagogue</I> also means "place of assembly". Its holiness stems from its use as a gathering place for the community. , 9/17/2006, 4:20 PM

Rabbi Kook on <i>Ki-Tavo</i>: Be Happy!

Not only does God expect us to keep the <I>mitzvot</I>, but we are to perform them with joy and contentment. What is the difference between these two emotions?, 9/7/2006, 11:52 PM

Rabbi Kook on Elul: Unity and Repentance

The Jewish people have become divided into two camps, through the categorization of Jews as <I>Charedi</I> (religious) and <I>Chofshi</I> (secular). These are new terms, which were not used in the past. In this respect, we can certainly say that previous generations were superior to ours., 9/3/2006, 4:43 PM

Rabbi Kook on Psalm 4: Restraining Evil Impulses

"Tremble and do not sin; speak in your hearts upon your bed, and be still forever." (Psalms 4:5) According to 3rd century scholar Rabbi Shimon <I>ben</I> Lakish - himself a well-known penitent - this verse outlines a four-step program how to master the temptations of the <I>yeitzer hara</I> (evil inclination)., 8/27/2006, 8:13 PM

Rabbi Kook on Arab Violence and Jewish Pride

During the rioting, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook called Mr. Luke on the telephone and demanded that he take stiff action against the Arab marauders. , 8/14/2006, 2:49 AM

Rabbi Kook on Psalm 146: God Raises the Bowed

When you conjure in your mind a picture of a sincerely religious, truly devout individual, what sort of image do you see?, 8/9/2006, 12:41 AM

Rabbi Kook on Tisha B'Av: Seeing Jerusalem in its Joy

At first glance, it seems strange that our sages said that the mourner will merit to see Jerusalem "in its joy," not "in its rebuilding." Is not the rebuilding primary and the joy secondary? , 8/2/2006, 4:06 PM

A Sleepless Night in a Bomb Shelter With Rabbi Kook

Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook's private secretary, Rabbi Shimon Glitzenstein, recorded his experiences with Rabbi Kook in a booklet called <I>Mazkir HaRav</I>, including the following description of a sleepless night in a London bomb shelter., 7/20/2006, 1:52 AM

Rabbi Kook on Psalms 6: Crying Without Tears

When we say the <i>Amidah</i>, we become highly aware of our true spiritual goals and aspirations. With <i>Tachanun</i>, we return to reality, and come to terms with our flawed traits and failings. The roller-coaster dive from the uplifting heights of the <i>Amidah</i> to the disheartening depths of <i>Tachanun</i> can be heart-wrenching., 7/10/2006, 11:45 PM

Rabbi Kook on Psalm 26: Connected to the Klal

True growth, of course, requires one to be accomplished both in good deeds and in one's connection to the <I>klal</I>. But if we need to chose, which quality is more important?, 7/3/2006, 11:50 AM

Rabbi Kook on Psalms 126: We Were Like Dreamers

Presumably, this is a vision of the future redemption, when "our mouths will be filled with laughter." Yet, the psalmist also speaks of the past - "we were like dreamers." Is this taking place in the past or the future? , 6/25/2006, 11:01 AM

Rabbi Kook on Psalm 50: Torah from Zion

An individual residing in <I>Eretz Yisrael</I> can connect to the Torah on a level that is not possible outside the land. , 6/18/2006, 12:04 PM

Delusions of Grandeur

A rather peculiar man lived in London during the time that Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook served in the local rabbinate. What was so peculiar about him? He thought he was <I>Mashiach</I> (the Messiah)., 6/11/2006, 11:30 PM

Rabbi Kook on Psalm 81: Aiming for Greatness

This psalm charges us to sing out in joy, as God answered our prayers and rescued us from the bondage of Egypt: "I am <I>HaShem</I> your God Who raises you up from the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide, and I will fill it." (Psalms 81:11) , 6/5/2006, 12:35 AM

Rabbi Kook on Shavuot: Connecting to Torah Study

Not everyone takes to Torah study like a fish to water. If Torah study is indeed so natural to the Jewish soul, why do Jewish educators need to work so hard?, 6/1/2006, 12:38 AM

Rabbi Kook on Zion and Jerusalem: The Two Messengers

The prophet Isaiah spoke of two messengers proclaiming the imminent redemption of Israel: "Herald of Zion, ascend a lofty mountain! Herald of Jerusalem, lift up your voice with strength, do not be afraid!" (Isaiah 40:9), 5/26/2006, 1:33 AM

Rabbi Kook on Psalm 39: When Will I Die?

In this chapter, the psalmist speaks of terrible suffering and pain - suffering so terrible that he feels he must forcibly 'muzzle' his mouth to restrain himself from questioning God's justice in the world. In desperation, he beseeches God: When will it end?, 5/22/2006, 1:31 AM

Rabbi Kook on Psalm 34: Who Wants a Good Life?

How does one live a good life? The psalmist reveals the secret to good living...., 5/7/2006, 9:58 PM

Rabbi Kook on Jewish Nationalism

Rabbi Kook defended "the wondrous unity of Judaism and Jewish nationalism.", 5/2/2006, 6:58 PM

Rabbi Kook on Psalm 90: Teach Us to Count Our Days

What consequence can there be to a fleeting life of seventy years, "or with strength, eighty years," compared to the eternity of God - "From the beginning of the world to its end, You are God" (Psalms 90:2)?, 4/23/2006, 8:37 PM

A Fatal Mistake

He asked me if I knew Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, of blessed memory. I answered that I had been privileged to benefit from his exalted Torah and inspiring discourses. At that moment, the man burst into tears and said, "What a shame! What a shame that I did not listen to him.", 4/11/2006, 1:24 AM

Rabbi Kook: Destroy Chametz, Gain Freedom

How does clearing out leaven from our homes relate to the Passover theme of freedom and independence?, 4/5/2006, 12:09 PM

Rabbi Kook on Psalm 19: The Power of Holy Speech

How can one gain a sense of God's infinite greatness? The nineteenth psalm utilizes two methods. , 4/2/2006, 12:36 PM

Rabbi Kook on <I>Ki Tisa</I>: When Bad Things Happen to Good People

After Moses succeeded in petitioning God to forgive the Jewish people for the sin of the golden calf, he made an additional request from God: "If You are indeed pleased with me, allow me to know Your ways.", 3/16/2006, 11:46 AM

Rabbi Kook on Purim: "Go, Gather All the Jews"

During these days of Purim, in these difficult hours, many adversities from without besiege and afflict the entire nation of Israel. Yet, the greatest anguish stems from our internal conflicts, because internal tranquility, the peace of the House of Israel, is lacking., 3/12/2006, 12:39 PM

Rabbi Kook on Tu BiShevat: Emulating the Divine

Rabbi Kook was given the honor of placing the first sapling in the ground. The organizers handed the rabbi a hoe with which to dig the hole, but he threw it aside and began digging with his bare hands., 2/13/2006, 1:01 AM

Rabbi Kook: "We Are a Wise Old Nation"

"Ever since we were exiled from our Land, we have forgotten how to serve God properly, so we are starting again from scratch.", 1/29/2006, 10:41 AM

Rabbi Kook on <I>Vayechi</I>: Fishy Blessings

The phrase "increase like fish in the land" sounds like a very mixed-up metaphor. Fish do not thrive on land; they certainly do not increase there! What kind of blessing is this?, 1/13/2006, 10:40 AM

For the Honor of Torah

The news of a rabbi slapping someone across the face made a shocking impression on everyone who heard about it., 1/9/2006, 12:02 AM

Rabbi Kook on Chanukah: The Sacred Protects Itself

"People mistake the sacred and the secular for adversaries at war with one another. But in truth, national life cannot exist unless both of these values are fully developed and channeled toward building the nation. Hence, we must endeavor to fuse them and imbue the secular with the holy.", 12/29/2005, 12:19 AM

Rabbi Kook on <I>Vayeshev</I>: The Reality of Dreams

Why do dreams contain extraneous and inaccurate details? , 12/22/2005, 11:21 PM

Rabbi Kook on <I>Vayishlach</I>: Pillars and Sanctuaries

It appears perfectly acceptable for Jacob to erect a pillar. Later on, however, the Torah specifically prohibits all pillars, even to worship God: "Do not erect a sacred pillar, since this is something that God your Lord hates." (Deuteronomy 16:22) What about Jacob's pillar?, 12/15/2005, 11:45 PM

Rabbi Kook on <I>Vayetze</I>: The Blessing of a Scholar's Presence

After working at Laban's ranch for 14 years, Jacob was anxious to return home, to the Land of Israel. Laban, however, was not eager to let his nephew go: "I have made use of divination and have learned that it is because of you that God has blessed me.", 12/8/2005, 11:22 PM

Rabbi Kook on the Secular Builders of the State

A delegation of rabbis once came to Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook to complain about the fact that he, the Chief Rabbi, associated with the secular pioneers who disregarded the laws of the Torah., 11/28/2005, 2:08 PM

Rabbi Kook on <I>Vayera</I>: The Binding of Isaac

What is so profound, so amazing about the <I>Akeida</I>? After all, it was common among certain pagan cults to sacrifice children (such as the idolatry of Molech). In what way did Abraham show greater love and self-sacrifice than the idol-worshippers of his time?, 11/18/2005, 1:24 AM

Rabbi Kook on the Atmosphere of Eretz Yisrael

Under the influence of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, an American Jew came to <I>Eretz Yisrael</I> with the intention of settling here permanently. One day, however, he showed up the rabbi's house and requested a farewell blessing. For some reason, he had decided to return to America., 11/13/2005, 1:34 PM

Rabbi Kook on the Age of the Universe

In a letter written in 1905, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook responded to questions concerning evolution and the geological age of the world. He put forth four basic arguments. , 11/3/2005, 9:37 PM

Rabbi Kook on <I>Bereishit</I>: Tasty Fruit Trees

The Kabbalists used the term <I>"shevirat hakeilim"</I> - breaking of the vessels - to describe the many difficulties that occurred in the process of creating the world. With this phrase, they wished to convey the idea that the limited physical realm was incapable of accepting all of the spiritual content that it needed to contain. , 10/27/2005, 6:43 PM

Rabbi Kook on Succot: The Role of the Lowly Willow

Why does the lowly willow merit special attention? And what is the meaning of the ancient custom of striking the floor with it? , 10/19/2005, 11:38 PM

Rabbi Kook on Rosh Hashanah: Heartrending Blasts

A group of workers was pressured to complete a building in one of the neighborhoods of Jerusalem and they continued working during the Rosh Hashanah holiday. When the neighbors realized what was happening, they immediately sent word to Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook., 10/2/2005, 10:41 PM

Rabbi Kook on <I>Ki Tavo</I>: Accept and (Then) Analyze

How should we learn Torah - with an open heart or a critical eye? , 9/22/2005, 3:37 PM

<I>Teshuva</I> for the Generation of Rebirth

Rabbi Kook saw <I>teshuva</I> as an underlying force affecting all aspects of life, not only the realm of the sacred: "<I>Teshuva</I> holds a primary place in Torah and in life.", 9/14/2005, 11:35 PM