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The Juiceless Perspective

By Tzvi Fishman
9/6/2011, 8:09 PM

In our previous blog, we mentioned that Diasporarians have a distorted understanding of Torah, due to our long exile from our Land, when the Torah was stripped of its national wholeness and denuded to a list of private mitzvoth like kashrut and Shabbat.

Rabbi Kook reveals a parallel cause behind the confusion of Diaspora Judaism – a superficial learning of Torah. In his book, “Orot,” he writes:

“By being alienated from the recognition of the secrets of Torah, the kedusha of Eretz Yisrael is understood in a foggy, unfocused fashion. By alienating oneself from the secrets of G-d, the highest segulot (treasures) of the deep Divine life become extraneous, secondary matters which do not enter the depths of the soul, and as a result, the most potent force of the individual's and the nation's soul will be missing, and the exile is found to be pleasant in its own accord. For to someone who only comprehends the superficial level, nothing basic will be lacking in the absence of the Land of Israel, the Jewish Kingdom, and all of the facets of the nation in its built form.

“For him, the foundation of the yearning for Salvation is like a side branch that cannot be united with the deep understanding of Judaism, and this itself testifies to the poverty of insight which is found in this juiceless perspective. We are not rejecting any form or contemplation which is founded on truthfulness, on sensitivity of thought, or on the fear of Heaven, in whatever form it takes; but only rejecting the specific aspect of this perspective which seeks to negate the secrets of Torah and their great influence on the spirit of the nation -- for this is a tragedy which we are obligated to fight against with counsel and wisdom, with holiness and with valor,” (Orot, 1:2).

This translation of Rabbi Kook’s eloquent Hebrew, and a clear, down-to-earth commentary, can be found in the book I wrote with Rabbi David Samson, “Eretz Yisrael – The Writings of Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaKohen Kook,” available at: The book is must reading for anyone who seeks exposure to the profound Torah insights of Rabbi Kook, and who seeks to deepen his, or her, connection to Torah, to Eretz Yisrael, and to G-d. For those of who can’t afford the ten odd dollars, the commentary to this chapter can be found at:

In my opinion, a person cannot fully appreciate the great events of our time without studying the writings of Rabbi Kook. His good name, towering righteousness, and Torah scholarship have been smeared by little people in the Haredi world, but when it came time for two of the most outstanding Torah authorities from the Haredi world to be married, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and Rabbi Eleyashiv, they both turned to Rabbi Kook to perform the ceremony. The gedolim of the Haredi world had great respect for Rabbi Kook – it was the small-minded amongst their students who smirched him, fearing that Rabbi Kook would overshadow their Rabbis .

This Elul, add Rabbi Kook’s writings on Eretz Yisrael to your daily t’shuva program. After all, to do t’shuva means to return, and that includes returning to where we came from – Eretz Yisrael.