The Religions Philosphy of Rabbi Kook The following lines appear in a poem by Rabbi Abraha Isaac Kook: Expanses divine my soul craves. Confine me not in cages, Of substance or of spirit. I am love-sick - I thirst, I thirst for God, As a deer for water brooks. Alas, who can describe my pain, Who will be a violin to express the songs of my grief, I am bound to the world, All creatures, all people are my friends, Many parts of my soul Are intertwined with them, But how can I share with them my ligjt? These lines express a mood that is characteristic of all Rabbi Kook's writings. The theme to which he returned again and again in his poetry as in his prose, is an unsatiable longing for God, an almost ecstatic affirmation of life, of the world, as suffused with the wonder of God's creation, and a struggle to find the word or deed that would illumine other minds with the light that shone so brightly in his. He was born to a deeply pious and learned Jewish family in 1865, in Grieve, Latvia, the restricted world of the Jewish ghetto in Eastern Europe, but he was in constant rebellion against all that restricts and narrows the human spirit. He was a prolific writer, but he was also a man of action. He served as rabbi in the Lithuanian towns of Zoimel (1888-1895) and Broisk (1895-1904) and as chief rabbi of Jaffa, Palestine (190401919). While stranded by the First World War during a visit to Europe, he served as rabbi of a congregation in London, England (1917-1918). His career was climaxed by his election to the most august rabbinic office in world Jewry, the chief rabbinate of Jerusalem, and of the whole Jewish community in Palestine. He served in this post during sixteen stormy years till his death in 1935. His voluminous writings still await exploration and assessment but it is clear from even a brief acquaintance with his ideas that he belongs among the immortals of throught in the history of Judaism. Rabbi Kook's thought differs sharply from that of classic Jewish theologians such as Philo, Judah Halevi and Maimonides. The classicists sought primarily to defend their faith against the challenge of various ideologies current in their time: Philo against Greek philosophy; Halevi against philosophic rationalism and against the rival faiths of Christianity and Islam, as well as against the Jewish heresy known as Karaism; Maimonides against Aristotelian naturalism which had a revival in the early Middle Ages and which taught the heretical doctrine of the eternity of the universe. Rabbi Kook's writings are almost wholly devoid of religious polemics. He was essentially an existentialist thinker to whom theological ssues as such were of secondary importance. The essence of religion for him was in its existential implications, its concern to bring all life under the discipline of divine ideals. The test of religion at its highest was in the passion it inspires to bend life toward ethical and moral perfection. The attempts to prove God's existence by dialectical arguments as..... (Introduction continued in the book).
View Table of Contents
Preface I Preface II Foreword Introduction
The Lights Of Penitence The Moral Principles Lights Of Holiness Essays Letters Poems
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