Thursday, April 15, 2010

Love in the words of Rav Kook

Commentary by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935) divided in 12 parts

1 The heart must be full of Love for all Creation.

2 Love for all Creation is the first premise, followed by Love for humankind, and then Love for the People of Israel. In the Love for the People of Israel all Loves are encompassed, because Jews are destined to make all things as perfect as they originally are. These three Loves are manifested in effective ways directed to the well being and enhancement of those who are aware of Love and attached to it. But the greatest Love of all is the Love of G-d, because it is the highest realization and the utmost rejoicing happiness of man when his heart is full of this Love.

3 Our effective Love for everything where we see the Light of G-d is the result of our sweet Love of Him, a compelling Love that we can’t refrain from, as we love His goodness connected to the Torah and His Commandments. This compels us to love the goodness for all by doing what is righteous and fair, from which all existence depends on. With this goodness our heart pursues perfection, because it is the will of G-d in its majesty and splendor. G-d’s will is greater than this manifested goodness, because it sustains the essence of every living being, and this is something that our mind can’t grasp. Consequently, we are compelled to fully love every creature, because the Light of G-d and His grace are shinning in all Creation: “The Loving Kindness of the Lord fills the Earth.”
(Psalms 33:5).

4 The sacred fire of Divine Love is always burning in the heart of man. This sacred fire illuminates life, keeps the warmth of the soul, and the endless delights that emanate from it can’t be comprehended or measured. How is conceivable that man be so evil against himself and throw himself into the darkness, falling down to small-minded interests, forgetting what emanates true life and sustains everything that makes life significant. This small-mindedness doesn’t allow him to partake in life, and without Light to shine on him he goes in this world carrying the heavy burden of his material survival. This is against the way life is and against the way of all Creation. The delight of Divine Love, a gift from Heaven, exists to break all limitations to allow life to walk in the path of this delight, and be able to enjoy its might and magnificence: “No eye has seen what the Lord shall do for those who hope for Him” (Isaiah 64:3).

5 Love for humankind must be full in our hearts and souls for all peoples and all nations, directed by the desire to pursue their material and spiritual progress, and hatred must be directed only against wickedness and the nastiness in the world. In order for us to be elevated when we recite “Praise the Lord, invoke His Name, declare His works among the nations” (I Chronicles 16:8) in the morning prayer, we have to experience
a profound interior Love to procure for all the nations their material well being and their happiness. With this disposition the Jewish people will experience the presence of the Messiah. When we see in our Jewish tradition references to hatred, they all are against wickedness, the evil that has broken the cohesiveness of many nations in current times, as well as in ancient times when the world lived in an inferior moral level. We have to be aware that life, in its natural Light and sacredness, never loses its Divine image that empowers every person and every nation according to their level, and this connection to sacredness will elevate all of them. With this vision of life we are devoted to make the advancement in the world prevail, as well as the elevation of justice combined with strength and splendor; all for the perfection of all Creation, starting with man and the surroundings where he lives. This is the core of the Jewish vision, and with the grace of G-d we practice this vision both materially and spiritually.

6 The awareness of Love in every righteous individual embraces all creatures, encompassing all peoples and languages, including those like the evil Amalek whose names are commanded to be erased according to Biblical account “from under the Heavens” (Exodus 17:14). However, these evil ones can be elevated to the source of goodness that is above the Heavens, in the Greatest Love, through “cleansing”. In order to be able to achieve this elevated type of unification, one needs to have a great strength and a great purity.

7 When obstacles confront our Love, either from nature or from Torah’s teachings, our Love is submitted to refinement in order to be elevated to the essence of Divine Love, the One that created all life and sustains life all the time.

8 Our Love for all peoples, although it is all encompassing including the wicked ones, does not relent our hatred for wickedness; and actually strengthens it, because we love the wicked not according to their wickedness, but for the goodness in them. And it is our Love telling us that we can find Love in everything. The hatred for the wicked becomes implacable and absolute when it derives from the goodness that compels us to love him.

9 It is considered proper to hate a wicked person because of his wickedness,
but because he is endowed with a Divine image we are entitled to love him. We also must be aware that this Divine image is far more real than the lower traits that come from him because of his circumstances. This is why the Talmud (Pesachim 49b) says that it is allowed to attack a rude person on his back but not on his front, referring the “back” as his past, and the “front” as his life that shines with Divine Light.

10 It requires a great effort to expand our love for people to a level that pervades life fully and completely. We can do this discarding the shallow
vision acquired by the superficial study of the Torah and conventional morality, which give the impression or suggest that this kind of love is ambiguous. The greatest love for people is for the sake of people as individuals. This love has to embrace every individual regardless of differences in religion, race or environment. It is important to understand the ways of different nations and peoples in order to love them accordingly with the proper actions. Only a person who is rich in love for other nations and for each individual is able to love his own nation spiritually and materially in its most sublime dimension. The obtuseness that leads to perceive as ugly and impure anything from a particular nation or different from the Jewish people is an aspect of the horrible darkness that weakens all efforts to reach up the spiritual level that every sensitive soul hopes for.

11 It is essential to possess a self-discipline regarding the love of people, particularly the love for those who are the most honorable, the sages, the artists, the poets, the leaders of the communities. We need to recognize the Light of the good in what is best in other people, because
this Light is expanded to the world through them, even if they are aware or not of the significance of this mission.

12 Who is able to restrict the Light of the Greatest Love of G-d that beats on the hearts of the righteous that remain, the faithful of holiness who are righteous of heart? This Light beats like a breeze charged with delightful scents, and also roars like the waves of the sea. The soul is stirred by the sublime delight, and the Love of this supreme delight elevates all ethical and spiritual willingness of our consciousness, and with this every soul is sanctified, because the one who is the most separated from the Light of the holy souls of the heroes of G-d is also elevated. The whole Torah, the ethical teachings, the Commandments, the good actions and the learning are there to clear the obstacles in order to allow the expansion of this universal Love, and spread it to all dimensions of life. The fruits emanated from the roots of this highest sacred Love encompass the good and righteous traits of everything in general and particular, individually and collectively, up until we ascend to the level where the world is judged “with righteousness, and the peoples with fairness.” (Psalms 98:9).

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From the Book's Foreword

Let's reexamine our ancestral memory, intellect, feelings, emotions and passions. Let's wake them up to our true Essence. Let us engage in the delightful awareness of Love as the Essence of G-d. The way this book is written is to reaffirm and reiterate its purpose, so it presents its message and content in a recurrent way. This is exactly its purpose, to restate the same Truth originally proclaimed by our Holy Scriptures, Prophets and Sages. Our purpose is to firmly enthrone G-d's Love in all dimensions of our consciousness, and by doing it we will fulfill His Promise that He may dwell with us on Earth forever. Let's discover together the hidden message of our ancient Scriptures and Sages. In that journey, let's realize Love as our Divine Essence, what we call in this book the revealed Light of Redemption in the Messianic era.