Orot: The Lights of Rav Kook with Rabbi Spolter

Rav Kook graphic

Rav Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook inspired generations of religoius Zionists. His passion, scholarship and devotion to the Land of Israel trasnformed him into the powerful leader who established the groundwork for the growth of the Religious Zionist community in Israel. His most famous work, Orot, describes the inherent power of the Land of Israel and her underlying connection to the Nation of Israel. In this shiur, we will study the writings of Orot through the prism of Rav Kook's son, Rav Zvi Yehuda, using a recently published book of shiurim on Orot.

Rav Kook book

Note that all audio is in mp3 format and downloads directly. There are no source sheets for this shiur as we are studying from the book directly. You can either just listen in, or if you wish to order a copy of the book, click here for the havabooks web site.

Shiur 1 Audio file
In this first shiur, (which is actually the second shiur of the series -- I forgot to record the first shiur - sorry!), we review the first chapter of Orot from Rav AY"H Kook, focusing on the central role of the Land of Israel in Judaism and Jewish Thought. Rav T"Y then explains why Rambam does not count settling in the Land of Israel as one of the 613 commandments.

Shiur 2 Audio file
This shiur continues with Rav T"Y Kook and discusses the gemara in Brachot (63a-b) and the story of the Amoraim who traveled from the Land of Israel to Babylonia to chasitise the scholars of Bavel. The shiur concludes by echoing Rav AY"H Kook's central theme of the centrality of the Land to the Torah itself.

Shiur 3 Audio file
We begin Chapter 2 (page 53) from Rav AY"H Kook which discusses why some great leaders and communities have not accepted the ideas central to the thought of Rav Kook. It comes down to a question of whether one accepts the "hidden" Torah as well as the revealed, or only accepts what the eye can see.

Shiur 4 Audio file
In this fourth shiur, we learn about Rav Tzvi Yehuda's description of a community and attitude that has a "smallness of vitality" - specifically referring to Rav Hirsch and the German Jewish community.

Shiur 5 Audio file
The fifth shiur concludes the second section of Rav T"Y Kook, and continues with Rav T"Y's note of the Lubavitch community that seems rooted in "hidden" Torah, but still failed to emphasize the importance of the Land of Israel. In addition, he gives a very important understanding of why the Jewish people lost both Temples based on a well-known agadah in Nedarim and Baba Metzia and tells us, emphatially, what he considers a fundamental tenet of Rav Kook's Religoius Zionism.

Shiur 6 Audio file
Our sixth shiur begins the third chapter of Orot, which delves into the true nature of Israelite character, what causes exile, and how the function of exile helps cleanse and repair the Israelite entity as a whole. This to date is the most esoteric chapter of Orot and also rather abstract - so unfocus your mind, and listen in.

Shiur 7 Audio file
We continue with Rav Zvi Yehuda's explanation of the third chapter of Orot, focusing specificially on what causes exile, and how exile is not so much a punishment, but the final stage in the process of defilement. Rav Kook describes how sin damages the Israelite nation, causes us to be unable to fulfill our mission in the world, and forces God to remove Himself from us.

Shiur 8 Audio file
What's the difference between the Jewish nation and the rest of the nations? How are we different when we're in the Land of Israel and when we're in the exile? What's missing from the Jewish people when we're stuck in exile?

Shiur 9 Audio file
What happens when the Jewish people continue to sin, even in the Land of Israel now? Rav Zvi Yehuda explains that he's not really worried about it.

Shiur 10 Audio file
We begin Chapter 4 from Orot, in which Rav Kook turns to the personal and individual, and how each Jew's greatest potential can only be realized in the Land of Israel. Rav Zvi Yehuda also distinguishes between the different types of religious and ethical strengths that Eretz Yisrael nurtures, and begins discussing the different types of thought that Eretz Yisrael affects.

Shiur 11 Audio file
We continue Chapter 4 by discussing how halachah changes reality -- and whether the land of Israel is substantially different (qualitatively) than other places, or just halachically and categorically difrerent than other places. Then we continue with Rav Zvi Yehuda's explanation of chapter 4, and the different types of thought process that Eretz Yisrael affects.

Shiur 12 Audio file
We continue with Chapter 4 (page 102) - how does the Land of Israel allow for greater "spritual flow" from God? And, how does the desire and yearning for Israel establish that flow as well?

Shiur 13 Audio file
We conclude Chapter 4's second shiur and Rav Tzvi Yehuda's expanation of what it means to yearn and desire the Land of Israel. We begin Chapter 5 and discuss the notion of Jewish imagination, and the important role that imagination plays in spiritual life.