Abraham Isaac Kook

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It is forbidden for religious behavior to compromise a personal, natural, moral sensibility. If it does, our fear of heaven is no longer pure ... and we have certainly been mistaken in our faith.

Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935) was the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of the British Mandate for Palestine, the founder of the Religious Zionist Yeshiva Merkaz HaRav, Jewish thinker, Halachist, Kabbalist and a renowned Torah scholar. He was one of the most celebrated and influential rabbis of the 20th century.

Quotes[edit]

The good will is all — and all the talents are ways to fulfill it.
  • Our generation is wonderful generation, full of wonder. It's very hard to find an example of it in all our history. Composed of contradictions — light and darkness mixed.
    • Ma'amar Hador.
  • When the spirit shines, even foggy skies make pleasant light.
    • Meged Yerachim.
  • The free movement of the moral impulse to establish justice for animals generally and the claim of their rights from mankind are hidden in a natural psychic sensibility in the deeper layers of the Torah. In the ancient value system of humanity … the moral sense had risen to a point of demanding justice for animals. … Just as the democratic aspiration will reach outward through the general intellectual and moral perfection … so will the hidden yearning to act justly towards animals emerge at the proper time. What prepares the ground for this state is the commandments, those intended specifically for this area of concern. There is indeed a hidden reprimand between the lines of the Torah in the sanction to eat meat.
    • "Fragments of Light: A View as to the Reasons for the Commandments," in The Lights of Penitence, The Moral Principles, Lights of Holiness, Essays, Letters, and Poems, trans. Ben Zion Bokser (New York: Paulist Press, 1978), pp. 317-318.

Orot[edit]

Orot [Lights].
  • The delight of the Torah is ignited by an inner awareness. A man begins to sense the great tapestry of each letter and point. Every concept and content, every notion and idea, of every spiritual movement, of every vibration, intellectual and emotional, from the immediate and general to the distant and detailed, from matters lofty, spiritual, and ethical according to their outward profile, to matters practical, obligatory, seemingly frightening, and forceful, and at the same time complex and full of content and great mental exertion — all together become known by a supernal holy awareness.
  • The good will is all — and all the talents are ways to fulfill it.
    • Orot Hatshuva 9.
  • We are great and our faults are great and therefore our problems great and great are our consolations.
    • Orot Hatchiah 5.
  • A tiny remnant of a big thing is better than a whole little thing.
    • Orot Hatchiah 14.
  • We forgot we have Holy Body not less than our Holy Spirit.
    • Orot Hatchiah 33.
  • The difference between the Jewish soul, in all its independence, inner desires, longings, character and standing, and the soul of all the Gentiles, on all of their levels, is greater and deeper than the difference between the soul of a man and the soul of an animal, for the difference in the latter case is one of quantity, while the difference in the first case is one of essential quality.
  • It is forbidden for religious behavior to compromise a personal, natural, moral sensibility. If it does, our fear of heaven is no longer pure. An indication of its purity is that our nature and moral sense becomes more exalted as a consequence of religious inspiration. But if these opposites occur, then the moral character of the individual or group is dismissed by religious observance, and we have certainly been mistaken in our faith.

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