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What a Revelation!

By: Rav Ari Shvat

In our parsha we find one of the most famous of the mitzvot, ואהבת לרעך כמוך (יט, יח), commonly known as Ahavat Yisrael.

We are all familiar with the centrality of Ahavat Yisrael, love of the Nation and of each and every individual Jew, to the philosophy of Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook, but many are not aware of the connection between this love for unity and nationalism with his world-view on other topics.

The famed Nazir, Rav David Cohen, summarized the philosophy of his close and revered teacher Rav Kook as "האחדות הכוללת"- the All-Encompassing Unity.[1] It is obviously difficult to summarize an entire hashkafa of thirty sfarim in one page, but in short, the idea is as follows:

In contrast to polytheism, paganism, neo-paganism and post-modernism, which express the pessimistic inevitable clashes between the different powers, interests, nations, truths and ideologies of the world, Hashem’s Oneness expresses the idea of harmony and the optimistic view of peace and unity. Even kindness (חסד) and strength (גבורה) , fire and water, heaven and earth, physical and spiritual all stem from One address and One Creator and are not at odds with each other. Accordingly, there cannot be any inherent contradictions in the world, just temporary ones, based upon the short-sightedness of man. At first glance, male and female seem to be opposites, as do the positive and negative charges, and the intellectual vis-a-vis the emotional. Nevertheless, anyone who learns even elementary biology, electricity or psychology knows that these apparent opposites davka compliment each other! Two positives cannot make electricity, two males cannot produce a family, and one who lacks either intellect or emotion is seriously deficient.

Although G-d’s Oneness is hidden and cannot be grasped intellectually in the physical world of division which He created (in kabbala: “עלמא דפירודא”, where by definition, everything physical, even atoms, can be divided) the Unity of Hashem can be seen through the unity of the opposites.[2] The modern world is revealing that even the most contradictory ideas or creations actually complement! Hashem created a round world, where the more you oppose or leave a certain point, with patience and examination you eventually reveal that you return to the same place. The tears of pain and happiness don’t express contradiction but Unity. Difference of opinion, contrasting ideologies or political parties, should not be seen as hostile or threatening but as complimenting and necessary for wholesomeness.[3]

I finally understood why Rav Kook’s books are called “Orot” with the help of my young daughter. When she tried all of her new crayons on a page, her drawing came out totally black! On the other hand, we know that light, the opposite of darkness, is also a combination of those same different colors of the prism! Just as the same ingredients used in making a tasty salad, when thrown together in a blender will come out nauseating. The conductor knows the key to nice music is harmony, achieved through the synthesis of three different notes or many different instruments, yet only on condition that they cooperate, and don’t try to out blast each other.

We see beauty in the difference between kohen and levi, Jew and non-Jew, man and woman, and oppose the superficial and naïve “identicalness” of Korachism, communism,  radical feminism or Christianity (who claim there is no one Chosen People). Rav Zvi Yehuda Kook stressed that division is not separation or fragmentation but a temporary difference which will enable that harmonic compliment.[4]

Accordingly, on a national level, we can understand why each Jew is said to have his own personal letter in the sefer Torah of Israel (the abbreviation: ישראל=יש שישים ריבוא אותיות לתורה[5]), inferring that each Jew is unique and we need them all. A Torah which is lacking even one letter isn’t kosher! We relate to each Jew as having a unique spark of Hashem that no one else has. א-לוהי אברהם is a different expression than א-לוהי יצחק or א-לוהי יעקב, and in order to reveal Hashem in the world, each Jew must not only reveal his unique godliness, but must be respectfully tolerated, loved and studied (!) accordingly.

We’ve demonstrated regarding music, science, food, art, politics, relationships, or really anything; the key to understanding and success in this world is through perceiving the Unity of G-d through the synchronization of the complimentary differences in the complex world, especially explicit in the harmony and unity of His Children and representative, Israel. In short, unity is the revelation of G-d, wholesomeness, peace and all good.

Chag Atzma’ut Same’ach.

[1]אורות הקודש, מבוא, עמ' 18-19; אורות הקודש ב, עמ' שצא-תמז.

[2]  עיין א' רוזנק, הרב קוק, ע' 280.

[3]  אורות עמ' קמט ו-קנב; עולת ראי"ה עמ' של-שלא; אורות הקודש א, ע' טו.


[4]שיעורו על אורות הקודש ב, ע' תלט-תמא.

[5]  עיין אורות הקודש ג, עמ' קלז-קלט ו-רכא; רש"נ ברזוקבסקי, נתיבות שלום, במדבר, ע' צב.





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