Monday, 7 April 2014

Rav Kook on Pesach

Some of the teachings of Rav Avraham Yitzhaz Kook on Freedom and Pesach


Moadei Harayah

There are two aspects to attaining true freedom. First, one needs to be physically independent of all external oppression. But complete freedom also requires freedom of the spirit. The soul is not free if it is subjected to external demands that prevent it from following the path of its inner truth.

The difference between a slave and a free person is not just a matter of social standing. One may find an educated slave whose spirit is free, and a free person with the mindset of a slave. What makes us truly free? When we are able to be faithful to our inner self, to the truth of our Divine image — then we can live a fulfilled life, a life focused on our soul's inner goals. One whose spirit is servile, on the other hand, will never experience this sense of self-fulfilment. Their happiness will always depend upon the approval of others who dominate them, whether this control is legal or otherwise.


The exodus from Egypt only appears to be a past event.  But in truth, the exodus never ceases.  
The arm of God that was revealed in Egypt to redeem the Jews is constantly outstretched, constantly active.  

Opposed to the degradation of the spirit of slavery (which degrades all ethical feelings) remembering the exodus from Egypt, in which God brought us out with a strong hand from slavery to freedom, lifts up our refined, exalted feelings, which guide us to the supernal purpose of man in the world.

Our goal is not only to be redeemed from Egypt, not only to be healed from wounds and delivered from disease, not only to come forth from the bonds of poverty and the darkness of blindness.  
We yearn to be filled with greatness: with the great wealth of the soul.  We thirst for a fresh life, filled with brilliance.
And we come to the land of Israel.  We hope for redemption so that the unveiling will be total, so that rays of eternal life will stream from the source of the holy of holies.


Olat Rayah

These years symbolise to us the essence of the Festival of Redemption – the Festival of Pesach, the time of our Freedom.

What can we learn from the generations from these two subjects, so dependent each on the other?

The essential answer is that there are two conditions for redemption.

Personal freedom – freedom of the body from all foreign subjugation and from all subjugation that breaks the image of the Divine which is in each human to be working for all the power which is their particular portion, their great glory and their holy beauty.

But this freedom is only acquired by means of spiritual freedom. Freedom of the soul from everything that pulls it off its straight course and its cast-iron foundation - the essential essence of the person.


However these two kinds of Freedom can only come … by means of the biur – annihilation of every border and every thing which holds back that freedom. For that is its hametz, the bitterness in the dough, which harms the search for what is better, the spark of the light of redemption within them.


We need to educate ourselves how to treasure this great spirit of freedom which shines upon us, especially in these illuminating times, a spirit which burst forth like lightening. It has the appearance of the first redemption, the redemption from Sinai, when the King, King of Kings, the Holy Blessed One was revealed to us in God’s great might, and God brought us close [karavnu] to worship God, and that is complete freedom, and God lifted us up from the depredations of foreign slavery which is useless as a form of Divine service.


And the difference between the slave and the free person is only a difference of internal state of mind… One can find a wise slave whose soul is full of freedom, and the reverse, a free-person whose soul is the soul of a slave. The vibrancy of freedom is an elevated soul, for a person and also a nation, through all their elevated efforts can become inheritors of their inner independence, the spiritual preparation of the image of God within them, and by means of this intention one can feel life in amongst the fragility of existence, for this is the measure of their worth, as is not the case for someone whose soul is defined by their labour. For their life and their energy  will never illuminate the purpose of the independent soul, unless it is through something good and beautiful done for them by another who has some kind of control over them, whether this be officially or spiritually.


And we get the inner light of personal freedom [herut], ‘carved [harut] on the tablets’ – don’t read harut, rather herut. Come, come, let us stress more and more our bright inner independence, which is gained through the revelation of the shechinah, that same freedom that is gained by means of the great unique miracle of the world that was done for us when the Blessed God brought our ancestors out of Egypt to freedom forevermore. Come my brothers, all of us, to the Seder, and know that we are all the children of Kings, and if freedom is the eternal portion, Israel shall never be enslaved …Protect freedom and protect the annihilation of hametz and bring speedily full redemption.



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