Delving one step deeper, Rabbi Kook explains that the pain of sin results from the disharmony it causes between the soul and the essential goodness of life and the universe. Because an individual’s soul is attached to the soul of all existence, when a person falls into the darkness of sin, his soul is cut off from the positive Divine plan for the world and it experiences the pain of exile.
“Every transgression torments the heart because it severs the unity between the individual and all of existence… The basis of the pain which he feels does not stem from the specific transgression itself, but from the deeper essence of the sin which has alienated the soul from the natural order of life, which radiates with a Divine moral light that fills all of the world with unity and higher purpose” (Ibid, 8:3).
Rabbi Kook tells us that the true underlying pain of sin does not come from, for example, feeling remorse over having stolen, but from the alienation from God which the sin causes. An individual’s sins cut him off from the symphony of Creation. While the world is progressing forward on a developmental path of elevation and perfection, his sins are taking him backward. All of society, culture, medicine, and general human endeavor are going forward, improving, becoming more moral, and he is enmeshed in sin. It’s a little like an avid Internet surfer who has the whole world at his fingertips, but who is addicted to viewing porn. It may be that the individual is unaware of this spiritual imbalance, but his soul feels rent asunder. It senses its disharmony, disunity, and disconnection from life’s ongoing yearning for justice and goodness. Severed from the inner, spiritual dimension of life, a person suffers anxiety, anguish, and loneliness, in the many forms they take, including depression, neuroses, and disease. Though he may surround himself with hundreds of people, though he occupy himself day and night with business, family, and pleasure, he is a secretly tormented soul, a revolver ready to go off.
The remedy, Rabbi Kook teaches, is t’shuva. Only t’shuva can reconnect the sinner with God. Only t’shuva can restore the harmony between a man’s soul and the world. Only t’shuva can wipe away the sins which prevent a man from being a positive contributor to life.
Stay tuned for more blogs on Rabbi Kook’s magical, yellow submarine, mystery tour of t’shuva, coming soon to a movie theater in your neighborhood!