We shall try to explain this in a simple manner. We have mentioned that the concept of t’shuva means to return. Suppose a man is expelled from his house by thieves. The wrongdoing will only be corrected when the owner returns to repossess his house.
For the world to reach perfection, God decreed that the Jewish People must live a life of Torah inIsrael. God’s first commandment to Abraham is to go to the Land of Israel in order to serve God in the most complete way. Afterwards, God commands Moshe to bring the Jews out from Egypt to Eretz Yisrael. Over and over, the Torah repeats that the Jewish People are to live their unique Torah life inIsrael. When the holy Jewish Nation lives a holy life of Torah in theHoly Land, the vessel is formed to bring the light of God to the world. The Nation of Israel becomes an international beacon, an example and light to all of the nations in the world (Yisheyahu, 42:6).
At the time of theSecondTemple, when we failed to uphold the high moral standard demanded of us by the Torah, we were punished and exiled from the Land. God’s worldly vessel was shattered.Israelwas conquered,Jerusalemwas razed, the Land was laid waste. God’s chosen people were scattered and debased. Like the Jews, God’s Presence went into exile. His light in the world became hidden. In effect, mankind was cut off from God. Thus to rectify this tragedy and return the world to God, the Jewish People must return to their previous stature, including a national life in Israel, the only place in the world where the Torah can be observed in all of its wholeness because of the many commandments unique to the Land.
On a deeper level, the Zohar teaches that the Nation of Israel, Torah, and God are one (Zohar, Vayikra 73A). Each Jew has a bit of the Shechinah, or the Presence of God, within him. When a Jew returns to theLandofIsrael, he is, in effect, bringing God back with him (See Rashi, Devarim, 30:3). This is the Kabbalistic concept of “raising up the buried sparks of holiness from the klipot.” Since the soul of a Jew is infused with the light of the Shechinah, when the Jewish People return en masse toIsrael, the light of God in the world returns with them. It is precisely this light that the nations of the world fight against us to suppress.
A visual illustration will help us envision what Rabbi Kook is seeing when he looks at the awakened Zionist movement. It is a global vision, spanning all human history. To raise ourselves to a more encompassing perspective, imagine being in a satellite orbiting the earth. Down below, scattered all over the globe, are tiny, little lights. These lights are the Jews, scattered all over the world. Slowly, lights begin to travel to a certain point on the globe — theLandofIsrael. More and more lights begin to congregate there. From all over the world, the scattered lights start to unite inIsrael. Lights that do not make the journey begin to flicker and disappear. Soon, a great beacon of light is formed inIsrael, sending out rays of light to all of the world. These rays are the lights of t’shuva, summoning mankind back to God.