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Sweden and John Kerry would make wonderful partners to get lost in the same maze.
During the reign of King Solomon, the Nation of Israel was at its prime. We lived in peace in our own homeland. A Jewish government ruled over the country from the majestic city of Jerusalem. All of the people gathered for the Festivals at the Temple three times a year. Jewish law went forth from the Sanhedrin. Prophets communicated the word of the Lord to the Nation and the world. A powerful Jewish army guarded the country’s borders. Torah was studied in great academies of learning. Hebrew was spoken on the street. The leaders of foreign nations flocked to Jerusalem to pay tribute to the Jews.
There is a special mitzvah on Sukkot to be “ach samaoch.” Only joyous. It is a happiness not dependent on anything external, beyond definition and words. Just to be absolutely joyous in one’s love and worship of G-d. Rabbi Kook describes the sukkah as a whirlpool of joyous energy which is constantly changing each second, reaching ever-higher levels of joy and attachment to G-d.
Rabbi Kook’s advice is to set out correcting the transgressions of the past which are within the person’s reach to correct. This will set into motion a snowball of t’shuva whose inner force will lead him to correct matters more and more difficult, until he succeeds in redressing all wrongs.
Rabbi Kook explains that this misplacing of priorities between the means and the goal stems from the sin of the earth during the days of Creation. By understanding the depth of this teaching, we can learn to be happy, not only when we finally attain our goals and ideals, but also at every moment of our lives.
When Tevye’s entourage reached the port of Jaffa, hoping to discover something about their fellow travelers who had set sail to Palestine ahead of them, the first thing he saw gave him the shivers. Hadn't he just asked Rabbi Kook for a blessing to find husbands for his daughters? Who was sitting at a dockside cafe but Nachman's two friends, Shmuelik and Hillel!
Rabbi Kook explains that t’shuva comes about in two distinct formats, either suddenly, or in a gradual, slowly developing fashion. Both of these pathways to t’shuva are readily found in the baal t’shuva world. Some people will tell you how their lives suddenly changed overnight. Others describe their experience as a long, challenging process which unfolded over years. Many factors influence the way in which t’shuva appears.
The expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden describes man’s existential plight. In effect, the sum of world history is mankind’s journey to return to the Garden. Not only man, but the world itself wants to return to its original state. This yearning is one of the most powerful forces of Creation. Thus the world “roars like a mighty lioness” to return to its original, ideal closeness to God.
The Gemara teaches that t’shuva existed before the world was created. In a similar vein, Rabbi Kook writes that the spirit of t’shuva hovers over the world and gives it its basic form and the motivation to develop. It is t’shuva which gives the world its direction and its inner energy to constantly progress. The desire to refine the world and to embellish it with beauty and splendor all derive from the spirit of t’shuva.
The month of Elul is known for being the time of the year most favorable for t’shuva - generally known as penitence or repentance. But t’shuva is much more than feeling bad over the transgressions which we have committed. Rabbi Kook teaches that t’shuva is the force that makes the world go around.
Rabbi Kook explains that a weakening of the will is due in large measure to a lack of physical energy and strength. When a person’s willpower is weak, he can fall into many bad habits. As part of his overall mending, he must improve his physical health, as well as his moral and spiritual worlds.
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