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Rav Kook wrote very few complete manuscripts in his life, and most of the books we have that are attributed to him are compilations of his notes edited by his son and by his foremost disciple, the Nazir. Some of the books he wrote were suppressed by his literary executors because they didn’t feel they were appropriate for readers of their generation. One of the books that can be more authoritatively attributed to Rav Kook is his collection of glosses on the prayer book, Olat Re’iya. This is a pun on the special korban that was brought at the festival pilgrimage, and his own name, R’ Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook, or R’A’I’aH.

In his remarks on Kabbalat Shabbat, Rav Kook examines the verse that reads: “Moshe and Aharon by his priestliness, and Shmuel in calling the Name.” Rav Kook explains that there are two modes of leadership exemplified by Moshe and Aharon. Moshe in his essence was a true and pure servant of Hashem and he set a perfect example to be followed by others. His very presence in the community elevated everyone who interacted with him. Aharon acted out of “priestliness”; he went out into the community to do good. He was “a lover of peace who pursued peace,” and worked with every individual on his or her own level so that everybody could get the personal attention they needed to grow stronger in Torah.


Shmuel was a descendent of Korach, who we learn about in this week’s parsha. Korach sought to oppose Moshe and Aharon, and in doing so to undo all of this good that they did for the community of Israel. Shmuel, in his generation, was forced to be the sole leader and judge. It was necessary for him to serve in both capacities at once. Although no navi ever achieved the level of Moshe in nevuah, the circumstances dictated that Shmuel had to lead Israel as a combination of both Aharon and Moshe. He elevated the collective and he also elevated every individual. This is why David HaMelech referred to him as “calling the Name.” When a person reaches the highest possible level in developing his spiritual essence, the Torah tells us that Hashem calls that person by name. For a person to call Hashem’s name reflects upon the healthy choices that person has made in aligning himself with the Divine will.

Shmuel overcome his baser nature and his worldly urges in order to fully devote himself to leading Israel in purity and doing the will of Hashem. Therefore it is said of him that he called the Name. This is also why he is presented as being equivalent to both Moshe and Aharon. It is a reference to the intensity of his self-control and the effort he exerted in always doing the right thing no matter how difficult.

All of these great leaders called out to Hashem and were answered by Him. May it be His will that we too will dedicate ourselves so completely to calling out to Hashem that He can only call us in turn by our names and redeem us from our present woes.


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Avraham Levitt is a poet and philosopher living in Philadelphia. He writes chiefly about Jewish art and mysticism. His most recent poem is called “Great Floods Cannot Extinguish the Love.” It can be read at He can be reached by email at [email protected].