As we celebrate the holiday of Pesach, we are not only recalling the historical event of our exodus from Mitzrayim but marking, according to the Arizal in particular, the season designated for our ongoing and continuous redemption. The Ramchal teaches in his Maamar HaGeulah that Yetziat Mitzrayim provides the template for the ultimate redemption; we will, G-d willing, review this in more detail after Pesach. For now, during the month of Nissan, we continue our encounter with the teachings of Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook.
In his monumental work, Orot HaKodesh, at the end of the first section Rav Kook discusses the process of gradual revelation of the light of holiness in the universe. Rav Kook explains that this process begins inside every individual through their own spiritual awakening, but that Israel’s awakening has unique historical ramifications because of our role and purpose in Creation. As more and more individuals of the people of Israel begin to awaken to the divine inspiration within them, they form communities dedicated to the promotion of Torah and to spreading its light in the world of mankind, all during an era when this is most necessary.
As this is occurring, the “tzaddikim” among us, whom Rav Kook identifies as those who live their lives according to the “secret of Hashem for those who fear Him” (Tehillim 25:14), are not affected by the trials of the moment because they remain focused on the future and the inexorable triumph of the good and holy over all that is corrupt and debased. For those who can see the future, because their consciousness is present in the timelessness of Torah, the distinction between present and future becomes insignificant.
Rav Kook teaches that in the natural world as it appears to us, the light of kedusha is hidden deep inside reality. It is often hard work to find it and extract it, and the day-to-day matters of existence as well as the events of history seem to bury it further. But this light, this purpose of existence, was defined and programmed into existence when the world was created. The miracles that Hashem performs to redeem us in our time of need are also natural occurrences, because in truth it is the nature of good to prevail and for the world to be redeemed by the will of Hashem. Even when the world seems to be collapsing, when it is torn apart by war and decadence, when the natural order seems to be leading to environmental catastrophe and destruction – especially then – the true order of nature is hiding beneath the surface, waiting to be elicited by the awakening spirits of the individuals who remain attuned to that reality in spite of everything else.
Rav Kook concludes his discussion of the natural process of redemption with the following beautiful phrasing: “When humanity strives to become greater in its activities, the light of spirituality must emerge in all its force. When Israel exerts itself in order to increase its practical achievements alongside the spiritual, then the light of holiness emerges and radiates throughout the physical world. (As a consequence of this) the light of the redemption of the whole world is also revealed and true eternal life begins to approach us.”