Friday, August 13, 2010

Rav Kook says: Teshuvah. It's guaranteed.

I've been learning Rav Kook's Orot haTeshuvah this Elul. In honor of Rav Kook's 75th Yahrtzeit, observed today [and see my Canadian Jewish News article in his honor], I want to quote three lines.

From his introduction:
התשובה היא תופסת את החלק היותר גדול בתורה ובחיים, עליה בנויות כל התקוות האישיות והציבוריות
Teshuvah [repentance] occupies the greatest portion of Torah and Life, and upon it are founded all of the hopes of the individual and the community.

From Perek 5:
העולם מוכרח הוא לבא לידי תשובה שלימה
The universe is compelled to come to complete teshuvah.

And, most powerfully, from Perek 6:
אין דבר בטוח בעולם כמו התשובה
Nothing in this universe is as certain as teshuvah.

I cry when I read this sentences. Okay, I cry easily, but still - I haven't been this moved by a Torah text since the first time I read Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch.

Rav Kook spends a lot of time on the mystical character of teshuvah - how it ties into the fundamental nature of the universe, why it is necessary, how it influences one's actions in the past as well as the future - but he doesn't use mystical jargon. I find it inspiring, very readable, and very worthwhile.

I'm embarrassed it's taken me this long to learn it כסדר.


  1. R'YBS has something similar on the Rambam proving you have to have faith in klal yisrael
    Joel Rich

  2. We've been learning Orot Hateshuvah in the beit midrash here. Are you learning with a shiur, or by yourself?

  3. Joel-

    R' Mordechai-
    By myself right now, although I fully expect it to make it into shiurim...

  4. Just so you know, you inspired me to start teaching Orot HaTeshuva in my shul between mincha/maariv on Friday night and during seudah shlishit. I have always skimmed parts of it but never fully delved into it. If one takes the time to really sit with it, there are tremendous insights.