Itzchak Evan-Shayish
Itzchak Evan-Shayish
Dedicated to sharing Rav Kook's lights with the world.

Parshat Re’eh: Rav Kook on ‘How To Be Happy’

The choice is ours:

“Behold- I am placing before you a blessing and a curse.

The blessing will come if you obey the directives of YHVH, your Elohim, which I am prescribing to you today.” (Deut. 11:26,27)

Moshe Rabbeinu is explaining to Israel -shortly before he  died and we entered the Land of Israel-that our future experience will depend on our actions. Actualizing  the ‘mitzvot-Divine directives’ will bring blessing into our life. Ignoring and violating them will bring the opposite.

A few years after Rav Kook’s  1904 arrival to lead and guide the complete rebirth of the people of Israel in the Land of Israel, he wrote:

“A happy life—whether that of an individual or the community—comes into being to the extent that this life actually implements the practical steps that the most exalted ideals require of it.”

The Torah of course describes the exalted ideals and delineates the practical steps we need to implement in order to manifest the ideal life and world. 

Rav Kook continued:

“Every practical ascent in the precise details of a person’s or a community’s activities, that is in line with the most exalted and expansive thought—thought that transcends all of the spheres of human constriction—leads to the crystallization of these exalted ideals and to our turning to their development and elevation. 

Every such elevation elicits hidden blessings in the depths of life. It generates a great spiritual force, and it fortifies the power and victory of these ideals in the inner world of the individual and in the external world of the community.

…The ideal radiance will finally break out of imprisonment…and protest with all its might against the trampling of the ideal. It is demanding recompense for the spiritual insult that it experienced as the world grew impoverished and negligent.

This robust idealistic power will repair the breaches, will raise those who stumbled and will encourage the weak, until the ideal ‘Shechinah-Divine Presence’ returns to dwell with honor in the souls of human beings who are capable of absorbing into themselves the treasury of true life in all of its power and richness.  

The more our awareness of the ideal rises, the more its branches proliferate… We find expansion of the branches of the ideal in the supernal heights, in the Divine ideal that exists at the heart of the configuration of existence. 

Life in its purity, in its height, in its spirituality, in its ethics and its enlightenment, stands at the summit of the ideal….It’s branches are many and they propagate copiously..

Thus the needs of this worldly life are many and varied. All of their configurations are extensive, and they occupy an extensive place in existence, so that not even the most obscure need is lacking….We can thus fully actualize the exalted ideals of life.

The Torah of Israel is outstanding in crystallizing the idealism that spreads across all of the configurations of life.”  (Notebook 1:156-7)

The Community of Israel has come into history in order to be the agents of the world’s repair as humankind realigns with the Divine principles of goodness and morality. And we will then be very happy. It is our hands. 

May the illuminated Torah teachings of Rav Kook inspire us to to manifest the idealism that will spread to all the configurations of life’.

BeMhera BeYamneu-Quickly in our days.


Prepared by Rabbi Itzchak Evan-Shayish (Marmorstein): ;



About the Author
Rabbi Itzchak Evan-Shayish (Marmorstein) is a passionate student of the teachings of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook (1865- 1935) He is doing pioneering work in bringing Rav Kook to the public through classes, writings and creative musical and dramatic presentations in Israel and all over the world. He is the gabbai and educator at Beit HaRav Kook Synagogue in Jerusalem. He is the chairman of Ohr LeRayah, a Jerusalem based organization dedicated to sharing the universal teachings of Rav Kook with the whole world. ( He is a musmach of Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, Z"L, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach Z’L and Rabbi Zalman Schacter-Shalomi Z"L.
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