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

Rav Kook on Milchama: Why Is There War Everywhere?


“”מלחמה-MILCHAMA-WAR. This word is so terrible. It evokes a spiritual agony that saddens the heart of every person of integrity. War has a stranglehold on humanity.  We are very unable to free ourselves from this awful and terrifying menace….‘The war of life’ is too common a phrase. Creatures fight each other for their existence, human battles with other humans, and nations war with each other.

This  thunderous voice of war is sowing confusion. It is  demanding its individual power, struggling to overtake its neighbor. It demands the prominence of its individual identity and the power to swallow up all others. Each attribute thus thunders and the voice of war is heard throughout the world….” (Ginzei HaRayah,157,)

Russia’s ongoing assault on Ukraine highlights for us the reality of war. While it is drawing most of our attention, it is important to acknowledge that war is a constant activity all over the world. Wikipedia lists around 40 current ongoing wars and conflicts with over 100 combat deaths in 2020 or 2021. 

Rabbi Avraham Itzchak HaCohen Kook ZT”L wrote extensively about war, its causes and what we must do to end war. Rav Kook knew the reality of war well. He was in Europe during World War 1. At that time he wrote: “The world order is now toppling due to the awesome storms of a sword covered with blood…. The ethical suppression by which secular civilization dominated peoples oppressed their hearts and many evil traits,  illnesses and rages gathered in the depths of their souls. These are unfettered by bloody, cruel wars, fitting their not yet refined nature….”

War is a collective release for drives pent up by civilization.

“The sins of the murderers- the wicked kings [dictators] and all provocateurs – is indelible….the atonement must come: total dismantling of all the foundations of contemporary civilizations, with all of their falsity and deception, with all their poison and venom. The entire civilization that rings false must be effaced from the world….The dissipation of the strength of the nations, who have drunk the cup of poison, must come….

The light of Return must certainly appear, ‘each person will throw away his idols of silver and gold’ (Isaiah 2:20) and all will revert to the goodness of HaShem

Then the present civilization will disappear with all its foundations -literature and theater, and so forth; all the laws found on inanity and iniquity, all evil etiquette will pass away….

We see that the spiritual and practical fabric of civilization in its present state can not prevent, despite all its glorious wisdom, wholesale slaughter and fearful world-destruction. It has proven itself invalid from its very inception. 

All its progress is nothing but false counsel and evil entrapment, connected to the psychic and physical tendencies that have become entrenched in the architecture of contemporary nations….World civilization totters, human spirit is weakened, darkness covers all the peoples, ‘darkness will cover the earth and fog, the nations’ (Isaiah 60:2)….Therefore, the entire contemporary civilization is doomed, and on its ruins will be established a world order of truth and God-consciousness.  (Orot, sections from ‘Hamilchama/The War’) 

War has been a dominant human activity since the beginning of history when Cain murdered Abel. We continue to see so much evidence of the immoral and evil effects of war on planet Earth. 

“Undoubtedly the power of evil aspires to do evil. It agitates, it imposes fierce control…it aspires to destroy and ruin, to toxify and pollute, to darken and obscure, to divide and explode. It extends its evil until that time in which the world will be perfected, until a new spirit, the pure spirit of life will rest on humankind.”(Orot HaKodesh 2:478)

In future postings, we will explore Rav Kook’s illuminated teachings on what we must do to overcome this awful reality and transform human life to a collective experience of goodness and peace. 

‘When the world will be perfected and a new spirit-the pure spirit of life- will rest on humankind.’

BeMhera BeYamenu-Immediately in our days.

Prepared by Rabbi Itzchak Evan-Shayish,,

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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