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

Rav Kook On Parshat Re’eh: How To Be Blessedly Happy

Behold- I am placing before you a ברכה-blessing and a קללה-curse. The blessing will come if you obey the directives of YHVH, your Elohim, which I am prescribing to you today. The curse will come, if you do not obey the commandments of YHVH your Elohim.”  (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. We can create a life of blessing or its opposite. The choice is ours.

What must we do, individually and collectively, to create and experience a life of blessing?

Rav Kook arrived in Israel in 1904 to lead and guide the complete rebirth of the people of Israel in the Land of Israel. In Notebook 1, written around 1910, he addressed this question profoundly:

“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.

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 manifestation 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.”

Rav Kook is emphasizing that our lives are blessed to the extent that we dedicate ourselves to practically and actively actualizing the highest ideals of life.

“Conversely—although every withdrawal, every self-concealment and negligence regarding the practical organization that the most exalted ideals in their totality demand…darkens the world of the person who has retreated.

And as this practical withdrawal increases, necessarily the ideal radiance is darkened and its light dims.”

The less we do to actualize the highest ideals, the darker our lives become. 

The Torah teaches that the creation is created so that the highest ideals will ultimately manifest in all realms of life. This is the Divine Will and thus the messianic age will certainly come:

“This darkness will continue until a mighty power that is hidden in the depths of life will break out of its imprisonment. It will protest with all its might against the trampling of the ideal. It will demand recompense for the spiritual insult that it has experienced from a world that is growing impoverished and negligent.

This robust idealistic power will repair the breaches. It will raise those who stumbled and it will encourage the weak. Finally the ideal ‘Shechinah-Divine Presence’ will return 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 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…

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 will spread 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 blessed and very happy. It is completely in 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): ;

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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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