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

Rav Kook on Parshat Vayera: Perfecting The World Doing Righteousness and Justice

 וְאַ֨בְרָהָ֔ם הָי֧וֹ יִֽהְיֶ֛ה לְג֥וֹי גָּד֖וֹל וְעָצ֑וּם וְנִ֨בְרְכוּ־ב֔וֹ כֹּ֖ל גּוֹיֵ֥י הָאָֽרֶץ׃

Avraham is to become a great and powerful nation and the nations on earth will be blessed through him.

כִּ֣י יְדַעְתִּ֗יו לְמַ֩עַן֩ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יְצַוֶּ֜ה אֶת־בָּנָ֤יו וְאֶת־בֵּיתוֹ֙ אַחֲרָ֔יו וְשָֽׁמְרוּ֙ דֶּ֣רֶךְ יְהֹוָ֔ה לַעֲשׂ֥וֹת צְדָקָ֖ה וּמִשְׁפָּ֑ט לְמַ֗עַן הָבִ֤יא יְהֹוָה֙ עַל־אַבְרָהָ֔ם אֵ֥ת אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֖ר עָלָֽיו׃ 

I have become known to him so that he may instruct his children and his household after him to keep the way of YHVH by doing righteousness and justice so that YHVH can bring about for Avraham that which He promised him.” (Breishit: 18:18,19)

Avraham Avinu’s and our core mission as the children of Avraham and Sarah is explicated here: ‘He must instruct his children and his household to keep the Divine way –לַעֲשׂ֥וֹת צְדָקָ֖ה וּמִשְׁפָּ֑ט- doing righteousness and justice.’

Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook TZ’l explained that: “Avraham was the master of chesed/kindness and its expansion into the world…He recognized that it is necessary to establish a perfected way which will conduct national policy according to the ways of chesed/kindness. The nature of Avraham was to establish chesed/kindness in a fixed and organized matter. Thus he was directed to ‘instruct his children and his household after him to keep the way of YHVH by doing righteousness and justice.”   (Eyn Ayah, Brachot 9:12)

Rav Kook expands on this in a fundamental essay that he wrote in Yaffo in 1912: “At the beginning  of the planting of this nation…was revealed the aspiration to establish a large human community which will “keep the way of YHVH by doing righteousness and justice”.

This aspiration comes from a clear powerful awareness and an elevated all-inclusive ethical summons to bring humankind out of the awful suffering of its spiritual and physical suffering into a life of freedom full of splendor and delight. All humankind can thus succeed through the light of the Divine idea.

To fulfill this aspiration it is necessary that this community create a national, political and social entity as a platform for a national kingdom at the height of human culture.

“עַם־חָכָ֣ם וְנָב֔וֹן הַגּ֥וֹי הַגָּד֖וֹל”-‘Wise and understanding is this great nation’ –(Dvarim 4:6)

The complete Divine idea rules this nation and enlivens it and its land in the light of life. This enables us to know that not only unique wise individuals, and holy pious ascetics can live in the illumination of the Divine idea. Entire nations can be repaired and perfected in all the ways of cultural and national being…

The light of the Divine idea is thus elevated and refined in such a nation as this illumination is  embedded in its complete national life. The light of the Divine idea will then act on the entire world…

This process will bring humankind to the certain recognition that national life…will receive its true strength and value by absorbing from the highest life-dew of the complete Divine idea. This will prepare all reality to expand beyond its limitations and reach its highest purpose…” (Orot: p. 105)

Rav Kook is explaining to us that we must create a nation that embodies the Divine idea by acting in harmony with Divine ideals- ‘doing righteousness and justice’. The Torah and its practices is designed to direct us, to teach us how to always and in every situation be agents of righteousness and justice.

In this way Israel  will be able to fulfill Avraham’s mission “to bring humankind out of the awful suffering of spiritual and physical problems into a life of freedom full of splendor and delight. All humankind can thus succeed through the light of the Divine idea.”

This is the challenge for Israel today. When we succeed in doing this, we will fulfill the prophecy that is found in the conclusion of Parshat Vayera:

“וְהִתְבָּרְכ֣וּ בְזַרְעֲךָ֔ כֹּ֖ל גּוֹיֵ֣י הָאָ֑רֶץ- And all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your seed.”

Bemehera BeYamenu/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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