The Kosher Book­worm: “Rav Kook’s ‘Song of Teshu­vah’”

The Jewish Voice - - BOOK REVIEW - By: Alan Jay Ger­ber (JEWISHBOOKREVIEW.WORD­PRESS.COM)

It is with great per­sonal plea­sure to note the com­ple­tion by Rabbi Moshe Wein­berger of his four vol­ume English com­men­tary on Rav Kook’s clas­sic, “Song of Teshu­vah” (Pen­ina Press). This com­men­tary makes avail­able to the English speak­ing and learn­ing pub­lic some of the most prac­ti­cal and un­der­stand­able teach­ings con­cern­ing re­pen­tance as taught by one of the lead­ing thinkers of our faith, Rabbi Avra­ham Yitzchal HaKo­hen Kook, zt’’l. Rabbi Wein­berger, of the Aish Kodesh Ke­hi­lah in Wood­mere, and mash­pia of Yeshiva Univer­sity, has given to us an in­depth trea­sure house that will serve as an in­valu­able re­source for this high hol­i­day sea­son and for many years to come. I present to you just a sam­ple of the con­clud­ing com­ments and sa­cred teach­ings from Rabbi Wein­berger with the hope that this will en­cour­age you to learn fur­ther from these teach­ings: “As a re­sult of our hav­ing sinned, we are re­moved from the root of our soul, from the One Whom we love. There­fore, our hearts are hurt, bro­ken, dis­ap­pointed, and an­gry.” “Sal­va­tion will come only when we hear and re­spond to this song of teshu­vah. We must there­fore pray that teshu­vah … will come into our lives.” “A few years ago I went to Rav Kook’s burial site on Har HaZeisim, and I ad­dressed him, ‘There are Jews out­side of Eretz Is­rael who want to hear your song. May G-d help that you won’t aban­don us.” “There is a great thirst for these teach­ings, which can give life to many peo­ple. It is my prayer that more peo­ple will gain ac­cess to Rav Kook’s teach­ings and po­etry and will, as a re­sult, give plea­sure to G-d and in­crease His honor. Hashem has given us the strength to come to this point, to com­plete this mirac­u­lous se­fer.” “All that Rav Kook wants to con­vey to us through­out this work is that the process of do­ing teshu­vah should cause us to feel joy, ex­cite­ment, ex­hil­a­ra­tion, won­der, and an im­mea­sur­able grat­i­tude to G-d.” For ad­di­tional re­lated study: Re­cently an English trans­la­tion of Rav Kook’s “Lights of Teshu­vah” was pub­lished by Yaakov David Shul­man, a di­rect trans­la­tion of the He­brew orig­i­nal of all 17 chap­ters from of this clas­sic. This sim­ple and di­rect trans­la­tion, with­out com­men­tary, is clear in its pre­sent­ment with a unique touch of both the prose and the po­etry. This work will is a fine in­tro­duc­tion to English-speak­ers of Rav Kook’s think­ing. Shul­man’s work also con­tains his elo­quent take on the real value and unique qual­ity of Rav Kook’s the­ol­ogy on teshu­vah: “Rav Kook was a poet of the soul and a spokesper­son for a com­plete hu­man spirit that em­braces con­tra­dic­tion, that rec­on­ciles the poles of this worldly and other worldly ex­pe­ri­ence. His writ­ings cel­e­brate the union of le­gal­ism and po­etry, par­tic­u­lar­ism and uni­ver­sal­ism, faith hid­den in athe­ism and athe­ism hid­den in faith, the spirit re­vealed from the flesh, and beauty re­vealed through ug­li­ness. … “He cham­pi­oned the poetic and cre­ative spirit within each in­di­vid­ual. ‘Ev­ery time our heart beats with a true ex­pres­sion of spir­i­tu­al­ity,’ he wrote, ‘ev­ery time a new and ex­alted thought is born, we hear the like­ness of a G-dly an­gel’s voice at the doors of our soul ask­ing that we al­low him en­try so that he may ap­pear to us in the to­tal­ity of his beauty’. “Ul­ti­mately, Rav Kook’s ro­bust mes­sage is one of life and growth, hope and op­ti­mism. ‘Death is a false phe­nom­e­non,’ he taught, and ‘to the de­gree that quan­tity of move­ment to­ward whole­some­ness grows, evil de­creases and good­ness is re­vealed’.”

Rav Kook’s clas­sic, “Song of Teshu­vah” (Pen­ina Press). This com­men­tary makes avail­able to the English speak­ing and learn­ing pub­lic some of the most prac­ti­cal and un­der­stand­able teach­ings con­cern­ing re­pen­tance as taught by one of the lead­ing thinkers of our faith, Rabbi Avra­ham Yitzchal HaKo­hen Kook, zt’’l.

Rabbi Wein­berger, of the Aish Kodesh Ke­hi­lah in Wood­mere, and mash­pia of Yeshiva Univer­sity, has given to us an in-depth trea­sure house that will serve as an in­valu­able re­source for this high hol­i­day sea­son and for many years to come.

Rabbi Avra­ham Yitzchak HaKo­hen Kook, zt''l was a poet of the soul and a spokesper­son for a com­plete hu­man spirit that em­braces con­tra­dic­tion, that rec­on­ciles the poles of this worldly and other worldly ex­pe­ri­ence.

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