Friday, September 2, 2011

Elul: Unity and Repentance

In honor of the yahrtzeit (anniversary of death) of Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook OBM. Some timely words to begin our month-long preparation for the High Holy Days:

As we stand before the beginning of a new year, it is incumbent upon us to draw near to the path of teshuvah (repentance), which brings redemption and healing to the world.The Jewish people have become divided into two camps, through the categorization of Jews as Charedi (religious) and Chofshi(secular). These are new terms, which were not used in the past. Of course, not everyone is identical, especially in spiritual matters; but there was never a specific term to describe each faction and group. In this respect, we can certainly say that previous generations were superior to ours.Emphasizing this categorization obstructs the way towards improvement for both camps. One who feels that he belongs to theCharedi camp looks down upon the secular camp. If he thinks aboutteshuvah and improvement, he immediately casts his eyes in the direction of the Chofshi camp, devoid of Torah and mitzvot. He is confident that full repentance is required by the irreligious, not by him.The secular Jew, on the other hand, is convinced that any notion of penitence is a Charedi concept, completely irrelevant to him.It would be better if each person would concentrate on discerning his own defects, and judge others generously. It could very well be that others have treasure-troves of merits, hidden from sight. We must recognize that there exists in all of the camps a latent force leading towards goodness. Each camp has much to improve upon, and is capable of learning much from the light and goodness of the other camp.Let us be known to each other by one name — "Klal Yisrael". And let our prayer be fulfilled:
"May they all become one group, to perform Your Will whole- heartedly" (from the High Holiday prayers).
(adapted from Mo'adei HaRe'iyah, p. 58)
For more Torah from Rav Kook adapted into English, see here. I am eagerly awaiting my copy of Song of Teshuva Vol. I, which has been delayed several weeks already...

1 comment:

Neil Harris said...

Nice post. My copy of Oros HaTeshuva was "sent out" a few days before the 24th of August and ordered on 8/12. I've been in contact with the publisher and have been told "it's in the mail". Was hoping to start it b4 Elul, but hopefully it will show up today or Tuesday. BTW, here is one of my favorite Rav Kook stories: