Rav Kook; transl. Rabbi B.Z. Bokser. “Great souls cannot dissociate themselves from the most universal concerns…The whole cannot achieve its highest fulfillment except through the perfection of its particular individuals, and the particular communities, whether small or large, of which it is constituted.”
Preface by Rabbi Itzhaq Marmurstein:
These pieces by Rav Kook (this and others in this directory) clearly display the extraordinary universality and love focus that are foundational to his Torah teachings. His students explained that he was a ‘neshama clalit – a universal soul’ whose perspectives and concerns reached out to all humankind and all creation. He constantly emphasized that the particular and the collective are to be integrated in such a way that a whole person needs to honor and express his uniqueness while being deeply engaged in contributing to the well being of the whole. He offers a deep and poetic resolution to the exquisite tension between the individual and the all.
“Great souls cannot dissociate themselves from the most universal concerns. All they desire and aspire for is the universal good, universal in its comprehensiveness, universal in its full width, height and depth. But the whole is constituted of numberless particulars, particular individuals and particular communities. The whole cannot achieve its highest fulfillment except through the perfection of its particular individuals, and the particular communities, whether small or large, of which it is constituted.
The higher unification, in which everything finds its completion, rests on the influence of the knowledge of God and the love of God, from which it necessarily derives, to the extent that one has embraced it. When the knowledge of God is suffused by a great love, when it is pervaded by its true illumination, according to the capacity of each soul to receive it, there radiates from its absolute light a love for the world, for all worlds, for all creatures, on all levels of their being. A love for all existence fills the hearts of the good and kindly ones among creatures, and among humans. They yearn for the happiness of all, they hope that all may know light and joy. They draw into themselves the love for all existence, differentiated into its many forms of being, from the higher love for God, from the love of absolute and total perfection in the Cause of all, who created and sustains everything.
When love descends from the spiritual realm to the created order, it descends by fragmentation into many particulars, to opposition and contradiction. It faces the necessity of confining the scope of the love bestowed to one individual for the sake of another, to many individuals for the sake of another group of many individuals, and to individuals in general for the sake of the all embracing collective.
Love in its most luminous aspect has its being beyond the world, in the divine realm, where there are no contradictions, limits and opposition; only bliss and good, wide horizons without limit. When worldly love derives from it, it partakes of much in its nature. Even in its descent it does not become miserly or grudging. When it needs to confine itself, it confines love for the sake of love, it sets a boundary around the good for the sake of the good.
When these love possessed people see the world, especially living creatures full of quarrels, hatred, persecutions and conflicts, they yearn with all their being to share in those aspirations that move life toward comprehensiveness and unity, peace and tranquility. They feel and they know that the nearness of God, for which they yearn, can only lead them to joining themselves with all and for the sake of all. When they confront the human scene, and find divisions among nations, religions, parties, with goals in conflict, they endeavor with all their might to bring all together, to mend and to unite. With the healthy instinct of their noble souls, which soar with a divine thrust above all confinements, they feel that the individuals need to be enhanced, that the best of societies must rise to greater heights, and to enter with all the affluence of their individuals into the light of a universal life. They want that every petticoat shall be preserved and developed, and that the collective whole shall be united and abounding in peace.
When they confront their own people, to whose happiness, continuity and perfection they feel committed in all the depths of their being, and find it splintered, broken into parties and parties, they cannot identify themselves with any particular party. They desire to unite themselves with the whole people, only with the all embracing whole, in all its fullness and good.”
(Lights of Holiness, pp. 226-228 / Orot HaKodesh, Vol. II, pp. 456 457)