Rabbi Avi Weinstein

A.D. Gordon and Rav Kook Muse on the Importance of a Place

In Uncategorized on April 24, 2009 at 4:12 pm

And the place is Eretz Yisrael. Two mystics, one religious and one avowedly secular have more in common than one might think:

A. D. Gordon:
We are told that it is national sentiment that prevents the Jews from assimilating. But what is this national sentiment? What strange kind of nationality is ours, which is not alive but yet will not die? Wherein lies its strength? We have no country of our own, we have no living national language, but instead a number of vernaculars borrowed from others… What, then, is that elusive, unique, and persistent force that will not die and will not let us die?

It seems that every one of us can answer this question if he is really himself free of all foreign influences and if he is not ashamed to face the matter squarely and be honest with himself. That answer is that there is a primal force within every one of us, which is fighting for its own life, which seeks its own realization. This is our ethnic self, the cosmic element, which combined with the historic element, forms one of the basic ingredients of the personality of each and every one of us. The ethnic self may be described as a peculiar national pattern of mental and physical forces, which affects the personality of every individual member of the ethnic group. It is like the musical scale, which every composer uses in his own way.

Rav Kook:
DEEP IN THE HEART of every Jew, in its purest and holiest recesses, there blazes the fire of Israel. There can be no mistaking its demands for an organic and indivisible bond between life and all of God’s commandments; for the pouring of the spirit of the Lord, the spirit of Israel which completely permeates the soul of the Jew, into all the vessels which were created for this particular purpose; and for expressing the word of Israel fully and precisely in the realms of action and ideas.

Both in their own words and contexts express the unified notion that collective creativity is most vital when rooted in the Land of Israel. For a fuller exposition of these two thinkers, click here.

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