Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Introduction to the Thought of Rav Kook - Part 3

Torat Eretz Israel

“Ein Torah Ketorat Erets Israel” – There is no torah like the Torah of Erets Israel

We all know this famous quote from the midrash. But is there really something special about Torah in Erets Israel? Isn’t the Torah we learn in Erets Israel and the Torah we learn in Chutz Laarets the same Torah?

Rav Kook taught that there is a real difference between the Torah of Chuts Laarets and Erets Israel. The Torah of Chuts Laarets was one of prat (individual, detail), while the Torah of Eretz Israel was one of Klal (national, general).

This is true on two levels:

First of all, when the first beit hamikdash was destroyed, it was destroyed because of practical sins: Do not kill, Do not bow to other idols, Do not commit sexual immorality. These 3 sins are halachot which can be found in a book of law. At that time, Jews were so connected to the Torat Erets Israel that they connected only to the general (klali) broad messages of the torah: Ahavat Israel, Erets Israel, etc… By the time of the second temple, the Jews had already lost much of Torat Erets Israel. Our sages teach us the second temple was not as great as the first one. Therefore, our sins ended up being a sin when it comes to the broad ideology of Judaism: Sinat Chinam. Its not something we would find in a criminal code, but it is essential to Judaism. Then, throughout Galut, Torat Chutz Laaretz kept being expanded, getting in more and more details of halacha and disconnecting from the broad principles. Soon, Tanach stopped being learnt, Emunah (philosophy) stopped being learnt. All Jews did was learn laws in the most intricate details. It was Torat Haprat at its best. Now that we go back to Erets Israel, we can bring all this knowledge from Torat Haprat and look at it from a Klali way. We can look at all these small details and see how they each connect with the broad messages of Judaism. This is Torat Erets Israel.

On the other hand, klal also refers to klal Israel. When we were in chuts laaretz, it was very difficult for us to connect with our nationalistic message. We were all dispersed, without a land etc… However, Judaism is first a nation then a religion. We say Asher Bachar Banou Mikol Haamim Venatan Lanu Et Torato. He chose us as a nation and then, only then, gave us his torah. We are first a nation, then we also have a religious message. However, since we had no land, it was impossible to live our life based on the klal, the nation. We were limit to our individualist, religious, connection to God. Now that we are back in Erets Israel, we can once again live torat Haklal, the nationalistic Torah, where Am Israel, as a Nation, brings God’s light into this world.

“Ein Torah Ketorat Erets Israel”


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