Rav Kook’s Orot HaTeshuva

And so we find ourselves beyond Rosh Hashanah and in the 10 days of repentance. Over Yom Tov I wanted to have something to read when I was not learning the daf. I found a translation and commentary on Rav Kook’s Orot HaTeshuva – Song of Teshuvah.

I managed one chapter. The work is in two volumes and is by Rav Moshe Weinberger. The first volume covers the first 6 chapters of Rav Kook’s work.

This book is a bit different to most Jewish books I read. It has no footnotes for a start. It is published by a subsidiary of Urim Publications so I felt there was hope.

So why am I reading it in the first place. 2 reasons; 1) Rav Kook writes in difficult hebrew (for me) which is very poetic and so an English translation of an important work is welcome; and 2) many of the books I read (which I would consider to be modern orthodox) quote Rav Kook.

My first impressions are….I am very impressed. Although the commentary is peppered with anecdotes of miraculous stories I can look past this and see the beauty of both Rav Kook’s work and Rav Weinberger’s commentary.

Following on from my previous post where I discussed the Rambam’s approach to health and coming to know God, Rav Kook examines and defines Teshuva (repentance) for us:

“Teshuvah exists on three levels: (1) natural teshuvah, (2) faith-based teshuvah, (3) intellectual teshuvah.”

Rav Kook then divides natural teshuvah into physical and spiritual teshuvah. The process of repentance, says Rav Kook, is not one of stopping ourselves doing something bad but rather returning our physical, spiritual, intellectual selves back to when we were created as “straight” human beings. Eating healthy food, sleeping and exercising are all part of the teshuvah process.

So during these 10 days of repentance dont just think about the things “we must not do” but rather at how we can return to a state that we have, all of us, already existed in.

K’tiva ve’Chatima Tova.


About bookabazza

I am an Osteopath and University Lecturer who is trying to keep up with the 7 year daf yomi cycle. I thought I would try and share a few small thought on the daf each week.
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