Tikkun Magazine, Winter 2011
Everything Is Alive
by Itzchak Marmorstein
What is most important for us to know in order to do the best possible job of tikkun?
I have been obsessed with this question for as long as I can remember. As an only child of Holocaust survivors and very aware of the breakage, I knew that I wanted to participate in fixing the world before I died. My intense search led me to the Torah and subsequently to my primary teacher of Torah, Rav Avraham Itzchak HaCohen Kook, ZT"L (1865-1935).
One day in 1925, Rav Kook's main student, Rabbi David Cohen, the Nazir of Jerusalem ZT"L, asked him a similar question. Rav Kook in response handed the Nazir the eight notebooks that he had filled with his illuminations between 1904 and 1919. The Nazir pored through these for years and emerged with five basic foundational principles. They have been increasingly important to me. These principles and Rav Kook's words (and those of his teacher, Rabbi Moshe Chaim) are the best that I can offer in response to this penetrating question.
1. HaKodesh HaKlali -- Everything is holy.
"There is a holiness that builds and there is a holiness that destroys. The benefits of the holiness that builds are visible. The benefits of the one that destroys are hidden, because it destroys in order to build what is nobler than what has been built already" (Orot HaKodesh/Lights of Holiness 2:314). We must "take the deeper elements of good and holiness that have been embodied in the lower and superficial. Out of these we will build a new world, a world pervaded by a great light" (2:314).
2. HaChayut HaOlamit -- Everything is alive.
"You live in a world full of light and life.... And everything aspires, longs, yearns, according to a pattern that is adorned with holiness and girded with beauty. This life of yours is not a meaningless phenomenon" (2:343).
3. HaAchdut HaColelet -- Everything is one.
"All existence is included in one point" (2:391). "The affirmation of the divine unity aspires to reveal the unity in the world, in humankind, among nations, and in the entire content of existence, without any dichotomy between action and theory, between reason and the imagination. Even the dichotomies experienced will be unified through a higher enlightenment, which recognizes their aspect of unity and compatibility" (2:411).
4. HaTov HaClali -- Everything is good.
After all, everything in the creation was deemed tov/good. We chose to also experience raa/bad. "And the Divine directive is to raise humankind and the world from the depths of bad to the heights of good. And humankind and the world [were] destined for this as was the bad itself.... It will be elevated and transformed to good as it recognizes that its negativity is actually directed towards the universal improvement of the good" (2:475).
5. Hitaloot Ha'Olam -- Everything is rising, evolving, elevating.
"The worlds were created in order to rise from their level. The descent and breakage is so that we can experience elevation little by little until everything will return to its wholeness. From the beginning of history the wheel turns towards one point -- 'ha'shlemut ha'acharon' -- the final wholeness and perfection" (Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato, 138 Gates of Wisdom, 30,131).
And it will surely happen.
May we be blessed to help bring it about in our lifetime.
Rabbi Itzchak Marmorstein is a longtime student of the teachings of Rav Kook and currently engaged in performing Rav Kook's jazz poetry.
Source Citation: Marmorstein, Itzchak. 2011. Everything Is Alive. Tikkun 26(1): online exclusive.