Rav Kook wrote the following article in Ha-Tor (the weekly periodical of the Mizrahi movement) in 1934, during the rise of Nazism in Germany.1
During these days of Purim, in this difficult hour, we are besieged by many troubles from without, afflicting the entire nation of Israel.
Yet our greatest anguish stems from troubles from within. We lack internal unity, peace in the House of Israel. Let us recall those days and their events as they are recorded in the Scroll of Esther — written, as it was, with Divine inspiration. For the Divine spirit transcends the passage of time and the transient ideologies of each generation. The eternal words “Go gather all of the Jews” shall once again revitalize us and elevate us from our lowly state.
One may ask: Is it really possible nowadays to gather all of the Jews? Is it possible to unite all the different factions and parties? How will the bones scattered across the vast valley of exile — both material and spiritual — once again form that entity known as Klal Yisrael, and put forth its demands for strength, renewal, and redemption?
The answer is that there is a place where this dispersion, both physical and spiritual, cannot rule over us. But you object: We see with our own eyes the awful internal strife, Jews fighting Jews, brothers turning against brothers like wolves and snakes. How can one say, “Go gather all of the Jews"?
Whoever thinks that Haman erred when he said, “There is one nation scattered and divided” (Esther 3:8), is mistaken. Indeed, the nation is scattered and divided. But nevertheless, it is “one nation.” Nor should one question the possibility of a nation being simultaneously united and divided. The world is full of wonders. This nation, whose very survival throughout history is replete with wondrous wonders, demonstrates by its existence that it is essentially one nation, despite its dispersion.
True, the malady of exile has divided us. But “the Eternal One of Israel will not lie.” The exile and all of its terrors must come to an end. Now that the wind has begun to blow from the four corners of the earth, from both the troubles surrounding us and from the spiritual revelation which stirs us to return and be rebuilt in the land of our life — now we are nearing the realization that there exists a cure for the malady of our dispersion and division. In the final analysis, we are, and shall always be, a united nation. Israel shall once again rise to the eternal words, “Go gather all of the Jews.”
Yet the difficult question obstructing the path of redemption remains — the divisive discord that consumes us. The answer is that there are two sides to a person. Medical procedures utilize the inner resources of vitality and health that lie hidden within. This inner spirit is so hidden that even the patient is unaware of its existence.
Spiritual maladies and their physical manifestations infect only our lower aspects, that side of which we are aware. But our hidden, unknown side always bursts with energy; it is brimming with life and strength. This hidden repository of health has the power to heal the outer self, which can mislead one into thinking that he is sick and feeble, when in fact he possesses an energetic, healthy soul, full of life and vigor.
That which is true for the individual applies to a much greater degree to the entire collective. Klal Yisrael in particular is truly one nation: “And who is like Your nation, Israel, one nation in the land?” (I Sam. 15:19) We must admit our error in identifying the essence of Israel with its superficial appearance, with its outer, baser side. This self-image has made us fearful. We are conscious only of our dispersion and division.
The Hamans of every generation strike at us with their poisonous hatred. Especially in this period of transition, they perceive our weak side, for it is visible and recognizable. But precisely through these tribulations we will come to realize that we possess a previously unknown, collective soul — a great national spirit whose existence we had forgotten. It abounds with vitality and possesses sufficient power to renew our lives as of old, and repel all of the Amalekites who wish to assault our weak.
This hidden Judaism, unknown even to ourselves, this great soul of a great nation, bearing both the suffering and the light of the world within it, will become known to us during these portentous times. The blessing of “Go gather all of the Jews” will emerge from its hidden place within the nation’s soul. Every Purim we must appreciate the great inner repository of our blessedness and our essential trait of oneness, which will vanquish our divided side.
From a state of being unable to “distinguish between cursed is Haman and blessed is Mordechai” will come a higher awareness — the ability to find the unknown Jew within us. Fellow Jews will recognize one another and join hands. And a mighty voice will be heard, “Let us rise up and ascend to Zion, to the house of our God” (Jer. 31:5).
(Adapted from Pesach Jaffe’s translation in Celebration of the Soul, pp. 126-129.)
1Several days earlier, on Feb. 25, over a million Nazis swore allegiance to Hitler over the radio, promising to die for the Fuehrer (Chicago Tribune Daily).