GOLD from the Land of Israel
by Rabbi Chanan Morrison

Reviewed by Yocheved Golani

In this world of an ever-endangered Israel, it behooves the reader to avail him/herself and absorb the messages of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook’s treasured writings about the eternal value of the Holy Land and the Jews destined to rule over her.

It’s an elusive goal, but Rabbi Chanan Morrison does it well, and in electronic form. Many readers might wish for mastery of Rav Kook’s complex works, but in the real world they can depend upon Rabbi Morrison’s increasingly popular e-mail series of “Rav Kook On…” to enlighten them.

With those free English-language updates, thousands of eager readers gain insights into the weekly Torah portion based on lessons that Rabbi Morrison gleans from Rav Kook’s legacy of scholarly writings and comments.

Rabbi Morrison collected 10 years’ worth of his delightful cyber-delivery of Rav Kook’s teachings and created a 368-page book entitled GOLD From The Land of Israel. Capably edited for smooth transition into book form, these lessons retain the richness of the teachings of the first chief rabbi of pre-state Israel. Rabbi Morrison’s clear manner of delivery makes them easy to internalize.

The vibrancy of Rav Kook’s teachings lay in his love for fellow Jews from any walk of life, and for their Creator. It shows in Morrison’s writing, especially in the Parshat Beshalach selection. In GOLD from the Land of Israel, Morrison explains a puzzling Midrash about Israelites crossing the Red Sea and how Rav Kook interpreted it.

The Torah claims that they cried out “Zeh Keli V’anve’Hu” – “This is my God and I will glorify Him.” According to the Midrash, they were then able to comprehend reality in a manner beyond normal prophecy. Rav Kook explains that they witnessed Divine intervention in an immediate way. Prophets, however, must first uncover the veil of natural law and causality before yelling to the world about some wonderful phenomenon.

Rav Kook resolved the dilemma, teaching us that these Jews had witnessed a complete suspension of the rules of nature; divine intervention on a global scale up close and personal. Their spontaneous outpouring of awe was the direct result of comprehending reality to a degree rarely obtained by anyone but prophets.

Towards the end of this compelling book, Rabbi Morrison conveys to us a marvelous insight about Parshat Devarim, as per Rav Kook zt”l. Devarim is prophetic, not a verbatim dictation of God’s word to Moses.

Until the time of Ezra HaSofer (the Scribe), Moses’ lessons were shared via biur, a flowing elucidation that deduces Torah’s hidden, and underlying principles from which the details of fundamental tenets can be derived and understood. Ezra changed this approach to perush in order to help Jews intellectually and safely cope with the upheavals of several exiles and the tyrannies of Torah-hating dictatorships.

Perush is “an empirical method of analyzing a subject by examining all of its details.” It doesn’t focus on discovering underlying specifics. Instead, it compares them to each other. It permitted the paras, the spreading forth of Torah ideals, while safeguarding its transmission in dangerous times.

At this historic time, familiarity with and love for Rabbi Kook’s writings are often popularly interpreted as yardsticks for measuring someone’s love for the Holy Land and attachment to Torahdik ideals. Stand proud within the Jewish world. Grasp the treasure of Rav Kook's teachings with "GOLD from the Land of Israel." It's a wonderful addition to any Jewish library and a fine birthday gift to students of almost any age.

(368 pages, hardcover) is available at http://gold-israel.co.nr and at Jewish bookstores. Learn more about the book and Rav Kook's teachings at Rabbi Morrison's user-friendly site, RavKookTorah.org



Review in Jewish Press