Religious Devotion and Normality

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What is the relationship between religious devotion and normality? As one increases in observance, how should this affect their “normal” human emotions? Perhaps the truly pious are those whose total devotion to God leads to the eradication of their senses and reason. As will be demonstrated below, such was the approach taken by some rabbis of the past generations. Not so Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook. Continue reading “Religious Devotion and Normality”

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Rav Kook on Finding God through Recognizing Others

What is the path leading towards the recognition of God? The path, according to Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, begins with the realization of the complexity and significance of the lives of people other than oneself. Once one has appreciated the other, there is room for God in one’s life. Continue reading “Rav Kook on Finding God through Recognizing Others”

Rav Kook on Religious Neuroticism and Obsession with Sin

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Writing in several places in the mystical journals collected in his Shemoneh Kevatzim, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook addresses the psychological dangers of excess religious stringency and concern for sin. Such a religiously driven fear of making mistakes, when improperly calibrated, prevents one from thinking critically and having the confidence to act. While we should be motivated to always do our best as we strive to live up to what Judaism expects from us in every situation, an excess of religious tension is both unhealthy and counterproductive. Continue reading “Rav Kook on Religious Neuroticism and Obsession with Sin”