November, 2009 Archives


Rav Kook on The Purpose of Evil by Yaacov Dovid Shulman

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Spiritual Growth

Just as we see evil in an individual or in the life of a human society, and we see that in all its negativity and wickedness it has a purpose (granted, a transient purpose), a special might, a power of the will and a depth of life–qualities that are necessary to perfect justice and goodness–and we are sure that ultimately evil will pass away, and that the individual will be perfected and society will be perfected, at which point everything will stand upon a basis of goodness, and evil will cease, and the desire of evil, wrath, murder, coarseness, and all their branches will dissipate like smoke, so is it in the entirety of the cosmos.

There is no doubt that there exists a power of evil that yearns for evil, creating a ferment in the world, having rulership and filled with strength throughout all the days of evil. As long as the cosmos requires an evil ferment, this cosmic evil yearns, with all its tributaries, to obliterate and destroy, to pollute and sully, to blacken and dull, to split apart and explode. And it continues at length in its evil, until the end of days, until the cosmos will reach perfection, until a new spirit, a spirit of pure life, will breathe upon humanity, and holy souls will arise to implement a true salvation. And “they will take refuge in the King, these supernal holy beings” (Zohar?).

And everything that has been said in the words of the sages and their mysterious remarks regarding evil and its existence, regarding its temporary might and strength, regarding its destruction and obliteration in the end of days–it is all recorded in a true script.

Orot Hakodesh II, p. 478

Yaacov Dovid Shulman’s Writings can be found at and


Leaves & Life

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Reflections & Observations

I look out the window and see the street carpeted by leaves. Small pools of rainwater gather on the fallen colors and reflect the sunlight like crystals. I open the window and sniff the air. The susurration of the leaves allows me to slip into a peaceful meditation. Autumn’s mellow refulgence showers me with childhood memories of jumping into giant piles of leaves and then running from the men who spent hours raking those piles; they didn’t know that their countless strokes of the rake were just for that heavenly moment of a child’s uxorious joy smothered by the leaves’ damp warmth. I am in a different time and place.

A loud noise shatters the silent morning. A truck, with a giant vacuum on its back sucks up the carpet. The leaves disappear. The multi colored leaves are replaced by the dull blacktop of the street. The truck’s odor replaces the spicy bouquet of the leaves.

A rake does not violate the magic of autumn; it’s part of fall. A vacuum may very well be efficient, but it ravages the sight, the silence, and the smell of the fallen leaves so verdant in their death.

Debbie and I were once driving through the Berkshires during the late autumn, when we saw a sign: ‘Plow Ahead.’ We assumed that it was a snowplow and couldn’t believe that, here we were driving through an inch or more of leaves, and there was enough snow for a plow just ahead.

It wasn’t a snowplow. Well, it actually was, but it wasn’t plowing snow, but leaves. The leaves were so thick that they had to use a plow to clear the road.

There were literally banks of leaves on the side of the road. The plow was not as efficient as the vacuum truck, but it certainly added to, rather than violate, the magic of the leaves.

I prefer a rake to a plow, and the plow to the vacuum. We drove along captured by the magic of the leaves and I began to wonder about other differences between rakes, plows and vacuums.

Sancherib, Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander, were vacuums. They sucked up one country after another and added them to their ever-growing kingdoms. The Four kings in last week’s portion plowed through the land, simply crushing anyone in their way, not interested in adding to their domains, but only in destruction. Would I still prefer the plow to the vacuum?

I watch some people who, when confronted by problems, plow ahead as if nothing can stop them. I watch parents push their children to overcome any barriers. I have also seen parents who teach their children the ‘vacuum approach’ – just suck it all up! Would I still prefer the plow to the vacuum?

The rake approach is slow and methodical. People who can sift through their issues and clear one small area at a time, make slow but steady progress.

I cannot answer whether I would choose the plow approach over the vacuum, but I am certain that I will always be most happy with a rake in my hands despite the extra work, time, and the children who will blissfully jump into and scatter my perfectly gathered pile of leaves.

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