Inner Voice of Rav Kook

Posted by Aryeh Ben David on August 25, 2005
Topics: Rav Kook, Spirituality, Jewish Education

“The perpetual prayer of the soul continually tries to emerge from its latent state to become revealed and actualized, to permeate every fiber of life of the entire universe . . . Sudden spiritual clarity comes about as a result of a certain spiritual lightning bolt that enters the soul . . . When many days or years have passed without listening to this inner voice, toxic stones gather around one’s heart, and one feels, because of them, a certain heaviness of spirit . . . The primary role of spiritual clarity is for the person to return to himself (herself), to the root of his soul” (Introduction to the Prayer book, Olat Ra’aya).

Rav Kook writes of the “perpetual prayer of the soul,” of an “inner voice” which is continually speaking to us. This inner voice continually clarifies for us our unique purpose and mission in life; it beseeches us to return “to the root of our soul (our uniqueness),” in Rav Kook’s language, to return to my essential self, to my “I-ness.”

It comes in moments of intuition, in bursts of sudden clarity, in Rav Kook’s language in “spiritual lightning bolts.” People who do not listen to this inner voice may eventually become alienated from themselves, may suffer from bouts of depression and emptiness, may feel “toxic stones around their heart.” This is the soul’s way of telling us, “Wake-up, listen to me! I’m trying to let you know how you can become who you were meant to be! I’m your inner voice trying to let you know who you truly are, and what you should do.”

This inner voice of the soul is not transmitting to me the mystical secrets of the world. Rather it is conveying to me why God created me, why the world needs me, and why the world needs my unique and essential contribution. I have a mission and a purpose. I have to be none other than myself. It will become clearer to me how I should live if I have the will and courage to listen to this inner voice.

Spiritual Education is aimed at creating an opportunity to listen to this inner voice, to gain greater clarity into why we were created and what our unique mission may be.

Hebrew has three primary words for soul: Nefesh, Ruach, and Neshama. According to the Kabbalah, these are three different voices of the soul. They are expressed through the body (Nefesh), the heart (Ruach), and the mind (Neshama).

  • The Nefesh voice is concerned with my physical self, my physical world, and my natural drive for survival. It urges me to take all of my physical drives and to elevate them, to refine them, and not to let my animal instincts control me.
  • The Ruach voice is concerned with the meditations of my heart, my emotional world. It urges me to uplift my emotions and character traits. It is the voice that impels me to have deeper relationships of love and compassion.
  • The Neshama voice is concerned with what goes on in my mind. It urges me to elevate what occupies my thoughts, the content and direction of my thinking.

Mind, heart, and body. Ideally, these three elements interact in harmony with each other. No part of the individual is either ignored or denied.

Every workshop in Spiritual Education has three components:

  1. Mind: learning from Jewish wisdom
  2. Heart: connecting our emotions to the subject
  3. Body: a physical experiential workshop

In every subject that we undertake, we attempt to connect, affect, and harmonize these three voices of the soul.

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