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A tortured soul

By
June 26, 2014 13:07

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook’s efforts to reconcile religion and enlightenment, but his position on Halacha and state was alienating.

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook in Washington, DC, on the day of his White House visit, April 15, 1924. (photo credit:COURTESY YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS)

Few souls have been tortured so famously and to such a powerful effect as that of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook. In his short but comprehensive biography, Rav Kook: Mystic in a Time of Revolution, Yehuda Mirsky skillfully and majestically tells the tragic story of this moral and intellectual genius, who struggled – but failed – at the impossible task of reconciling an uncompromising commitment to an irrational Orthodox Judaism with modernity and enlightened ethics.

That Kook’s thought has been so widely misunderstood, and used to justify a potentially dangerous mix of irrational faith and politics, only compounds the tragedy.

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