Scholar, philosopher, mystic and sage, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook (1865-1935), the first chief rabbi of pre-state Israel, was one of the most influential rabbis of the 20th century. The unique love that he had for every Jew, his storied devotion to the Land of Israel and his landmark rulings in Jewish law made him famous throughout the world.While many are familiar with his name and striking visage, few people study his philosophical works, which are difficult to understand, even in English translation. In The Spiritual Revolution of Rav Kook, author Rabbi Ari Ze’ev Schwartz explains that some have also avoided studying his ideas for ideological reasons.“Most haredi people don’t study Rav Kook because he is too Zionistic,” Schwartz wrote. “Many secular Zionists don’t study Rav Kook because he is ‘too religious.’ A large number of Reform and Conservative Jews don’t study Rav Kook because he is associated with right-wing politics and the settler movement.”In an attempt to expose Kook’s ideas to a wider audience, Schwartz has compiled and translated some of the most significant parts of his work into 268 pages, organized into four main sections. These sections correspond with Kook’s division of life into four “songs” – the song of the individual, the song of the nation, the song of humanity, and the song of the entire world with all of its creations. Schwartz introduces each section with a short description and summary of the rabbi’s position on each section, followed by selections taken from a variety of his works.Kook died in 1935, more than 80 years ago, yet the distillation of his thoughts reveals him as a man ahead of his time whose point of view, in many areas, is more suited to the 21st century. Schwartz explains that Kook encouraged people to find a “personal” Torah.“One’s main learning should be in the subject matter that one’s heart is most passionate about,” writes Kook. He further confesses, “When I was young, I also was not excited to study Halacha (Jewish law). My heart was drawn after Aggadah (the homiletic sections of the Talmud). However, by studying Aggadah, I came to study Halacha.”Explaining the “song” of the nation, Schwartz reveals Rav Kook’s acceptance of others who may be different than ourselves. “One must not focus on the fact that others with their differing character traits and personalities, do not act in the same way as oneself.” He also bemoans the manner in which the religious and secular misunderstand each other and cause damage to the nation.Concerning the “song” of humanity, Kook writes of the importance of science and secular knowledge.“When there is an opinion that contradicts something in the Torah, we must not immediately refute it,” he wrote. “Rather, we must build the castle of the Torah on top of this opinion.”Kook believed, writes Schwartz, that one could be dedicated to one’s tradition while being open to the wisdom within all traditions. “It is wrong,” wrote Kook, “to teach about the spiritual greatness of the Jewish people by making disrespectful remarks about other religions.”In the fourth “song,” that of the entire world, Kook expresses his view concerning animal rights and vegetarianism. In the chief rabbi’s view, a person’s love of God should include not only one’s relationship to human beings, but also one’s relationship to all of God’s creatures.Peppered throughout the book are smaller sections that explain Kook’s views on such disparate subjects as repentance, art, prayer and Zionism. As the Land of Israel’s first chief rabbi of the modern era, the views that he expressed are in many ways more moderate and progressive than those of the leading rabbis of today.Kook, writes Schwartz, preferred to meet with leading musicians, poets and authors instead of politicians. He wrote that “we need healthy bodies, but we have been so focused on our souls that we have forgotten the holiness of the body.”Speaking of the rabbinate of his day, he wrote, “The Rabbanut is too focused on Halacha. The Rabbanut that I am trying to raise up is a Rabbanut that is constantly involved with the day-to-day issues of the Jewish people in Israel. It should not be boxed in and focused only on the world of religious law, because matters of religion are in truth matters of life.” Rounding out the book is a concluding summary of the key points discussed throughout, along with a biography that summarizes the main events in Kook’s life. Schwartz’s helpful translation makes the often difficult text of Kook’s works accessible and understandable to the general reader.While reading this book cannot substitute for reading his original works, The Spiritual Revolution of Rav Kook provides a taste of the penetrating wisdom of Kook, one that will undoubtedly whet the appetite of readers who are interested in learning more about his life, his works and his beliefs.