Last year, in an Our Jewish World series titled “A 20th-Century Dreamer Speaks to Us in the 21st,” Rabbi Mark Biller introduced us to the writings of Rav Kook. This year, Rabbi Biller will delve more deeply into the thought and philosophy of this towering figure in a three-part series, via Zoom, called “Living a Soulful Life.” The series, which is free and open to the public, will take place on Thursdays, March 14 (“Midnight Writer”), March 21 (“Everything Is Sacred”), and March 28 (“Every Moment Counts”), all at 1 p.m.
Our Jewish World is co-chaired by Ilene Dorf Manahan and Melanie Levitan.
A teacher very much ahead of his time, Rav Kook was Chief Rabbi of Israel during the British Mandate years (in the first part of the 20th century). He is considered the father of Religious Zionism, and is a mystic, whose beautiful and profound writings still inspire.
“A realist who dealt with the politicians of the early State of Israel, Rav Kook saw a positive life force in all creatures and beings,” Rabbi Biller notes. “His goal was to foster positive understanding between Jews of all religious levels of practice, to teach a deep appreciation of nature and our place in it, and to bring conscious awareness for all to every moment.”
Rav Kook woke at midnight every day to add entries to his personal diary. He reflected on life and wrote free-flowing prose about his spiritual beliefs—writings that were meant to remain private. Many years after his passing, the diaries were translated and published, and so now we can gain direct access to his deepest unedited thoughts.
The series presenter observes, “For Rav Kook, Torah study is a doorway to finding the sacred in everything, and the goal of a religious life is to feel and find a sense of unity with all life. No matter how fraught the world seems, for Rav Kook each moment can hold the potential for connection and goodness.”
Rabbi Biller, who makes difficult Jewish topics relatable and understandable, brings a wide perspective to his teaching and patience for all the questions we may have. He specializes in the art of storytelling, and counseling Jews of all ritual levels looking to find meaning in both modern life and rich Jewish traditions. The spiritual leader of synagogues in his native Canada, as well as in Alabama, Arkansas, New York and New Jersey, the rabbi received rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary. He also studied BiblioDrama with Peter Pitzele at the Union Theological Seminary, and completed a two-year Spiritual Direction course at Elat Chayyim, designed to help participants teach others how to identify and follow their own spiritual paths.
Following last year’s Rav Kook series led by Rabbi Biller, the participants asked if we could meet again to dive more deeply into this master thinker/spiritual-realist/observant-dreamer/open-yet-disciplined rabbi’s views on life, nature and life’s purpose. Join NCJW and Rabbi Biller as we explore, study and discuss Rav Kook’s thoughts and writings. Preregistration is required for the series. To register, email email@example.com. One registration will cover all three sessions.