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Rav Kook's Musar Avicha

Author: Sharon Kleinerman, Ellul 5775/September 2015

מוסר אביך,  פרק ב:סעיף ג "בכל דרכיך דעהו

שיעור  מוקדש לעילו נשמת אטה קוסובסקי ואמי היקרה,  טובה בת פרידה ואביגדור

Class on Rav Kook's Musar Avicha in memory of Etta Kossowsky, my mother Tova Bat Frieda and Avigdor. And in honor of the special birthday of Dr. Esther Ehrman,  Ad 120

This  week I will be commemorating  the shloshim of my dear mother Thelma Peskin Halpern,  Tova bat Frieda and Avigdor.  There has been so much "hashgacha pratit"  during this time that it almost feels that my mom together with Hakodesh Barucho were planning this period of time.  My mother, who had been ill for many years, had a sudden deterioration about 6 weeks ago.  I kept telling her to hang in there, "Dina and all her family are coming to Israel for a vacation in a week."  She did.  During the last two weeks of her life she was zoche to have every grandchild come in to her, Dina and I were with her during her last few days.  We sang to her, held her hands for hours.  At the funeral and most of the shiva, we were all there with all her grandchildren.

I give the Etta Kossowsky shiur once a year and I set the date months in advance.   Even this my mom "planned", this time the shiur was meant to be in her memory .  My mom loved Rav Kook and loved Eretz Yisrael.  She never ceased to be aware and marvel about the wonders and miracle of her life here.

Though it was very difficult and challenging, I feel that I was truly zoche to be able to fulfil the mitzvah of kibud am in the past few years when my mom was so ill.  I felt that this task went beyond taking care of my mom's needs- such as keeping on top of her medical issues, finances and all her general care.

I felt it was important to forge a relationship with my mom in her new situation- when she could no longer be there to have a conversation with, to argue with, to get advice from.  And we did:  I tried to think about what she would want or need at that moment:  music, playing violin, especially the songs that she loved from musicals,  massages,  special foods that she could still eat even as eating became more difficult.   So in this way, there was a special relationship that developed.  May my mom's memory be blessed.

And now I would like to begin with my class "In all your ways know Him"

ב.בכל דרכיך דעהו

(משלי ג ו): "בכל דרכיך דעהו", צריך לבקש את הקב"ה בתוך הדרכים שהוא מתנהג בהם: כשהוא עוסק בתפלה, אז יבקש את הקב"ה בהבנת עניני תפלתו וכונה רצויה באמונת הלב באותם העניינים של תפלתו, ולא יבקש את הידיעה בשעה ההיא בענינים אחרים, כי כיון שהוא עוסק בעבודה זו, הקב"ה כביכול שורה מצדו בזו העבודה דוקא, ובה ימצאנה ולא במקום אחר.

וכשהוא עוסק בתורה, יידע שימצא את הקב"ה בהיותו מעמיק ומעיין להבין דבר על בוריו ולזכור ולשנן היטיב, ובה הוא יודע אותו ית' בתורתו ולא באופן אחר, כי בשעה זו הוא מתגלה בעבודה זו.

וכן בהיותו עסוק בגמ"ח להיטיב לחברו, אז יבקש את הקב"ה רק בהעמקת עצה איך להיטיב לו טובה גדולה הגונה וקימת.

וכן בכל הדברים שעושה, הרי באמת אין דבר בעולם שאינו לכבודו ית' [7], על-כן כל מה שעושה יהיה הכל דברי מצותו ורצונו, ויבקש בהם את שמו ית', כשישתדל בכל שכלו וכחותיו לעשות את מה שהוא עושה בתכלית השלמות בכל צדדי השלמות, ונמצא שהוא יודע את השם יתברך בכל הדרכים.

והב' הוא ב' ה"בתוך", שבעצמותם של הדרכים הוא יודע את הקב"ה.

על-כן הוא (ברכות סג, א): "פרשה קטנה", שאין הצווי בה גדלות והרחבה של חכמות ומחשבות, אדרבא צמצום בדבר זה שהוא עסוק לבדו; ומכל מקום, "כל גופי תורה תלויים בה", כי בזה יעשה הכל כשורה, ומזה ימצא כבודו של הקב"ה בתכלית. ורמזו חז"ל בדבריהם (שבת י, א): "זמן תפלה לחוד וזמן תורה לחוד", והבן.

הוספה מכתב יד קדשו: כשאדם פועל איזה דבר של שלימות, בין במחשבה בין במעשה, צריך לשמח בחלקו ולא ירדוף אז אחר דבר אחר, כי כל העולם כולו מתקפל לפניו אז דוקא בפרט זה].

"In all your ways, know Him"( Mishle 3:6),  Rav Kook explains that we must seek Hashem  in all the ways that Hashem reveals himself.  When we are davening, we should seek Hashem in our prayer and not try to seek Hashem in any other way.  Hashem is with you at the time in the prayer, and nowhere else.

And also with learning Tora,  When we are learning and reviewing,  we will be learn about Hashem through his Tora  and not in another place,  the Tora learning is where Hashem is revealed.

So too, when we are doing acts of Chesed, we should seek Hashem in these acts.  We should be focused on how we can best help our fellow human being.

There is nothing in the world that is not in honor of Hashem.    So in all we do, we must seek Hashem with all our intelligence and might.  The "bet" in "Btoch" ((צריך לבקש את הקב"ה בתוך הדרכים שהוא מתנהג בהם means with each and every way we can know Hashem.  This is considered a "parsha ktana" (Brachot 63.), a posuk which all Tora is based on.

What does this mean for us?

To totally be where we are when we are doing it.  When we are helping our child with getting dressed we are doing chesed,   it is at that moment that Hashem reveals Himself.

In all our ways Hashem reveals Himself but the key is to be there at that moment.  When we are helping our child, we should not be thinking how we have to hurry up because then we can get to our learning which is "really" learning about Hashem's ways.

Davening:  Why is this mentioned?  Isn't it obvious that we are seeking Hashem and connecting during davening?   This is not necessarily true.

To really connect with Hashem when we daven, there are three requirements.   First, we must really understand the meaning of the each and every word on a lexical level.     Second,  we have to realize that we are sadly lacking in the area that we, as an individual and/or nation, are davening for (i.e., knowledge, health, sustenance,  justice)   Third, we must be fully aware that Hashem alone has the ability to give as what we are lacking.  We don't need to think about deep philosophical or halachic issues concerning davening.  On the contrary, this will just distract us from the closeness with Hashem that develops at that moment.  We can compare this to a farmer who needs to think about planting when he plants a seed.  He does not have to think about all the advanced biology he had learned when he is planting a seed (Rav Malka, Machon Meir: 19503).

Relevant points

As I was preparing this shiur with Binyamin, my son who is learning in Shavei Hevron,  I found myself thinking how could I maximize our brief time together during "ben hazmanin"  to  learn more for this  shiur.  One day we had a doctor's appointment in Jerusalem.  I thought it would be a great idea if we could listen to Machon Meir audio tapes on the way so we could make the best out of the car ride there.  I tried everything I could to download some classes onto my phone, but I just couldn't.  So as a result, when we drove together, we talked, and we enjoyed our conversation.  And I realized that was exactly what we should have been doing then:   catching up with each other, being together, enjoying each other's company.  I learned more from not having been able to listen to the shiur.  This was what was meant to be (the next day I figured out the problem and was able to solve it).

Looking back in retrospect, the last years of my mom's life were also an opportunity for me to experience "In your ways you shall know Him". It was trying to avoid the trap of always thinking about "we should have,  I wish it could be, if we could have" and to be with my mother where she was at that moment and finding ways to connect to her even when she was so ill and unaware.

For all of us, "In all our ways we should know Hashem"  is an essential message for our generation.  What would HaRav Kook had said if he had seen all this multitasking going on:  talking to friends while emailing, taking care of our kids while we are on the phone in the park, taking selfies and pictures so all our friends could see it.  We have become super experts at not being where we are at the moment.   And we continue to invent even more ways to do this, thus feeling that we are getting so much more done in the same time.  And through this, we are losing something so great- the incredible power to see the holiness and connect to Hashem in every single moment and action.

May this lesson accompany us all in these very challenging times.