Rabbi Chanan Morrison
Publisher: Urim Publications
Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (1865-1935), the celebrated first Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel, is recognized as being among the most important Jewish thinkers of all times. His writings reflect the mystic’s search for underlying unity in all aspects of life and the world, and his unique personality similarly united a rare combination of talents and gifts. Rav Kook was a prominent rabbinical authority and active public leader, but at the same time, a deeply religious mystic. He was both Talmudic scholar and poet, original thinker and saintly tzaddik.
Rav Kook’s writings, due to their poetic and mystical nature, are difficult even for those fluent in Hebrew and rabbinical texts. “Gold from the Land of Israel” uses a clear, succinct style to grant the reader a window into his original and creative insights. This book elucidates his thoughts on many fascinating topics, including:
-Can we reconcile the Torah’s account of creation with modern science?
-What is the Torah’s view on vegetarianism?
-What is the purpose of death?
-Why do bad things happen to good people?
-Why do we have dreams?
-Will the Third Temple have animal sacrifices?
-Who is God?
-How can one attain joy in serving God?
-How should we balance our time between Torah study and work?
-Why must kohanim avoid cemeteries?
About the Author:
After graduating with a B.A. in Mathematics from Yeshiva University (New York), Rabbi Chanan Morrison studied for several years at Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav, the Jerusalem yeshiva founded by Rav Kook in 1924. He was ordained after completing rabbinical studies in the Ohr Torah Stone (Efrat) and Midrash Sephardi (Jerusalem) rabbinical seminaries.
Rabbi Morrison taught Jewish studies for several years in Harrisburg, PA, before returning to Israel. He and his family subsequently settled down in Mitzpe Yericho, an Israeli community in the Judean Desert.
In an effort to maintain contact with former students, Rabbi Morrison began emailing weekly articles on the weekly Torah portion based on the writings of Rav Kook. Over the years, this email list grew at a phenomenal rate; it now benefits thousands of readers from all over the world.
Praise for Gold From the Land of Israel:
“Rabbi Morrison has done a remarkable job in presenting the teachings of Rav Kook – a giant of twentieth century Jewish thought – in a clear and approachable fashion. I highly recommend this book for anyone seeking a good introduction to the inspiring wisdom of this preeminent scholar.”
–Rabbi David Samson
Dean of Maaleh Erev Institutions and author of the “Lights on Orot” series
“Gold from the Land of Israel is a wonderful introduction to the profound teachings of HaRav Avraham Yitzchak haKohen Kook zt”l. In these succinct and clearly-written essays, Rabbi Morrison has succeeded in expounding on major themes from Rav Kook’s thought. Those who are not familiar with the Rav’s teachings will be exposed to the profound ideas and remarkable scope of his writings.
Rav Kook zt”l was one of the outstanding scholars of his time, and his teachings and writings are the cornerstone of Jewish life in Israel today. By entering the realm of Torah as presented by Rav Kook, one strengthens his bonds to Eretz Yisrael.
Not only is this book a tremendous boon for English-speaking readers, but the translation of Rav Kook’s writings enables them ‘to awaken the holiness hidden in each language.’”
–Rabbi Yehoshua Magnes
Rosh Yeshiva, Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva
Gold from the Land of Israel is an outstanding and urgently needed contribution to the otherwise restricted world of the study of Rav Kook’s complex writings.
For the first time, Rabbi Chanan Morrison presents Rav Kook’s parsha thoughts in simple, easy-to-read chapters that are sure to provide inspiring new perspectives on the weekly reading.
-Rabbi Ari Enkin, author of “Dalet Amot – Halachic Perspectives”
This book is an extremely useful tool to enable the reader to enter Rav Kook’s texts.
-Rabbi Jeffrey Saks, ATID
In this world of an ever-endangered Israel, it behooves the reader to avail him/herself and absorb the messages of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook’s treasured writings about the eternal value of the Holy Land and the Jews destined to rule over her.
It’s an elusive goal, but Rabbi Chanan Morrison does it well, and in electronic form. Many readers might wish for mastery of Rav Kook’s complex works, but in the real world they can depend upon Rabbi Morrison’s increasingly popular e-mail series of “Rav Kook On.” to enlighten them.
With those free English-language updates, thousands of eager readers gain insights into the weekly Torah portion based on lessons that Rabbi Morrison gleans from Rav Kook’s legacy of scholarly writings and comments.
Rabbi Morrison collected 10 years’ worth of his delightful cyber-delivery of Rav Kook’s teachings and created a 368-page book entitled GOLD From The Land of Israel. Capably edited for smooth transition into book form, these lessons retain the richness of the teachings of the first chief rabbi of pre-state Israel. Rabbi Morrison’s clear manner of delivery makes them easy to internalize.
The vibrancy of Rav Kook’s teachings lay in his love for fellow Jews from any walk of life, and for their Creator. It shows in Morrison’s writing, especially in the Parshat Beshalach selection. In GOLD from the Land of Israel, Morrison explains a puzzling Midrash about Israelites crossing the Red Sea and how Rav Kook interpreted it.
The Torah claims that they cried out “Zeh Keli V’anve’Hu” – “This is my God and I will glorify Him.” According to the Midrash, they were then able to comprehend reality in a manner beyond normal prophecy.
Rav Kook explains that they witnessed Divine intervention in an immediate way. Prophets, however, must first uncover the veil of natural law and causality before yelling to the world about some wonderful phenomenon.
Rav Kook resolved the dilemma, teaching us that these Jews had witnessed a complete suspension of the rules of nature; divine intervention on a global scale up close and personal. Their spontaneous outpouring of awe was the direct result of comprehending reality to a degree rarely obtained by anyone but prophets. Towards the end of this compelling book, Rabbi Morrison conveys to us a marvelous insight about Parshat Devarim, as per Rav Kook zt”l. Devarim is prophetic, not a verbatim dictation of God’s word to Moses.
Until the time of Ezra HaSofer (the Scribe), Moses’ lessons were shared via biur, a flowing elucidation that deduces Torah’s hidden, and underlying principles from which the details of fundamental tenets can be derived and understood. Ezra changed this approach to Perush in order to help Jews intellectually and safely cope with the upheavals of several exiles and the tyrannies of Torah-hating dictatorships.
Perush is “an empirical method of analyzing a subject by examining all of its details.” It doesn’t focus on discovering underlying specifics. Instead, it compares them to each other. It permitted the spreading forth of Torah ideals, while safeguarding its transmission in dangerous times.
At this historic time, familiarity with and love for Rabbi Kook’s writings are often popularly interpreted as yardsticks for measuring someone’s love for the Holy Land and attachment to Torahdik ideals. GOLD from the Land of Israel is a wonderful addition to any Jewish library and a fine birthday gift to students of almost any age.”
The Jewish Press
Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (1865-1935), the celebrated first Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israsel, is recognized as being among the most important Jewish thinkers of all times. His writings reflect the mystic’s search for underlying unity in all aspects of life and the world, and his unique personality similarly united a rare combination of talents and gifts. Rav Kook was a prominent rabbinical authority and active public leader, but at the same time, a deeply religious mystic, teacher, writer, Talmudic scholar, poet, original thinker and saintly tzaddik.
Gold From the Land of Israel uses a clear, succinct style to grant the reader a window into his original and creative insights. This book elucidates his thoughts on many fascinating topics, including reconciliation of creation with modern science, his views as a vegetarian, the purpose of death, good and evil, dreams, the nature of God, sacrifices in the Third Temple, attaining joy in serving God, and many other important Jewish and theological themes.
Rabbi Chanan Morriston, a former student at Mercaz HaRav, is deeply immersed in the writings and thought of Rav Kook and has done a masterful job of extracting Rav Kook’s thoughts on the weekly Parashah. This is a book to return to again and again.
-Dov Peretz Elkins
Jewish Media Review
Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaCohen Kook (1986–1935), the celebrated first Chief Rabbi of pre-State Israel, is recognized as one of the most extraordinary Jewish thinkers of his time. His fame as a scholar, poet, rabbinical authority, and great leader was eclipsed by his prominence as a religious mystic. As a mystic he searched for unity in all aspects of the world and of life. He wrote many books on a wide range of subjects, always with a philosophical/kabbalistic frame of reference. He was blessed with a poet’s felicity with language and never had to rewrite anything.
Rabbi Chanan Morrison studied at the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva (started by Rav Kook in 1924) for several years and became enchanted with Rav Kook’s writings. Gold From the Land of Israel is a companion to the weekly Torah portion based on the writings of Rav Kook. Rabbi Morrison runs RavKook.n3.net, a website dedicated to presenting the Torah commentary of Rav Kook. Translating any of these writings is an arduous task. Instead, Rabbi Morrison has summarized basic ideas and presented them in a format accessible to the contemporary English language reader.
This book, with several short essays on each parsha, elucidates his thoughts on many fascinating topics, including: Can we reconcile the Torah’s account of creation with modern science? What is the Torah’s view on vegetarianism? What is the purpose of death? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do we dream? Will the Third Temple have animal sacrifices? Who is God? How can one attain joy in serving God? How should we balance our time between Torah study and work? Why must kohanim avoid cemeteries?
These snippets from the vast writings of Rav Kook are indeed gold. Hopefully, the reader will be inspired to seek out the original writings contained in the helpful bibliography.
Jewish Book World
The writings of Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaKohen Kook, the first chief rabbi of Israel, are the wellspring for “Gold from the Land of Israel” by Rabbi Chanan Morrison (Urim), featuring insights on the weekly Torah portion based on the teachings of Rav Kook. The book is an important contribution in making Rav Kook’s work accessible in English. Rav Kook, who lived from 1865 to 1935, was a scholar, rabbinic authority, communal leader and poet who was deeply original in his thinking. Rabbi Morrison studied for several years at Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav, the Jerusalem yeshiva founded by Rav Kook in 1924, and taught in Harrisburg, Pa., before returning to Israel.
The Jewish Week
Rabbi Morrison’s book is a treasure. For those who cannot fully appreciate Rav Kook’s writings in Hebrew, this volume makes his genius accessible. From a discussion of the importance of the white space in the Torah scroll to the importance of wearing tzitzits, the rav’s eloquence, Torah knowledge, and love for all Jews combines for a” confluence of physical and metaphysical light.” This book is highly recommended for its philosophical discussions as well as its practical insights into the Torah readings.
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