Ice and Light: The Wrong and the Right Way to Think about God

Precis: Translation and summary of a short piece by Rav Kook that points out the dangers of thinking in a wooden or stoney fashion. Idol worship in the modern age… 


Rav Kook, Kovetz 1;179






מה שהמחשבה האלהית היא קבועה בצורה מיוחדת וידועה אצל בני אדם, מפני ההרגל והדמיון הילדותי, מביא המעצור היותר גדול ברוח האדם בבאו לכלל דעת

The fact that man’s thinking about God is set in a fixed mold

because of habit, and a child-like imagination

brings the greatest impediment before the spirit of man

as he moves towards Knowing.

Inert and childish ways of thinking about God are a huge impediment on the road towards knowledge.


זהו ניצוץ מהפגם של עשיית פסל ותמונה, שהרבה הרבה מאד אנו צריכים להזהר בה, וביותר חובת הזהירות מתגדלת, בתקופת הדעת היותר בהירה

This is a crackling spark from the blemish of constructing an image and a picture

which we have to be very, very careful about

and the obligation to be careful about this only grows, in an age of increasingly clear Knowing.

Thinking in a fixed way about God goes against the Second of the Ten Commandments, and we should be very careful not to fall into this trap.


הכפירה, כל תעודתה במציאות היא רק להסיר את הצורות המיוחדות מהמחשבה המהותית של כל החיים, ושרש כל המחשבות כולן

Denial of God –

its whole purpose in being is only to remove fixed forms of thought about life

at the source of all our thoughts.

The inner purpose of denial of God [as He was previously conceived to be] – is to break mankind away from the imprisonment of conventional and set ways of thinking.


ומי שמכיר את התוך שבכפירה מצד זה, מוצץ הוא את דבשה ומחזירה לשורש קדושתה, ומסתכל בהוד הקרח הנורא, כפור שמים

And the person who recognizes this essence of Denial

sucks the sweetness of Denial, and restores it to the root of its holiness

and sees the glorious aspect of that terrible ice, the frost of the denial of Heaven.

Constantly re-thinking our understanding of God, is the way that we break the ice of our mental imprisonment: and begin to understand God, and the whole world [including what seems to us to be the terrible aspects of the world], in a new light.

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