The movement in our generation to seek personal enlightenment and individual spiritual fulfillment is similarly not to be seen as a step backward from the collective spirit. It is, rather, the early drips emerging from this glorious level. Because when a person arrives at an exacting self-assessment of the very essence of his being, he will find that all he contains in his heart is the entire Jewish nation, and that the depth of his individual realization is nothing other than the life-force of the entire nation, their eternal redemption in the Beis HaMikdash. Any self-realization that is less than this will not be able to satisfy a person within whom the holy Jewish soul has been etched.

Therefore, we need to understand that every individual movement toward personal realization is not directed toward a different goal than the spiritual awakening of the collective nation. For the completed fruit of a person’s individual ripening is the realization of the light of true life, which is found only in the greatness of the nation, in the holy nation which is filled with the spiritual wealth of an awesome holy life-force which will quench the thirst of all souls with the saturation and fulfillment and satisfaction of the Living of all worlds. It is this light for which all souls yearn, and all the while that one has not yet discovered this true state of contentment, the impulse to search for personal fulfillment will not cease.

In this vein, it is fitting to bring the awesome words of Rav Kook regarding settling for one’s personal fulfilment alone. These are his words: (Oros HaKodesh 3, p. 147)

A person needs to constantly escape from the personal framework which fills his essence to the point that all of his thoughts are constantly focused only on his personal portion, for this drags a person into the depth of smallness, and there is no end to the physical and spiritual suffering which are caused by this. Rather, it is important for a person’s thoughts and desire and the foundation of his contemplations to be given over to the collective, to the collective of everything, the ‘all’ of the world, of humanity, of the Jewish nation, of all of existence. Then, his individuality will also settle in the proper manner.

The more that one’s perception of collectivity strengthens, the more his joy will grow, and the more he will merit to an illumination of the divine Light, for “A complete Name rests upon upon a complete world,” and, “the Shechinah does not dwell on a place of lack.” Because the Shechinah does not rest in an incomplete or blemished place, how then can it possibly rest in a place where the “all” is lacking and absent, leaving nothing more than an impoverished and regrettable point of nothingness, one’s unique individuality alone?

This demand to be constantly given over to the foundation of collectivism, “in the elevated bond which contains the life-force of everything”, is the foundation of the souls of the tzaddikim who walk before Hashem and rejoice in Hashem. They need to take strength to know themselves and their desires, not allowing any obstacle in the world to cause them to let go, but rather constantly developing, sanctifying, and glorifying Hashem. They will merit to the blessing of Hashem which emerges from the foundation of, “With all, from all, all”.

Rav Reuven Sasson
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