Mystical Zionism's Surprising Origins: Rav Kook's Early Decades

Mirsky Book Cover.jpgRav Kook

Date: Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Time: 07:00pm - 08:00pm

Location: Virtual 

Public Lecture

Presented by Yehudah Mirsky, Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, Brandeis University

Rav (Rabbi) Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935) is widely known as the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of the Land of Israel, an important theologian, a foundational thinker of religious Zionism, and the Zionist movement's most influential and controversial rabbinic advocate. His legacy and debates around it have played important roles in Israeli politics and society till the present. Yet the development of his views before his migration to Palestine in 1904 have not received scholarly attention. This lecture will examine how his very unconventional Zionism emerged from decades of meditation on questions of metaphysics, ethics, and the distinctive spiritual challenges of modernity.

Supported by the Sagner Family Foundation


Watch ZOOM Recording Here


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Yehudah Mirsky is a professor of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University and is also on the faculty of the university’s Schusterman Center for Israel Studies. His scholarship focuses on the intersections of politics and religion, the historical and theological underpinnings of liberalism and human rights, and ecological ethics. He teaches courses on medieval and modern Jewish thought, the history of Zionism and the State of Israel, and political and ethical thought.

Mirsky’s Rav Kook: Mystic in a Time of Revolution (Yale, 2014) won the Jewish Book Council’s Choice Prize. It appeared in 2021 in a revised Hebrew edition as Rav Kook: Mabat Hadash (Kinneret), which Haaretz named as one of the 50 best books of 2021. That year also saw the publication of Towards the Mystical Experience of Modernity: The Making of Rav Kook, 1865–1904 (Academic Studies Press). Mirsky has written on religion, politics, and culture for the New York Times, Washington Post, New Republic, and many other publications.