Shabbat Parashat Haazinu| 5766
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - Introduction to the New Sefer, “Dabar Le dor”
We have had the privilege to share with you, in a condensed and translated form, the writings of our rav and mentor, Harav Shaul Yisraeli, zecher tzaddik livracha. Over the last five plus years, we have not depleted but have made a serious dent in the material in his seforim thatis appropriate to be presented in this forum. It is with great joy that we have been able to welcome, from time to time, new works of Rav Yisraeli, which have been collected and edited posthumously.
Over the last few months, coinciding with Rav Yisraeli’s 10th yahrtzeit, his son-in-law, R. Yisrael Sharir, has published another two sefarim from Rav Yisraeli’s “spiritual estate.” One such sefer is a collection of shiurim that Rav Yisraeli delivered at Yeshivat Merkaz Harav on Massechet Pesachim. (We will, G-d willing, share some of them at the appropriate time, in another half year.) The other, which we introduce this week, is called “Dabar L’dor.”
The name of the sefer is based on the hesped thatRav Yisraeli wrote for Rav Kook, which appeared in a Bnei Akiva periodical, the year after his death. The gemara (Sanhedrin 8a)refers to Yehoshua as the dabar l’dor, the leader of the generation. Rav Yisraeli demonstrated how Rav Kook’s leadership was a unique one, fit to the unique nature of his generation. The sefer compiles hespedim (eulogies) that Rav Yisraeli delivered in memory of three prominent leaders of recent generations, under whom he studied and/or with whose guidance he lead his own flock. The three leaders who are eulogized are Harav Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook, Harav Ya’akov Moshe Charlop, and Harav Tzvi Yehuda Hakohen Kook. It is not for us to eulogize these great men in our introduction, and over the coming weeks we will hear what Rav Yisraeli had to say about them. We will suffice with the briefest historical facts to put the eulogies in perspective.
Rav Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook was the Chief Rabbi of the Land of Israel (pre-State) and remains, to this day, the primary forger of the philosophy of the Religious Zionist movement. Among his many acts of chesed,Rav Kook helped save Rav Yisraeli’s life. With two others, Rav Yisraeli fled Communist Russia as a young adult in order to be able to live freely as a Jew and a budding talmid chacham. The Polish police caught the three on their side of the border and planned to return them to Russia, where they were to expect the death sentence. The Poles were convinced by the local Jewish community to allow them a short time to have the three sent to Israel (Mandatory Palestine). However, at the time (1933) there were strict immigration quotas. Rav Kook arranged to have them allowed into Eretz Yisrael, to be accepted under the auspices of his Yeshiva Hamerkazit (now known as Merkaz Harav). During the first year and a half of Rav Yisraeli’s four-year stint at the yeshiva, Rav Kook had a major impact on him. (Rav Kook died in 1935). Rav Yisraeli spent 28 years as the rav of Kfar Haroeh, a religious agricultural moshav named after Rav Kook.
The saintly Rav Ya’akov Moshe Charlop was the Rosh Yeshiva of Merkaz Harav when Rav Yisraeli arrived and throughout his stay there. The two were very close and even learned as chavruta on a weekly basis. Because there were not always public, yearly hespedim for Rav Charlop, only a handful of Rav Yisraeli’s hespedim for him were found.
Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, Rav A.Y. Kook’s only son and spiritual successor, had a life-long relationship with Rav Yisraeli. In 1959, he invited Rav Yisraeli to give the weekly shiur k’lali (central lecture) at Merkaz Harav, which he headed. Upon his death, Rav Yisraeli became the Rosh Yeshiva of Merkaz Harav, along with, yibadel l’chayim arukim, Harav Avraham Shapira.
The two sefarim are available at our office.
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