Shabbat Parashat Chukat| 5767
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - Planted In Every Generation – A Eulogy for Rav Kook - From notes, Dabar Lador, pp. 48-49
[Much of the eulogy refers to the metaphor in Tehillim 92:12-13: “The righteous will flourish like a date tree, they will grow tall like the cedar in Lebanon. Those planted in the House of Hashem, in the courtyard of our G-d they will flourish.”]
“Hashem saw that the righteous are few, so He planted them in each and every generation” (Yoma 38b). Planting involves interconnectedness. A plant is nourished by its surroundings but also helps protect them. Every generation has its task, its special light, its own problems and own solutions. Choni Ham’agel slept for 70 years and woke up in his grandchildren’s generation. He could not find his place there, and it was said about him, “either companionship or death.” His dreams about the future did not teach him how to act in that period. Hashem showed Adam every generation and its Torah scholars and leaders (Sanhedrin 38b). Only a member of a given generation can be planted in the generation. He cannot be nourished by a different generation or give from his aura to it.
The point of righteousness is to be “planted in the House of Hashem” (Tehillim, ibid.), for “a righteous man lives in his belief” (Chabakuk 2:4). His whole life is an outcome of his living belief that there is no place bereft of the Divine Presence. Not always does the world look like the House of Hashem; it contains too much negative. Thus, the tzaddik builds his own House of Hashem, surrounded by his own courtyard, where he grows. Few are the righteous who see the whole world as the “courtyard of our G-d,” not a contradiction to belief. These are the tzaddikim who are planted in each generation. The generation’s ailments are as their own. Their thought process and actions are built on a belief that Hashem arranges everything and thus nothing can be completely negative. They search for the positive which emerges from among the negative. They then act to “widen the circle” and believe that they can thereby produce fruit.
“‘Belief’ refers to the section of Zera’im (laws of agriculture)” (Shabbat 31a), for one believes in the Eternal and sows his field (Midrash Tehillim 19). He believes in the power of life within the world (a play on the Hebrew words from the previous quote). When strong winds and rain make it difficult to envision the end of winter, one who believes buries his seeds in the ground without concern they will be lost. He understands that the rain and winds are critically useful.
We can best define Rav Kook z.t.l. with the Rabbis’ idea of being planted in a generation. He began his life as one who was planted only in the House of Hashem. However, he slowly widened the circle, the expanse of his House of Hashem, until it encompassed the entire generation and indeed all of mankind. He got used to seeing all events within the framework of a belief that broke through all impediments. He had a strong belief in Hashem, the Chosen Nation, and the Chosen Land. He believed in the good within a person, the positive development of humanity, and the positive development of the nationalistic movement. Through these beliefs, he sowed.
The gemara told how each subsequent prophet reduced the number of leading principles (Makkot 24a). Rashi explains that as the generations go down, so do the principles. In normal times, all 613 mitzvot shine brightly. There came a time when only two mitzvot were prominent: justice and charity (Yeshayhu 56:1). As time went on, Jewish justice and charity lost their luster, with the secular system appearing more attractive than the Torah’s. Theories of socialism seemed to promise a richer justice than age-old Jewish values that people saw as antiquated. Finally, we come to Chabakuk who highlighted one concept: “The righteous lives in his belief.” He still believes that in an ostensibly unsympathetic world, Hashem planted the potential to develop properly and glorify His Name.
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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of
R' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld o.b.m.
Hemdat Yamim is also dedicated by Les & Ethel Sutker of Chicago, Illinois in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker
and Louis and Lillian Klein, z"l.
May their memory be a blessing!