Shabbat Parashat Ki Tetzei| 5767
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - Excerpts from a Eulogy on Rav Kook’s 50th Yahrtzeit - From Dabar L’dor, pp. 54-59
[This past Sunday was the yahrtzeit of the great kohen, Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook.]
“For the lips of the kohen will preserve da’at (understanding) and Torah shall you seek from his mouth” (Malachi 2:7). Da’at is related to the ability to make distinctions (Yerushalmi, Berachot 5:2). That means that one can discern the internal points that distinguish between things that look the same.
“See, I am placing before you today a blessing and a curse” (Devarim 11:26). The midrash (Devarim Rabba 4) says: “At the time that Hashem said this at Sinai [it was said]: ‘From the mouth of Hashem will not come the bad and the good.’ Rather, the bad comes by itself on those who do bad and the good comes on those who do good.” Doesn’t saying that bad and good come by themselves minimize Divine Providence? Also, why is there a stress on the time the pasuk was said?
Like the rest of Sefer Devarim, this pasuk deals with the preparations to enter Eretz Yisrael, the Land referred to by the pasuk “Hashem seeks it; always His eyes are in it” (Devarim ibid.:12). Hashem is within the midst of the happenings there. He is there when listening to His words brings rain at the right times or the opposite, when we sit in the Land in security or the opposite … Hashem’s strong connection exists when the Land and the Nation of Israel join together. As the Kuzari illustrated with a parable, in order to have grapes grow, fertile land and a vine are not enough; rather, the vine must be planted in the ground. So too, only when Bnei Yisrael are in Eretz Yisrael, the Land becomes an embodiment of Divine Will. Then the good and the bad that result from people’s actions come naturally, as the midrash suggests.
“When a matter of judgment eludes you … and you shall go up to the kohen and to the judge who shall be in those days” (Devarim 17:8). Here too there is a new existence which emanates from the convergence of people and place: the kohen and judge together with the Beit Hamikdash, which has the sanctity of Eretz Yisrael, just on a higher level. Only when the kohen functions (meaning, that the Temple stands) is there judgment (Sanhedrin 52b). Only then does the ruling that emanates from the Sanhedrin have the special status of a final ruling for the Jewish People. The intellect of the judge is insufficient if it is not connected to the sanctity of the kohen. The setting must be the place with the highest sanctity of Eretz Yisrael. It may look like any other Land, but to those who know how to distinguish, it is uniquely sacred.
Some say that we can create another Land of Israel in a different place if it is centered around scholars who are great enough. Then, they reason, it is unnecessary to move to Eretz Yisrael, certainly not when times are hard here. They do no understand the content of the Land, where the sanctity of the nation can merge with the sanctity of the nature of the Land and create a Divine revelation which is not possible elsewhere. Fulfillment of, “The nations of the land will see that the Name of Hashem is called upon you, and they will fear you” (Devarim 28:10) can occur only here. “Five of you will chase 100 and 100 will chase 10,000” (ibid.:8) can happen only here. A full appreciation of Hashem’s place in the world can be revealed only through a Jewish state in Eretz Yisrael following His commands.
These are all lessons that Rav Kook taught us. Eretz Yisraelisinternal, not external. It is one whole existence; every part of the Land being in our hands has special significance. Rav Kook also was able to make distinctions. However, this was not only to see who and what are holy and who and what are not. Rather, he was able to discern the holy within that which seemed secular. He was able to teach the pioneers of the Land that even if they thought they were acting from a secular perspective, in fact they possessed a deeply rooted connection to the sanctity of the Land.
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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!
This edition of Hemdat Yamim is also
dedicated to the memory of
Yitzchak Eliezer ben Avraham Mordechai Jacobson