Shabbat Parashat Beshalah| 5767
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - “May I Dwell in Your Tent Forever” - Hesped for Rav Kook- part II - Based on Dabar Le Dor, pp. 60-64
[We saw last time that King David asked of Hashem that he would merit to be remembered as a spiritual man of Torah, not primarily as a warrior, a job that was thrust upon him against his will. So too, Rav Kook was naturally a spiritual, rather than a practical rabbinic figure. He had the task of serving as the rabbi of a predominately staunchly irreligious region of Eretz Yisrael thrust upon him.]
Rav Kook did not have a fundamental interest in dealing with those who fought for a secular Judaism. He was in some ways forced to accept the yoke, as our forefathers were in some ways forced to accept the Torah. In other ways, as Rav Kook saw himself as “a servant to a holy nation in the Holy Land,” he accepted the yoke willingly. We probably do not appreciate the self-sacrifice sufficiently. Here was a man who dwelled in the tent of Torah and nowhere else, who was pushed to work with a national renaissance, which was apparently totally secular in nature.
However, as a deeply believing man, Rav Kook felt that the Divine Providence viewed the Zionist movement differently. He understood that if you spoke to this group in religious terms, it would not have been interested in Jewish nationalism. The movement’s orientation was of a universal sense of nationalism. After Divine Providence brought them to Eretz Yisrael, it was his holy calling to show them that the true context of the nationalism was Divine and holy in origin, although this element was hidden.
Rav Kook was pushed into the famous sale of the Land to allow work during Shemittah (the Sabbatical year). It is clear from his writings how reluctant he was to employ the leniency, one which had been implemented by previous halachic authorities in a very limited scope. He wrote to the Ridvaz (a virulent opponent of the sale) that he admitted that the leniency was a difficult one. Rav Kook stressed, though, that while the Ridvaz could arrange to receive food from outside Eretz Yisrael, the population would not. Given the combination of the nascent community’s religious and economic situation, they undoubtedly would have knowingly violated the Shemittah. Would it not be better to rely on a lenient position and not break the religious framework? He believed that eventually the root of holiness would break through. Rav Kook’s tour of the irreligious kibbutzim of the Galil, along with Rav Zonnenfeld and Rav Charlop, was a special event. Although it did not have a clear immediate impact, it sowed important seeds, which grew later.
We saw Rav Kook’s dedication make him get involved in the most thankless episodes. During the Arlozoroff trials, when the country was in danger of being split in two because of the claim that a Jew from a rival faction had killed him, Rav Kook felt a need to get involved. The British Mandate encouraged the tension, and their courts ruled that Stavsky had killed Arlozoroff. Yet, Rav Kook exposed himself to the virulent attacks of the leftist newspapers (despite his longstanding tolerance toward them). He stood up to the claims of contempt of court for writing that Stavsky was innocent, saying that if Avraham could question Hashem’s ruling on Sedom, he could certainly question the British. This was the unpleasant work that the times demanded of him, even in his waning years.
As King David had done, Rav Kook did want to be remembered only for his struggles for the Land. He wanted to remain living in this world after his death by means of people quoting his words of Torah. It is true that during his life he had to sacrifice his love for the tents of Torah and also venture out to unnatural environs. However, the fact that after his death, his followers delve into the world of gemara and Rishonim without being overly preoccupied by external matters around them is the reward for his life’s work. It is the response to his, like David’s, prayer: “May I dwell in your tents forever.”
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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of