Hebrew | Francais


> Hemdat Yamim

Shabbat Parashat Toldot 5783

Igrot Hareaya Letters of Rav Kook: Reaction to the Encyclopedia Otzar Yisrael #133

Date and Place: 3 Iyar 5668 (1908), Yafo


Recipient: Yehuda David Eisenstein, the editor of “Otzar Yisrael,” whose 10 volumes, were published between 1907 and 1913. Eisenstein participated in the Jewish Encyclopedia, but he felt that it was not traditional enough and therefore put out “Otzar Yisrael” as an alternative.


Body: I was filled with joy when the first volume of “Otzar Yisrael” appeared before me, as your honor decided, in his generosity, to honor me with it. I was happy with the treasure that it is, written in Hebrew. It is a tremendous volume of information relating to the Jewish People. Even more so, I was happy to see the spirit of moderation and a settled mind (as opposed to the more prevalent spirit of liberalness in Jewish academia at the time), which is generally found throughout the encyclopedia. This is something that can be credited to the editors’ wise understanding that they should not be overly moved by the many new movements that come to destroy rather than to build. I am full of hope that this encyclopedia will provide much good for the Jewish home, in the way it is structured, with its many entries.

On the other hand, I feel that I have an obligation to point certain entries that I felt, when I went through them, included incorrect matters. [Rav Kook took issue with three points. One was a rather technical one about the background of someone mentioned in the gemara, who, Rav Kook argued was not only not a rabbi, as the encyclopedia said, but was not even Jewish. The second was the way the encyclopedia dealt with the “original man.” The third was the overly critical explanation of a controversial action that the amora Rava took.]

Regarding your request that I take part in writing certain entries in the encyclopedia, be aware that I am very busy with various jobs and matters that I need to deal with. On the other hand, your important work is dear to me, as I think it will promote the furtherance of a Judaism that is faithful [to its proper goals] and will cause a broadening of the mind of Jews in an honorable manner. Therefore, I hope (without promising) to take part in some matter or matters, whether long or short, according to the amount of time I will have. However, first, it is proper that you tell me which entries you need my help with, and which entries were already done. Then I can, with Hashem’s help, fulfill your request in this type of work, when I will know that it was not done by someone else.

I will end with a blessing and by expressing my great regard for you. May Hashem see fit to give you success with much grandeur in raising the status of the Jewish People and making the Torah and its study valued, along with all elements of authentic Judaism regarding our nation. May your lot be among those who make the masses increasingly righteous forever and ever.

[Apparently, Rav Kook did take part in the effort regarding additional volumes.]

Top of page
Print this page
Send to friend


We daven for a complete and speedy refuah for:

Nir Rephael ben Rachel Bracha
Yisrael ben Rivka

Arye Yitzchak ben Geula Miriam

Neta bat Malka

Meira bat Esther
Yerachmiel ben Zlotta Rivka

Together with all cholei Yisrael

Hemdat Yamim is dedicated

to the memory of:

Those who fell in wars

for our homeland


Rav Shlomo Merzel z”l
Iyar 10, 5771

Reuven & Chaya Leah Aberman z"l
Tishrei 9
,5776 / Tishrei 20, 5782


Mr. Shmuel & Esther Shemesh z"l

Sivan 17 / Av 20


Mr. Moshe Wasserzug z"l

Tishrei 20 ,5781


R' Eliyahu Carmel z"l

Rav Carmel's father

Iyar 8 ,5776


Mrs. Sara Wengrowsky

bat RMoshe Zev a”h.

Tamuz 10 ,5774


Rav Asher & Susan Wasserteil z"l
Kislev 9 / Elul 5780

R' Meir ben

Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld z"l


Mrs. Sara Brachfeld z"l

Tevet 16 ,5780


R 'Yaakov ben Abraham & Aisha


Chana bat Yaish & Simcha

Sebbag, z"l


Rav Yisrael Rozen z"l
Cheshvan 13, 5778


Rav Benzion Grossman z"l
Tamuz 23, 5777


R' Abraham Klein z"l

Iyar 18 ,5779


Mrs. Gita Klein z"l

Av 4


Rav Moshe Zvi (Milton) Polin z"l
Tammuz 19, 5778


R' Yitzchak Zev Tarshansky z"l

Adar 28, 5781


Nina Moinester z"l

Nechama Osna bat Yitzhak Aharon & Doba

Av 30, 5781


Rabbi Dr. Jerry Hochbaum z"l

Adar II 17, 5782


Mrs. Julia Koschitzky z"l

Adar II 18, 5782


Mrs. Leah Meyer z"l

Nisan 27, 5782


George Weinstein z"l

Gershon ben Yehudah Mayer

 a lover of the Jewish Nation Torah and Land.


Jack Levin z"l

 Chaim Yaakov ben Shlomo Yitzchak HaLevi


Tamar Lichtenstadt z”l.

May her memory be a blessing.


Hemdat Yamim
is endowed by
z"l  & Ethel Sutker
of Chicago, Illinois
in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker
& Louis and Lillian Klein z”l

site by entry.
Eretz Hemdah - Institute for Advanced Jewish Studies, Jerusalem All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy. | Terms of Use.