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Shabbat Parashat Vayikra 5783

Igrot Hareaya Letters of Rav Kook: How a New Yeshiva in Yafo Will Help #146 (part III)

Date and Place: 17 Sivan 5668 (1908), Yafo


Recipient: We continue presenting the letter to Rav Yitzchak Isaac Halevi. We have featured letters to him several times before.


Body: I say clearly that not only will our proposed yeshiva in Yafo, with Hashem’s help, not harm the yeshivot in Yerushalayim, but it will raise their stature in the future. It is not only the “not for its own sake” (i.e., monetary) part, of not getting rabbinic positions, that causes the “weakness of hands” of those learning in the yeshivot, impeding their natural talents coming to fruition. Rather, it is [also] because of the slumber in matters of life resulting from the old spirit.

This old spirit has been entrenched from the period when the Land was still desolate, and most people who lived in the Land came only to prepare for the end of their lives and to be buried there. The lives were filled partially with taking money from the “distribution,” which is limiting and connected to a lack of honor, along with prayers in the holy places, which are in a state of destruction due to our sins. Therefore, they were missing from the outset the lively flow of natural life, which encourages manual and intellectual work. In such a situation, only very uniquely spiritual individuals could succeed. The light of Hashem shined upon them, so they could breathe the Holy Land’s air of sanctity within its destruction and desperation.

People with younger energies, who lack these spiritual levels, have talents that have “fallen asleep.” The sadness that accompanies this state, while it is, thank G-d, in the process of dissipating, still dominates the Old Yishuv. Only when life’s vigor, which is found in the New Yishuv, will be wonderfully connected to Torah’s light, will the Old Yishuv and all those who are steeped in godliness return to life, and the hidden talents will begin to be revealed.

I am not planning that all of the new yeshiva’s students or even all its most outstanding ones, will be rabbis. Actually, my main desire is that some will, during the years of their study, also study practical skills, and those who have an inclination toward work with the hands will spend part of the day in workshops, as already happens in the Sha’arei Torah institution [in Yafo]. (This program was founded two years ago, and it has reached a level that the Anglo-Palestine Bank used it to prepare a very well-received metal closet according to European design.) We look forward to having great Torah scholars who are artisans and support themselves through work and people who are trained in all pursuits of life, so that their Torah is learned only for its own sake (not for a stipend), out of a love for the goal of life that is included in the logic of the Torah. The main idea of the new approach I want in the yeshiva is that it should have a power of life in its midst, which is fitting for Torah learning, which requires clarity and a happy heart. There is nothing preventing us from having great Torah scholars who are experts in the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmud, whose whole aspirations are to understand the words of Torah. It need not be missing “the great spirit that crowns the great Torah scholars.” Specifically in such a yeshiva, we can see the fulfillment of the expounding of the pasuk, “Should a man die in a tent” (see Berachot 23b) – a living person who directs his desires and strengths not to matters of vanity but to the toil of Torah and the happiness of grasping it. One who has no feel for life and its glow cannot be a person who “dies in the tent.”

The exceptional people in the type of yeshiva we envision cannot be average, like a pot which is neither hot nor cold, but brave lions in the “war of Torah,” full of desire to elevate Torah in the Holy Land. This is not in order to have the position of rabbi, but because of the love of Hashem, the Torah, Bnei Yisrael, and Eretz Yisrael that burns as a holy fire in their hearts.


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We daven for a complete and speedy refuah for:

Nir Rephael ben Rachel Bracha
Ori Leah bat Chaya Temima

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


Prof. Yisrael Aharoni z"l

Kislev 14, 5783


Rav Shlomo Merzel z”l
Iyar 10, 5771

Rav 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 & Gita Klein z"l

Iyar 18,  /5779Av 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


Mr. Shmuel & Rivka Brandman z"l

Tevet 16 5783/ Iyar 8, 5781


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

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