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Shabbat Parashat Naso 5783

Igrot Hareaya Letters of Rav Kook: Not Copying Western Seminaries #149 part IV

Date and Place: 4 Menachem Av 5668 (1908), Rechovot


Recipient: Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac Halevi. As mentioned, we have featured many letters between the two. Most of this letter deals with the ideological negotiations between the two, around the question of Rav Halevi’s help with Rav Kook’s proposed yeshiva, specifically with regard to avoiding negative impact of new styles. This final piece deals with the positive of the broadness of the studies.


Body: I am not saying that all the yeshiva’s students should be very learned in all fields, which is an impossible aspiration. There are rare individuals who are born with such talents that they can absorb all matters, but for the most part, each will branch off to his own field, and one is able to learn only from the “place” that his heart desires (Avoda Zara 19a). 

Collectively, though, the yeshiva must provide the nation everything that it is missing. Since among the things that attract the heart in our times and are influential in people’s lives, are literature and poetry, we must see to it that in this field as well, we will have our people involved in it. It should no longer be allowed that everyone with a literary talent and every famous poet must by necessity be an atheist and a sinner in the nation. We must destroy this “tower of deception” and show the whole world the grandeur and pleasantness of poetry and literature, which will flourish when they are connected to the natural and reliable source of the life of the nation, the well of pure water that Hashem is.

Regarding filling rabbinical positions for the agricultural settlements, although we cannot keep them waiting until our future young students will be fit for such positions in the New Yishuv, we can remedy the situation by taking some of the choice students of the yeshivot of Yerushalayim, Tzfat, and Teveria. There are individuals there who are fit for such positions, and after tutelage for a year or two, they can become used to leadership as is needed to be a rabbi in an agricultural settlement and to the style of life that is acceptable there. If we will find enough resources, we can meet the target of placing appropriate rabbis, who will find favor and bring grandeur to the settlements, in a short time. Their words and their manners will be well-received, and they will be able to do a lot to raise the stature of Judaism. They will also pave the way for those who were trained from the outset by our proposed yeshiva, who will be “armed with a wide variety of weapons” that are needed for a generation that comes to take control of Eretz Yisrael. They should be able to do so in a more complete and adorned manner.

I would say generally that I do not find a major division between our outlooks. I am certainly willing to listen to the advice of someone of your stature. I would like to tell you that I am very far from following my first thought in a hasty manner. Whatever I decide, especially in matters that affect a broad group of people on crucial matters, is done after great consideration from all possible perspectives and with a clear focus on acting according to the sake of Heaven without any personal interests, Heaven forbid. Even after that, I am prepared to lower my head before the leaders of the Nation of Hashem who are also involved with the heart and soul of questions of strengthening the Torah of Hashem and His covenant with Israel, to build the foundations for the redemption of Hashem for His nation in His Coveted Land.

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Nir Rephael ben Rachel Bracha
Ori Leah bat Chaya Temima

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Kislev 14, 5783


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