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Shabbat Parashat Bo 5781

Igrot Hareaya Letters of Rav Kook: The Aderets Disputed Rabbinic Move

Vol. I, #4, p. 6-7

Date and Place: Sunday night of Parashat Chayei Sarah 5654 (1893), Zaumel

Recipient: Rav Shlomo Zalman HaKohen Kook, Rav Kook’s father

Greeting: Shalom and Hashem’s blessing [shall be] on the head of my honorable master, my father and the “crown of my head,” the desire of my heart and my soul, the rabbi who is outstanding in Torah and fear of Hashem, a pleasant repository full of advice and wisdom, the name of his grandeur [being]: Our master, Rav Shlomo Zalman shlita HaKohen. Hashem should bless you (Ed. Note – it is actually written in third person) and from His place of holiness send His assistance, to bring you success everywhere you turn and to lead you to peaceful waters.

Body: The dear and pleasant work of the right [hand] of my master/father, the crown of my head, arrived on Erev Shabbat, which brought joy to my heart and soul. Thank God, we are fine, may Hashem continue to give life. My young son, may he live and be well, is doing fine and already knows some of the letters. We pray that he will develop wisdom and good sense and will be recognized for his deeds. May Hashem give us merit to raise him to Torah and service of Hashem as I desire with my heart and soul.

That which my master, my father, inquired about my illustrious father-in-law (Rav Eliyahu David Rabinowitz Teomim, “the Aderet”), the matter is hanging in the balance as it was before. He wants to keep his word, as he accepted the position to become the rabbi of Mir. However, the members of the community of Ponovitz (his, then, present rabbinate) object, as happens when no one has complaints about or hatred toward the rabbi. When they heard that he was leaving, the love strengthened, as is the nature of holy Jews, who love those who are learned in the way of Hashem.

Already on Parashat Ki Tavo, before Rosh Hashana, we had come, based on his letter which said that by Rosh Hashana he would be in Mir, at the opportune time. So I and my brother-in-law, may he live and be well (Rav Yaakov Rabinowitz, the rabbi of Ragola), and other of his relatives, came to bless and be blessed. He also gave a major address and parted with the town with words of blessing and rebuke, as is appropriate. However, the people of the city forcefully prevented him from leaving. He could not find anyone who would move his belongings to the train or find a wagon to take him, and he was forced to stay.

He did not promise them anything, but just kept to the policy that only if the people of Mir gave up their rights that he keep to his appointment, or there would be a din Torah that decided that the people of Ponovitz were right, would he stay in Ponovitz. But the people of Mir wrote enraged letters saying that he should come to Mir, and it appears that he will be going. However, the days are going by, and it is unclear when we will know what will happen. It should be at least a few months until something will be set.

My illustrious father-in-law went out on a limb with me, a mere youngster, because of his great love for me. When he was giving his farewell address on Shabbat and many people were there, actually almost the whole city (I was not there at the time), he presented to them as advice and an open request, that they should have me, the youngster of a low level, sit on his seat of dignity when he would soon leave. We will know how things will work out in the coming days, for this uncertainty cannot last forever, and Hashem will do what is good.

I beg of my master/my father to think of me with regular letters, bringing good tidings and blessings to make me happy. Please let me know how your trip (fundraising for the Volozhin yeshiva) is going and how things are in general. Please do me a kindness and include in your pure prayers that I should have strength in Torah. I do not have time to write at length, and therefore I will be brief.


Sign Off:  I end with a blessing to the spirit of my exalted master/father from the kindred spirit of his son/servant who wishes him well, and sign with honor and awe while waiting for your next pleasant letter.

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