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Shabbat Parashat Shelach 5781

Igrot Hareaya Letters of Rav Kook: Encouraging Torah Writers

#27 part II

Date and Place Undated, the holy city of Yafo and the agricultural settlements.

Recipient: An open letter to our young, beloved brethren, students of Torah, living in the Holy Land.  

Summary of Part I: In these difficult times, it is critical for young Torah scholars to use their talents by writing with energy, as these tools cannot be left to the secular Zionist alone. 

Body: Our great progenitors bequeathed a great treasure into our hearts and souls. It is like a well that is continuously dug and added to in every generation. We are just making use of that which is readily available, from the leftovers of the leftovers (i.e., not the full depth of Torah teachings). We do not even need to recall everything that was said, and we certainly are not being called upon to add anything new or broader than existed before. We need only to present the thoughts of our heart in a manner that can be understood.

It is an old complaint, but it must be renewed like a new royal edict. The Divine Spirit cries out: “The students of Torah do not know me” (Yirmiyahu 2:8), therefore the Torah will lapse. “The wisdom of the scholars will spoil, and the people of the land will decrease” (Sota 49b). No one will speak [words of truth], and no one holds the hand of the other. This is not the time to sit with folded arms; we are the ones who carry the weapons of Hashem (Torah ideas). We have powerful tools in our hands, thanks to He who dwells in Zion, who brought us to the Desired Land, the valley in which visions are seen, which brings souls to light and whose air makes people wise. It gives wisdom, life, and a soul to the nation who lives in it. [Therefore, we have the ability to succeed.]

We need to wake up a little and to notice the sound of Hashem knocking (Shir Hashirim 5:2), in our midst, deep within our hearts. It is time to act for Hashem (Tehillim 119:126). We need to embark on the path that will enable us to acquire the pen. This will reserve for us a healthy standing in set, proper, and contstant literary [settings], and have a swelling of shades [of modes of expression] so that we can truly sanctify the Name of Hashem and give honor to the Torah. Glory to the Land we so cherish and splendor to Jerusalem, our Holy City.

The pen is the son of thought, and thought is the child of study. Therefore, we all need to be encouraged by the strength and vigor, with confidence and internal bravery, and give proper attention to the important subject of matters of the heart and thought (i.e., spiritual philosophy), as it is connected to all the teachings of philosophy in the Torah. This must extend from the most basic, simple study of ethics, to the greatest heights of the most elevated study of Jewish philosophy, to the summit of holy discussion of the loftiest secrets of the Torah.

However, we must be very very careful about the order in which we progress, as we must not skip even a small step. Rather, everything in its proper order, with a clear mind and greatness of the spirit, with diligence and patience, an order that will bring us to say what we must say in a clear, attractive, and precise manner. Hashem shall give knowledge, wisdom, and insight from His mouth (based on Mishlei 2:6).

A great part of the matter is dealt with every day, but only partially. Indeed, the four cubits of Halacha study is the foundation and provides the main life force upon which everything is built. It too must grow and bloom, be strengthened and fresh, according to the rejuvenation of thought that powerfully demands its role according to the spiritual level of the good treasure chest, the treasure chest of the fear of Hashem and true knowledge of Him. The dormant powers will awaken, and thought will once again live. The pen and the engraved letters will return with the help of Hashem, our savior. The pen will cause wonders through Hashem’s powerful right hand to give greatness to the Name of Hashem the G-d of Israel, on behalf of those who love Hashem and study His Torah.

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