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Shabbat Parashat Pinchas 5781

Igrot Hareaya Letters of Rav Kook: Three Short Letters to the Council of Rechovot

#33, 34, 36

Date and Place: Adar 5666 (1906), Yafo
: The Council of Rechovot 

Letter #33
: I have received a complaint about behemot dakot (sheep and goats) that are being raised in the moshava (agricultural settlement), which are causing damage to the young orchards, especially the almond orchards. I am hereby requesting of the honorable council to warn the owners of the animals that they should not allow damage. If two or three warnings do not get the owners to comply, you have an obligation to penalize them as you see fit. It would be best if you fix the general situation of raising such herds in Eretz Yisrael, and have them done only in a permitted manner (see Bava Kama 79b).


Letter #34: I have a heavy heart, and I hope that if I speak about it briefly, I will have respite. I have received information about a theatre production that will be held in Rechovot on Purim. The truth is, dear brothers, that the news hit my mind and heart like thunder in a drum, and it is hard for me to believe that it is literally true. Is it possible for it to take place in a moshava in Eretz Yisrael, the place from which we must show the pulse and sensitive life force at the heart of the Jewish nation? Would there be a Jew who would not be embarrassed to contemplate such an event at this time, before the blood of our beloved brothers who were slaughtered in the streets was even rinsed away (reference to pogroms in the Russian Empire)? Our cheeks have still not lost their redness from the embarrassment and agitation of hearing of our gentle sisters’ defilement at the hands of a primitive nation, who have the flesh of donkeys and the heart of a tiger. There are tens of thousands or our dear brethren who are still in harm’s way, and our hearts are churning for them, and we do not know how long this will last and what will be. It would be so embarrassing to appear to be crueler than ostriches in the desert – that with a feeling of calm we would get together and have a good time at the theater. My pen cannot express my spirit’s anger.

My one consolation is that I cannot believe that this will actually transpire. I know my distinguished brothers in Rechovot well; I know their elevated souls and gentle feelings. Perhaps it was a confusing idea, a suspicious shadow that overtook a few individuals, and hopefully they too will change their minds and not upset the hearts of our brothers who are deep in national sorrow. The sound of joyous revelry would wound the heart like a sword, as it is not in the spirit of Israel or in accordance with the Torah.

I turn to you, dear distinguished council members – please inform our brothers who are involved in planning this idea, that it would be honorable to cease. I hope that they will refrain with a feeling of satisfaction and pride.

The Rock of Israel should give us courage and glory, and return our light and salvation from the Judean Hills. May we, the inhabitants of the Desired Land, be beacons of peace and redemption for our dispersed nation, who are afflicted in the lands of their enemies. With the help of Hashem’s lofty hand may Israel be successful.


Letter #36:  Regarding the letter requesting that I come to Rechovot, which said that if I fail to do so, it might come to pass, Heaven forbid, that the beit knesset will close, I immediately agreed to come. In the meantime, it came to my attention that the situation is no longer so frightening. Considering that my health is not complete and the many things I must take care of, I would ask to let me know if an alternative can be found, as the trip is not easy for me (some 30 kilometers today, but in those time, an arduous trip by carriage). That would be better. But if there is no alternative, I will keep my promise bli neder, b’ezrat Hashem.

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