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Shabbat Parashat Ki Tetzei 5781

Igrot Hareaya Letters of Rav Kook: Come Home, Dear Brother

Date and Place: 16 Kislev 5667 (1906), Yafo

: Rabbi Douber Hakohen Kook, Rav Kook’s younger brother. After serving as a rabbi in Russia, he made aliya in 1925, became the rabbi of Afula, and the founder of the Harry Fischel Institute.

Body: [This letter’s background is the wave of pogroms in Russia, where Rav Kook’s brother still lived and the community in Eretz Yisrael’s flourishing during the Second Aliya.]

You can imagine the emotions upon receiving your letter and how our hearts are focused on you and all our brethren under the pressure of the enemy in the land of darkness, where wild beasts roam. My heart cries out: “Hashem, save Your nation, the remnant of Israel. Bring them from the depths of the sea to the good mountain. Let them flourish in the mountains of Israel. May the nation soon live in the pastures of peace and tranquil abodes” (a mix of many p’sukim).

We have reason for increasing hope that our nation will find salvation from the oppression it is experiencing. Good, pleasant signs of life are sprouting up before us in the beloved, pleasant Holy Land, the love of flesh, spirit, and soul. The voice of our Beloved is knocking (Shir Hashirim 5:2). A spirit of life is hovering. May Hashem open the hearts of the distant.

With a second version, and with greater vigor, depth, and sanctity, we are close to renewing all of the spirituality of the beginnings of Chibat Tzion (the late 19th century aliya movement).  Then it lived in the hearts of the holy men who cultivated it, e.g., Rav Zvi Kalisher, Rav Eliyahu Griditz and their followers before their “vessels broke and their light fell in the depths of evil.” Like the hidden spiritual elements of the creation of heaven and earth, we must retrieve them from the depths and return all the sparks of spirituality (a central kabbalistic idea) that fell, were lost, and became material that was defiled by unclean hands (irreligious Zionism) and return them to sanctity and blessing.

These matters will be heard with greater feeling when spoken properly. The thunder storms (hardship) have “straightened a lot of the curvature of the heart.” It is now a necessity, based on both the physical and spiritual situation of the broad nation, to return to the Holy Land any way we can, as individuals or groups. We must reestablish the ruins of our once desolate Land with buildings, commerce, population, material and spirit – whatever gives it more activity and life. It all builds toward the future and creates hope. Everything paves the road toward the ultimate redemption, which can come with a “sudden jump” in Hashem’s historical plans – “The one we have been requesting will come to his palace suddenly” (Malachi 3:1).

Let me know … if the great rabbis are dealing with ideas to reinvigorate our nation and the Torah in the Diaspora. We must elevate ourselves in truth and sanctity at least as much as the secular community has increased its energy. They are (spiritually) like a clump of material waiting for a living soul. Just as they are damaging and defiling when on their own, they can purify and sanctify, bring light and life when the light of the world (Torah) will become their soul. We have to be vociferous and bold, using vitality and belief to grasp the Torah’s soul. Nothing can prevent Hashem from saving with His great grace. We can be liberated and rise from the dirt. Hashem will have mercy and give the Torah scholars the desire and strength to deal with the inner teachings of the Torah and explain it clearly (to the uninspired) with every possible literary tool, to make the light of Israel’s holiness shine clearly.

Certainly the first efforts should be on the physical/emotional side, which has been very neglected by Torah scholars, based on misconceptions in the realm of inner wisdom. “Springtime has come”! We are able to hasten the redemption and time of goodwill if we truly want it.    

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