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Shabbat Parashat Vayeilech 5782

Igrot Hareaya Letters of Rav Kook: Protesting Chilul Shabbat - #56

Date and Place: 14 Shevat 5667 (1907), Yafo

Recipient: The council of Rechovot

Body: I have come to remind people, as I have heard that certain individuals have been personally lenient in some of the agricultural moshavim, to uproot grapevines on the holy Shabbat, by having non-Jews do the work. There is no need to explain to anyone who strictly follows Torah law that it is a clear prohibition to have a non-Jews perform on Shabbat prohibitions that are well-known to relate to a Jew. For anyone who has the feeling of Judaism live in his heart, there is no need to explain the disgrace and degradation that is connected to it and the desecration of Hashem’s Name which emanates from the desecration of the holy Shabbat.  

Therefore, I would request of your honors to make a public pronouncement in my name that it is forbidden to do uprooting on Shabbat even by paying non-Jews a set price for their work.

Hashem should give us the merit of seeing the building of His nation in the Holy Land, so that there is planting and not uprooting, building and not destruction. May our eyes see this and our heart rejoice speedily in our days, Amen.


Protesting Chilul Shabbat - #57

Date and Place: 16 Shevat 5667 (1907), Yafo

Recipient: The residents of Ekron, especially its council

Body: I have a personal need to inform your honors what my heart is feeling, which you may view as the wounds inflicted by one who loves. However, this is the reason I cannot hold back from speaking. The obligation of the mitzva of rebuke is incumbent upon every individual in Israel, and certainly for someone who is a servant (i.e., rabbi) of the masses like me.

I heard with great disappointment that some people in Ekron had the great chutzpa to disgrace my honorable, dear friend, the exalted head of your rabbinical court. I understand that one of them did a horrible action – he ripped up a note that had been posted on the rabbi’s behalf. He even had the gall to speak horrible things that it is better not to hear (i.e., repeat).

When I became aware of this, I was irate and screamed from the depths of my heart: “Woe, what have we come to?” Is it possible that in an upstanding community in Eretz Yisrael like Ekron, there could be such a denigration of the crown of Israel, the crown of Torah and the honor of Torah scholars? And what a Torah scholar did they oppose?! An outstanding Torah scholar, who is crowned with such fine personal attributes and pleasantness! It is fitting to cling to him with love and inestimable honor!

Please see to it, dear brothers, to stand in this breach. Remember that awe of Hashem includes awe of Torah scholars (Kiddushin 57a), and the awe of your teacher should resemble the awe of Hashem (Avot 4:12).

The sinner who spoke out should consider his steps, if he desires to protect his life from Heavenly punishment that, Heaven forbid, should not strike him. He should humbly approach the honorable rabbi, shlita, to request forgiveness in front of other people, as is written. He should admit that he sinned, repent and be forgiven, as who knows how to avoid mistakes?

I know how much my close friend, the rabbi, will oppose my letter, but I have no choice but to write it, for the welfare of the public, despite his desire, which is always dear to me. May Hashem send you blessing and great peace, and may we see together the crown of the righteous raised in the Holy Land when Hashem brings salvation to His nation, speedily in our days, Amen.

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