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Shabbat Parashat Vayishlach 5782

Igrot Hareaya Letters of Rav Kook: Teach his Teachings, Do Not Copy Asceticism

#73 part I

Date and Place: Iyar 5667, Yafo


Recipient: Rabbi Yaakov Moshe Charlop, the illustrious talmid chacham and a close confidante of Rav Kook, later to be rabbi of Sha’arei Chesed and Rosh Yeshiva of Merkaz Harav. Rav Charlop was one of the closest disciples of Rav Tzvi Michal Shapira, a saintly scholar and ascetic. Rav Charlop was involved in the posthumous publishing of letters and teachings of Rav Shapira.


Body: [The piece is written partially in the style of a letter and partially of an approbation. This week’s section of the letter reads as an approbation.]

You have asked me to express my support for the good efforts upon which you have embarked to memorialize that man of rare and lofty light, which shone in our Holy City of Jerusalem, the brilliant, holy and pure one, our mentor Rav Tzvi Michal [Shapira] zt”l, who died last year, and whose light was buried with him, to the distress of all who merited to benefit from it. Indeed, this great tzaddik was a hidden light even during his lifetime, for all his days on earth were dedicated to being modest in an unparalleled manner. Therefore, his many teachings, in the depth of halachic topics and the “storehouse of life” of secret teachings in homiletics and fear of Hashem, are sealed and lie untouched in his holy manuscripts.

Since you have had the privilege to be one of his most trusted and enthusiastic disciples, you would know that this tzaddik greatly desired that his true teachings on Torah and fear of Hashem will be spread broadly. Therefore, you accepted upon yourself the holy task of arranging his holy, hidden manuscripts and trying to publish them in order to enrich the lives of the masses and memorialize the name of the “living lion,” the brilliant, pious author, zt”l. Everyone should be able to feel the great favor that you will be doing for the Jewish people, by adding new spiritual lights from this uniquely holy, pure, and modest individual. You are so fortunate that you merited being close to such a person and to receive a fragrance of his “holy incense” of true Torah, learned for Heaven’s sake, flowing from the holy genius’s wellspring.

You have begun the project with a small publication to create an opening in fear of Hashem and words of wisdom, in the form of selected letters that the deceased tzaddik wrote to his associates. From between the lines of these letters, deep spiritual ideas shine forth. It is also a valuable adornment that you keenly presented a short biographical profile, so that people of our time will have some concept of his value and his approach to service of Hashem. It is well-presented in a manner that invites the people of our time, especially young Torah scholars, to approach the sanctum and capture some of the holy glow which reaches great heights. For this too you will be thanked by G-d-fearers who are thirsty for holiness for providing a valuable treasure, which is embedded in this small pamphlet, which you have presented for the advancement of the merit of the masses.

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Sebbag, z"l


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Cheshvan 13, 5778


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Av 4


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Adar 28, 5781

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