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Shabbat Parashat Va'eira 5782

Igrot Hareaya Letters of Rav Kook: Course of Study in Contemporary Times

#89 part I

Date and Place: 21 Menachem Av 5664 (1904), Rechovot


Recipient: R. Dr. Moshe Zeidel (a close disciple of Rav Kook, from their time in Boisk. Dr. Zeidel was a philologist and philosopher, who asked Rav Kook many philosophical questions.)


Body: Your valuable words, my dear friend, have made my heart happy, as I spend some time in the pleasant environment of the agricultural community, Rechovot. As I sit, I see the Judean hills, and my heart is full of excitement, as these are places that saw grand times in other eras and will still see glorious times in the future, as Hashem’s word is always fulfilled. We indeed need to look toward our wonderful future, which will unite into a single force all of the fresh strengths that exist in our nation. Then we will be ready to live healthy, complete lives of the type that will be a source of inspiration for all the world, by combining vigor with the grandeur of sanctity and exaltedness. This will fulfill Israel’s proper role for our national life in Eretz Yisrael.    

All of the above can be accomplished only if all goodness that is found in the life of the fathers (i.e., traditional spiritual tools) and the life of the sons (i.e., modern spiritual tools) can be combined. Not only should these two approaches to life not contradict each other, but they should strengthen and elevate each other. This is the foundation of the idea of returning the heart of fathers onto sons and the heart of sons onto fathers (see Malachi 3:24).

These thoughts regularly occupy my mind. Thank G-d, everything I imagined when I lived in the Diaspora as to what we needed to do for our nation and Land as a whole, I see coming true before our eyes in the Holy Land. This includes the influence of a spirit of purity that gives special life to all of the actions, allowing us to say, “House of Jacob, let us proceed in the light of Hashem” (Yeshayahu 2:5).

I give a lot of thought to the thirst in the nation for the word of Hashem. In our generation, it has found expression as a disease that causes “losing consciousness due to thirst” (i.e., people are negatively affected by their unfulfilled need for connection to the word of Hashem). Only the successful few who have better access to sanctity are able to use the thirst properly, as the rest turn the yearning for sanctity into disgust with it. I know with certainty that the impact of the word of Hashem and the light of the Torah must be in a way that those who are thirsty can recognize. This will strengthen us and prepare us to wear our “clothes of strength and grandeur” and make us worthy of liberation and salvation, as we return to Hashem and His holy word with love that emerges from recognition and knowledge.

“You shall seek Hashem your G-d from there, and you shall find when you search for Him with all your heart and soul” (Devarim 4:29). In order to search for Hashem in this manner, it is absolutely necessary to remove all the darkness and complications that lock out the light of Israel and prevent its revelation in its full glory.

Only when we recognize our own value and the unique divine spirit that dwells with us will we regain our spiritual might. Then we will know how to live in our Holy Land and learn wisdom after all the many and difficult tribulations we have undergone. Therefore, any young person who comes to inquire and present his confusion is someone whom I see as a precious stone, like those that will be set in the gates of Jerusalem (see Bava Batra 75a). It is as Yeshayahu said: “I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of precious stones, all of your walls of demarcation I will make of gems. All your children shall be disciples of Hashem, and great shall be the peace of your children” (Yeshayahu 54:12-13).

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Nir Rephael ben Rachel Bracha
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Av 4


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Adar 28, 5781

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