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Shabbat Parashat Emor 5782

Igrot Hareaya Letters of Rav Kook: The State of Education in Eretz Yisrael - #98 part III

Date and Place: 13 Marcheshvan 5768, Yafo

Recipient: The rabbis of the Secretariat of “Mizrachi of the Western Countries.” They had many questions for Rav Kook about the state of education in Eretz Yisrael. The ones he answered, we present in numbered form, as he did.

Body: Section III (What Needs Improvement) 

1. The greatest thing that is lacking is presently in the newer, more modern communities, like our holy city of Yafo and the agricultural settlements. We need to establish schools that have supervisors, and principals, teachers of secular studies, and teachers of religious instruction who believe in Hashem and truly fear Him. They also must wholeheartedly agree that addressing the practical needs of life in Eretz Yisrael in the curriculum is a necessity and a mitzva. Only in this way can the Jewish People be properly reestablished in Eretz Yisrael, with strength and true sanctity. This spirit can also enable the foundation of great yeshivot, while adjoining to them workshops, run by those who conduct themselves in the good spirit that Hashem will provide for His nation on their holy mountain.

2-3. Improving the situation in Eretz Yisrael and thereby the entire Jewish People would be best facilitated by forward thinking. Namely, not only must we improve children’s education, but we should also concentrate on the education of young adults. The lack of order in young adults’ childish education is still a fault that can be fixed, and this group in a short time will develop young families, which will leave a serious mark on society in Eretz Yisrael.

Let me explain in brief. We suffer from two opposite sides. The old approach to education has a nucleus of good, i.e., the sanctity of belief and the development of fear of Hashem. However, it also has many shortcomings. One is the lack of external order displayed by educators and students. One of its main causes is poverty. However, even if we remove this problem, there is still an issue that the traditionalist camp possesses a tendency to negate any attempt to beautify externals, whether it is the edifice, its cleanliness, teachers’ attire, code of behavior, students’ attire, etc.

Another general, internal problem encompasses everything. While it exists all over, it is especially felt in Eretz Yisrael, where it can especially be fixed well. The process of education is disturbed by an emotion that many people believe is related to fear of and belief in G-d, and when people are raised with it, they become good Jews as Hashem wants. The misconception comes from the fact that people lack a clear understanding of Hashem. They do not study broadly matters that bring true fear of G-d on a consistent basis at any age. Therefore, these important elements of religious life are being taught in a manner that is not aligned with the proper way of acquiring them.

In countries in which society dictates that people live orderly lives from an external perspective, the following is not a noticeable problem. However, in Eretz Yisrael, where poverty, living on hand outs, and a neglectful government all have their impact on people’s lifestyle, less appropriate manners of living people’s spiritual lives damage social life noticeably. Therefore, we need religious schools for different ages and of different types to teach the fear of G-d, in a manner that the Torah’s spiritual side is taught in an orderly fashion so that knowledge in this realm will be straight.

In this way, the clear majority of people will, over time, be respectable. Their approach to the Torah will not be destructive to [the rest of the elements of living]. Rather, true Torah and clear intellectuality using the light of Hashem [will reign supreme]. This will encourage people to embrace everything that is good, i.e., good for the Jewish People and Eretz Yisrael. They will interface with all of those who seek that which is good for Jews and Judaism, in Eretz Yisrael and throughout the world, and raise the nation’s stature.

We continue with other elements of Rav Kook’s report next time

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