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Shabbat Parashat Haazinu Sukkot 5783

Igrot Hareaya Letters of Rav Kook: Considering an International Fast Day - #121

Date and Place: 29 Adar I 5668 (1908), Yafo


Recipient: Rabbi Aharon Katzenelson


Body: I received your two important letters, the open letter and the personal one. What can I say? My heart is broken into tiny pieces over the great crisis [ed. note – unknown to me], the physical and especially the spiritual, which our nation is in, as it is very damaging.    

I wholly agree with your idea. First we must act with full force to close the breaches [in the wall of Torah observance]. This requires connecting all of the hearts of the righteous and scholarly in order to spread the light of Hashem, His sanctity, and belief in Him within Israel. We should look to employ old and new ideas. New ideas will sprout up from the Creator of Medicines, who brings salvations in every generation, according to the specific needs.

Having a broadly observed public fast day is a great remedy. It has a spiritual impact, awakening Hashem’s mercy and the light of grace on His nation. It also has a psychological impact, awakening people to strengthen their commitment to Torah and Judaism and the “fortress of the tree of life.”

Regarding my part, in order to initiate anything from Eretz Yisrael, it is necessary to receive the direction of the greatest, most venerable scholars, and foremost among them, is Hagaon Rav Shmuel Salant shlita. He agrees to call for an international fast day only when the singularly great rabbis of Russia call for it, for example, Rav Chaim Brisk, Rav Eliyahu Chaim Meisels of Lodz, the author of the Chofetz Chaim, and others like them. How good and proper it would be if Rav Eliyahu Baruch Kamai of Mir would help in this matter, as he could work together with the great rabbis I mentioned. I, the young one, would help to the extent I can for anything related to the sanctity of Hashem and the light of His salvation for His nation. Our eyes look toward His mercy which can be felt through the troubles, and we will be lit up by His light and truth.

Since you are the initiator, I urge you to complete the mitzva. I think the best day would be this coming 20 Sivan, may Hashem turn it into a day of joy and celebration. Hashem shall not despise our actions.


On the Publishing of Torah Volumes - #124


Date and Place: 2 Adar II 5668 (1908), Yafo


Recipient: Mr. Shmuel Kook, Rav Kook’s brother.


Body: Regarding publishing, it is proper to start with the first pamphlet, as it is [ed. note – in a previous letter, Rav Kook discussed his brother's hesitation about Rav Kook’s writing style]. Perhaps afterward, my breadth of thought will increase, when I see that which was published, and I will be able to improve my writing style.

The great yoke, in action and thought, that is upon me is a major impediment to my activities and my writing. May Hashem grant me freedom of thought to put everything in the time and place it belongs so that I will succeed to contribute with the limited strengths Hashem gave me. I have to calculate a lot and am able to act and write only a tiny amount. When I decrease the quantity, matters are at least clear in my spirit.

The situation forces me to speak, act, and sometimes write based on an awakening that comes from an external push. I have no talent in this area. My talents relate to that which spreads within my internal being, without being enslaved to the need to respond to external matters. When my writings progress from within, I eventually find blessing in it. If I force myself [to act and to write], I cannot do anything due to my weakness.

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