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Shabbat Parashat Noach 5783

Igrot Hareaya Letters of Rav Kook: Letter to a Brother #125 part II

Date and Place: 3 Adar II 5668 (1908), Yafo


Recipient: Rabbi Dov Ber Kook, Rav Kook’s younger brother, a rabbi in Russia, at the time.


Body: I very much desire to know if the rabbis of Russia are doing anything to save Judaism in their land, what the modes of their activities are, and whether it is possible to join up with them. It would seem that the time has already come to wake up from lethargic slumber of sufficing with the status quo. Instead, it is necessary to search for ways of life, both old and new, to assist Israel. I would be surprised if anyone is now exempt from this work. It is forbidden to be humble in this matter, as every hand that is active, whether a little or a lot, can save a little, and it adds up to a large overall gain. All that is required is to act with consideration and wisdom, not just by the churning of the emotion of the heart, which has “sediment that was not removed from the wine.”

Perhaps you can inform me what impact the pamphlet “Binyan Ha’uma” by Rabbi Pinchas Lintop (see letter #112) has had. Despite the grammatical mistakes and some technical drawbacks, it has fine value, but I am skeptical of whether it has found those who listen and are inspired by it.

Write to me in detail about all the good things going on with you and about your learning regimen. It would seem that it is worthwhile to get very used to reviewing the Rambam in order, a chapter or more every day, as possible – one time without commentaries and another time with the most basic commentaries. But the most important thing is the broad review, as it seems that, going forward, the Rambam’s Yad Hachazaka will be the central fountain for a Torah scholar, based on the style of learning that will of necessity be initiated.

Our brother-in-law, Rav Yosef [Rabi] wrote to me that there is hope that he will have an opening in a yeshiva where he lives (Vilna). If he can make a nice living there, it will bring me great satisfaction, even though I would prefer more that all of us could gather together as soon as possible in the Holy Land to serve in the important service of Hashem, as is fitting to do within the Land. Hashem is the provider of salvation.

Certainly you know about the tragedy that befell my brother-in-law (Rav Yaakov Rabinowitz, whose wife died), may Hashem comfort him. It is fitting to draw close to him and console him. He complains of loneliness. Sometimes a letter and signs of friendship bring life and encouragement to a person whose spirit is afflicted in such a situation. You will probably get letters from [our brother] Shmuel; he is more diligent than I. Thank G-d, he is setting aside time for Torah study, and he is loved by many in the Holy City, may it be rebuilt, and may Hashem grant him success. Let me repeat my suggestion that we start from now to arrange in a more intensive manner a string of letters, and thereby proper, good feelings for ourselves. This will also have a positive impact for things in general, by means of our spiritual connection, as Hashem shall be happy with our missions.

Regarding the etrogim, it is proper to assist and to gather strength as possible. My heart is so troubled after finding out that all of the etrogim sold by non-Jews are grafted, in contrast to the worthiness of the etrogim of our brothers, and adding to that the fact that buying Jewish-grown etrogim improves the welfare of the Jewish community of Eretz Yisrael, and yet the eyes are closed, and nobody notices and looks into it. Despite this fact, thank G-d, my activity has not been for nothing, and there is still a great future [for these etrog orchards], for which I shall thank Hashem.  

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