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Shabbat Parashat Lech Lecha 5783

Igrot Hareaya Letters of Rav Kook: Hashgacha on Produce Coming to Yerushalayim #127

Date and Place: 15 Adar II 5668 (1908), Yafo


Recipient: Rabbi Chaim Berlin, Chief Rabbi of Yerushalayim and the members of his rabbinical court.


Body: Today your holy letter arrived. Even though my mind is not at ease, because of the distressing news [that Arabs had attempted an attack on Jews in a neighborhood of Yafo] due to our great sins, and we live in fear and worry, may Hashem protect us and give us a feeling of security and be a shield for His nation and His lot. I am unable to organize that which I want to say in a manner that would be fitting for your exalted brilliance. However, I cannot withhold what I have to say about a major matter, in regard to removing a stumbling block from the public domain.

Now let us get to the matter itself, the bringing to Yerushalayim [of produce that did not have ma’asrot (tithes) taken from them]. There is no better way and suggestion than to publicize and warn that nothing that still requires tithing should be sold or accepted. Rather the food should come with a kashrut certificate from the people in charge of kashrut for every moshav (agricultural settlement). I do not find any other idea because there will always be some individuals who are sinners, in our great iniquity, whose actions we cannot control. It never occurred to me that produce should be found in the marketplaces of the Holy City without clear kashrut certification. After all, this was the main point behind the improvements we instituted last year, to appoint kashrut supervisors.

I am standing here prepared to assist with Hashem’s help by warning the people of the moshavim with letters that they should be careful. Their motivation should be both their fear of G-d/desire to keep mitzvot and the welfare of their businesses, in that people will want to buy their produce.

Regarding that which is sent to the Diaspora, I personally will do whatever I can, and I will send letters to warn and remind them. Most of them take the appropriate tithes. I have thought about how to come up with a perfect system, and I have not yet succeeded in arriving at a solution to preclude cases of sending produce that are not tithed. However, it seems to me now that it is proper to prepare a letter, written with rebuke stemming from love, encouraging them to increase strength and diligence. There is a chance that this will make an impression on their hearts, when they see that the exalted geniuses of the city of our strength (Yerushalayim) along with a youngster like me are working together to fix the matter.

If not for the state of my city at this point preventing me from leaving it until some sense of order is made out of the mayhem, I would desire with all my heart to come up to the holiness, to the Holy City, may it be rebuilt soon. Then we could work out wise ideas together, aided by the light of Torah that abounds in the proximity of righteous people, regarding the matter of tithes and other important matters that are being or should be dealt with. However, at this point, this is not a possibility.

In any case, I will repeat myself, that under no circumstances should anything be sold without a clear kashrut certificate. Hashem should give us the strength to establish a society that accepts the yoke of the Torah of truth in the soil of the Holy Land. This would be my reward!

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