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Shabbat Parashat Nitzavim Vayeilech 5783

Igrot Hareaya Letters of Rav Kook: The Need for Torah Devotees to Write on Jewish Philosophy #164 part II

Date and Place: 26 Tishrei 5669 (1908)


Recipient: Moshe Zeidel, a protégé of Rav Kook. In earlier years, there were several letters to him.


Body: [Last time, we saw the suggestion that broad-minded talmidei chachamim should correspond in matters of Jewish Philosophy, despite obstacles.]

I am combatting the obstacles as a war of mitzva. We see clearly that [a bright future in Eretz Yisrael] is coming; Hashem shall shine light on us. The hope of Israel and its reawakening is an emerging reality, in a concealed manner in the Land of Life. The great spirit, in which Hashem dwells, is still folded up like a fetus in its mother’s womb. However, before too long, the sound of birth will be heard, after the screaming of labor pains. We will have a new, refreshing sound of a child being born, as a nation will be born all at once, as Zion will go into labor and give birth to her child. The spirit will increase and take hold quickly, and therefore we are called upon to act on behalf of Hashem.

Until this point, Israel’s special culture has been like a silent sheep. Hashem’s word has been disgraced, as none of the non-religious intellectuals has been willing to seek its truth more than the Europeans have, and the Europeans have funneled Hashem’s word through a pipe that is polluted by their religious misconceptions, which causes inaccuracy in the elements of Torah they proudly stole from us. The other nations have no part in our culture, and our national reawakening in the Holy Land, the place where Hashem is to be revealed to the world, is a single reliable dream. Only by mistake does it looks like contradictory, competing systems (apparently referring to religious and secular approaches to building the Land).

We need to work on [developing the Land according to Jewish spiritual values], showing how Jewish society can exist with power, pride, greatness and grandeur. It must be done by scholars of the truth, who fear Hashem with an internal awe that is unaffected by the impurities of a false, external fear that lowers the spirit – those who extoll Hashem with truth and a straight heart.

To accomplish this, we must begin the foundation of literature, both new and old, which will not turn its back on the traditional scholarship but arm the traditional with new tools to reveal the old’s depth of goodness and show that the new goes along with it and consistently completes it. Reliable students will make Torah great and adorn it so that it will give new life to the spirit of Israel and honor and grandeur to the Land of Prophecy, whose sky and mountains forever drip with the dew of life, for the nation that feels that the connection to its soul is there. It will not give such dew of life to a different nation or to those who are assimilated among other nations and do not know the difference between mundane earth and holy soil.

Israel’s intellect will rise up, and its live emotions will awaken in parallel with strength and life. The industriousness to build, plant, and improve everything in the life of a strong nation, on its Land as it used to be, will reawaken the offspring of Israel, so that they will recognize [the Land] and know to return to it with love and a recognition full of productivity and life. Songs of life were created, full of the vigor of Hashem. Fields of new, light-emitting culture will propagate and rise up; they will thicken and be vibrant, and even sing. The old will be renewed, and the new will be sanctified; together they will serve as torches shining over Zion. Zion will begin to use its charm to attract the best of its sons/builders (Torah scholars), and those who beautify buildings, those who plant and sow and create industries and markets. In time, they too will drip with the dew of eternal life; holy waters will be thrown on them, and they will realize their strength as they build the walls and courtyards for Israel in the Land that is eternally desired.

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