Shabbat Parashat Noach | 5766
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - The Eyes and Heart of Israel - Eulogy for Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook - From Dabar L’dor, pp. 93-94
“The joy of our heart has ceased; our dance has turned into mourning. The crown of our head has fallen. Woe to us, for we have sinned” (Eicha 5: 15-16). During this month of increased happiness and on the day of joy (Purim), our teacher and leader has died. “For the Jews, there was light and happiness.” Says the gemara in Megilla: “Light is Torah.” Chazal also say that at the time of Purim, Bnei Yisrael accepted the Torah a second time, this time willingly. On this day, the Torah was removed from its case. The crown of our head fell with the removal from our midst of the man of the Torah and the Land, the Torah in its natural place of life.
At the time of Purim, the people saw that it is not possible to survive without the Torah. They also realized that Judaism is incomplete when we are still slaves of Achashverosh. For that reason, we do not recite Hallel on Purim. They knew that the salvation from death to life was not the full redemption and that there was a need to return to Eretz Yisrael in order to have that redemption. Woe to us that we have lost the man of the Torah and the Land, the man who dreamt about the captives of the Jewish nation, who felt their pain and who rejoiced in their reemergence as a nation.
Chazal tell us that when Ya’akov Avinu died, the eyes of Israel were sealed shut. There are people who, Heaven forbid, are missing eyes and people who are missing a heart. Some people have a heart and eyes. But our rav was one of the very select few whose entire being was eye and heart. His eye was not a regular eye but rather an eye that saw far and saw into the depth of the heart. This is because our teacher’s eye was nourished from the internal part of the heart. It was an eye that saw the good in Israel, that did not see its iniquity, the eye of one who loved every Jew. It was that of one who continued the legacy of his father, the Rav z.t.l., who nurtured the generation which began to return and build the Land.
Our rav had the status of the eyes and heart of the nation of Israel. He almost was not a person. He did not have a house, or any privacy. He was nothing but eyes and heart. He gave to his nation his whole heart, and with his eyes, he appraised the path toward the resurrection of the nation, in all of its manifestations. When he felt the need, he would point things out, and when he observed a straying from the path, he would rebuke. This is because these actions came from the heart of one who felt the pain of Bnei Yisrael and loved them totally. His selfless dedication was not a one-time phenomenon but was an ongoing state throughout his life. The Rabbis say that had the king continuously tortured Chanaya, Mishael, and Azarya, they would have bowed down to the idol. This is because it is very hard to persevere with selfless dedication, which allows for not even a moment of worrying about oneself.
When Avraham Avinu died, the leaders of that generation lined up and said: “Woe is the world that has lost its leader, woe to the ship that has lost its captain” (Bava Batra 91a). There is a halachic distinction between a watchman who loses an object and one who has it stolen from him. He who loses an object is close to one who is negligent in watching it. Indeed, we lost a leader in a way that we are close to negligent. The generation did not know how to properly appreciate that which its leader represented, did not realize the incredible power of character that dwelled within him and the sacrifice that he made for his nation. They did not grasp the Divine calling of the Divine Providence that he fulfilled with all of his being. It is dangerous for a ship to lose its navigational expert when the waters of violent sea are tossing it around. That is what we are experiencing, and we do not know what to do, but look to the heavens for guidance. Woe to us, for we have sinned.
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