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Shabbat Parashat Lech Lecha| 5767
Aharon Will Arrange it- A Eulogy for Rav Yehuda HaCohen Kook
(from Dabar L’Dor, pp. 100-102)
“For the lips of a kohen will preserve wisdom, and Torah they will seek from his mouth, for an angel of Hashem is he” (Malachi 2:7). Wisdom is the main talent that man was granted and that is why this is the first request we make during Shemoneh Esrei. Wisdom enables one to make distinctions (Yerushalmi, Berachot 5:2).
The reawakening to shake off the state of exile and dream of the return of the Nation of Israel to its Land included a lot of “waste product.” Much of the idealism was nourished from only partially idealistic socialist movements of
The second part of the pasuk, “and Torah they will seek from his mouth” was also part of Rav Tzvi Yehuda’s persona. He was able to update the foundation his father laid to deal with a developed Zionist movement. Instead of dreaming, there was the work of realization. In place of a Zionist movement, there was a state. He was able to preserve the vision in the midst of implementation and to serve as a spiritual banner for the activity. A state, a flag, a president and ministers, a legislature and an army of soldiers can be foreign and contrary to recognized Jewish values. But they can also be part of a national reawakening, of the honor of the nation. Instead of a dispersed and disgraced nation, there arose one that builds with its own strength. Greatness and grandeur is godly; however without content, it is invalid. The leadership should be based on “from amidst your brethren”- meaning from the best of your brethren (Bava Kamma 88a). If so, even the negative can assist the positive.
Rav Tzvi Yehuda knew how to respond and to elevate, but also how to criticize. His words could be heard like one of the ancient prophets, rebuking in the gateways of the cities. “If the rabbi is like an angel of Hashem, you can accept words of Torah from him” (Moed Katan 17a). He needs to be, as Rav T.Y. Kook, not looking for personal gain but must have the truth speaking from his throat.
There are two matters that Rav A.Y. Kook fostered and his son continued in his path. One is valuing the prospect of the Jewish nation standing up proudly. The other is creating a situation where the Torah is viewed as the center of its national life. “Your teachers will no longer hide behind their garments and your eyes will see your teachers” (Yeshaya 30:19). This applies to the governmentally recognized rabbi, who enjoys authority and the ability to speak boldly.
“You shall command Bnei Yisrael and take olive oil … Aharon and his sons shall arrange them …” (Shemot 27:20). These commands involving the kohanim were given before the kohanim received their appointment. How did such discussion enter in the midst of discussions of the garments? The answer is included in Rashi’s comments about the aron. He says that it is says to put the luchot in the aron to teach that they should be put in before the kaporet was placed as a covering. How could one put the luchot in after the aron was covered? The answer is that one might have thought that he should first make a complete aron. However, then one might be so impressed by the aron that he would not see the need to put the luchot in. That teaches us that a beautiful, gold aron has value only when the luchot are within. So too, it is nice to prepare beautiful garments for the kohanim. Yet, only when one knows that an Aharon would light the oil is the grandeur significant.
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