Beit Midrash

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To dedicate this lesson
Igrot Hare’aya, #59 – part I

Starting a New Yeshiva in Yafo


Beit Din Eretz Hemda - Gazit

Tishrei 28 5782
Date and Place: 17 Shevat 5667 (1907), Yafo

Recipient: Rabbi Yosef Rabi, Rav Kook’s brother-in-law. As the letter indicates, he was living in poverty in chutz la’aretz and was interested in moving to Eretz Yisrael if he could find an appropriate position.

Body: It is true that for a while I have been entertaining the idea of establishing a proper yeshiva here in Yafo, which is a crucial matter. However, there are also many obstacles, the biggest obstacle being that there already is the Shaarei Torah institution (for school age children). It is already known in the world, and fundraisers travel on its behalf, as it has to deal with great expenses.

It would be very beneficial to have a yeshiva as I envision in comparison with having a tashbar (old-style religious elementary school), with the approach of simple Judaism, without mixing in new foreign foundations. However, sometimes preserving the sacred old style properly in our times brings along side problems as well. After all, not everyone is adept in the laws of social behavior to know how to ensure that the power of sanctity in education will be properly preserved. It is possible but difficult to maintain the old and perhaps even successfully compete with the new approaches to education, which are built upon the attempt to dry up the bright dew of the sanctity of the Torah of truth, which comes from the source of wellspring water flowing from the Hope of Israel and its Salvation. Thus, there are times when in a place of sanctity and dedication to education in the spirit of fear of Heaven, with teachers who fulfill Torah and mitzvot, there are still those who leave the framework, and matters do not run smoothly. This usually prevents the children from developing healthy spirituality, which is the purpose of our holy Torah.

This is something that exists in all times and places, and it is almost impossible to try to change fundamental things suddenly because of the protests that these changes bring on. This causes us to abandon ideas that are intrinsically worthwhile. But there is still a need to measure the gains and losses, and this is very difficult to do at a time when there is so much confusion and deterioration in the realm of religious life.

We still expect great gains from yeshivot such as Sha’arei Torah in Eretz Yisrael. They will provide us with a nice amount of simple Jews, who saw as children how their teachers were careful in their Torah observance, as has traditionally been the case for the longest time. This was accomplished by good Jews receiving simple education, even though it will not provide the same special characteristics that are possible with new educational systems. We can hope for a similar situation for most of the Jews being raised to loyally follow the Torah of Moshe and the principles of modesty. Such people can have a positive effect on the new arrivals to the country, who can use exposure to a warm brand of Judaism and internal sanctity, which can be found only in a place that educates in an atmosphere of great care to properly fulfill the word of Hashem.

Hopefully, they can also receive positive elements that have been imported from other places, by those who were educated in the new style, and we will be able to adorn the Jewish community with precious children, who are good and complete and who are a credit to our holy patriarchs and will be greatly respected throughout the world. They should at least be no worse on average than their top peers in countries of the Diaspora with a strong Jewish community. To bring this to fruition, we need to have a fine yeshiva so that the spiritual dignity will be a powerful one. Its products will be able to successfully go out to those who have not been exposed to spirituality. This is in the merit of the precious Torah, which is the greatest cure for every malady.
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