Beit Midrash

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

Starting a New Yeshiva in Yafo

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Beit Din Eretz Hemda - Gazit

Cheshvan 11 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: [We have seen Rav Kook’s interest and financial obstacles in starting a high-level yeshiva in Yafo. We conclude with his vision for the yeshiva.]

You, my dear friend, have not forgotten my long-standing desire, all the more so now that I am in the Holy Land, to encourage people to study matters of ethics and fear of Hashem in a serious manner, delving into it and reviewing it thoroughly, covering ground and going into depth. Only from an institution that teaches students in such a way can we hope for great answers to the myriad questions which have long been on the table, regarding the Jewish people and the Land of Israel and especially the matter of the fulfillment of the precepts of the Torah and its influence.

[Ed. note – It is unclear at what point Rav Kook seemingly returns to speaking about Sha’arei Torah, not the planned yeshiva.] It is possible that to my clear ideas [on topics of study] there will be added on matters that arise in practice, as matters are sharper when they are critical necessities, as we see them more clearly as divinely ordained. Then the institution, which has special value since it is in Eretz Yisrael and in its newly developed section of the Land, which needs to receive the influence of the sanctity of truth that is fit for it, can reach new spiritual heights. I have prepared notes for what we would like to accomplish, but they are minimal. We have planned a department for learning crafts, which I had the bravery to institute. With Hashem’s help, it will bear fruit in the future, as it will give us a large number of craftsmen and merchants who will not look at Judaism like "full gentiles." This danger increases when there is no connection in the educational sphere between practical instruction and connection to Torah scholars.

I might in the future publish a brochure announcing to the world my educational aspirations. This may also have the benefit of motivating Jews of the Diaspora to donate. A spirit of support along with a flourishing of Eretz Yisrael’s Jewish community will make it possible for you to find a position here, at least if the new meshulachim show signs of success. Then we would send for you to come to Eretz Yisrael yourself and, if things work out well, we could invite the rest of your household. My idea requires patience and constant attention; it will not happen quickly. May Hashem open up the gates of hope on behalf of His Land, and may the crown of the Torah of life and of truth be raised in the Land of Life. May we be so fortunate as to be among the builders and active participants in fulfilling what Hashem wants to do in this world.

(The next paragraphs deal with halachic discourse and discussion of Rav Kook’s work and writings on the matter of avoiding grafted etrogim.)

My esteemed colleague can probably imagine how much my heart desires that you and all of your beloved family will be with us in the Holy Land. Hashem just has to arrange that the necessary provisions will be in place. I certainly would desire with all my heart that it could happen soon, so that we could be together with Hashem’s grace, investigating together matters of Torah and planning great enterprises for Heaven’s sake as they occur in the Desired Land. I rely on Hashem, Who has helped me in the past and has shown me kindness beyond my prayers. May He continue to allow me to continue my study of Torah and understanding the ways of Hashem and enable me to do great things for His nation and His Land for His great Name. I pray that my dear brother-in-law will not be depressed over his difficult situation now. We look to Hashem to open up doors of salvation and light; if it has been delayed a little, we will wait for it, because the salvation of those who fear Him is near.
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