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Igrot Hare’aya – Letters of Rav Kook #84

Looking to Retire?


Beit Din Eretz Hemda - Gazit

Tevet 17 5782
Date and Place: 14 Menachem Av 5667 (1907)

Recipient: Rabbi Yechiel Michel Tikechinsky (a friend of Rav Kook, Rav Tikechinsky was a great scholar, who authored the Gesher Hachayim, among other books, and was also very involved in communal affairs in Jerusalem. He is also famous for publishing the calendar with the laws and customs of the "Lithuanian-Ashkenazi" community in Eretz Yisrael).

Body: I find it to be an obligation for my spirit to let my distinguished colleague know the suggestion I have thought of.

It has to do with the fact that due to our great sins, the one who our eyes so enjoyed seeing, the great rabbi, Rav Yitzchak Blazer o.b.m., passed away. (Rav Blazer was a very illustrious rabbi. He was one of the principal disciples of the founder of the Mussar Movement, Rav Yisrael Salanter. He had been the rabbi of St. Petersburg, a lecturer, and had been connected to several yeshivot, in which he spread the ideas of mussar (morality in religious lifestyle). He moved to Eretz Yisrael in 1904 and died there in 1907.)

According to the situation, there will apparently be a need to look for a replacement who is qualified to do the work that he did for the Kollel. (The Ashkenazi members of the Old Yishuv were organized according to their communities of origin. The communities in Europe would send money to help support their former compatriots, enabling them to survive and providing merit and a connection to the Holy Land for the donors. Rav Blazer, in a state of semi-retirement, was one of the leaders of the Kollel Vilna.) This is something that I very much would like because the matter of my being a communal rabbi is contrary to my characteristics and my strengths. (This is a fascinating claim considering that Yafo was the third community in which Rav Kook served as the rabbi, and by various measures, it seems that he was very successful at it. I am not aware if something had recently occurred that had dampened Rav Kook’s enthusiasm, and actually many of the letters of this period appear notably optimistic about the state of the communities in Israel.)

I very much desire to live in the Holy Land without the burden of the yoke of the masses for whom I need to render rulings. (While Rav Kook often proudly used as his description, "a servant to the holy nation in the Holy Land," it could be that he wanted to be involved not only in self-development but also in national, religious projects without the constraints of one who has to deal with myriad individual matters.) So maybe you could propose me as a candidate for the job to someone who has the ability to see the matter to fruition. If they choose me, the simple person that I am, for the work with the Kollel, in my humble opinion, I have the talents to succeed. This would fulfill a goal for me of living in the holy city of Jerusalem, without the yoke of the rabbinate and rendering rulings.

If you have some comments on the matter, I hope you will honor me with your answer without delay. If there is some impediment to carrying out my idea, may it be as if I had not brought up the matter. This would be my reward and the cause of blessing, liberation, and consolation, as Hashem liberates His nation, has mercy on His poor, and will console Zion and Jerusalem with the light of His salvation.

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