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Igrot Hare’aya – Letters of Rav Kook #96 – part II

The Power of the Scholars of Eretz Yisrael


Beit Din Eretz Hemda - Gazit

Adar II 25 5782
Date and Place: 5668 (1907-8), Yafo

Recipient: The organization "Beit Va’ad Lachachamim," dedicated to the advancement of Torah study in Yerushalayim. They apparently asked Rav Kook for an article on a specific halachic matter, which he did not have time to prepare (he related to the matter briefly). However, he focused the letter on his envisioned goals and encouragement for such a group.

Body: [Last time Rav Kook wrote of the extra power Torah scholarship has in Eretz Yisrael, with the help of special Divine Spirit.]

The foundation of our status of being in exile and the lowliness that has resulted in the world from this comes just from the fact that we do not pronounce [sufficiently] the value of Eretz Yisrael and the wisdom [it promotes]. In that way, we do not remedy the Sin of the Spies who spoke negatively about the Land, while we have the opportunity to do teshuvat hamishkal (especially effective repentance by acting correctly in a situation similar to the one in which the sin occurred).

It thus behooves us to inform the whole world of the grandeur, sanctity, and honor of Eretz Yisrael. Even if one might consider what we say exaggerations, we would be lucky to express even one out of ten thousand of the desirability of the Desired Land, the splendor of the light of its Torah, and the light of the wisdom and the Divine Spirit that abounds in its midst.

In any matter of spirituality and, likewise, mundane matters, there are different levels. While each person has "what to be jealous about with his counterpart’s wedding" (Bava Batra 75a), when one compares the warmth of the light and the delicateness of the sanctity that a Torah scholar who is seeking Hashem finds in Eretz Yisrael, there is nothing at all comparable in the Diaspora. I am hereby a witness to this matter, even if on my low level.

The foundation of the help Eretz Yisrael gives in enabling scholars to analyze and arrive at new ideas, even in matters of Halacha (apparently, it is more obvious in the realm of spirituality/mysticism) is built on the very depth of the spirituality that the Master of the Universe desires. This special spirituality is concentrated in the Torah and shines light on every mitzva and specific Halacha, up to the smallest detail, to the extent that these matters of Torah are as happy (i.e., full of positive energy) as they were when they were given at Sinai (Vayikra Rabba 16:4).

In the Diaspora, one needs to [feel his way] in the dark by dealing with the externals and comparing one thing to another, whereas the essence of the matter whose source is in the depth of the sanctity of divinity itself, one cannot grasp. Clearly, we are degraded by leaving behind [our potential] and not sufficiently grasping our self-worth, by allowing the "mistress" to be degraded before her maidservant (i.e., a lesser nation), while [our nation] is still cloaked in the mantle of a G-d-fearer, despite how Hashem looks at it. We have unfortunately allowed the honor of the Desired Land and the place where the Divine Presence has rested, to be trampled.

All of these things have caused [divine truths and light] to be dimmed. Torah scholars in Eretz Yisrael are once again humbled and abandon their strength, thinking that they were created only to chew bones of the scholars of the Diaspora and mimic lower forms of scholarship, which emanate from darkness. In these matters, the scholars of Eretz Yisrael are actually weak because they were created for higher callings. If they place themselves on a higher pedestal, they will succeed in everything, because "100 is included within 200." Excellence in the realms of wisdom, fear of Hashem, belief in and service of Hashem, development of study of ethics and social wisdom, along with the depth of the Torah and its greatness in the style of true brilliance, is and must be very different in Eretz Yisrael in comparison to the Diaspora.
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