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Igrot Hare’aya – Letters of Rav Kook #102

More on Rav Kook’s Yeshiva Planning


Beit Din Eretz Hemda - Gazit

Iyar 21 5782
Date and Place: 7 Tevet 5668 (1907), Yafo

Recipient: R. Binyamin Moshe Levine, a young protégé of Rav Kook. We have seen warm letters to him in the past.

Body: I haven’t had enough time to write a complete letter to you. Thank G-d, I can almost fulfill my obligation with the letter that my son (Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, 18 years old at the time) wrote, as he is basically the one person who is used to my way of thinking and is able to listen to the speech of my soul. He, thank G-d, has a pure and gentle spirit, and he carries the fragrance of many good and enlightening ideas, which will be a blessing for him and for the world.
You know the conceptual goal behind the yeshiva [I am planning], which is to save exceptional individuals who are being wasted due to the horrible neglect of the inner side of the Torah, which is the light of life, hidden in the Torah and in the root of the nation’s soul. We will do this by setting organized study, from the bottom up, for all the intellectual currents in the heart of Judaism in the broadest manner. Obviously, the spirit of Hashem must be revealed in this manner, by tapping on the strings of the heart.
Only Eretz Yisrael has the correct environment to accomplish this. It is our Desirable Land and the pride of our might. It provides an abundance of spiritual light and life for those who seek to imbibe the bounty it provides, through its soil, stones, air, and sky. It inspires with the recollection of its splendor from way back in history and with its bright hope for the future. It is critical to set a course of study to enable people to realize they should love the Land, which some special individuals are ready to receive, whether they live in Eretz Yisrael or the Diaspora.
The yeshiva’s second goal is to give a new spirit of the "dew of Torah" to the New Yishuv, and thereby to remove the darkness and the strangulating spiritual dryness from its root and replace it with the moistness of life, from which to draw for generations to come. Therefore, the yeshiva must produce students whose souls are full of the Torah’s sanctity and splendor and for whom the love of the nation’s development in its Holy Land is a light that leads their lives.
People think it is well-known that only those whose Jewish heartbeat has ceased to give life to their heart (i.e., they are not religious) are the ones who exert themselves in reviving the Land, and that those who act like proper Jews view building the Land as something that is forced upon us that we cannot necessarily overcome. Oh, what an embarrassment such an outlook is!
All the other side reasons for the yeshiva emanate from the above two. The yeshiva must be founded in a correct and beautiful manner, both internally and externally, whether in regard to the edifice, the students, the teachers, and the conduct of everything related to it. It must be fitting for an orderly nation living securely in its own Land, and not one that is wandering in exile.
So too, the central rabbinate of the New Yishuv must prepare [for its role] with elegance and breadth. It must be ready to influence the Yishuv by regularly traveling to all parts of the country, whether to Judea or the Galilee. It must regularly put out pamphlets and letters to galvanize and reinvigorate a united front. This will raise the stature of Judaism in a multitude of ways and enable the nation to find in the Holy Land two life-saving elements: its practical side and its spiritual side.
This can forge a real connection between the nation and Eretz Yisrael, with the spirit of Hashem which eternally dwells in it. These seem like small things, but one should not disregard such things, and great things can come from them. I have no interest in honor for me or my family, but am motivated by the honor of Israel and its salvation, which is what Hashem truly desires.
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