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To dedicate this lesson
Igrot Hare’aya – Letters of Rav Kook #118

Progress on Rav Kook’s Yeshiva

Since Hashem has graciously enabled us to be the Land’s builders, we must exert and strengthen ourselves well.


Beit Din Eretz Hemda - Gazit

Elul 25 5782
Date and Place : 25 Adar I 5668 (1908), Yafo

Recipient : Rabbi Yitzchak Yaakov Reines, the Rabbi of Lida and head of the Mizrachi Zionist Movement. Rav Reines had already founded a yeshiva that included secular studies, which was revolutionary in Eastern Europe.

Body : The letter I received from your greatness brought me happiness. I see that the horn of liberation steadily increases in our Desirable Land. Since Hashem has graciously enabled us to be the Land’s builders, we must exert and strengthen ourselves well. Thank G-d, Hashem has liberated His nation, and our Holy Land is in the process of being built and settled before our eyes. We just must pour a spirit of charm and supplication on the settlers of Judea and Jerusalem and connect the hearts of the dispersed, whether geographically or philosophically, to "the home of our lives." This can bring the flowering of Israel in the light of the Divine Spirit that is upon us in the Holy Land.
I shall address the idea of merging the yeshiva [I am working on] with the beit medrash which Mizrachi plans to establish. This matter is very ready for fruition, for a few reasons. For one, my simple influence caused that many of the Holy Land’s great rabbis realize now that it is incumbent upon us to travel on a new path to strengthen the position of the Torah and belief, in the Holy Land especially, as well as throughout the Jewish world.
Originally, the Shomrei Torah schools planned to go to the extreme and forbid any changes that the times require. Now they have also realized that we need to acquire new strengths for Hashem and His nation. We can connect many people by taking the right steps, especially by the yeshiva’s approach to enlist some of the most talented to deeply investigate spiritual matters and study many areas of academic Jewish studies on a path of sanctity. When this is done, Jewish History, academic study of Tanach, philosophy, and liturgy will no longer be the domain of the destroyers of Torah and belief in Hashem. Rather those who "sit before Hashem" will take the opportunity to uncover secrets in these fields. This will be the greatest contribution to our times’ causes, making it a great salvation for Israel.
Therefore, we must begin preparations to build and prepare that which will be needed after receiving counsel from the wise and G-d fearing. Realize that there is a great obstacle in Eretz Yisrael regarding any innovation to improve the education of G-d-fearing children, especially boys. This is the strongly established, strict ban of the rabbis of the previous generation against any non-Torah study, including foreign languages. Those who know the background understand that at the time it was a necessary step. Our only complaint is that they did not put a time limit on the ban or authorize a beit din in a subsequent generation to end it based on the needs of the time and the rules of the Torah and fear of Hashem. Now people are concerned about complaints of "breaching the fences" by doing something impactful.
However, despite my humble status, I feel compelled because Hashem willed that I accept the hard work of helping guide the New Yishuv, and I have seen that it is critical to bring the remedy before the malady. Therefore, I am working on founding a yeshiva that is broad and great, to plant the tree of life in the heart of the New Yishuv. Then everything will be a blessing. Hopefully, great people will join us in this effort.
We must aspire to greatness, i.e., that the yeshiva will produce our time’s leading rabbis, men great enough to have the foremost impact on the Jewish People, in Israel and the world, through their thoughts and deeds. That requires students to delve deeply into the Torah’s spiritual elements and the knowledge of the ways of Hashem, using old and new methods, coming from the holy source of the Torah of the Land. We hope that it will have such a cultural impact that kings will come to see and bow down before them. There is no limit to what can be achieved within the air of Eretz Yisrael.

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