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To dedicate this lesson
Igrot Hare’aya – Letters of Rav Kook #149 – part II

The Study of Machshevet Yisrael in Yeshiva


Beit Din Eretz Hemda - Gazit

Iyar 20 5783
Date and Place : 4 Menachem Av 5668 (1908), Rechovot

Recipient : Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac Halevi. As mentioned, we have featured many letters between the two. The ideological negotiations between the two, around the question of Rav Halevi’s help with Rav Kook’s proposed yeshiva, focus this time on the importance of new styles to Torah learning not negatively impacting Torah tradition.

Body : We cannot ignore the pained cries of the greatest Torah leaders, kabbalists and philosophers, men of mussar and spirituality, over the abandonment of spirituality. Such complaints have a basis in Tanach and the writings of Chazal. Knowledge of Hashem, loving Him and fearing His awesomeness, made possible by recognition and knowledge, along with strong, healthy emotions, are fundamental to the world and all living things. It is crucial for all purposes of the Torah and mitzvot, for all the Talmud and Halacha.
The factor that incited destroyers of the belief system to deny our religious traditions came from the dimming of the world’s internal light that goes through "spiritual pipes," from generation to generation. Therefore, love of Hashem has dwindled with the lack in knowledge of Him; as feeling dried up, affection ceased. With love of Hashem missing, evil set out to paint fear of Hashem as a burden and utilize evil and ignorant denials to try to destroy it.
If love of Hashem would have continued through the spirit’s sanctity and its connection to Torah light, by means of spiritual logic that is connected to the depth of practical Halacha, this would not have happened. That which they made a big deal about historical timing would not have had an impact on the authority people ascribed [to halachic positions.] For example, the fact that we devotedly follow measures that apply to "halachic objects" is unaffected by whether the measures were an oral tradition to Moshe Rabbeinu (see Bavli, Yoma 80a) or whether it was instituted by a later beit din (see Yerushalmi, Peah). The important thing is that the nation accepted it, which makes it the halacha even if it is a more recent institution, like the bans of Rabbeinu Gershom, Takanot Shu"m, etc. We do not distinguish between mishnayot composed in the early Mishna’ic period and those from later on; the same is true of Talmud.
On the other hand, the proper heart of a Jew is full of sanctity and love of Torah and mitzvot. These emanate from love of Hashem and His ways, which is connected to love of the People and Land of Israel, as one waits for the liberation of the People in the Land, as the Leader of the World set aside for them to inherit. A proper heart sees things straight and takes in proper stride the chain of generations [of Rabbinic leaders] and the influence of each one. Such a person would not think to claim that something that happened later actually happened earlier, even though it would not have bothered him if this were so.
In contrast, the heart from which everything sacred is removed looks for excuses and claims, and evilly argues that if he alters the order of history, it may be easier to destroy truths. If we let that heart remain empty and do not restore life with internal light from the holy "dew of Torah" then even if we combat the historical claims (as you, Harav Halevi, do in your books), he will find some other excuse to use against the sanctity of the Torah.
Therefore, it is necessary to not only teach history along the lines that you have set out, but also include spiritual study. This is needed to provide the emotional element of Torah study and learn lessons to inspire our present generation.

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