Our Rabbi & Humility - Part 4

Our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook

When the Beit Midrash was in the dormitory building, the women's section was close to the entrance to the Beit Midrash. They hung a sign: "Women are requested not to linger in the hallway after daveing" [in order that women and men not intermingle]. When our Rabbi saw it, he asked that the note be taken down and rewritten in a more general manner: "The community is requested not to linger in the hallway after davening," in order not to offend the honor of the women.

With all of our Rabbi's care regarding issues relating to modesty, our Rabbi was also strict about women's honor. Before Kiddush on Shabbat day, he would ask over and over: "Are all the women here? 'Women are obligated in Kiddush during the day' (Berachot 20b)."

When the doctor informed our Rabbi that he could return home from "Neveh Simchah," where for many months he was recuperating from illness, he sat on his chair for a long time, and then slowly distanced himself from his bed. When he left the room, he burst out crying and explained the difficulty in his leaving: "The Divine Presence is above the head of the ill" (see Shabbat 12b). And when he was in Hadassah Hospital, he was once sitting on a chair, and hinted that he wanted to return to bed by saying: "The One who returns His Divine Presence" (from the end of "Retzei" in the Shemoneh Esrei).

Our Rabbi visited his brother-in-law, Ha-Rav Shalom Natan Ra'anan, in the hospital and took care not to sit but to stand in awe and caution as when praying, because of the statement of our Sages: "The Divine Presence is above the head of the ill" (see Shabbat 12b). Even when he left the room, he did not turn his back, but walked out backwards.