Our Rabbi & Herzl

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

One who shamed Herzl
Our Rabbi related that when he was learning in Yeshivat Torat Chaim (in the place where Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim is now located, and where generations of Rabbinic leaders, such as Jerusalem's Chief Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank, Ha-Rav Aryeh Levin and Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv learned), Ha-Rav Yitzchak Nissenbaum, who was the secretary and right-hand man of Ha-Rav Mohiliver (one of the founders of the Religious-Zionist movement called "Chibat Tzion") and famous for his Derashot, was invited to give the Derashah one Shabbat. This fact testifies to the position of the Rosh Ha-Yeshiva, Ha-Rav Yitzchak Winograd: He did not fear the zealots of Jerusalem at that time and he invited a well-known Religious-Zionist figure to give a Derashah in the Yeshiva. Hundreds of people, include many wearing shtreimels, filled the Yeshiva and listened to the gifted speaker. When he began discussing the foundations of Religious-Zionism, a screaming voice interrupted his words: "Is that what Herzl also says?," which caused a commotion among the listeners. Rav Winograd ascended the Bima, silenced the crowd, expressed his dismay and demanded the removal of the brazen person. Rav Nissenbaum adds in his book "Alai Chaldi" that he saw arms lifting the brazen man above the crowd and taking him out through the window. At Seudat Shelishit, Rav Winograd told him that one of the zealots came to him on Friday demanding that he not allow a talk about impure Zionism in the holy Yeshiva. Rav Winograd responded that the Yeshiva was his and anyone who disturbs the talk would be paid back in kind. He then hired two guards for the yeshiva who stood near the window for the proper moment. When the brazen man began to yell, the young people next to him grabbed his arms and legs and lifted him up to the guards. His comrades were shocked and did not dare to make a disturbance.

Herzl's picture which hangs in our Rabbi's home
It is well known that along with pictures of the Netziv, the Aderet, Maran Ha-Rav Kook and others, our Rabbi had a picture of Herzl hanging in his home.

Three stories about the picture:
Rav Avraham Romer related: "The picture of Herzl once disappeared from our Rabbi’s house and there was a suspicion that one of the students wanted 'to teach him a lesson.' When I suggested that perhaps the picture fell behind the desk, he permitted me to look there. When I found the picture, he was extremely happy and saw a need to comfort me because he saw that I had been distressed. He told me wondrous stories about Herzl and his position. He repeated the opinion of Reb Aharon Marcus z"l who said that Herzl was a descendant of Mahari Titzak (a famous Rabbi) and was from a Sefardic family. (Gadol Shimusha, p. 54)

When a particular Jew from the neighborhood of Geulah would come to our Rabbi's house, he would flip over the picture of Herzl. Our Rabbi once caught him in the act and asked him: Why are you doing this? Doesn't he have all five corners of his beard [which may not be shaved according to the Torah]?! (Iturei Cohanim #212)

A student of our Rabbi saw Herzl's picture hanging in the room where our Rabbi taught classes in his house, and it was hanging among the pictures of our great Rabbis. He asked for an explanation and our Rabbi gave an entire class on the fact that Herzl was the agent of the Master of the Universe in returning independence to Israel in this generation whether we like it or not. (ibid.)

Our Rabbi encouraged one of his students who was a baal teshuvah (a Jew who returned to being observant) to read Herzl's diaries. (Iturei Yerushalayim #6)

Herzliyah (a city on the coast of Israel named after Herzl)
When the Yemenite Chief Rabbi of Herzliyah was installed, our Rabbi said: Secular Zionism marches with Herzl, and we march with Herzl and Herzliyah (Herzl plus "Kah" – one of Hashem's Names). (Iturei Yerushalayim #6)