Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Bechukotai 5772 – translated by R. Blumberg]
Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, in his book “Da’at Tevunot”, writes that every person has a task in G-d’s world. Even the most insignificant person was not created in vain. There’s no person who has no place. In his commentary on the prayer book, regarding the end of the Yom Kippur service, Maran Ha-Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohain Kook wrote that when a person is born, it is a sign that the world needs him. All the more so regarding the great men of every generation. This applies to all generations, but especially to the most recent one, the generation of redemption, as the Vilna Gaon wrote at the end of his work, “Even Shleima”.
Ours is a new generation, one in which the nation is being reborn. Throughout the ages we have known that the Exile is temporary, that the Diaspora is a cemetery, and that ultimately the graves would be opened, as the Prophet Yechezkel wrote. We knew that the Exile constitutes awful decay, national decay, and that ultimately G-d would arouse His spirit upon us from On High, as the Vilna Gaon wrote in his commentary on Sifra De-Tzniuta.

That time is now. So Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook teaches us. He didn’t make this up. Nor was he quoting some kabbalistic source. He was quoting a simple Talmudic text, clear and explicit: “Rabbi Abba said: You have no more clear sign of the end of days than that of the verse: “But you, O mountains of Israel, shall yield your produce and bear your fruit for My people Israel, for their return is near” (Yechezkel 36:8). Rashi explains: “When the Land of Israel yields its fruit bountifully, then the end of days will be near. You have no more clear sign of the end of days than that.” And indeed, the Land is yielding its fruit in bountiful quantities.

Thus, Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah, a special emissary of G-d, was sent to us to teach the nation the meaning of rebirth, the meaning of a nation living independently in its Land, according to its Torah. He came to remind us of things we had forgotten, and he taught this via five different themes – five that are all one.

1. Rebuilding the Land. This itself constitutes the revealed end of days. As Ramban wrote in his Addendum 4 to Rambam’s Sefer Ha-Mitzvot, we are commanded not to abandon the Land to desolation. Its full expanse must be settled, and no area in it may be left vacant. This is a great Mitzvah: the Mitzvah of settling the Land.

2. The Return to Zion. It is a great Mitzvah for every Jew to live in our land, and not in any foreign country. Every Jew in the Diaspora must make the move to Israel. This, too, Ramban mentions there, but the Torah itself – from start to finish - expresses this theme. Now that the Land is yielding its fruits, the Jewish People are returning to it from all four corners of the earth, including a massive Aliyah from Russia, something which Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah was absolutely certain would occur, at a time when many viewed it as a distant dream. He spoke much about the Aliyah to Israel of all world Jewry, in all its different shades and stripes, opinions and worldviews. This is the Mitzvah of settling the Land.

3. The Establishment of the Jewish State. It is a great mitzvah to establish a Jewish State. This, as well, is from that same Ramban source: “We mustn’t leave the Land under the control of any other nation.” “A Land under the control of a Nation” is what constitutes a political state. Creating such a Jewish state is a mitzvah, and we have a divine promise by the prophets that we would once more conquer the Land. Sovereignty must be applied to the entire Land.

When Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah was asked, “Is this the political state that our prophets envisioned?” he would answer: “Precisely so! Obviously it isn’t perfect. We must arm ourselves with patience, we must toil together, and we will raise up our level, together with the state itself. This state is an enormous sanctification of G-d’s name, and even if G-d’s name is also profaned here, His Name is sanctified much more.” This is the Mitzvah of conquering the Land.

4. The Army. Protecting the country obviously requires an army. There are numerous enemies from without and from within. It is a great mitzvah to go to the army, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah wrote in his article “Mitzvat Ha’aretz” before the War of Independence. He said this included Yeshiva students, and he said no one was exempt from this. This mitzvah can be divided into three parts, like everything else in the Tzahal: saving the Jewish People, saving the Land and sanctifying G-d’s Name.

5. The Unity of the Nation. The backbone of the Nation’s rebirth is its unity. We are a Nation and not a collection of individuals. “I shall make you a great nation” (Bereshit 12:2), Who is like your people, Israel, a single nation in the Land” (Shmuel 2 7:23). The Mitzvah of loving one’s fellow Jew means loving every single Jew without exception. “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Vayikra 19:18). You must love him, without casuistry, without twisted logic. Public struggles, as well, wrote Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah in his major article addressed to the public at large, “Et Achai Anochi Mevakesh” (I am searching for my brothers), must be conducted in an atmosphere of love, without raising one’s fists, without humiliating others, without rancor. In other words, love must reign in our behavior, our speech and our thoughts.

All these themes Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah taught relentlessly throughout his life - in his lectures and personal guidance, in his books and in the works of Maran Ha-Rav Avraham Yitzchak

Ha-Cohain Kook that he edited and published.

And, as stated, none of this is new it is all very old. But it has been forgotten due to the Exile. Now, with the Nation’s rebirth, these portions of the Torah are likewise experiencing a rebirth. At first, Maran Ha-Rav Kook was alone in his generation, and his son, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah after him, father and son being as one. Slowly, disciples gathered to them, and more and more people came and listened, until there were dozens, then hundreds, then thousands and hundreds of thousands. Now the Nation is full of them.

Our teacher’s thought has penetrated many hearts and minds, both of the religious and of the secular, of the Charedim and of the Zionists. His thoughts and his views, which are not his own, but just part of the Torah, hover in the air over the Jewish Nation, consciously or unconsciously, as they build their lives exalting and putting things straight. Obviously there is a great difference between one who proceeds through life doing something knowingly and one who does so unknowingly. This is especially so when we face difficult, complex situations, that require, in our teacher’s words, “nerves of steel”.

Therefore, we call upon every Jew, young or old, working people, men of letters, to study the writings of Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook. Delve deeply into them. Analyze them as much as you can, for they include everything. They are a life source. In them is hidden the soul of the great rebirth of the Nation returning to life in its land, according to its Torah.