This past Shabbos, we hosted a small group of Olim as part of our continued efforts to reach out and support Olim. We enjoyed a wonderful Shabbos with them! See Cover picture
Things are heating up for Oro Shel Adam’s activities for the New Year B”H. We are involved in lots of meetings and discussions with both students and our support team of how we will be building and growing.
In honor of Rosh Hashana, we will be making holiday gift packages and delivering them to Lone Soldiers on their army bases. For $25 you can “make their Chag and show them that we care.” More details to come in the next few weeks. You can be sure that the packages will include Batya Miller’s world famous home-made goods.
To contribute a Rosh Hashana Care package to a Lone Soldier follow the donation instructions at our web-page:
If you know of an Oleh/Olah or Lone Soldier that does not have a family/place to spend this Rosh Hashana please contact us and we will gladly host them.
(Comments and reactions are always welcomed in response to the ideas presented in the D’var Torah)
Yesterday, ה’ אלול, which falls two days after Rav Kook’s yertzight, we celebrated Chava Rut’s second birthday (some of you might even remember when she was born and our Motzai Shabbos, middle of the night trip to Shaarai Tzedek.) I had wanted to name her Avraham Yitzchak after HaRav ZT”L, but that was not a battle with my wife that I had much chance of winning. I did in fact lose, and we named our daughter after more fitting tzadkaniyot.
There are certain circles that you will find Rav Kook completely omitted from the lexicon of Gedolim. His saintly picture is not among the great Rabbis of modern times and his expansive Sforim, Sha”s Halavan, are missing from the bookshelves of certain Shuls and Batai Midrash. After an initial reaction of infuriation, I understand this decision completely. The soul, the mind, the character of “man” who resembled an angel much more than he did a human being brings with him difficult challenges for people and communities living in a finite world. In all truth, how is it possible to handle a posek, the first Chief Rabbi of Eretz Yisrael, that put truth, honesty, integrity, love for the Jewish people and love for his antagonists, tzadaka and chessed, humility and selflessness utterly and completely above any hint of politics, honor, self earned scholarship and acclaim, positioning, control and authority??? It really is impossible to fathom.
In my mind, Rav Kook goes hand in hand with the miracle of the Jewish People returning to their land, something which also boggles the mind. Am Yisrael returned to Eretz Yisrael on the shoulders of an individual who was every bit as sensational as the miracle of Home-Coming. (It is fascinating to note that Rav Kook did not “make aliya” in 1904 on his own; he was brought to be Rav of Yaffo by R’ Yoel Moshe Soloman, an important figure at the time in Eretz Yisrael. Note: Yoel Moshe Soloman was too charedi to be considered a true Zionist.)
Rav Kook is a most fitting match for Chodesh Elul and his yertight falling at the beginning of Chodesh HaTeshuva is a gift to those that attempt “to seek to return.”
As Rav of Yerushalayim, Rav Kook made it his practice to keep his doors open for visitors and those seeking help. There were no official reception hours in the Kook home. People would come and go, study, take books and ask the Rav questions. Eliezer Ben Yehuda Z”L, among many other secular scholars who saught Rav Kook’s wisdom and knowledge, would frequent the Rav’s home with linguistic questions. It was known to all that no one had greater command of Lashon Hakodesh than Rav Kook. The second day of Chanuka, in 1922, Eliezer Ben Yehuda entered the Rav’s home, while Rav Kook was learning, and began asking questions on the etymology of certain words. After the Rav gave his thorough explanations from both the revealed and hidden parts of Torah, he looked at Ben Yehuda and said, “Mr. Ben Yehuda, perhaps time has come for you to repent?” The father of the Hebrew language responded, “Perhaps.” With that, the conversation came to an abrupt end; Ben Yehuda walked out and the Rav continued studying. That very evening, hours later, Eliezer Ben Yehuda passed away. R’ Yitzchak Arieli Z”L, who was the Rav’s study partner and witnessed this exchange explained, “Ben Yehuda’s response of ‘perhaps’ had the status of ‘thoughts of repentance’ which are considered like actual repentance.” (Kiddushin 49b) (This story was taken from An Angel Among Men, Simcha Raz)
One of the remarkable events of Rav Kook’s life was the Teshuva Campaign that he led in the Fall of 1913. Gathering some of the great Rabbis of Eretz Yisrael, the group set out to strengthen the Torah, Mitzvah observance and Emunah B’Hashem of Jewish settlements throughout the land. In just over a month, the group was able to reach over some twenty five Yishuvim in Eretz Yisrael. The campaign proved to be tremendously successful and countless communities and individuals were Chozer B’Teshuva to one extent or another. The root of Rav Kook’s successful Teshuva Campaign is clear. When great Rabbis lovingly extend themselves to other Jews, added connection to Torah and Yiddishkight is an inevitable product. (בימים ההם בזמן הזה!)
Rav Kook’s literary works include every part of Torah. He is among the most prolific writers of modern Jewish history. Rav David Aaron, founder of Israelight and expert in the Rav’s writings, once commented that Rav Kook rarely included sources for his teachings because the entire Torah rested before Rav Kook and the entirety of the Torah entered into producing the teachings of the Rav. For that there is no specific source.
Orot HaTeshuva is among Rav Kook’s most novel and unique contributions to the Torah library. Even after thousands of years of discussion and ideas involving Teshuva, Rav Kook added original dimensions to the spectrum of Teshuva philosophy. In addition to the more common, individual-focused realms of Teshuva, Rav Kook speaks at great length, in beautiful poetic language, of national, global and universal Teshuva.
The Rav opens the 27th and final chapter of Orot HaTeshuva with the following statement, “The renascence of the (Jewish) nation is the basis for the structure of great repentance.”
It is clear that Rav Kook both witnessed and contributed to “The Renascence” of the Nation of Israel with our return to Eretz Yisrael. He understood, appreciated, and proclaimed to the world the significance of national, wide-spread returning to the Land as playing a crucial role within the process of “ultimate return” and decisive Teshuva – גאולת עולמים. Realizing a most wonderful reality in front of his eyes, Rav Kook spent much of his adult career building, bolstering, nurturing and unifying the miracle of Jewish return to our Home-Land.
You can be sure that if Hashem blesses us with another child in Chodesh Elul, boy or girl, this time – I won’t be losing the name-game battle with my wife.