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October 01, 1982 - Image 40

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-10-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

40 Friday, October 1, 1982

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Israel Loses a Beloved Ray, But .Kook Legacy Lives On

By BARBARA SOFER

World Zionist Press Service

JERUSALEM — Tens of

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thousands of young people
with a joyful passion for the
Torah and the Land of Israel
— that is the inheritance
which Rabbi Zvi Yehuda
HaCohen Kook left the
Jewish people when he died
this year at the age of 91.
When other theologians
were decrying declining
morality and Jewish values,
Kook was fathering a new
generation of religious
idealists who combine the
spiritual energy of Israel's
pioneers with dedication to
Jewish law.
Rabbi Zvi Yehuda, as he
was called, was a son of Ab-
raham Isaac HaCohen component of the Jewish
Kook, the first Ashkenazi people as a whole. Both
Chief Rabbi of modern Eretz father and son argued
Yisrael. Zvi Yehuda was that the much discussed
born in Zimel, Lithuania in social division between
1891. He moved to Palestine so-called religious and
with his parents at the age secular Jews was a fic-
of 13 and studied at the Etz tion.
Hayim Yeshiva in
They advocated rigorous
Jerusalem.
study of Jewish sources,
When his illustrious through which a Jew would
father died in 1935, Rabbi learn faith. For the Zionist
Zvi Yehuda took over as rabbis, the love of the land
head of the large Yeshivat of Israel was a central ele-
Mercaz Harav, now housed ment of Jewish observance.
near the entrance to
Students from Israel and
Jerusalem from the west.
- Rabbi Zvi Yehuda de- abroad flocked to Yeshivat
voted much of his energy Mercaz Harav to get a seri-
to promulgating his ous Jewish education and to
father's ideas. He imbibe the atmosphere of
preached that every Jew, warmth and enthusiasm in
no matter how non- the study hall. Despite his
observant, is an integral precarious health and grow-
/

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ti

JflItliVe.t4

ing numbers of pupils,
Rabbi Zvi Yehuda main-
tained personal contact
with almost all the stu-
dents. They would approach
him with personal and
theological concerns alike.
Although the kind rabbi
with a white, untrimmed
beard never wore anything
but a black cloth headcover-
ing (except on Purim), his
disciples are identified by
the knitted skullcaps, kip-
pot srugot, they wear. They
have developed an indig-
enous style of simple dress
and non-materialistic val-
ues, integrating lives of in-
tense religious involvement
with careers as teachers,
doctors, farmers and
soldiers.
The graduates of Mer-
caz Harav have spread
their rabbi's influence to
other yeshivot, to reli-
gious high schools and
youth movements. Many
of them take part in the
unique combination of
army combat duty and
Torah study called
yeshivot hesder.
Rabbi Zvi Yehuda's fol-
lowers are in the vanguard
of the settlement move-
ment, and the rabbi himself
often gave tactical sugges-
tions on successful "squat-
ting" in Judea and Samaria.
Even those who disagree
with the political ideology of
the aggressive settlers ad-
mire their willingness for
self-sacrifice and devotion
to the ideal of settling Eretz
Yisrael. The readiness to
shrug off privation and up-
root their often large
families, camping in trail-
ers on dusty hills so as to
create a Jewish presence in
Judea and Samaria, is often
compared to the pioneering
enthusiasm of the early
settlers in Eretz Yisrael.
What was Rabbi Zvi
Yehuda's secret in reachng-
ing the hearts of so many
young men and women?
"Love," answered Rabbi
Dov Begun, head of Mahon
Meir, a Mercaz Harav-
linked institution for non-
observant Jews who return
to the faith. Begun was a
member of a secular kibutz
when he first came to Mer-
caz Harav to pose spiritual
questions. "The first thing
Rabbi Zvi Yehuda did was
to take my hand. I wondered
what this venerable old Jew
was doing holding my hand.
He took a special interest in
me and invited me home.
Begun lived in the
modest Kook apartment
in the Geula quarter with
the rabbi for several
weeks.
"He made us feel we had a
personal involvement in the
fateful decisions of the
Jewish people. He never
said anything he did not be-
lieve. Students confronted
him with difficult questions
and challenges, and he al-
ways found the time to give
serious, patient answers.
"In our generation," said
Begun, "we have come eye
to eye with the revival of a
thirst for God's ways. A good
part of that can be directly
or indirectly attributed to
Rabbi Zvi Yehuda HaCohen
Kook.

Perfect freedom is re- work, does what he wants to
served for the man who lives do.
by his own work, and in that
R.G. Collingwood



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