In this letter Rabbi Kook proclaims that those who criticize him for overlooking the irreverent behavior of secular pioneers are very mistaken in their views.

Settling the Land in Accordance with the Sanctity of the Torah

From a letter sent by Rav Kook to the training school of the Torah VeAvodah movement in Pressburg. Published in the book, “The Dawn of Redemption” by HaRav Yaakov Filber. Translation by Rabbi Moshe Lichtman whose books and shiurim on Rabbi Kook and Torat Eretz Yisrael can be found on the website https://toratzion.com/


Much to my chagrin, I found out… that [people] are attributing absurdities to me, things that could never even enter my heart, God forbid.  With all my love for the rebuilding of the Holy Land and the revival of the Nation upon it, which we are witnessing with our own eyes in our times – the wondrous deeds of He Who is Perfect in Knowledge, the Redeemer of Israel, may He be blessed – I constantly proclaim and let people know, wherever my words can reach, that the most important foundation of the redemptive process, with the sprouting of its salvation, is the connection to holiness and clinging to HaShem Yitbarach, through His holy Torah and the entire sanctity of Israel, from beginning to end.

We need not be taken aback by the chutzpa that has intensified specifically in [this period of] “the footsteps of Mashiach.”  Rather, we are obligated to engage, in large measure, in the building of the Holy Land, its settlement and development.  And all of our actions must be done in accordance with the Torah and its commandments, without deviating to the right or to the left, even regarding a light Rabbinic injunction or a small matter related to a holy Jewish custom.  Only in this way will we succeed and be a splendid paragon for all the builders of Eretz Yisrael.

Unfortunately, however, there are many mistaken individuals, as well as those who mislead others, who want to extrapolate from statements of admiration for the building of the Land that I have expressed orally or in print, as if there is some compromise here, God forbid, or some kind of approval [on my part] of the backslidings that several sectors of the builders have undergone, regressing from the ways of holiness, to a greater or lesser degree.  God knows that my heart is incessantly pained [by this].

I hereby proclaim and say: My dear brothers, be strong and courageous concerning the sanctity of Israel, [to follow] in the holy ways that our sacred ancestors and rabbis taught us.  Just add to this a connection to the Holy Land and its construction, which is something that has been renewed in our times, in accordance with God’s wondrous ways.  There was no possibility of this occurring in earlier times, before the time to favor [Zion] arrived (cf. Tehillim 102:14), the time about which it is written, For Your servants have desired her stones (ibid. 102:15).

All of the frivolous customs that are against halachah and against our holy customs, which even Torah Jews have begun to adopt – even those who have a connection to the fear of God and observe Jewish traditions, whether they are yeshiva students or other youngsters, Sefardic Jews or those who belong to other groups – all of this is against my spirit and aspirations.  I object to them and explicitly disclaim anyone who says anything in my name that supports these obstacles, God forbid.

May HaShem inspire all of our children to return to Him and His holy Torah with all their hearts and all their souls – to gird themselves with sacred vigor and with the glory of the Torah.  [May they] also endeavor [to participate in] the holy enterprise of the return of Israel to its holy soil.
As all God-fearing people who tremble at the word of the Lord and anti-cipate His salvation [stemming] from holiness, I too sign with a faithful blessing from the Holy Mountain of Jerusalem.

The Holy City of Jerusalem, may it be rebuilt and reestablished, speedily in our days.  Amen.

Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook



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