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Rabbi Kook's Religious Zionism?

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#1 shifpifer1



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Posted 17 April 2012 - 08:53 PM

What exactly is Rav Kook's hashkafa? is it considered good or bad because he wanted Jews to come to Eretz Yisroel and keep Mitzvos? i mean i never hear about him quoted in school, only Rabbis from the European Yeshiva world are mentioned for the most part, does this mean he doesn't belong in this category?

I am asking basically, is he a religious Zionist? But i thought those two can't coincide? Seriously, how many Zionists does one know today that keep the entire Torah? They for the most part (in out of town communities), don't .

#2 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 09:23 PM

Continued from here. (And see also here.)

R. Kook's Hashkafa went way beyond "wanting Jews to come to EY to do Mitzvos." He was the one who (see the above link) grafted non-Jewish Nationalism onto Judaism. Until he came, if someone wanted to be a religious Nationalist, he could do it, but it would mean that you are combining two totally separate and unrelated ideals. It was like being a religious communist, for example. One had nothing to do with the other, and communism may be against Judaism, or it may not, but Judaism was Judaism and Nationalism was Nationalism. There were rabis whose Jewish Hashkafa were influenced by Nationalism, but only in the same way that for example, there are rabbis nowadays whose Jewish Hashkafa is influenced by Democracy, or perhaps Feminism. But we all know they are two different things. Nobody claims that if you believe in Democracy, you have a higher Neshama than if you don't. In the same way, Nationalism, which is idolatry, did influence some rabbis' thinking, but nobody claimed that what the secular Nationalist philosophers believed is Judaism.

Until Rav Kook. He took what was in essence ideas of secular Nationalist philosophy and declared them to be Judaism. And therefore, if you were a Nationalist, it made you a better Jew. For example (emphasis mine):

"The Nefesh of the non-religious Jews before Moshiach comes, who are involved with love in issues of the Jewish people for Eretz Yisroel and the revival of its Nationhood, are higher than the Nefesh of the religious Jews who do not have this advantage of dedicating themselves to the public welfare, and building the Nation and the land." (Oros M'Ofel 43).

Regarding the non-religious soccer players:

"This sport that young Jews play in Eretz Yisroel in order to strengthen their bodies to be strong young men for the Nation, completes the spiritual strength of the Tzadikim above ... playing sports to strengthen the body and the spirit for the strength of the entire Nation is a holy service to Hashem, and raises the Shechinah higher and higher, like the 80 songs and praises sung by Dovid HaMelech in Tehillim (Oros M'Ofel 34).

Can one imagine anything more contradictory to the basic values of our Torah?

And I this one is quoted from him by Rav Yosef Yedid, word for word from the same Chibur:

בני החצפנים פורצי הדרכים והנדרים עתידים
להיות נביאים מהמדרגה היותר עליונה ממדרגתו של משה רבינו ומזיהרא עילאה
דאדם הראשון עץ חיים כלו בכל עמק יתגלה בהם ועל ידם

Until he came, we all knew Torah and Mitzvos were the only thing that gave us merits; Aveiros did the opposite. R. Kook mixed non-Torah values into Judaism that turn upside down what our religion tells us about good and bad.

Don't bother looking for sources for these and other such things. You won't find any. Rav Yosef Yedid in that Teshuva I linked to above constantly refers to him mockingly as "This Navi" because he must have received his Hashkafos by prophecy, since there is nothing close in Torah literature that says such things.

But I know where he got these Hashkafos from. It is secular Nationalist philosophy. That's why you won't find anything like this in Torah sources.

"One can view nineteenth-century European nationalism as an appropriate matrix for Rav Kook's thought, and there is no dearth of analogues to Hegel, Bergson, and others in his writing (Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, Leaves of Faith II, p. 202).

What he did was, he took non-Jewish ideas about Nations, people, and politics, and attributed to them spiritual value, and considered their fulfillment the achievement of Torah objectives. By way of analogy, imagine if someone would say we will attain the lofty "chaya-yechida" level of Neshama, be "meyached yichudim" and cause the coming of Moshiach if we become communists. The Gerrer Rebbe (Imrei Emes) politely described it as being influenced by the fads of the times so much that it causes him to say good is bad and bad is good (טהור-טמא).

So no, he is not in the same category as those rabbis who you hear about in school. He espoused teachings are against the Torah.

It should be noted that although there were disagreements regarding how to judge R. Kook himself, regarding whether all this makes him a Rasha (or worse) (see here), that is only because a person who espouses heretical views may not necessarily be considered a heretic himself (see here). However, there was nobody of note that actually held these teachings of R. Kook's have any validity whatsoever. The controversy was only regarding how to judge him as a person.

The invalidity of his teachings, as well as the fact that there were Gedolim who held he had the status of a Rasha (or worse) is why, as you mention, you do not hear him quoted in your school. I never heard him quoted, nor did I ever see any of his books, when i was in Yeshiva, either.

Regarding your question whether it is good to suggest all Jews come to EY, the answer is, no it is not. Not every Jew should be in EY. The Rashbam says that EY is the best place in the world for Tzadikim and the worst for Reshayim. When someone does Aveiros in EY, he pollutes the land. The land gets sick from his deeds, loses its Kedusha and spits him out. In addition, every Aveirah (and Mitzvah) one does is intensified in EY. If someone is going to Aveiros, not only is it better for the land, but it is better for the person as well, if he stays in Chutz LaAretz. Eretz Yisroel is the Palace of the King. One must behave there. If one cannot, he should stay out. (R. Kook claimed that when the sinners will come to EY, the land will straighten them out. Clearly he was wrong, not only because we see it has not happened, but because the Torah says the opposite - the land gets polluted and spits out the sinner. It does not say that he stops being a sinner.)

Besides this, during Golus Jews must be all over the world, not only in EY. Everyone should go wherever it is best for his Avodas Hashem. We may not say that during Glus, all Jews should live in EY.

And the reason so many Zionists don't keep the Torah so much is because Zionism was created as a Shmad to replace the Torah, and for many people it succeeded (see the link to the Zionism forum I posted above). The Zionists churned out immense propaganda, of the same type that the Communists used to brainwash people into following Communism, to make people think that if you are a Zionist that itself makes you a good Jew. So why does anyone need Torah?

Suppression of Information

Another thing: There has been so much marketing, propaganda and manipulation of the facts surrounding R. Kook, including censorship both of what others said about him as well as censorship of R. Kook's own writings, in order to make him seem more accepted and his teachings more acceptable. I suppose the reason for all this is that the legitimacy of his teachings - is vital to the Religious Zionist / National Religious cause. If his teachings are deviant, then they are off the derech. Because the things he said cannot be found anywhere in the Torah, and so cannot stand on their own two feet, if he is not reliable, then they are up the creek without a paddle. But in any case, the propaganda and purposeful misinformation surrounding R. Kook is, as far as I can think of off hand, unmatched in regard to any other Orthodox personality. So to get accurate information about him, you need to sift through the censorship and propaganda.

Things that were suppressed out of his writings include denigrating remarks about other Rabbonim, such as R. Samson Raphael Hirsch for example, as well as strange things he writes about himself, such as the following example, probably the most well-known of the censored writings, (the italicized lines are what was censored out of Oros HaKodesh) :

"I listened and heard from the depths of my soul, from the passion of my heart, the voice of my Master calling. And I was intensely fearful. Have I stooped so low as to become a false prophet, saying that Hashem has sent me, even though the word of my Master was not revealed to me? I heard the sound of my soul roaring, Prophetic sprouts are springing up and the sons of the prophets are awakening."

Note how different the paragraph reads without the censored part.

Censorship of what other people have said about him include the famous letter of the Gerrer Rebbe, that I cited above, where he writes that R. Kook "says Tameh is Tahor and Tahor is Tameh." That line was censored out of the Gerrer Rebbe's letter by Simcha Raz in his biography of R. Kook, "Malachim Kebnei Adam."

More recently, intense public pressure led to the censorship of "The Rav Thinking Aloud: Transscripts of Personal Conversations with Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveichik." Here is what the first published version said, on p. 156. The underlined was omitted from subsequent printings, due to tremendous public pressure. They demanded this paragraph be removed, by the way, even though it is documented with a tape-recording, and was said to a group of students in response to a direct question.

[R. Kook] was a strange person. I met him twice. He was a strange person, but when you found yourself sitting in the presence of R. [Avraham] Yitzchak Kook, you felt, you had the intuitive feeling, that this is not just a rav, not just a rosh yeshiva. There is something else, his contemporaries did not understand.

[Question by unknown speaker:] You felt the presence of greatness?

I wouldn't say greatness. Uniqueness. Greatness, if you understand by "greatness" intellectual greatness, no, I was not impressed with his scholastics. ... I wouldn't say Gadlus. I saw him just once when I came, and he was sitting at a table...I spoke to him about Halachah ... I had a question whether I should observe [two days] ... he told me something, I didn't listen to him [chuckle]...

Note the totally different impression the words make when you take out what they took out.

Regarding R. Kook in general, you can find a lot of good information about him and what the Gedolim said about him on this site.

#3 AlHal



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Posted 30 April 2012 - 06:43 AM

Is this article (see defences of Rav Kook near the bottom) false?

#4 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 06:24 AM

Yes, it is false.

You mean the following statement:

Also, one could see from the published letters, that the "Chareidi" leadership was firm in its support of Rav Kook, and in fact had an apparent fond relationship with him. The vast majority of the "Chareidi" leaders publicized handwritten letters in support of Rav Kook, when a few individuals were publicly disrespectful towards him. Rav Kook embraced the support, but made clear that any insults were accepted by him without anger, for he viewed himself "as a servant of G-d," without interest in his personal honor.

This is factually false. I don't know who these people are considering Chareidi (sic) leaders, but as I mentioned, the Gedolei Yisroel recognized his teachings as foreign, non-Jewish ideas, which run contrary to fundamental principles of the Torah. And that is so obvious that you don't need to be a Godol to see that. To this day, nobody has come close to defending the deviant teachings that R. Kook espoused, a sampling of which I mentioned above. It is quite obvious that you cannot accept statements such as those if you believe in Torah values.

If you want to see what the Gedolim really said about him, see this website. He has a lot of information on this there.

Nobody of note disagreed that his teachings are against the Torah. As we noted, the Chazon Ish prohibited anyone to learn his Hashkafa writings, and he was far from the most strict on this issue. I am attaching the letter where Rav Elchonon Wasserman, the Talmid Muvhak of the Chofetz Chaim, refers to him as a "total Rasha." I am also attaching a copy of the actual Ksav Yad. Feel free to distribute it as you see fit.

The Gerrer Rebbe, who was one of his biggest defenders in the Torah world, said R. Kook distorts the Torah, making pure into impure and vice-versa, and because of that, he cannot be considered among the bearers of our Mesorah. You can find the actual letter on the site I mentioned above.

The Chofetz Chaim, when he saw a similar statement about the soccer players, simply dismissed him. "kook shmook" were his words. No more detailed a response was necessary.

The Chazon Ish said that R. Kook's "Gehennom will be that they will show him what he has caused in this world and they will say to him, 'Kook!'. (Kook means "Look!"; in Yiddish).

As far as some titles people wrote him, even if they are authentic, they do not mean what that article claims they mean. See here. R. Kook held a very powerful political position, and as such, his political resources and connections were often needed for the Klal. We already saw what the Chazon Ish said about the Rabbanut - he would give them honor in order to bribe them into doing what he wanted, but that does not mean they deserved the honor. Remember: he looked at them as robbers with guns to our heads. Praising our captors a bit so they would give us, their hostages, an extra morsel for food, was what he was doing.

And the same thing applied to R. Kook. he was in charge of many morsels of food, and people knew how get him to provide.

See also Maaseh Ish (2:85):

The Chofetz Chaim ZTL sent a letter to a Zionist “rabbi”, where he showered him with praises and titles. They asked the Brisker Rav ZTL how could the Chofetz Chaim write such [praises] about a Zionist rabbi? The Brisker Rav answered: ‘That comes from not speaking Loshon Horah!’

They came to the Chazon Ish and told him of the complaint of the Brisker Rav. The Chazon Ish responded, “No. The Chofetz Chaim in fact knew of the behavior of that rabbi, but it was the Chofetz Chaim’s judgment that strengthening Shabbos in that town was more important!”
So effective was this tactic of giving honor to R. Kook that even the Brisker Rav himself used it - in a case of Pikuach Nefesh. The Brisker Rav wrote honorable titles to R. Kook in a letter (they did not put it in the Wikipedia article, but you can find it in the published collections of the Brisker Rav's letters). But before he wrote those titles, he convened the Bais Din of Brisk asking them for a separate heter for each and every one of the titles he wrote, because he needed R. Kook's political connections to help a Bochur in a Pikuach Nefesh situation.

As Simcha Raz, the Zionist biographer of R. Kook writes, R. Kook used to read the titles in the letters people wrote to him, in depth, over and over again.

נוהג היה הרב לעבור ולקרוא בעיון כמה וכמה פעמים, את התארים שכתבו אודותיו בראש המכתבים ששוגרו אליו. פעם שאלו אחד מיקירי ירושלים:מה היא הסבה שהוא מעיין כל כך בתארים שכותבים עליו

;יש לי ענין מיוחד בזה- השיב הרב;כדי לדעת מה שיש בי ומה שאין בי, וכדי שאדע ואשתדל לעלות למעלה, להשכיל ולהשתלם

;במידה גדולה כזו, עד שיימצאו בי באמת כל השבחים שמונים בי

Another Rav on that list wrote those titles in his younger years, and later radically changed his position on R. Kook, even publicly removing his picture from his wall.

Titles in a letter do not mean much. What you need to see, which you won't, is someone of note saying that R. Kook's teachings have a shred of validity, even to say that they should be respected as valid opinion that we don't follow. You will not find that. Despite the Zionists' claim about how the "vast majority of the Chareidi leaders"; supported him, you will not find in thןד "vast majority"; of Yeshivos of the so-called Chareidi leaders any mention of him at all, you will not find him or his teachings quoted, or even his existence acknowledged, nor will you find his books in their Seforim libraries. You will find him treated as if he did not exist, which is the same way they treat all such deviant personalities.

And as far as this statement is concerned (from the site you quoted): "Rav Kook ...made clear that any insults were accepted by him without anger, for he viewed himself "as a servant of G-d"; without interest in his personal honor," (as well as the following from another WIkipedia article: Contrary to a number of distorted accounts, he had a warm relationship with and mutual respect for Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, although the two were vigorous opponents in many areas.), the following is what R. Kook said about Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld ZTL:

"Even when he says something good, he says it out of wickedness, for evil, too, has good as its

And that "respect" was indeed mutual.

As I said, R. Kook has been purposely marketed in a way to make him seem palatable. His own comments including those in his own Seforim, as well as comments others have said about him, have been doctored, censored, and edited, for the purpose of hiding things such as those I have mentioned above, and much more like them. There has been no personality in the history of Orthodox Jewry that has been subject to a greater nip-tuck job than that of Rabbi Abraham Kook.
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#5 torah613



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Posted 04 December 2013 - 08:02 PM

On the old site it said the following about Simcha Raz's bio on R' Kook:


He indicates, falsely, that the Gedolei Yisroel in general held of R. Kook and it was merely Kanaim who opposed him, which is clearly false



But someone showed me the following letter from Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank: 




"The Gaon, our Master RAY HaKohen Kook (may he live) was accepted here as Rav by the majority of the Holy Community here..."


He's talking about the community in Eretz Yisrael, and I would assume that many gedolai yisrael lived there, and he's saying that they accepted him.  So even if there were gedolim that opposed Rav Kook, isn't Rav Frank clearly saying that many gedolim supported him?

#6 torah613



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Posted 04 December 2013 - 08:05 PM

"Don't bother looking for sources for these and other such things. You won't find any."


What about this:


תיקוני הזוהר", שבו נאמר שדורו של משיח יהיה "ביש מבחוץ וטב מבפנים


for the rabbis have taught us that the generation of Mashiach is "bad on the outside and good on the inside" (Tikunei Zohar Tikun 60)


#7 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 08:59 PM

You're joking, right? Someone who denies the Torah, denies Hashem and even hates the Torah and Yiddishkeit is most certainly not "good on the inside." How in the world would you take this Zohar to mean that Kofrim are ... good on the inside? On the contrary - the Zohar is clearly talking about people who outside, i.e. in actions - are imperfect, but inside - i.e. their Emunah in Hashem - is. Emunah is what is on the inside. Emunah and Bitachon and Yiras Shamayim and Ahavas Hahem. But Emunah is the first on the list. All the Zohar is saying is that before Moshiach comes even Ehrliche Yiddin will sometimes do Aveiros. How in the world could such a quote from the Zohar be applied to Kofrim Zionists who both on the inside and outside deny Judaism?! What in the world makes a Kofer and and Apikores "good in the inside"? Because he hates Torah? Denies G-d? Huh?


Second, even if the Zohar would mean what you think it means, it does not say that these people that he is describing as "bad on the outside" are not considered Reshayim. All it is saying is that the generation will be full of them. It doesn't say anything in favor of these people. Reshayim are Reshayim; Kofrim are Kofrim - and are treated as such. Nothing it says in the quote you mentioned - even if it would be referring to Reshayim and Kofrim, which it does not - changes that in the slightest.


The truth is, I know you're not joking - because I know that Rabbi Kook himself uses this Tikunei Zohar as a "source" for his deviant teachings (I know the rest of his vort about the donkey too). But obviously, as I explained above, it is absurd. Not only that, but just think - a  Mohammad or Yoshke could have used such an "interpretation" of the Zohar as well - to claim that even though they or their people do Aveiros, go against the Torah, even deny the Torah, they still should be accepted as being "good on the inside." 


In fact, in Shlomo Rosenberg's novel "Shabse Zvi: The Man Who Believed He Was Messiah" he depicts Nathan the Gazite telling the Sultan that Shabse Zvi can still be Moshiach even though he converted to Islam, because - I promise I am not making this  up - "There is a saying in the Zohar that the Messiah will be good on the inside and bad on the outside. He will fall into a deep abyss of evil in order to raise up godly sparks".