Sunday, May 8, 2016

Parshat Kedoshim: The printer's dilemma

Image result for rabbi kook
Add captionRav Avraham Yitzchok Kook z"l (left) Rav Zvi oesach Frank z"l (right)

“Do not take revenge nor bear a grudge against the children of your people” (Lev. 19:18)

From the first Shabbat he spent after arriving in Jaffa, writer Shmuel Yosef Agnon felt himself drawn to the esteemed rabbi of Jaffa - Rav Kook.

Many years later, the Nobel Prize laureate for Hebrew literature related a number of stories about Rav Kook in a collection of essays entitled
 “Between Me and Myself” (1976). 

Included is the following incident, which illustrates the scholar’s rare traits of selflessness and magnanimity.

Those who are insulted but do not insult

It is customary in the world that we like those who like us, and we hate those who hate us. If someone harms us, we do not forgive. And if we have the opportunity, we will ruin his life.

There are some who don’t even like their friends and will belittle them. And there are some who ingratiate themselves with their foes. These are common traits, apparent in the way most people relate to friends and enemies.
And yet, I have known saintly individuals, and they are few in number. They do not hate their adversaries; and they remain silent in the face of their attacks. Even if they have the opportunity to thwart their attacks - for their own good - nonetheless, they leave them alone and do not obstruct the assault.

One such lofty individual was our great teacher and master, the gaon Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaKohen Kook, may his memory be for a blessing. His adversaries caused him many terrible afflictions. Commensurate with his saintliness, those adversaries who hated him for no good reason grew in number.

Despite this, he accepted these sufferings with love. In fact, he would rejoice over every insult that came his way. 

Our Sages taught about such individuals:
“Those who are insulted but do not insult, who hear themselves reviled but do not respond, who act with love and rejoice in suffering - about them verse says, ‘May those who love [God] be like the rising of the sun in its strength’ (Judges 5:31)” (Shabbat 88b).

I will relate one incident out of a thousand that I know about our great master.

Rabbi Zusha Brandwine owned a printing press in Jerusalem. It once happened that he was absent from the press for several days. When he arrived, he found a stack of notices which had been printed on his machines. He examined one and saw that it was replete with curses and insults against the holy one of God, our master the gaon Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, may his memory be for a blessing.

Horrified, he cried out in anger, “Who did this despicable act, printing such a slanderous work? Quickly, remove all of the copies and destroy them. To the last letter!”

The leader of the typesetters turned to him. 
“Rabbi Zusha, don’t be angry. Your friend (so-and-so) came here and gave us this notice to print. He paid full payment on condition that we print it today. We shook hands on the deal, agreeing to print it today, so we can’t go back on our word. And we will not renege.”

Deeply pained, Reb Zusha stood up, not knowing what he should do. The client was a childhood friend. And the printers were business partners, in profits as well as losses. Yet our master Rav Kook was the person he respected most in the entire world! And now his own printing press was publishing such slanderous notices....

Thinking the matter over, he decided to ask Rav Kook’s advice. So he went to the rabbi and related the entire incident to him.

“Your printing press is not the only one in Jerusalem,” Rav Kook responded. “If you destroy the slanderous notices, their authors will find another press to print them. So you will suffer a financial loss, and the notes will be printed anyway. Return to your shop and hand over the defamatory notes to their author. He will do what is right in his eyes - may the merciful God forgive him.”

Can there be found such a man, bearing God’s spirit, who sees his enemies embittering his life, yet he sits still and remains silent?
(Mei-atzmi el Atzmi, pp. 200-201)

A number of Rav Kook’s letters from the early 1920’s - written after publication of Orot and the controversy which arose concerning certain passages in the book - reveal his feelings about personal attacks against him by fringe elements in Jerusalem at the time.

In a letter to his parents, Rav Kook wrote:

“I ask that you, dear parents, be not disturbed by these matters. It is an obligation of God’s holy service - a service whose signature is truth - that we should not be afraid of those who argue and insult. I myself do not resent them at all. And certainly not the simple-hearted (temimim) among them. On the contrary, I sympathize with their pain. Nonetheless, I see that I must clarify these topics, so that they will bring benefit and honor to God’s people, as well as fortify the Torah for future times.” (Igrot HaRe’iyah vol. IV, letter 1049)

A few years later, he replied to the rabbi of Manchester:
“Regarding the libelous letters which some have published against me - it is unnecessary to pay them any notice. Even at the time, the episode was insignificant. Certainly now, no one pays attention to the actions of a few individuals, far removed from the world and life, in the deep darkness. I myself hold no grudge against them. 

On the contrary, I help their needy when they require assistance. For some of them are simple-hearted Jews who believe that even the slightest encouragement of nationalism [Zionism] must be repudiated. What can be done with such people, who recoil when they hear words of praise for our national revival?” (ibid., letter 1118)

Editor's note: This year the eighth day of Passover, kept only in the Diaspora, fell on the Sabbath, so while Jews in Israel read Parshat Acharei Mot, the Sabbath Torah portion, Jews in the Diaspora were still celebrating  Passover and read the Passover holiday reading. The result is that Jews outside Israel are reading Acharei Mot this week, but Jews in Israel are up to the next portion, Parashat Kedoshim. The Jewish people will be literally "on the same page" again once a double parsha reading in the Diaspora balanced by the reading of one parasha in Israel on the same Sabbath lets the Diaspora communities catch up. Until then, Arutz Sheva will bring Divrei Torah on both Torah portions.
Article sent to Arutz Sheva by Rabbi Chanan Morrison


Anonymous said...

Now let's contrast this saintly TZADIK with the FARSHTINKENE BAL-GAVAH Aron Teitel-bum calling himself Satmar Rebbe,whereby this piece of filth had the CHUTZPAH and the audacity to rule,that anyone making a wedding in Kyryas Joel
and not using him as MESADER KIDUSHIN,that the aforementioned wedding is null and void and the couple is living in sin and consequently all children born from this marriage are considered born out of wedlock and therefore have a PEGAM,and not only that,but this RASHA KAPO BASTARD has his weekly rag "DER BLATT" print every couple of months a black list with the names of the couples and the names of the baby's born to them,and in their own words they are doing this that in order when years from now when it will come the time for SHIDUCHIM people should have this list and take it into consideration.
what pure evil and gangster-ism.
And by the way whenever Harav Kook Z"L is mentioned by these Satmar gypsy Romanian barbarians they make sure to add Y'M'S

Unknown said...

The Teachings of Rav Kook ...
by Shmuel knopfler

In the early 1920's in Jerusalem it there was rampant poverty among
the Charedi community. The only job that was available for them was
Hashgacha. A Charedi Jew was told to see Rav Kook for a job since The
Rabbi had some job openings in Haifa. The Charedi Jew was reluctant to
see Rav Kook since he was cursing the Rabbi as an opponent to his
views. His friends told him to disguise himself so that Rav Kook would
not recognize him. He did as he was told and appeared for the job
interview being totally nervous. Rav Kook recognized the person and
made believe he does not know who he is. Rav Kook gave him a letter of
recommendation adding that he has the job in Haifa. The person was
restless thinking that this might be a trap to have the British arrest
him for suspicious activities. Rav Kook reassured him that this is a
legitimate offer.
When the person left The Rabbis study the people asked him what is his
opinion of Rav Kook? He answered "Either Rav Kook is a Lamed Vav
Tzadik or simply very naive" ...
Rav Kook did not even tell this person I know who you are nevertheless
I will help you. Lo Sikom v'lo Sitor ...
This Lesson should be taught in every Yeshiva & Bais Yakov.
The holy portrait of Rav Kook's should be displayed in every classroom.
Rav Kook and Rev Sonenfeld used to travel together to Kibutzim for
Kiruv Rechokim.
At the Bris of Moshe Dayan Rav Kook was The Sandak & Rav Sonenfeld was
The Mohel.
This is how they propagated Torah & Yidishkeit with mutual respect.

Unknown said...

The Legacy of Rav Kook
Rav Kook - Orot ...

In the 1950's Rabbi Yitzchok Hutner still had a portrait or Rav Kook in his Sukkah.
Few years later when some were tinged or afflicted by Satmaritis it became unpopular to have Rav Kook displayed. When Rav Hutner used to say "Shomati miBeis Hagra" his disciples were asking The Gaon lived 200 years ago? He meant Hagaon Rav Aharon Yitchak Hacohen ...
It was in Eretz Yisroel when Rav Hutner studied in Chevron Yeshiva on weekends he went to hear Rav Kooks dissertations on Maharal. Rav Kook was a master on Sifrei Maharal. Rav Hutner indeed had a good Rebbi.

Anonymous said...

It was Harav Shlome Zalman Auerbach who had the picture ofHarav Kook displayed in his SUCCAH!
As a matter of fact the KOHEN at the PIDYAN HABEN of his BECHOR " Shmuel" (the BEN SOREIR OMOIRER and ZAKEN MAMRE ) was non other than Harav Kook Z"L,
There is a story going around,that when this Ignorant savage Shmulik was a teen ager and found out who the KOHEN was at his PIDYAN HABEN,this barbarian went and redid his PIDYON with another KOHEN