Tuvia Book
Tuvia Book
Author, educator, Tour-Guide, artist

The Unconditional Love of Rabbi A.I. Kook

Rabbi A. I. Kook.  Illustration (c) T. Book, 2021
Rabbi A.I Kook. Illustration (c) T. Book, 2021

The purely righteous do not complain about evil, rather they add justice.

They do not complain about heresy, rather they add faith.

They do not complain about ignorance, rather they add wisdom.

– Rabbi Kook, Arpilei Tohar

This week, on Elul 3, was the 89th anniversary of the death (yahrzeit) one of the most influential figures of the nascent Zionist movement, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935).   Kook was the spiritual figurehead of the Religious Zionist philosophy. Rabbi Kook was appointed the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel.  He tried to broaden the outlook of the yeshivot to cope with modern ideas and train spiritual leaders. His mystical and inclusivist leanings helped him embrace even the non-religious pioneers and earned him the respect of the entire Yishuv.

Rabbi Kook believed that the “secular” Zionists were performing a religious mission, even if they were unaware of it. He saw them as fueled by sincere, altruistic motives, and not as heretics. Kook maintained a connection with all factions of Judaism and worked endlessly to bridge the gaps between secular and religious Jews.  Kook built bridges of communication and political alliances between the various Jewish sectors, including the secular Jewish Zionist leadership, the Religious Zionists, and more traditional non-Zionist Ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Rabbi A. I. Kook. Illustration (c) T. Book, 2021

Regarding Kook’s philosophy of “Ahavat Hinam” (unconditional love), Rabbi Jonathan Sacks z”l wrote that in the early twentieth century someone brought to Rabbi Kook, the following dilemma. He had given his son a good Jewish education. He had always kept the commands at home. Now however the son had drifted far from Judaism. He no longer kept the commandments. He did not even identify as a Jew. What should the father do? “Did you love him when he was religious?” asked Rabbi Kook. “Of course,” replied the father.”Well then,” Rav Kook replied, “Now love him even more.” Rabbi Kook wrote,

“Just as the Temple was destroyed through baseless hatred Jews between (Sinat Chinam), it will only be rebuilt through unconditional love (Ahavat Chinam).”

Rabbi Kook set up his own yeshiva, which later became known as “Mercaz Harav.” He wrote many books on philosophy and halachah (Jewish law). He was an ardent advocate for Zionism, professing it as the fulfillment of the Biblical prophecy foreseeing the Jewish people’s return to the Holy Land.  Kook met with and influenced  Einstein and Churchill and many distinguished luminaries with his views on Zionism.  His support of the Zionist movement and theological beliefs pertaining to Land of Israel laid the foundations for the mainstream Religious Zionist movement.  Kook believed that the modern movement to re-establish a Jewish state in the land of Israel had profound theological significance and that the Zionists were pawns in a heavenly plan to bring about the messianic era.

Only through their longing for the Land of Israel, will exilic Judaism receive its inherent qualities and essential characteristics. Yearning for Salvation, is the force that preserves Exilic Judaism, whereas the Judaism of the Land of Israel, is the very Salvation itself.

-Rabbi Kook, Orot, 1

Now, more than ever, we need to be inspired by Rabbi Kook’s Zionism and belief in that we Jews need to respect what we all have in common and not what divides us.  Only through unconditional love will we be redeemed.

About the Author
Dr. Tuvia Book was born in London and raised in both the UK and South Africa. After making Aliya at the age of 17 and studying in Yeshiva he volunteered for the IDF, where he served in an elite combat unit. Upon his discharge he completed his BA at Bar-Ilan University, as well as certification in graphic design. He then served as the Information Officer at the Israeli Consulate of Philadelphia, while earning a graduate degree in Jewish Studies. Upon his return to Israel, Dr. Book graduated from a course of study with the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, and is a licensed tour guide. Tuvia has been working in the field of Jewish Education, both formal and informal, for many years. He has guided and taught Jewish students and educators from around the English-speaking world for some of Israel’s premier educational institutions and programs. Tuvia has been guiding groups for Birthright Israel since its inception and, in addition, has lectured throughout North America, Australia, Europe and South Africa. Tuvia served as a Shaliach (emissary) for the Jewish Agency for Israel as the Director of Israel and Zionist Education at the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York (Jewish Education Project). He was a lecturer/educational guide at the Alexander Muss Institute for Israel Education (AMIIE) in Israel for a decade. Tuvia has lectured at both Bar Ilan University and Hebrew University. He was a Senior Editor and Teaching Fellow at the Tikvah Fund. He is a research associate at the Hudson Institute. Tuvia is the author and illustrator the internationally acclaimed Israel education curriculum; "For the Sake of Zion; A Curriculum of Israel Studies" (Fifth edition, Koren 2017), and "Moral Dilemmas of the Modern Israeli Soldier" (Rama, 2011) and has a doctorate in Israel Education. His latest book, "Jewish Journeys, The Second Temple Period to the Bar Kokhba Revolt – 536 BCE-136 CE," will be published by Koren this year.
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