Today is the 83th Yartzeit of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchok HaKohen Kook, Zt”L.
Over the past several years I have spent significant time learning the Torah of this great visionary.
As an oleh, I was drawn to Rav Kook’s teachings about Eretz Yisrael and its fundamental connection to the Jewish people.
Beyond these gems, however, I have also discovered the Rav’s vast writings on gemara, brilliance in Halacha and his many works covering all facets of Jewish life and human existence.
I feel that I making up for “lost time”.
While I was privileged to learn for many years in several wonderful Torah institutions, I do not recall Rav Kook quoted on any subject. Nothing from עין אי”ה when learning Brochos or Shabbos, nor a single gem from any of the Orot sefarim. When learning Halacha for semicha, I wasn’t aware that the הלכה ברורה or בירור הלכה even existed.
Why, you may ask?
The answer may lie in an anecdote that occurred in my very own dining room several years ago. A rebbe of mine, a well-known Rosh Yeshiva, was visiting Eretz Yisrael and having lunch in my home. Upon seeing the painting of Rav Kook on my wall he commented “Avrohom, I knew that you loved Eretz Yisrael, but I didn’t know that you were such a Zionist!”
My first response was (and Thank G-d this rebbe has a sense of humor) “but rebbe, HaShem is a Zionist! Did you not say in davening today”כי בחר ה’ בציון אוה למושב לו”
I continued, in a more serious tone, “we were robbed. Why wasn’t Rav Kook or his Torah ever quoted, mentioned or referenced? He was a contemporary of the greatest rabbonim of his day and held in high esteem by most including the Chofetz Chaim and Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer!”
My rebbe then answered “to tell you the truth, I myself have never learned from the Torah of Rav Kook”. To this I replied “then you too were robbed and kept from some of the greatest Torah thoughts in Jewish history.”
I then took down a sefer from the shelf and learned with my rebbe a small gem from the depths of Orot HaTorah.
How much other Torah has been kept from us just because a saintly author may have a different world view or has perfected one of the other “70 facets of the Torah”?
As we observe Rav Kook’s yartzeit, let us consider opening our hearts, minds and souls to the Torah of others.
Although they might dress a bit differently or have different “customs”, their teachings can provide the material which could very well enrich our lives , our spiritual growth and perhaps, in the spirit of respecting ALL 70 facets of Torah, even hasten the geulah shleima.