Rabbi Kook on Rosh Hashanah: Heartrending Blasts

A group of workers was pressured to complete a building in one of the neighborhoods of Jerusalem and they continued working during the Rosh Hashanah holiday. When the neighbors realized what was happening, they immediately sent word to Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook.

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Rabbi Chanan Morrison,

Rabbi Chanan Morrison
Rabbi Chanan Morrison
INN
"Fortunate is the nation which knows the teruah-blast." (Psalms 89:16)

"Fortunate is the nation which knows and appreciates the power of teshuva (repentance) inspired by the teruah-blasts of the shofar. This power of teshuva reveals itself during these days of divine favor, in order to perfect the heart." (Olat Re'iya vol. II p. 329)

The Wake-Up Call

A group of workers was pressured to complete a building in one of the neighborhoods of Jerusalem and they continued working during the Rosh Hashanah holiday. When the neighbors realized what was happening, they immediately sent word to Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook. Shortly thereafter, an emissary of the rabbi arrived at the construction site - with a shofar in his hand. When he approached the workers, they were surprised to see him. After a New Year's greeting, he announced that Rabbi Kook had sent him to blow the shofar for them. He politely asked them to cease their work and listen. He began to blow.

The words from the rabbi and the sound of the shofar achieved their goal. Every note touched the delicate chords of the soul and awakened the Jewish spark in the hearts of the young workers. They dropped their tools and gathered around the man blowing the shofar. Some began to cry. The ancient sound of the shofar echoing in the unfinished rooms of the building transported them back to their fathers' houses, to images of grandfather, the village and the shul, to a world of Jews standing in prayer.

Questions began to pour out, one after another. What has happened to us? Where are we? What have we come to? The young men stood around the emissary, engrossed and confused in their thoughts.

When the blowing was completed, there was no need for words. They all decided to cease their work. Some requested to return with the emissary. They hurriedly changed clothes and accompanied him to join the holiday prayers in Rabbi Kook's beit midrash (house of study).

In an open letter written in those days, Rabbi Kook wrote:

"A friendly word is effective; a brotherly expression of respect will bring others close. Let us not abandon the good and straight path that is illuminated with love and goodwill, peace and friendship. ...We must destroy the wall that divides brothers, and speak heart to heart, soul to soul. Then our words are certain to be heard."

[Adapted from Celebration of the Soul, pp. 41, 42; Moadei Re'iya pp. 65-6]





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