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Lights on Rabbi Kook

By Tzvi Fishman
10/4/2011, 10:10 PM

Rabbi Hanan Porat, of blessed memory, studied at the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Yerushalayim. As a student of HaRav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, he was one of the leaders of the Gush Emunim settlement movement, from the first breakthrough settlements in the Shomron, to the return to Hevron, and the continuing rebuilding of Judea and Samaria. In addition, he was a dedicated teacher of Torah, traveling all over Israel to gives lectures on the Torat HaGoelet, the Torah of Redemption, Torat Eretz Yisrael, spreading the great light of Torah which he had learned at Rabbi Kook’s Yeshiva.

In tribute to his great spirit which surely shines on after his passing, we would like to continuing in his footsteps, by giving others the opportunity to experience the incomparable light of Rabbi Kook’s teachings, by familiarizing readers with a wonderful website dedicated to Rav Kook, The website, created by Rabbi Chanan Morrison, presents a broad spectrum of Rav Kook’s writings, in clear and succinctly explained translations which make Rav Kook’s vision of Redemption accessible to every reader. Also recommended are two important books which present Rav Kook’s insights and thoughts on the Torah portions, “Gold From the Land of Israel,” and on the Shabbat and the Jewish holidays, “Silver From the Land of Israel,” both by Rabbi Morrison.

Here is a short piece about Yom Kippur which appears in both books:   

The Ox and the Goat

There are many unique aspects to the Temple service on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. One special feature of Yom Kippur concerns the chatat sin-offerings. On all other holidays, a single sin-offering was brought, from a goat. On Yom Kippur, however, there were two sin-offerings: an ox and a goat.

What is the significance of these two animals, the ox and the goat?

Forgiveness for All Actions

The ox is a symbol of great strength. Oxen were traditionally used for construction and cultivating land. The ox's strength was harnessed to till the earth, to transport goods, and other constructive purposes.

The goat is also a symbol of power — but of a corrosive, destructive nature. The Hebrew word for goat (sa'ir) means to storm and rage. The foraging goat devours the very roots of the plants. Overgrazing by goats leads to land-erosion and destruction of pasture.

Both of these forms of power — constructive and destructive — may be used for positive goals, and both may be utilized for evil purposes. Each has its proper place and time. We use constructive forces to build and advance, and we need destructive forces when dismantling existing structures in order to rebuild and improve. Both types of forces, however, may be abused, causing much sorrow and grief.

The most common need for atonement is when we accidentally hurt or damage. For this reason, the standard chatat offering is the goat, a symbol of blight and destruction.

On Yom Kippur, however, we seek forgiveness for the misuse of all forms of power. Therefore, we offer a second chatat from an ox, the classic beast of labor. With this offering, we express our regret if, inadvertently, our constructive deeds may have been inappropriate or harmful.

 (Gold from the Land of Israel, pp. 198-199. Adapted from Olat Re'iyah, vol. I, p. 167)

May this learning, and the learning that readers may glean from the many other illuminating writings in these books and on the website, be a tribute to Rabbi Hanan Porat, may his memory be for a blessing.