Daily Israel Report

Despite Illness, Chanan Porat's Light Shines Through

"We thank G-d for every drop of life, for every breath," Rabbi Porat says with a twinkle. "I am undergoing no crisis - only strength and faith."
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 8/26/2010, 1:21 PM / Last Update: 8/26/2010, 1:11 PM

Israel news photo

The popular Rabbi Chanan Porat, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor several months ago, says, “Thank G-d! We thank G-d for every drop of life, for every breath. I have no negative feelings, and am undergoing no crisis; I am dealing with this with strength and faith. The situation is not simple from a medical point of view, but I continue to try to add light, add strength, and add Torah. An evening like this grants me extra life and joy.”

He was speaking to an Arutz-7 reporter at a special evening of tribute in honor of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook, who died 75 years ago this month. His words are slightly slurred, but his eyes continue to shine and his thoughts are clear and true.

Known for his “poetic soul,” as evidenced by his writings, Chanan Porat has quite a resume, past and present. He was the driving force behind the return to Gush Etzion following the Six Day War, and was a leading member in the Gush Emunim settlement organization in Judea and Samaria. He is an accomplished Torah scholar, rabbi, and author, the editor of a weekly Torah literature pamphlet, a former Knesset Member of the National Religious Party and the now-defunct T’chiya (Revival) party that he co-founded, and was active in the Gesher organization promoting dialogue between religious and secular. He founded and heads the Orot HaHessed charity organization, hosts a weekly radio show, is married to Rachel with whom he has 11 children - and the list goes on and on.

Asked about how Rabbi Kook would respond to the contemporary situation, Porat spoke with characteristic passion and eloquence, despite his illness: 

“Rabbi Kook sees things from their comprehensive aspects, and his guidance in general, as was stated here several times, is not to complain about ignorance and evil, but to add wisdom and goodness. Of course, he sometimes related with sharpness to what he even called the 'treachery' of those who tried to stop the Balfour Declaration, those who tried to harm G-d's chosen land and the process of the Ingathering of the Exiles... Without a doubt, his great spirit is sorely lacking, though it still lives on, thank G-d, in his many students. But his way of declaring the truth, that which breaks all the locks of doubt, that which rips away all weaknesses and confusion that characterize our leaders and the public – we would very much want that to be heard.”

Rabbi Porat recently published his commentary to the Passover Haggadah, and says he is working on completing his five-volume set of “Me’at Min HaOr” (A Bit of Light) on the Bible.

“The writing is a bit hard for me," he said, "but thank G-d I have completed Breishit (Genesis), Shmot (Exodus) and Bamidbar (Numbers), and now I am working on Vayikra (Leviticus), the Book of Sanctity, and I hope that I will complete it and Dvarim (Deuteronomy) in the coming year. Whatever I write is based on the straightforward meaning of the verses, and I hope that I am successful in adding a ‘bit of light’ amongst the darkness that envelopes us - and all in the spirit of Rav Kook who hoped that ‘ha-yashan yit-hadesh, ha-hadash yitkadesh,’ meaning that the old will become renewed and the new will become sanctified. This is my ambition; would that I merit to accomplish it.”