Friday will mark the yahrzeit (anniversary of death) of Israel’s first chief rabbi and religious Zionist iconic leader, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook zts”l.
Rabbi Kook, who died in 1935, was the founder of the Merkaz HaRav yeshiva in Jerusalem and was a Jewish thinker, Halakhist, philosopher-poet , prolific writer and renowned Torah sage. He was one of the most celebrated and influential rabbis of the 20th century, whose positive thinking, encouragement and love for the Jews rebuilding the land of Israel, both religious and secular, was legendary.
His many works, imbued with the faith that the renascence of the Jewish state is a G-d given miracle and harbinger of Redemption, are studied both in the Zionist yeshiva world where they are also a source of inspiration, and in academia.
He saw the fact that Zionism was bringing about the return of Jews to their ancient land as form of Teshuvah, repentance, in the sense of the entire nation of Israel returning to its original state of perfection.
Volumes of hIs commentary on the Talmud is and some of his manuscripts are still being edited by Torah scholars.
In honor of his yahrzeit, a mass ascent to his grave in the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem is being planned for Friday.
“Thousands of people are expected to come here on Friday,” Shirel Bleicher, one of the organizers of the event, told Arutz Sheva. “I can already tell you that the registration for the shuttle buses is almost full. We have close to 100 buses that are expected to come here from all over Israel. There will also be shuttles from Binyanei HaUma and from Ammunition Hill.” To reserve a place on the buses, call 054-4265905.
Stressing the importance of marking the rabbi’s yahrzeit by coming to his grave, Bleicher said, “Harav Kook is the rabbi of all of us, who in essence started the entire process of the redemption of the State of Israel.”
“I’m calling the entire public to come out to the rabbi’s grave on this special day,” Bleicher added. “It’s the yahrzeit of the rabbi who served as a guide to the establishment of the State of Israel. We’re standing opposite the Temple Mount, where we hope that with G-d’s help the Holy Temple will be built. This unites all of us to come and pray for the redemption of the people of Israel.”
The Merkaz Harav Yeshiva in Kiryat Moshe, Jerusalem, will hold an evening of Torah lectures on Rabbi Kook's teachings on Thursday evening, beginning at 6 p.m. with the participation of well known heads of yeshivot, rabbis and Torah lecturers at the Rabbi's home, Beit HaRav Kook, 9 Rav Kook Street ,off Jaffa Road, in Jerusalem.
Beginning at 10 a.m. Friday morning, there will also be a Memorial Convocation followed by lectures and study of Rabbi Kook's works at the Hurvah Synagogue of Rabbi Yehuda Hachasid, in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, open to the public. The 16the century synagogue, destroyed by the Jordanians in 1948, has recently been rebuilt true to its original appearance. Lecturers will include Rabbi Simcha haKohen Kook, Chief Rabbi of Rechovot, Rabbi Yakov Ariel, Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan, Rabbi Yakov Shapira, Head of Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva, Rabbi Chaim Shteiner of Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva.
(Editor's note: For those who wish to have a taste of his commentaries, Arutz Sheva features some of Rabbi Kook's writings on the Torah portion, as translated by Rabbi Chanan Morrison, in the Judasim section every week.)