Memorial Conference Honoring Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook

Hundreds of yeshiva students and rabbis took part in a conference in Beit El on Tuesday in memory of Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook.

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz ,

Hundreds of yeshiva students and rabbis took part in a conference in Beit El on Tuesday in memory of Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, marking 25 years since his passing.

Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda (1891-1982) was son of the first Chief Rabbi of the Land of Israel under the British Mandate, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook.  He headed Jerusalem's Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva, which was founded by his father. Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook applied and interpreted the teachings of his father for the reality of a reborn Jewish state, which the elder Rabbi Kook did not live to see. The teachings and example of Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook are widely credited with inspiring the movement to settle those parts of
Many credit the teachings and example of Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook with inspiring the movement to settle YESHA.
the land of Israel liberated in the Six Day War of 1967. Father and son are both considered the leading lights and spiritual guides of modern religious Zionism.

Rabbi Yosef Badihi, who was Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda's personal assistant for nearly ten years, addressed the Beit El conference and related many stories exemplifying the rabbi's personality and devotion to Israel, G-d and Torah. In particular, Rabbi Badihi noted Rabbi Kook's ability to give strength and spiritual light to those who came to see him.

Rabbi Yehoshua Rosen, among the most senior of Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook's students, said that the rabbi was the greatest educator of the generation, having raised up many students and their families to love the land and Torah of Israel. According to Rabbi Rosen, Rabbi Kook taught his students how to respect Torah scholars, but also that good character traits come before Torah study. Rabbi Kook would also give spiritual guidance to each student according to what was specifically appropriate for that person, Rabbi Rosen said.

Rabbi Dov Lior, Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Arba-Hevron, noted that people of all types, from all sectors of Israeli society, used to come to see Rabbi Kook in his modest study in Jerusalem's Geulah neighborhood. Rabbi Lior said that Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda was the ideological guide for the settlement movement in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, placing himself in the midst of the struggle for Jewish renewal in those areas. Rabbi Kook publicized many times his view that, in the Six Day War, the Jews "returned to their forefathers' inheritance - not to Arab lands," Rabbi Lior explained.

According to Rabbi Lior, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook differentiated between the State of Israel, which he saw as a Divine gift after 2,000 years of exile, and the policies of its government, which he often criticized. Furthermore, Rabbi Kook discerned and taught that the break from one's roots and from the Torah of Israel eventually led to a loss of national pride.

In closing, Rabbi Lior stated that all of Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda's actions were for the sake of Heaven and without personal motives or fear.
Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed, the head of the Beit El Yeshiva, said that Rabbi Kook led a spiritual movement that has raised up Torah scholars who love the people and the land of Israel. He taught his students to perceive the depth of events in his day, specifically that the rebirth of Israel in its land would lead to a return to Torah, as well.

Rabbi Yerachmiel Weiss, head of Merkaz HaRav's yeshiva high school, known as Yeshiva LeTze'irim,
Rabbi Kook taught that the break from one's roots and from the Torah of Israel led to a loss of national pride.
emphasized the spiritual greatness of Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook. "He was not bound by eating and sleeping patterns," Rabbi Weiss said. "He used to say that anything he ate was because it was appropriate to do so according to the Torah. As an example, he would eat an egg because the Talmud praises the eating of eggs. Likewise, he would eat bread in the morning because the Gemara praises eating bread in the morning."

Rabbi Weiss told a story of how the rabbi once stayed awake all night studying Torah because a student had asked to meet him that evening - but did not show up until the next day. "[Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda's] deep connection with the students was something special," Rabbi Weiss said.

In addition to hearing speakers who knew Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook personally or were his students, the attendees at the Beit El conference watched a video about the rabbi, including recordings of parts of his speeches and lectures. Organizers also displayed images of the rabbi from various periods of his life.