14th Yartzeit of Rabbi Neriah

Bnei Akiva yeshiva movement founder Rabbi Moshe Tzvi Neriah, known as 'the father of the knit kippah generation,' passed away 14 years ago today.

Gil Ronen, | updated: 14:22

Rabbi Nerya
Rabbi Nerya
Israel news photo: file

Sunday, the 19th of the Hebrew month of Kislev, marks the 14th anniversary of the passing of Rabbi Moshe Tzvi Neriah, who founded the first Bnei Akiva yeshiva at Kfar HaRoeh, near Hadera, nearly 60 years ago. Rabbi Neria is known as the “father of the knit kippah generation,” in a reference to the type of kippah (skullcap) usually worn by religious Zionists from the Bnei Akiva stream.

Rabbi Neriah was born in Poland and made Aliyah to the Land of Israel at an early age, where he studied under Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook at Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in the great rabbi's final years. Years after Rabbi Kook's death, when he saw that the public venerated the rabbi as a Chief Rabbi and great Torah sage but knew very little about his uniqueness and his approach to Torah, Rabbi Neriah published the books “Chayei HaReayah,” “Moadei HaReayah,” “Likutei HaReayah” and “Tal HaReayah,” which describe the rabbi's great personality, his just and holy nature, and his belief system regarding subjects of diaspora and redemption, the rebuilding of the land, Torah and prayer.

In the year 1940, Rabbi Neriah founded the first Bnei Akiva yeshiva at Kfar HaRoeh. It educated its students along the lines of Rabbi Kook's teachings. The graduates in the initial years went on to study at Mercaz HaRav yeshiva which began gaining fame in those days, and thus did the yeshiva world of the followers of Rabbi Kook begin to form.

Later on, as demand for Torah-based education grew stronger, additional Bnei Akiva yeshivas began to crop up, and an entire generation was brought up on values of Torah and its commandments, love of nation and land, and a partnership in the institutions that make up the State.

The date of Rabbi Neriah's death is symbolic in that Kislev 19 is celebrated as the "New Year of Hassidism." Rabbi Neriah was linked in spirit to the Hassidic movement and to the Chabad stream in particular, and the Lubavicher Rebbe expressed his appreciation for Rabbi Neriah's life work.

Rabbi Neriah was a great educator who taught his students with great love. He would wake up the students in the morning with a song: “Children, children, wake up to the work of the Creator.” His final words before his passing were: “Give me holiness [kedushah], it is holiness that I seek. The holiness of the Land of Israel, the holiness of the love of Israel, the holiness of the Nation of Israel...”