You will not find them in Berlin

A great man prophesied and his words came to pass. Op-ed.

Shalom Pollack ,

Groceries: better priced in Berlin?
Groceries: better priced in Berlin?
Flash90

Almost one hundred years ago, a great man prophesied.

Rabbi Avraham Yitzchok Hakohen Kook often found himself at the center of continuing controversy as first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Eretz Yisroel.

He was an original thinker and revolutionary in his synthesis of the values of the land of Israel, the people of Israel and the Torah.


In his tumultuous time, the Jewish world was divided into numerous and distinct camps.

Some identified with the Torah and a lifestyle that was emblematic of isolated community life in the Diaspora.Life outside their local community was not contemplated. The Jewish people as a Nation or a people with the land was at best a faded memory. Ensuring their unchanged lifestyle wherever they happened to live at the time, protecting personal and community survival against the threats of a menacing world was their sacred task.

As the modern era and "emancipation" began in the eighteenth century, there was an awareness among some of the idea of a Jewish Nation and Jewish land.

Some Jews embarked on "Reforming" the faith

Some Jews dedicated themselves to Socialism and Communism.

Others clung to a grudging acceptance in their countries and became zealous patriots.

Some developed a Jewish identity that stressed "Jewish secular culture" in the Yiddish language and literature.

Some stressed the cosmopolitan mission of Judaism.

Still, others sought the most direct way out of it all - through the church.

With all the twists and turns in this modern era, Jewish history found itself in an identity storm and at a crossroads.

Two movements emerged clearest from the turmoil and vied for leadership of the next phase of Jewish history.

The Agudah movement and allies in the "old world" fiercely defended the status quo. What was, must be. A sovereign Jewish Nation, Land, or people were ideas that were seen as a threat to an existence jealousy protected for so long.

Then there were the Zionists who rebelled against what was, and sought a "new Jew"; sovereign and proud in its own country, working and defending the land., speaking its own language. In rejecting the status quo of the demeaning Diaspora, they also cut their ties to the one thing that assured Jewish existence during the long exile. They rejected the very thing that saw them through the bleak centuries of persecution.

A Jewish nation and land, but without Torah! No longer would the Jewish people be a nation that dwells alone but a "normal' one, accepted by the family of peoples.

This was their proclamation, and they were confident that the Jewish future was theirs.

The two camps glared at each other from distant corners.

And then there arose a third. Unlike most of the rabbinic world, Rabbi Kook had a great appreciation for the young idealistic pioneers and dreamers. He shared a part of that dream and worked with them while trying to teach them why the Torah must be a part of their vision.

Rabbi Kook drew criticism from the rabbinic establishment. How could a rabbi associate with sinners and scoffers?

Rabbi Kook responded to them in a famous letter in which he asked them, "who tries to teach them if not me"?

He then turned to his pioneer friends and made a dire prediction.

He warned them that if they continue to be divorced from the Torah, their children will reject the very land of Israel for which they sacrifice.

This prophetic warning came to mind when I listened to a radio talk show not long ago

The host is a well known Leftist. The caller was from Berlin. She left Israel because she objected to the "politics, racism, culture, and corruption in Israel."

"There needs to be a civil war in Israel to defeat the forces of darkness!" she cried.

Her grandchildren are native German speakers and she enjoys the culture of Germany.

The proud caller from Berlin is Sabra. Her father was a pioneer and fighter for the land. Her family is the Israeli equivalent of the "Daughters of the Revolution .

The host was appalled that she abandoned Israel - and for Germany! He asked her if it does not bother her that her grandchildren are raised in the language used to order our people into the gas chambers?
"What happened to you," he yelled at her! "You and I agree on most political issues in Israel but not this! How can you?"

And then he said, "I am jealous of the National Religious (those who continue Rabbi Kook's legacy).youth. I do not agree with their politics or religious beliefs, but you will not find them in Berlin."

"If you and so many like you would remain in Israel, we the Left could run the country once again. Instead, you take the easy way out and flippantly abandon a dream."

He could not have described Rabbi Kook's warning - both the Left's aspirations and the abandonment of Israel - any better.

Shalom Pollack is a popular tour guide who made aliya to Israel in 1977 as a young, single man. Today he has children and grandchildren.who are continuing the journey he began. His passion for Israel has led him to writing a book from which this excerpt is taken.

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