Rabbi Eliezer Melamed
Rabbi Eliezer MelamedPR photo

Moreinu ve’Rabbeinu Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda

As we approach the fortieth anniversary of the passing of Moreinu ve’Rabbeinu Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook zt”l (14 Adar 5742 [1982] - this year the 15th of February) ), it is incumbent upon us to remember the illuminating figure of the Torah leader who was privileged to continue the path of his illustrious father and expound, clarify, and strengthen the base of the doctrine of ha’Torah ha’go’elet (the Redeeming Torah). As a result, the value of Torah study among the National-Religious public was elevated to the point where tens and hundreds of yeshivas, mechinot, midrashot, ulpanot, for men and women, arose due to his direct influence and that of his disciples.

Rav Tzvi Yehuda zt"l turned the National-Religious public into an influential and central factor in Israeli society, and even altered the map of Eretz Yisrael in the expansion of settlement to Judea, Samaria, and the Golan Heights.

Moreinu ve’Rabbeinu Rav Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook was born on Seder night 5651 (1891) to his father Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook, who served at that time as rabbi in Zoimel. When he was thirteen, his family immigrated to Eretz Yisrael, and his father was appointed Rabbi of Jaffa and the Moshavot. Afterwards, Rav Tzvi Yehuda ascended to Jerusalem, and studied at the Torat Chaim Yeshiva.

From his early childhood, Rav Tzvi Yehuda grew up in the light of his illustrious father. Even when he studied and heard from other rabbis, his father was still his rabo ha’muvhak (primary teacher) in the full sense of the word. A Heavenly plan brought Rabbi Kook and his son Rav Tzvi Yehuda to Europe at the outbreak of World War I. They could not return to Israel, and consequently, remained in Switzerland for almost two years. During this period, Rav Tzvi Yehuda merited studying in a chevruta with his father. He later said that at that time, they managed to study “the entire Torah, twice.”

This week I heard from Jerusalem Rabbi Isser Klonsky shlita, in a talk he gave at our yeshiva, a beautiful definition: Maran HaRav Kook illuminated Orot (spiritual lights, and the title of his seminal works), and Rav Tzvi Yehuda paved paths to Orot. In other words, Maran HaRav devoted himself to writing Torah works, and Rav Tzvi Yehuda devoted himself to educating people.

My Special Connection

I have a special connection to Rav Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook ztz”l – he is the rav muvhak of my father and teacher. I myself was also privileged to have seen him countless times during my childhood years. Ever since I was three, I recall events with Rav Tzvi Yehuda, when my father and I sat beside, or opposite him. Because the room was usually crowded, my father would hint to me to vacate my chair and sit on his knees. And so, as a small child on his father’s knees, I heard Rav Tzvi Yehuda on Israel Independence days, in the new yeshiva and in the old one, in his house, and in his sukkah, on Chagim and on Tisha B’Av when he would teach the Gemara in Tractate Gittin, or Eicha Rabbah.

A number of times, we drove with him to various events, such as an event in Gush Etzion, and once on the night of 28th of Iyar when those gathered danced to the Kotel, and Rav Tzvi Yehuda was driven there, and we were in the car with him. I was also present at the famous speech from the nineteenth Independence Day before the Six Day War, in which he cried out, in sort of prophecy, just three weeks before they returned to Jewish hands: “Where is our Hebron?! Where is our Shechem?! Where is our Jericho?! Have we forgotten them?!”

As I recall, we drove to the event from the Givat Mordechai neighborhood with Rabbi Amital ztz”l. From the age of fourteen, I regularly attended his classes until he passed away, and more than once, I asked him questions about spiritual matters intriguing me. Once, when I came with my good friend, the chacham ha’collell (the all-encompassing Torah scholar) Rabbi Ze’ev Sultanovich, we heard Rav Tzvi Yehuda groan in pain, and his doctor, Dr. Schosseheim z”l, said yet again that he had no choice but to go to the hospital. His faithful young house companion, Rabbi Yossi Badichi, accompanied him, ever anxious about his well-being.

Chose My Name

Moreover, he was my sandak, and I was named after a dream he had when I was born – a dream about which he reminded me dozens of times - in fact, whenever I saw him. More than once, when he thought there was someone in the room who had not yet heard the story, he would recount it, even though the rest of those gathered had already heard it several times, and I was embarrassed. More than once, when there were new people present, I preferred to sit at a distance, so that he would not see me, and tell the story again.

For the first time, I myself will write the story he would tell.

While he was ill and lying in Shaare Zedek Hospital, one morning he was informed in a dream: “Eliezer is coming! You do not know? Eliezer is coming!” He awoke astonished and fully aware, and thought that perhaps it was Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg, author of the Tzitz Eliezer responsa, who was about to come visit him, or perhaps Rabbi Eliezer Waldman ztz”l, his cherished student. At that moment, my father, a young student who was very close to him, entered his room, to tell him that he had just had his first-born son, born to him in another room in the hospital. Rav Tzvi Yehuda asked: “Have you thought about what to name him? Perhaps you have an Eliezer in your family?”, for he had dreamt that Eliezer had come. When Rav Tzvi Yehuda would tell the story, he would end with a big smile, point at me, and show those present: “And here is Eliezer!”

My father said that between my birth and the brit, every day after he visited my mother (at that time, mothers stayed in the hospital for at least seven days), he would go visit the Rav. Rav Tzvi Yehuda would ask repeatedly if they had already decided what to name the boy, if they thought to call him Eliezer, and tell him about the dream. Since my parents had no thoughts of calling me Eliezer, my father went to consult with Rabbi Shalom Natan Raanan zt"l, the Rosh Yeshiva, and Rav Tzvi Yehuda’s brother-in-law, and ask him what to do. Rabbi Raanan replied: ‘Rav Tzvi Yehuda wants you to call the child Eliezer’. And that is what my parents did.

Love of Humanity

We were privileged countless times to hear our teacher and rabbi, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook zt”l, quote the Mishnah: “Hillel used to say: be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving mankind, and drawing them close to the Torah” (Avot 1:12). He taught us that these are two interdependent matters. “The Mishnah does not say: ‘Love mankind in order to draw them close to the Torah’. That is fake love. Love of humanity has self-worth, and out of this, comes drawing close to the Torah. Who are the briot (mankind) the Mishnah is talking about? Certainly those far away from Torah, for they are the ones we need to draw close, and it is a mitzvah to love them as well”(Sichot HaRav Tzvi Yehudah HaKohen Kook, Vayikra p. 30).

Ahavat ha’briot – has self-worth! It is absolute! It is true! It is natural! It is normal! It is Divine! – and out of this – draw them close to the Torah.”

“First of all, Jews need to get used to fulfilling the mitzvah ‘love your neighbor as yourself. This is a mitzvah from the Torah! One has to get used to fulfilling it for a very long time. This mitzvah is the foundation of everything. Our Sages say that ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ is the entire Torah. The foundation of everything, the root of everything. Afterwards, it can be explained how, and in what way (to draw close those far away from Torah).”

“We must cleanse ourselves from the impurity of hatred, and from the impurity of the hatred of such Talmidei Chachamim, and such Roshei yeshivot (heads of yeshivas), who desecrate Hashem and profess in the name of the Torah, to bring into the world the hatred of mankind, God have mercy on us, God save us!” (Sichot HaRav Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook, ‘Middot’, pg. 35; Am Yisrael, pg. 212).

“There are some Jews who ‘seize’ the verse from Tehilin (Psalms): ‘Hashem, You know I hate those who hate You,’ and there are educational approaches that emphasize this above all, as being a foundation in education. They place the value of sinat ha’briot (hatred of humanity) as a foundation, arguing this is how they protect themselves. Interesting, we have never heard of a tzaddik (righteous person) and a gadol be’Yisrael (eminent rabbi) designated as the “sonei Yisrael” (Hater of Israel). On the other hand, we have heard of special individuals who have been nicknamed: “The Tzaddik, Gaon, and Kadosh, Ohev Yisrael (Lover of Israel)” (From ‘HaTorah HaGoelet’, Vol.4, pg. 160).

A True Talmid Chacham Loves Mankind

Rabbi Kook further taught us: “Avraham Avinu is called ‘Avraham my friend’. He is entirely ‘ohev et ha’briot’. Only based on Avraham Avinu do we come to Moshe Rabbeinu. The Torah comes to us from ‘Moshe received Torah from Sinai’, but our middot (virtues) are from Avraham Avinu. Moshe Rabbeinu is the grandson of Avraham Avinu: one is worthy of Torah only based on the pure virtues, sensitivity, and merit of Avraham Avinu. The more of a lamdan (scholar) a Talmid Chacham is, the more fitting he is to be called a Talmid Chacham, who is also termed ‘Moshe Rabbeinu’ – and the more filled he must be with ahavat ha’briot“(Sichot Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook, ‘Middot’, pg. 13).

We learn from the words of Rabbi Kook zt”l that it is necessary to precede the value of ahavat ha’briot to the value of Torah, because the purpose of Torah is to bring blessing to people; therefore, one must always be a fine human being first, reveal his character, and out of this, rise in the guidance of Torah. Without this, the Torah is liable to turn into a sam ha’mavet (death potion) for that person, converting him into a baal ayin ra (possessor of an ‘evil eye’, i.e., a grudging nature) and a baal machloket (pursuer of disputes). Hashem loves his creatures, while this person, in his wickedness, and as if by power of the Torah, hates anyone who does not surrender to his opinion, which he, mistakenly, considers to be daat Torah (the opinion of the Torah).

His Deference and Devotion to his Father’s Teachings

It is difficult to describe the deference of Rav Tzvi Yehuda towards his father. Rabbi Kook had many disciples and followers, but apparently, Rav Tzvi Yehuda was the most special among them. He gave his entire life for the sake of imparting his father’s teachings.

From his youth to his old age, Rav Tzvi Yehuda taught and explained his father’s words. This was the case when he was around the age of twenty and in contact with the young Talmidei Chachamim of Eretz Israel, and also with Hebrew authors in Jaffa. Likewise, later on when he was about thirty years old, when he traveled in Europe from Rabbi to Rabbi, and from Rebbe to Rebbe, in order to encourage them to immigrate to Israel, and to publicize the words of his father.

After that, as well, when he was the spiritual director of the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva, engaging in cultivating the students, he would often speak to them, and explain for them the words of his father. When Rabbi Kook passed away, when Rav Tzvi Yehuda was forty-four years old, and he secluded himself to work on publishing his father’s writings on halakha and emunah (faith).

In those years after the passing of Rabbi Kook, the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva seemed to lose its luster, and its stature seemed diminished. Many of its students in those days did not understand the importance of Rabbi Kook’s words. They, of course, admired his genius and righteousness, but they did not understand the depth of his words. Merkaz HaRav was just another yeshiva in Jerusalem. Then, when Rav Tzvi Yehuda was around sixty years old, he began serving as the Rosh Yeshiva of Merkaz HaRav.

From that point on, the yeshiva developed, the great spirit of Rabbi Kook’s teachings elevated the students, and a great vision of the Torah of Eretz Yisrael began to emerge from within its’ walls.

Study of Emunah

Rav Tzvi Yehuda understood that the great shortcoming of the generation was in the study of emunah; that is why so many leave the "wellspring of living water", and are swept away by foreign cultures, and why Talmidei Chachamim have less influence on the public than they did in the past. He therefore devoted himself entirely to fulfilling this shortcoming, and devoted all his classes to the study of emunah.

Of course, the study of the Gemara and halakha were extremely important to him, and without them, there is no Torah. However, the burning shortcoming was in the realm of the soul of the Torah, namely, in the study of emunah. For decades, he taught: Tanakh, Kuzari, Maharal, Mesilat Yesharim, Orot, Orot HaTeshuva, Orot HaTorah, and would talk frequently with the students, guide them, and direct them.

The Amazing Wonders

From time to time, students recounted amazing wonders about how statements Rav Tzvi Yehuda said came about, and spoke of other marvels connected to him.

The greatest phenomenon, however, is the educational revolution that has occurred. He aroused and instilled a great desire for Torah study among the National-Religious public, he succeeded in connecting the idealism of the National-Religious youth to its root in holiness – in the Torah – to the point where by virtue of his actions, dozens of yeshivas and educational institutions were established, in which tens of thousands of students are educated today.

By dint of his educational activities, the Gush Emunim movement arose as well; the map of the country changed beyond recognition, and began to be adorned with dozens of new communities in Judea and Samaria, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights. The settlements in Judea and Samaria that arose from within the Beit Midrash heralds great news for the existence, and future, of the State of Israel.

With Eminent Torah Scholars

Once, Rav Tzvi Yehuda had a certain criticism of what took place in the Beit HaDin HaGadol (Supreme Religious Court) [when they went against the ruling of Rabbi Goren zt”l], and asked to call the members of the Beit HaDin HaGadol to a meeting at his house. Although he had no official position, out of recognition of his greatness, members of the Beit Din HaGadol came to his house to hear his rebukes. My father told me that he remembers that the eminent rabbi, Rabbi Elyashiv ztz”l, who was at that time a member of the Beit Din HaGadol, came to that meeting. Unfortunately, some of them, led by Rabbi Elyashiv, did not accept his opinion.

I heard that another time, while he was at a wedding, a Jew in his sixties who looked like a talmid chahcham appeared, and searched for a way in which he could assist Rav Tzvi Yehuda, and thus serve him. After they found out who it was, it turned out it was Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul zt”l, author of the ‘Ohr Le’Tzion’ Responsa, who wanted to merit the mitzvah of serving a Talmid Chacham.

I also heard first-hand testimony that the Kabbalist Rabbi Mordechai Sharabi zt”l, considered Rav Tzvi Yehuda to be a great man whose words were listened to in Heaven more than his own.

I once asked Rav Tzvi Yehuda why many rabbis oppose Rabbi Kook’s path. He responded with a question: ‘Which rabbis, for example’? I answered: For example, Rabbi Yechezkel Sarna zt”l (who was Rosh Yeshiva of the Hebron Yeshiva and head of the Council of Torah Scholars of Agudat Yisrael) He answered: ‘We were on very good terms with one another.. In the place where you are sitting right now, he, zichrono le’vracha, would sit when he came to visit me’. Later on, I learned that there was indeed a special bond between them, and Rabbi Yechezkel Sarna would often visit the house of Rav Tzvi Yehuda, and when they met, they would hug and greet each other warmly and affectionatgely.

On the occasion of Sheva Brachot for one of the yeshiva students of Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva, who married the daughter of one of the select members from the old Slabodka Yeshiva, the Roshei Yeshivot of Hevron attended, headed by Rabbi Yechezkel Sarna, and Rav Tzvi Yehuda as well. Rabbi Yechezkel Sarna, who was an important and older leader than Rav Tzvi Yehuda, suggested he say a dvar Torah. At first, Rav Tzvi Yehuda declined, but when he asked again, Rav Tzvi Yehuda responded, and spoke. After his remarks, Rabbi Sarna said: “Fortunate is the generation in which the greater heed the lesser.”

His Visit to the Ponevezh Yeshiva

My uncle, Rabbi Avraham Remer ztz”l related the following story: Once, Rav Tzvi Yehuda planned to travel to the Ponevezh Yeshiva in order to examine the writings of his grandfather’s uncle Rabbi Eliyahu David Rabinowitz-Teomim (the ‘Aderet’) which were archived there. Since I heard he was planning on going alone, I accompanied him. Upon entering the Yeshiva, he told me that Rabbi Kahneman (then Rosh Yeshiva of Ponevezh and among its founders), had a great merit in building this Torah institution, but that an enormous stain rested on the yeshiva because its students dishonored two Torah scholars – Rabbi Herzog ztz”l and Rabbi Unterman ztz”l (both were Chief Rabbis), and the Yeshiva heads' response was not harsh enough.

Rabbi Kahaneman greeted Rav Tzvi Yehuda with great honor and friendliness, but said to him: “Let’s go into the building by a side entrance and not near the Beit Midrash (study hall).” Later on, Rav Tzvi Yehuda said to Rav Remer that he understood the reason was that he feared that zealous yeshiva students might humiliate him, and Rabbi Kahaneman would be placed in an unpleasant situation. Rav Tzvi Yehudah added that, unfortunately, Rabbi Kahaneman lacked the courage to put the brazen students in their place.

Upon leaving, Rabbi Kahaneman asked Rav Tzvi Yehuda how he intended on returning to Jerusalem, and when he said by bus, Rabbi Kahaneman said to him that ‘time is Torah’, and that he should take a taxi. When we arrived in Tel Aviv, I asked him, ‘How are we going back’? He replied: “It is a mitzvah to heed the words of Torah scholars”, and we took a taxi (“Gadol Shimusha” 48).

Apparently, those seeds of contempt for Talmidei Chachamim are the cause of all the painful events that are taking place at the Ponevezh Yeshiva today.

Some of His Manners

Rav Tzvi Yehuda was completely immersed in matters of Torah and Clal Yisrael, and did not think about himself. Many times, he fasted entire days without noticing. He never indulged himself, or went on vacation. His father, Rabbi Kook, would take vacations, and sometimes Rav Tzvi Yehuda would join him to attend him, and learn from him. However, he never went on vacation on his own. Nor was he concerned about the quality of the foods he ate, and never said he loved this or that food. For decades, from the time his wife passed away, his primary food on weekdays was bread and cheese.

Even in his old age, after reaching the age of eighty, when he became very prominent, and many knocked on the door of his house to receive his advice and learn from his wisdom, he was accustomed to lock himself in his house in the morning, in order to engage in Torah without interruption. Once, when his advice was needed on an important matter, those seeking it knocked hard on his door but he did not answer until Rav Neriah ztz”l stood in front of the window of his room, shouting that it was a Clal-Yisraeli matter, and then he proceeded to open the door.

הרב צבי יהודה קוק
הרב צבי יהודה קוקצילום: מתוך אתר ישיבת בית אל

Torah Greatness and Memory

Rav Tzvi Yehuda had an extraordinary memory, and wonderful proficiency in Torah. It is told that once the Rosh Yeshiva of Hebron, Rabbi Yechezkel Sarna and his close associate, the Mashgiach of the Hebron yeshiva, Rabbi Meir Hadash, came to visit him, and they talked divrei Torah amongst themselves and every Gemara or Midrash or Pesikta they mentioned, and asked to know its source, Rav Tzvi Yehuda would indicate its exact source.

Indeed, he usually did not demonstrate his proficiency, and only when asked for a particular source would he respond, and when a particular source was quoted inaccurately, he would comment, and correct.

It is told that after the Holocaust, when books from the Batei Midrashot and churches in Europe were brought to the National Library, the books were often missing the opening pages, resulting in books whose names and authors the various librarians, academics and experts could not decipher. They would bring these books to Rav Tzvi Yehuda, who was well versed in thousands of books, and very often, when he went through the pages, he knew from memory the title of the book, and who its author was.

Controversial “Tzaddikim

When he spoke about ‘baalei machloket’ (dispute mongers), Rav Tzvi Yehuda recited in his own words, the words of our Sages (Bamidbar Rabbah 18:20) about On ben Pelat’s wife who saved him from participating in the dispute of Korach and his whole party, and from being swallowed up in the earth along with them: “His wife was a tzaddeket (a righteous woman), and he was saved in her merit. At first, he was swayed after the ‘rabble’, and his wife begged him not to enter the dispute, nevertheless, he could not cease.

He said to her: Soon, they will come to call for me. His wife answered him: I will sit outside in chutzpah, indecently with my hair uncovered, and since they are ‘tzaddikim‘, when they see this, they will run away. Indeed, that is exactly what happened. In previous generations and today, the dispute mongers are considered ‘tzaddikim‘. Our Sages call them rasha’im (evil), but they are erroneously termed “tzaddikim,” “haredim” “(Sichot Ha’Ritz’ya, Bamidbar, p. 195).

His Position Regarding Religious Coercion

From newspaper interviews he gave:

Q: Rabbi, it is known that you were a supporter of the ‘League for the Prevention of Religious Coercion’.

Rabbi Kook: “Correct. I said at the time to the members of the ‘League’ that they were absolutely right – I hate religious coercion. With what sort of justice, and with what kind of integrity can one impose religion on a person? … To my dismay, it later turned out that among the group were some who hated religion … still, in the sense of opposing coercion, they are truly righteous, and there was a mutual understanding between us. Some good advice was given around this table to the members of the ‘League for the Prevention of Religious Coercion’.”

Q: Rabbi, do you think that there is religious coercion in the state?

Rabbi Kook: “I once said that matters in the country are managed by the Knesset. There is no other democratic way to arrange matters. And if laws are passed by them – they should be honored; this is not coercion” (from “Maracha Ha’Tziburit” edited by Rabbi Yosef Bramson, pg. 122)

The ‘League for the Prevention of Religious Coercion’

From the book “Mashmiya Yeshua” written by important rabbis from among Rav Tzvi Yehuda zt"l's students (p. 221):

The ‘League for the Prevention of Religious Coercion’ was founded after the establishment of the State in order to fight religious coercion. When Rabbi Kook heard about it, he asked to join. He paid a membership fee of one lira – which was not a small sum of money in those times. The first receipt issued, number one, was in his name. Regarding his participation in the group, Rabbi Kook addressed the issue in a large meeting of hundreds of rabbis for the organization and functioning of the Chief Rabbinate as an independent body, he said: “As far as the Torah is concerned, there is no room in our current situation for any religious coercion whatsoever, all the more so for the Haredi terrorism of individual coercion.”

In another quote: “In internal conversations in the Yeshiva, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda explained that his membership in the league is based on his fundamental view that one must educate and bring Jews closer to Torah, but one should not force religious matters. After a few years, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda cancelled his membership in the League. He explained why by saying that it functions as a league for anti-religious coercion, and not as a league against religious coercion.”

In other words, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda’s support for the struggle against religious coercion was profound and fundamental, so much so that the first membership receipt to the ‘League Against Religious Coercion’ was in his name.

The Land of Israel

Unlike in matters of religious coercion – he fought for yishuv ha’aretz (the settlement of the Land of Israel), since it is an all-embracing, general mitzvah on which the existence, both spiritual and physical, of the People of Israel depends – literally, pikuach nefesh (saving lives). However, despite his firm positions on matters of Eretz Yisrael, which angered supporters of left-wing positions, he did not insult his opponents. Moreover, he was confident that his positions would strengthen the State of Israel, as he knew they stemmed from national responsibility and love for Israel.

That was indeed the case. His students did not alienate themselves from Israeli statehood, with all its immense values, and even in the most difficult of times, such as during the expulsion from Gush Katif, they continued to encourage their students to serve in the army, and bear the burden with the public at large, in all the challenges facing the State of Israel.

Rav Tzvi Yehuda was sensitive and alert to public affairs. During his first term as Prime Minister, the late Yitzhak Rabin declared that he would not mind visiting Gush Etzion with a Jordanian visa. Rav Tzvi Yehuda was shocked and in pain, and in the Yom Ha’atzmaut speech in 5734 (1974), he said: “He does not care, but we, Clal Yisrael, do care!”

He added: “He who will hear, let him hear; and he who will refuse to hear, let him refuse.” He also said: “Heaven and earth must be shaken for such nonsense” (see, Le’Halakhot Tzibbur, p.226). For several days, he repeatedly announced that a Prime Minister who says such a thing could not be the Prime Minister of Israel. The students were amazed because; after all, the government had a large majority, and how could a Prime Minister whose status seemed so strong, suddenly lose his seat? A few weeks later, following the incident where planes arrived on Shabbat evening, the government fell.

I heard that Rabbi Chaim Goldwicht zt”l, Rosh Yeshivat Kerem Be’ Yavneh, at that time said to Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda: “Has ruach ha’kodesh (Divine inspiration) appeared in our Beit Midrash?!” Rav Tzvi Yehuda replied no ruach ha’kodesh had been involved, rather, one must know how to distinguish between a shortcoming, and decay. Sometimes the shortcoming can be sizeable, but one can still continue to live with it until it is fixed. However, when there is decay, things are much more severe, and it is no longer possible to continue.

With Students

Rav Tzvi Yehuda would bring his students closer with immense love, to the point where each student felt as if he was his only son. He was interested in the lives of the students, attentive to their thoughts, and always engaged in their guidance.

The students asked him if Rav Kook zt”l expressed himself in relation to the poet Rachel. He replied in the negative, and asked to read her book. The students said: “If the Rav did not say anything, apparently her songs have no importance.” Rav Tzvi Yehuda asked: “Does her book interest you?” When they answered in the affirmative, he said: “Know, that everything that interests you, interests me.” After reading the book, he commented on the article, describing the trip in the footsteps of the Christian (Gadol Shimusha, p. 50).

The Connection with Building of the Land

My uncle, Rabbi Remer zt”l related: A group of members of the Religious Kibbutz movement was supposed to study for a month at the yeshiva. Among the yeshiva students, some argued there was not enough room to absorb other students in the yeshiva, and in order to strengthen the yeshiva atmosphere, first, the yeshiva must be developed from within. The Rav strongly demanded that this group be accepted, saying: “Any thought of a disconnect between our yeshiva and the working class settlements will never happen! - and I was chosen to take care of the group (Gadol Shimusha, p. 36).

Indeed, the yeshiva paid a certain price for this, but thanks to the great spirit in the yeshiva, its graduates rose to high levels, their teachings were Clal-Yisraeli, and as a result, they received such great siyata Dishmaya (help from Heaven) in establishing yeshivas and settlements, seminaries and pre-military preparatory schools. And with this spirit, the Torah of Eretz Yisrael continues to grow and effect its blessing on the Nation and the Land.


Two days before his passing, my father and teacher visited Shaare Zedek Hospital, and the Rav begged him to bring him home. “I have to go home, ‘because that’s where his house is’. For a number of reasons, I have to be home now, take me home – please do me a favor.” My father went to the doctor, but he said that the Rav’s condition was dangerous, and under no circumstances could the Rav leave the hospital. The doctor’s answer greatly disappointed Rav Tzvi Yehuda, who still requested to return home.

Two days later, when the Rav passed away, my father went to Rabbi Avraham Shapira zt”l, and told him about Rav Tzvi Yehuda’s request, and therefore, at the very least, it would be appropriate for the funeral procession to pass by his house. This was indeed fulfilled. The funeral procession that began at the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva passed by his house, and from there, continued to the Mount of Olives, where Rav Tzvi Yehuda was buried next to his illustrious father.

His spirit pulsates in his students, who spread his teachings throughout the Land, in boundless love of Israel, and limitless devotion to the Torah.

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper and was translated from Hebrew.