Zvi Yehuda Kook

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Zvi Yehuda Kook (Hebrew: צבי יהודה קוק‎, born 23 April 1891, died 9 March 1982) was a rabbi, leader of Religious Zionism and Rosh Yeshiva of the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva. He was the son of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, and named in honor of his maternal grandfather's brother, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Rabinowitch Teomim.[1][2]

His teachings are partially responsible for the modern religious settlement movement in the West Bank. Many of his ideological followers in the Religious Zionist movement settled there.

Under the leadership of Kook, with its center in the yeshiva founded by his father, Jerusalem's Mercaz HaRav, thousands of religious Jews campaigned actively against territorial compromise, and established numerous settlements throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Many of these settlements were subsequently granted official recognition by Israeli governments, both right and left.

Biography[edit]

Rav Kook was born in Zaumel in the Kovno Governorate of the Russian Empire (now Žeimelis in Northern Lithuania), where his father was a rabbi. His mother is his father's second wife Reiza Rivka, niece of Eliyahu David Rabinovich-Teomim, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem along with Shmuel Salant. In 1896 his father with his entire family moved to Bauska, Latvia to be the rabbi there.

In 1904 he moved to Jaffa when his father was appointed Chief Rabbi of the city, then part of Ottoman-controlled Palestine. He studied Gemara under the guidance of Rabbi Reuven Gotfreud, the son-in-law of Rabbi Yoel Moshe Salomon, the founder of Petakh Tiqva, then under R. Moshe Zeidel and Benjamin Levin, however his main teacher remained his father throughout his life. In 1906 he went to one of the most prominent yeshivas in Jerusalem of that time Toras Chaim, in the future building of Ateret Kohanim. There he befriended R.Zerakh Epstein. His studies there did not last long. By 1910 he was already preoccupied with publication of his father's writings in Jaffa. There he published three of his books: Tzvi laTzadik, Shevet Haaretz and in 1913 Hatarbut haYisraelit (The Israeli Culture). One of his main collaborators in that activity was R.Yaakov Moshe Charlap, a future head of the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva together with R. Zvi Yehuda. Seeing his lack of time to truly study Torah as most of people his age, he decided to remove himself from public activity for some time. At first he went to Porat Yoseph, the main Sephardic yeshiva of Jerusalem and then he left to Halberstadt, Germany and studied there in the local yeshiva. He also attended the local university philosophy lectures.

With the outbreak of World War I in 1914, he was arrested as a citizen of the Russian Empire, the enemy country, but was soon released and joined his father in Switzerland, where he was stuck due to the war. In 1920 he returned to the then British Palestine and began teaching at Netzakh Israel school. A year later, he went to Europe to attempt promotion of his father's new movement "Degel Yerushalayim" amongst the great rabbis of European.

In 1922 he married Chava Lea Hutner in Warsaw. Chava Lea died childless in 1944, and R. Tzvi Yehuda remained a widower until his death nearly 40 years later. From 1923 he served as the administrative director of the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva, and then after R.kharlap died in 1952 he became Rosh Yeshiva until his own death. After the Six Day War in 1967 he induced the Israeli government to approve the building of settlements in the West Bank and Gaza and sent his students to that mission. He tried to strengthen the Chief Rabbinate, which he saw as the beginning of the future Sanhedrin. He died in 1982.

Ideology[edit]

Settlement movement[edit]

Prominent Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook was the leader of the now defunct[3] settler movement, Gush Emunim. Their beliefs are based heavily on the teachings of Rabbi Zvi Yehuda's father, Rabbi Abraham Kook. The two rabbis taught that secular Zionists, through their conquests of the Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael), had unwittingly brought about the beginning of the "final redemption", which would end in the coming of the Jewish messiah.[4] Gush Emunim supporters believe that building Jewish settlement on land God has allotted to the Jewish people as outlined in the Hebrew Bible, is an important step in the process of redemption. Like his father, Abraham Isaac Kook, Kook did not advocate aggressive conquest.[5]

Emuna teaching[edit]

Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook didn't teach halakha and g'marah almost at all. The reason is not a lack of knowledge, as his books readily prove his halakhic genius. The reason is that he felt his target is to teach "emuna". Once a student asked him to teach a g'marah lesson and he refused, explaining that his life project is to teach emuna. His attitude to emuna is influenced by his father, Rabbi Abraham Kook.

In many yeshivot there is no study of emuna texts and if there is it is for a short time. In Yeshivat Mercaz haRav, where Rabbi Zvi Yehuda was the yeshiva's head many years, there are emuna lessons and the students devote around one hour a day learning emuna.

Rabbi Abraham Kook, the father of Rabbi Zvi Yehuda, wrote about the need of emuna study, especially in our generation, in numerous places in his books. A notable example is the essay titled Me'at Tzori in the book "Eder Haykar".

The attitude toward earlier Rabbinic authorities[edit]

Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda held the previous generations of rabbis in the highest regard. He used to quote the Talmudic proverb: "If the first generations are like angels, we are like people. And if the first generations are like people we are like donkeys". He explained that the meaning is this: if we see them like angels we are people, but if we see them like normal people, then we are like donkeys.

In his books there are references to many of the big rabbis of earlier generations. For example in the book "Mitoch Hatorah Hagoelet" he wrote that the first Rebbe of Chabad, the author of the Tanya, was a "great man" but the Vilna Gaon was even greater.

Students[edit]

The most well known among his students are rabbis Moshe Levinger, Shlomo Aviner, Zvi Thau, Avihu Schwartz, Zalman Melamed, Dov Lior, Zephaniah Drori, Issar Klonsky, Haim Steiner, Yoel Bin-Nun, Eliezer Melamed, David Samson, Moshe Ganz Nachum Romm, Haim Drukman and Yaakov Ariel. Numerous Yeshivas in Israel claim to be following his teachings.

Books[edit]

Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook didn't write any books but he wrote articles and letters which are printed in a book format. Additionally, there are books of his lectures.

Articles books: "Or Lenetivati", "Lenetivot Israel", two volumes.

Letters books: "Tzemach Tzvi", "Dodi Litzvi", and some of his letters printed in the book "Igrot HaRaaya".

Lectures book: "Sichot Harav Tzvi Yehuda" in torah (5 volumes), Mesilat Yesharim, Moadim (festivals) etc. by Rabbi Shlomo Aviner.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Alan Dowty (1997). The Jewish State: A Century Later. University of CaliforniaPress. ISBN 0-520-22911-8. 
  2. ^ David Weisburd (1985). Jewish Settler Violence: Deviance as Social Reaction. Penn State Press. ISBN 0-271-02673-1. 
  3. ^ Encyclopaedia Judaica: Volume 8, p. 145
  4. ^ Samson, David; Tzvi Fishman (1991). Torat Eretz Yisrael. Jerusalem: Torat Eretz Yisrael Publications. 
  5. ^ Judaism and the ethics of war, Norman Solomon. International Review of the Red Cross. Volume 87 Number 858 June 2005

External links[edit]