Positive insights and ideas: A review of Silver from the Land of Israel

By Douglas Wertheimer

Another relevant book in this field is Chanan Morrison’s wonderful gift, “Silver from the Land of Israel: A new light on the Sabbath and Holidays from the writings of Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaKohen Kook” (Urim, 2010, 269pp., $27.95).

The writings of Rav Kook (1865-1935), the first Chief Rabbi of pre-State Israel, with their allusive mix of chassidic and Talmudic learning, are impenetrable to many readers. That is why Rabbi Morrison authored this book, whose goal is to summarize Rav Kook’s views on these topics, interspersed with excerpts from his writings.

It is a companion volume to the author’s Gold from the Land of Israel (2007), on Rav Kook’s comments on the Torah readings.

Talk about uplifting. When it comes to the Jews and the Jewish people, it’s hard to imagine anyone more upbeat than Rav Kook.

He lived at a time when, and in the place where, mainly secular Jews were building up the Land of Israel. And yet, as Chief Rabbi, he did not denigrate them or their accomplishments. In fact, he fended off its critics from the religious world, noting that living in the Land of Israel was a critical act, in-and-of itself.

“There is no need to check the level of kashrut of those who come” to what was then Palestine, he wrote, for “one may find in every Jew, even the most unworthy, precious gems of good deeds and positive traits. Certainly the land of Israel helps elevate and sanctify them. And if this is not evident in them, it will become so in their descendants.”

Moreover, although Rav Kook died well before the founding of the modern state, he believed (as Rabbi Morrison notes in the chapter on “The Sanctity of Yom Ha’atzmaut”) that “the dawn of redemption (at’chalta de’geulah) — which is a process that advances in stages” — is upon us.

From The Chicago Jewish Star.

The original article may be found in the Booknotes section of The Chicago Jewish Star  vol. XX  published on Oct. 29, 2010.

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