By HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir
Eighty-two years have passed since the third of Elul, 5695, when that great lover of Israel, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook, passed away. Rabbi Kook was living fulfillment of the verse, “Say of the righteous man that it shall be well with him, for he shall eat the fruit of his deeds” (Isaiah 3:6). Our whole generation enjoys the fruits of his labors.
Rabbi Kook sets out to teach us how to love Israel precisely “at a time when our people are declining spiritually, when the trampling of what is sacred and the mocking of religion are at their zenith” (Orot 148). He explains that we have to recognize that “love of our fellow Jews results from faith in the divine light of the Jewish People... Moreover, we must gaze upon that inner light that penetrates the whole community, and whose dwelling place is likewise within every individual Jewish soul, openly or hiddenly. It even dwells in the soul that has withdrawn far from the path of G-d” (Orot, Ibid.).
To what may this be compared? To a child deprived of love due to his disturbed behavior. Yet it is precisely this child who needs even more love.
Rabbi Kook not only expounded in an attractive manner, but he behaved that way as well. He worked very hard to increase love between Jews. He would reach out to those far - removed, descend to the level of the people, suffer with their suffering and rejoice in their celebration. He would defend the motives of the entire generation, and atone for them through his prayers and his deeds.
Today, we must follow the path of Rabbi Kook, that high priest among his brothers, so great in his love of the Jewish People. He was a real shepherd for Israel, devoting himself to his flocks and caring and striving for their welfare in every way possible. Likewise, he stood in the breach, praying on their behalf to nullify harsh decrees and to open up for them the gates of blessing.
G-d loves only those who love Israel. The greater a person’s love of his fellow Jew, the more greatness G-d will give him.
Looking forward to complete redemption,