Date and Place: 3 Marcheshvan 5667 (1906), Yafo
Recipient: Rav Yehuda Leib Felman, an uncle of Rav Kook
Body: [Rav Kook has developed the thesis that Yerushalayim is holier and deserves greater regard than any other city. We complete that idea and then return to practical considerations in tensions between Chabad Kollel heads that threatened to cause financial hardships to residents of Yerushalayim.]
There is no need to write at length about the importance of Yerushalayim, which Hashem called “the city I have chosen” (Melachim I, 11:32,36). Tikkunei Zohar also views the pasuk “Your neck is like an ivory tower” (Shir Hashirim 7:5) along the lines of “Your neck is like the Tower of David” (ibid. 4:4). The jewels (on the neck) are kohanim, levi’imand yisraelim. So we see that Yerushalayim is the place of vitality, and kohanim, levi’im and yisraelim adorn the sanctity. Whoever adds on to the “jewelry” of sanctity is praiseworthy. Although the sources refer to Yerushalayim’s spiritual side, the physical side is interconnected, as we saw above regarding the me’arat hamachepela.
Certainly, it is proper to pursue peace with all one’s strength, so that the dispute does not hinder the expansion of the building of Yerushalayim. This idea (of protecting Yerushalayim) is found in the gemara (Zevachim 113a): Bones were found in an office in Yerushalayim, and there was thought of declaring a state of impurity in the city, but Rabbi Yehoshua said that it would be a disgrace to declare impurity in the city of our forefathers.
Thank G-d, there is not a city in the entire world that possesses as much Torah, service of Hashem, righteous and pious people, great Torah scholars, and those who are active in mitzvot, as Yerushalayim, the Holy City, may it be rebuilt. Thank G-d, our eyes see how it continually develops from week to week. Our brethren from around the world flock to it, and those who love the city with all their hearts and souls are building new buildings in it.
The first moral blemish, which caused the division of the Davidic dynasty and ultimately all of the exiles and national collapse, was the degradation of Yerushalayim (see Sanhedrin 102a). It is also forbidden, according to the laws of the Torah and the principles of good faith, to exclude from leadership one who has had a leadership position.
Therefore, I advised the one who asked me to compromise whereby new board members will be added. They can add whoever the Lubavitcher Rebbe (Rav Shalom Dovber Schneersohn) desires as well, and it is best if letters are written with the addresses of three men rather than having dispute in Israel. The Prushim Kollel already uses two names, so what is wrong with three. All of this is worthwhile to avoid diminishing Yerushalayim’s honor an iota. I think that all true G-d-fearing chasidim, whether those connected to the Bobruisk, Ladi, or Lubavitch branches of Chabad, should request a triple letterhead, to avoid division in the Kollel, and enable their good offices to continue providing for the people of Yerushalayim. Undoubtedly, good, honest, peace-loving men can nip the dispute in the bud.
This is important because Torah scholars are apparently already suffering from the pain of dispute. I know of one outstanding scholar in serious financial need who has not received a distribution payment because of the confusion in the Kollel due to the dispute. Since there must be many others like him, it is an immeasurable mitzva to get involved and bring peace, so that each leader will change his stand to return peace and the honor of Yerushalayim to its place. This way, no poor person should remain needy among those who serve Hashem truly with the sanctity of the Desired Land, due to a quarrel between his group’s leaders.
I have written at greater length than usual because of the honor of Yerushalayim and the love of peace. May Hashem bestow His blessing upon us …