||Transcript of a moving appeal for charity and funds for the rebuilding of Erez Israel, beginning with the words of our sages that if one hearkens to the old you will hear the new. It is essential that it be constantly be a light for our way, not specifically for learning Torah and casuistry, but for everything that is done in rebuilding Erez Israel. In the talk he references his personal experiences in London and movingly calls assisting the rebuilding of the Jewish homeland. The last three pages are in Yiddish. The descriptive entry in the Bet Eked Sefarim is incorrect, stating that this is in opposition to women voting.
R. Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935) was born in Griva, Latvia in 1865. His father was a student of the Volozhin Yeshiva, the center of mitnagdut, whereas his maternal grandfather was a member of the Hassidic movement. He entered the Volozhin Yeshiva in 1884, where he became close to the Rosh HaYeshiva, Rav Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin (the Netziv). Already in his youth, he was well known as a prodigy. At the age of 23, he entered his first rabbinical position. Between 1901 and 1904 he published three articles which anticipate the fullydeveloped philosophy which he developed in the Land of Israel.
In 1904, he came to the Land of Israel to assume the rabbinical post in Jaffa, which also included responsibility for the new secular Zionist agricultural settlements nearby. His influence on people in different walks of life was already noticeable, as he attempted to introduce Torah and Halakha into the life of the city and the settlements. The outbreak of the First World War caught him in Europe, and he was forced to remain in London and Switzerland for the remainder of the war. While there, he was involved in the activities which led to the Balfour Declaration. Upon returning, he was appointed the Rav of Jerusalem, and soon after, as first Chief Rabbi of Israel (though the state had not yet been been born). Rav Kook was a man of Halakha in the strictest sense, while at the same time possessing an unusual openness to new ideas. This drew many religious and nonreligious people to him, but also led to widespread misunderstanding of his ideas. He wrote prolifically on both Halakha and Jewish Thought, and his books and personality continued to influence many even after his death in Jerusalem in 1935.
In accordance with his harmonistic view of man and of the world, Kook refused to see a sharp dichotomy between the sacred and the profane, maintaining that all that was essential to human life was potentially sacred. All the advances that men achieved in science were part of the intellectual growth of mankind, and if these advances appeared to undermine religion, this was no reason to suspect their intrinsic value. What was wrong, R. Kook argued, was not the progress of science but the fact that religious thinking did not progress intellectually at an equal rate. His authority and influence continue to this day. R. Kook was a prolific writer, who, according to his students, wrote out of the constant urge to create. He never attempted to construct a comprehensive system, and his style mirrors the quality of his personal insights and mystical reflections.