Rabbi Abraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook (1865-1935) is, without doubt, one of the most celebrated rabbis of the twentieth century. He is known to most people, however, only as the founder of Religious Zionism. We frequently overlook the fact that the foundations of his teachings reflect a deep modernization of the Jewish faith itself and of its approach to an array of contemporary problems. The legacy of Rav Kook is not only Religious Zionism, that is, a religious understanding of the State of Israel, but a general modernization of Judaism. Specifically, Rav Kook dealt with Judaism’s development in history, its integration with the modern world, and its understanding of scientific and societal advancements as a continual Divine Revelation. Rav Kook’s teachings are relevant to all sectors of society, including the religious and the secular, Torah scholars and academics, and to people of all professions.
Rabbinic acclaim of “Religious Zionism of Rav Kook” by Pinchas Polonsky (translated from Hebrew)
- Rabbi Yitzhak Shilat, Birkat Moshe Yeshiva
- Rabbi Yakov Halevi Filber, Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva
- Dr. Yair Barkai, Lifshitz College
- Yair Dreyfus, Siah Yitzhak Yeshiva
- Rabbi Uri Sherki, Machon Meir Center
Upon reading of your pamphlet “Religious Zionism of Rav Kook”, I would like to express my admiration for your writing style. Your creative interpretation is truly a refreshing piece of work. You succeeded in an endeavor in which many before you have failed, namely, to use lucid, simple (in the deepest sense of the word) language to translate Rav Abraham Yitzhak Kook’s profound philosophy in a way that accurately reflects the events that take place in reality. You were able to subtly present the reader with important concepts from Jewish mysticism that lie at the very foundation of Rav Kook’s thought, and tie them in with today’s ideological and social reality.
This pamphlet is small in quantity but great in quality, and I think it can speak to the hearts of many. For the most part, it will be of interest to open-minded, intelligent people for whom mentioning concepts such as “development of Judaism” will not deter them from delving into, and contemplating, the text.
Even I, who has somewhat been involved with the Rav’s works for many years, have gained from reading the pamphlet. I wish you much luck in your effort to spread your ideas and thereby influence the public.
Rabbi Yitzhak Shilat, Birkat Moshe Yeshiva
Leading scholar of philosophy and teachings of Rav Abraham Isaac Kook and Maimonides, senior faculty member at the Birkat Moshe Yeshiva in Maale Adumim.
Among the abundant literature about the immeasurable teachings of Rav Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook, the works of the greatest significance are those which make Rav Kook’s philosophy accessible to the common reader.
R. Pinchas Polonsky’s work “Religious Zionism of Rav Kook” is one of a kind, because not only does it bring Rav Kook’s ideas closer to the general public, but also explains how Rav Kook’s philosophy can help solve some of the issues in contemporary Israeli society—he does so intelligently and uses clear explanations suitable for everyone while remaining loyal to Jewish tradition. May he be blessed for this endeavor.
Rabbi Yakov Halevi Filber, Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva
Senior faculty member at the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva, foremost student of Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, leading disciple of Rav Abraham Isaac Kook, scholar and publisher of Rabbi Kook’s unpublished work.
25 Kislev 5774
Nov 28, 2013
I found the pamphlet “Religious Zionism of Rav Kook” to be of great interest, and I believe it should be made accessible to our BA and MA students in the Jewish Philosophy Department. Maybe it would even be a good idea to create a course encompassing the main ideas of the article.
The ideas are significant because they attempt to understand the holy texts from a modern perspective, and thus instill the concept of “The Living Torah” within our students.
I especially enjoyed reading the third chapter that deals with halacha (Jewish law) and mussar (Jewish ethics) in contemporary Jewish life. (It would also be suitable for the “Jewish People in our Times” course taught at our college.)
Thank you very much!
Dr. Yair Barkai, Lifshitz College
Headmaster of The Lifshitz Religious Academic College for Education in Jerusalem.
Pinchas Polonsky’s pamphlet “Religious Zionism of Rav Kook” is small in quantity but great in quality. I was lucky to study Rav Kook’s philosophy with Pinchas along with other friends on many Friday nights. The book can open a window to Rav Kook’s world for the many who have not yet experienced the Light of the Light-Seer.
May you have continued success in Torah!
Rabbi Yair Dreyfus, Rosh of the Siah YitzhakYeshiva
Leading scholar of philosophy and teachings of Rav Abraham Isaac Kook, author of books and articles on Rav Kook, founder and head of the Siach Yitzchak Yeshiva in Gush Etzion.
I was delighted with your superb work about the development of Judaism according to Rav Kook’s philosophy. Your pamphlet spreads before the reader a dimension of novelty in Rav Kook’s school of thought, not as an apologetics of religion and not as hesitant humanistic open-mindedness, but as a complete and conscious plan meant to lend impetus to a radical change in the human vision of various cultures. You were able to emphasize the demanding sides of his teachings that do not leave any sector of the society in peace, not even the Religious Zionists. You did all this in an unbiased fashion, emanating from an authentic search for truth and a love for the Jewish People and mankind, and above all, a love of God that surges in your soul. This love elevates you to the rank of idealists, those who know how to build a new world by altering the transient world order. Your words are worthy for reflection by anyone who desires good and uprightness.
Rabbi Uri Sherki, Machon Meir Center
Chairman of Brit Olam Noahide World Center, a senior lecturer at Machon Meir Center for Jewish Studies, one of intellectual leaders of a movement for modernization of Judaism in Israel, and an author of numerous works on Jewish thought and philosophy.