Talmidim in Rambam Mesivta had the special privilege of hearing divrei Torah from Rav Simcha HaKohen Kook this week. Rav Kook, who serves as the Chief Rabbi of Rechovot, davened Shacharis with the talmidim and spoke afterward about the special mission they all have. He recounted the leadership qualities of Kalev ben Yefuneh, who stood up to the crowd against the overwhelming tide of the other meraglim. He single-handedly captured Yericho and vanquished the mighty warriors that sought to defend that city. Rav Kook explained that Kalev’s success was tied to his commitment to Torah and his faith in HaKadosh Baruch Hu. “The Torah teaches us, ‘Baruch ha’gever asher yivtach b’Hashem, v’haya Hashem mivtacho,’ when we put our trust in Hashem, we merit that Hashem will come to our aid,” said Rav Kook.
Rav Kook explained the critical role that Torah plays in uniting the Jewish community: “Without Torah there is no Jewish people.” He said that it is the responsibility of all of Klal Yisrael to study Torah and gain knowledge of halachah whether or not someone becomes a rabbi or teacher. “The Torah is what sustains us.”
As the Chief Rabbi of Rechovot, Rav Kook has become world-renowned for the inspiration he provides to the people of the city. Rechovot, the home of the world-famous Weizmann Institute, had many anti-religious residents until they met Rav Kook. He was successful in establishing a yeshiva in memory of his brother who was tragically killed in a car accident. The yeshiva, which started with just 20 talmidim, today has hundreds who come every day to learn. Additionally, he established high schools and elementary schools which currently educate approximately 1,000 students a year. He is renowned for building bridges with the secular community and is greatly respected even by those who do not agree with his religious outlook. His house is open to the entire community on Sukkot and police officers and firemen are frequent guests. Those who come in contact with him find themselves inspired and oftentimes renew their commitment to their Torah heritage. Rav Kook is able to accomplish all that he does because of his non-judgmental, loving approach of all of Klal Yisrael. Rather than lecture, he inspires.
The boys in Rambam Mesivta got a flavor of Rav Kook this week and await his return visit next year, at which time he said he would daven Shacharis with this Sephardic minyan so that he can join them in Birkas Kohanim!