Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Kook: Behind Our Wall

Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Kook: Behind Our Wall

An English translation of an excerpt from an article written by Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook in 1937, this piece describes the Western Wall as a symbol of the eternal nature of the people of Israel and of the Divine Presence in the world. Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook (1891-1982) was a prominent Religious Zionist leader and the son of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook. This excerpt is from an analysis of the piece posted on the website Rav Kook Torah.

“Behind our Wall” by Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook

Secure and invincible with its Divine strength, the Kotel holds its own — throughout the generations of change, transformations and vicissitudes, the horrors and the shocks, which visited the land and its inhabitants. The Kotel is in them and with them.

Even if the disgrace of ruin conceals its beauty, and signs of destruction are displayed prominently over it, and clouds of desolation cast shadows over its radiance; even if it is hidden behind a thicket of dark and squalid alleys, as it is shoved aside in the cruelty of its neighbors, surrounding it from all sides, trying to invade its borders, to suppress and consume its legacy. Nonetheless, like a stone fortress, it stands guard, without moving and without allowing its inner dignity to be sullied. It remains pure and exalted in the strength of its very essence…

For it is a remnant of the holy and precious, of the Divine abode. In the wonderful quality of its very existence, it is a witness to world events and the millennia of human history.

יש לבבות ויש לבבות. יש לבות אדם, ויש לבות אבנים.

There are hearts and there are hearts. There are human hearts, and there are hearts of stone.

ויש אבנים ויש אבנים. יש אבני דומה, ויש אבנים-לבבות.

There are stones and there are stones. There are silent stones, and there are stones which are hearts.

These stones, remnants of our dwelling on high, “retain their holiness even in desolation” (Megillah 3:3), for “the Shekhinah has never left the Western Wall” (Tanhuma Shemot 10)…. These stones are our hearts!

Each of us knows that this wall, for all of its somber simplicity and signs of ruin and exile, is not a “Wailing Wall” for us, as it is called by strangers and foreigners. For us, it is a wealth of life, a hidden treasure of light and strength, guarded and secured by our tears.

The healthy Jewish eye does not see in the Kotel a symbol of our nation’s ruin, destruction and degeneration. On the contrary, we see the wall, in the hidden strength and power of its existence, still standing — even after they fell and when they fell — as it raises itself up and reaches out with Divine strength to eternal redemption.

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