An inspiring visit at the home of Rav Kook

An inspiring visit at the home of Rav Kook

Shavei Israel’s Ma’ani Center event held a special field trip event in spanish for Ora Jalfon’s Machon Miriam students, visiting the Rav Kook House. Also participating were several Spanish-speaking students from Midreshet Lindenbaum and Yeshivat Hakotel. All together there were about 30 participants.

The Rav Kook House in Jerusalem is today a museum and place where numerous tour groups visit as well as yeshivot, schools, midrashot, ulpanot, both Israeli and those from Diaspora communities.

It is the house where Rabbi Abraham Itzhak Hacohen Kook lived (1865 – 1935), from 1921, on the date on which the Chief Rabbinate of Israel was established and Rabbi Kook was appointed the first Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Israel under the British mandate.

Thanks to funds donated by the American philanthropist Harry Fischel, “Beit Harav”, as it is known, was inaugurated in 1923, in the presence of the High Commissioner of Palestine, Herbert Samuel.

A century later, the house remains exactly as it was during the time Rav Kook and his family lived there; the furniture in the same place, nothing has changed, even a sense of holiness that emanates from its walls….

On December 25th Beit Harav received the group from Shavei Israel along with the Lindenbaum and HaKotel students. It was exciting for the students, as well as for me, as I served as a guide for the visit. In a subsequent telephone conversation with some of the visitors, it is striking that everyone was impressed by Rav Kook’s multifaceted personality – rabbi, philosopher, poet, writer, advisor, Kabbalist – and that “being haredi, he was so open to others.”

Visitors had the opportunity to get to see the different spaces, such as the Rav’s private office, the “heder haorhim” or visiting room (where Albert Einstein was actually present on a short visit to the rabbi!)

The showroom as well as the Beit Hamidrash (study room), cradle of what is now the Yeshivá Mercaz Harav, has a chair that was sent especially for the rabbi by King George of England.

Another object imbued with meaning and history, is the tapestry that the founder of the Betzalel Art School, Boris Schatz, gave to Rav Kook.

Finally I wanted to surprise my visitors with the inspiring song “Kanfei Ruah”, which is actually a poem by Rav Kook.

Ben Adam, ale lemaala alé
Son of man, fly high, always fly high, for there is deep strength in you. Eagle wings are in you.
Do not forget them, use them, it will not be that they forget you …
Son of man, fly high, always high… 

I would to thank Chaya Castillo, director of Shavei Israel Spanish department, for her invaluable support in setting up the visit, as well as throughout the entire program.

~Ora Jalfon

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Laura Ben-David
Laura Ben-David
laura@shavei.org