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Jewish Commentators — Their Lives and Works

 

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Abraham Isaac HaKohen Kook
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Hebrew Name(s): אברהם יצחק הכהן קוק
Other Names: Abraham Isaac Kook, HaRav, HaRaAYaH, Rav Kook
Period: Acharonim — 19th–20th Century
Location: Latvia, Israel
Dates: 1865–1935

Biography:
Rav Kook was born in Griva, Latvia (at the time a part of Russia) and began his studies in Volozhin Yeshivah. Head of Yeshivah, R. Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin (The Netziv,) later said of Kook, that if the Volozhin Yeshivah had been founded solely to educate Kook it would have been worthwhile.
 
Kook published articles between 1901-1904 which show the beginnings of the development of his philosophical approach. He was a Talmudic scholar who became noted for his interest in people. He is credited with doing much to bring together secular Zionist and halakhic Jews in Israel. He is considered as one of the most important thinkers in mainstream religious Zionism although he was critical of modern-orthodox religious Zionists whom he considered mistaken in attempting to reconcile traditional Judaism with modern secular ideology.
 
He was appointed Ashkenazi Rabbi of Jerusalem and (in 1921) the first Ashkenazi Chief rabbi of Palestine. He founded a yeshivah in Jerusalem, Mercaz HaRav Kook, in 1924. His openness to new ideas drew both religious and non religious people to him.
 
One of Rav Kook's legacies is his influence in building political alliances and opening channels of communication between the various Jewish sectors in Palestine. These included the secular Zionists leadership, Religious Zionists and non-Zionists Orthodox Jews. He was able to find religious significance in the Zionist movement and believed that the return of Jews to the land of Israel was theologically significant and that Zionists were part of the Divine messianic plan.
Kook wrote prolifically. His books encompass both halakhah and Jewish thought and continue to be influential.
 
After his death in 1935, Rav Kook's son, Zvi Yehuda Kook, assumed responsibility at Mercaz HaRav and continued to teach his father's philosophy. In time Rav Kook's writings and philosophy gave rise to the Hardal Religious Zionist movement (Ultra-orthodox Jews who support Religious Zionism. Hardal is an acronym for Haredi Le-umi—Nationalist Haredi.)

Works:
Mishpat Kohen; Daat Kohen; Ezrat Kohen; Orach Mishpat; Sparks of Spirituality; Shabbat Ha'aretz; Musar Avicha (The Moral Principles); Orot (Lights); Orot HaTeshuvah (The Lights of Penitence); Orot HaEmuna (The Lights of Faith); Orot HaKodesh (The Lights of Holiness); Orat HaTorah (The Lights of Torah); Ain Aiyah; Reish Millin; Ma'amarei HaR'Iyah; Midbar Shur; Chavosh Pe'er; Eder HaYakar; Ikvei HaTzon; Be'er Eliyahu; Zivchei R'Iyah; Shmoneh Kvatzim; Arpilei Tohar; Olat Raiyah; Igrot HaRaiyah; Halacha Berurah; Olas Reeiyah Siddur

Comments:
Mishpat Kohen, Daat Kohen and Ezrat Kohen are some of several volumes of Kook's Responsa.
Ain Aiyah is a commentary on Ein Yaakov the Aggadic sections of the Talmud.
Halacha Berurah is a commentary on the Talmud.
Reish Millin is a discussion of the Hebrew alphabet, grammar and punctuation.
Ma'amarei HaR'Iyah - a collection of lectures and essays.
Midbar Shur is a collection of lectures delivered outside the land of Israel.
Chavosh Pe'er —on tefilin.
Shmoneh Kvatzim - also republished as Arpilei Tohar.
Olat Raiyah is a commentary on the Siddur
Igrot HaRaiyah - a collection of letters of Rav Kook.
Arpilei Tohar (aka. Shmoneh Kvatzim.)
 

 

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