Rabbi Kook and the Modernization of Judaism
I am thrilled that Dr. Pinchas Polonsky’s work, focused on Rav Kook’s religious Zionist vision within the context it was cultivated, is now out in Hebrew. With the earlier English edition, the work will reach Israeli readers and a wide world audience. The idea for the Hebrew edition was triggered and then supported by Professor Yaakov Neeman, who having read the English version, suggested that the book should be available in Hebrew.
This book opened for me an entirely new perspective. Having become cognizant of some of the work of the Babylonian Academies at Sura and Pumbeditha, and the Gaonim who led them, through a long friendship with Dayan Michael Fisher z”l of London, a student at the Mir yeshiva and at the feet of the Chofetz Chaim, – I was struck by Rav Kook, a scion of chasidic and litvak families, relying on the rationalist doctrine of Rav Saadia Gaon set in his Emunot Ve-Deot, to solve complex problems of that generation. Dr. Polonsky’s book thus creates a bridge connecting a great Ashkenazi Rabbinic Authority with a pinnacle of Jewish thought in Saadia Gaon.
“Nikkui L’tzedek Chevrati” Foundation was established to undertake this translation to help build the framework for advancing an unbroken chain of the rational school thinking in Judaism, which goes back to Moshe Rabbenu and the 70 Elders. As its name implies, “Nikkui L’tzedek Chevrati” aims to seek out then challenge corruption, a drain on the resources that ought to be available to the needy and the poor in Jewish society. It intends to canvass leading Jewish thinkers as to the desirability, viability and likely support for establishing a Beit Midrash Leumi, as a think tank along the lines of a mini-Pumbeditha to research then publish areas of contemporary difficulties that grew out of our dispersion in Diaspora rather than out of Moshe Rabbenu’s original legacy from Sinai.
I am indebted to many for their support and encouragement. We can do no more than our best to work for Tikkun Olam in the hope to see Mamlechet Kohanim in our days.
“Nikkui L’tzedek Chevrati”