Abraham Isaac Kook

Abraham Isaac Kook

Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935) was the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of the British Mandate for Palestine, the founder of the Religious Zionist Yeshiva Merkaz HaRav, Jewish thinker, Halachist, Kabbalist and a renowned Torah scholar. He is known in Hebrew as הרב אברהם יצחק הכהן קוק "HaRav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook", and by the acronym "HaRaAYaH" or simply as "HaRav." He was one of the most celebrated and influential Rabbis of the 20th century.


Kook was born in Grīva, Latvia (now part of Daugavpils, then a town in Courland Governorate of Imperial Russia) in 1865, the oldest of eight children. His father, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Ha-Cohen Kook, was a student of the Volozhin Yeshiva, the "mother of the Lithuanian yeshivas", whereas his maternal grandfather was a member of the Kapust dynasty of the Hassidic movement.

As a child he gained a reputation of being an "ilui" (prodigy). He entered the Volozhin yeshiva in 1884 at the age of 18, where he became close to the "rosh yeshiva", Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin (the "Netziv"). Although he stayed at the yeshiva for only a year and a half, the Netziv has been quoted as saying that if the Volozhin Yeshiva had been founded just to educate Rav Kook, it would have been worthwhile. During his time in the yeshiva, he studied about 18 hours a day.

In 1886, Kook married Batsheva, the daughter of Rabbi Eliyahu David Rabinowitz-Teomim, (also known as the "Aderet"), the rabbi of Ponevezh (today's Panevėžys, Lithuania) and later Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Jerusalem. In 1887, at the age of 23, Kook entered his first rabbinical position as rabbi of Zaumel, Lithuania. In 1888, his wife died, and his father-in-law convinced him to marry her cousin, Raize-Rivka, the daughter of the Aderet's twin brother. In 1895 Kook became the rabbi of Bausk (now Bauska). Between 1901 and 1904, he published three articles which anticipate the fully-developed philosophy which he developed in the Land of Israel. During these years he wrote a number of works, most published posthumously, most notably a lengthy commentary on the Aggadot of Tractates Berakhot and Shabbat, titled 'Eyn Ayah' and a brief but powerful book on morality and spirituality, titled 'Mussar Avikhah'.

In 1904, Kook moved to Ottoman Palestine to assume the rabbinical post in Jaffa, which also included responsibility for the new mostly secular Zionist agricultural settlements nearby. His influence on people in different walks of life was already noticeable, as he engaged in kiruv ("Jewish outreach"), thereby creating a greater role for Torah and Halakha in the life of the city and the nearby settlements.

The outbreak of the First World War caught Kook in Europe, and he was forced to remain in London and Switzerland for the remainder of the war. In 1916, he became rabbi of the Spitalfields Great Synagogue (Machzike Hadath, "upholders of the law"), an immigrant Orthodox community located in Brick Lane, Whitechapel. While there, he was involved in the activities which led to the Balfour Declaration, 1917. Upon returning, he was appointed the Ashkenazi Rabbi of Jerusalem, and soon after, as first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Palestine in 1921. Kook founded a yeshiva, "Mercaz HaRav Kook" (popularly known as "Mercaz haRav"), in Jerusalem in 1924. He was a master of Halakha in the strictest sense, while at the same time possessing an unusual openness to new ideas. This drew many religious and non­religious people to him, but also led to widespread misunderstanding of his ideas. He wrote prolifically on both Halakha and Jewish thought, and his books and personality continued to influence many even after his death in Jerusalem in 1935.

Kook built bridges of communication and political alliances between the various Jewish sectors, including the secular Jewish Zionist leadership, the Religious Zionists, and more traditional non-Zionist Orthodox Jews. He believed that the modern movement to re-establish a Jewish state in the land of Israel had profound theological significance and that the Zionists were pawns in a heavenly plan to bring about the messianic era. Per this ideology, the youthful, secular and even anti-religious Labor Zionist pioneers "halutzim" were a part of a grand divine scheme whereby the land and people of Israel were finally being redeemed from the 2,000 year exile ("galut") by all manner of Jews who sacrificed themselves for the cause of building up the physical land, as laying the groundwork for the ultimate spiritual messianic redemption of world Jewry. He once commented that the establishment of the Chief Rabbinate was the first step towards the re-establishment of the Sanhedrin.

His empathy towards the anti-religious elements aroused the suspicions of his more traditionalist haredi opponents, particularly that of the traditional rabbinical establishment that had functioned from the time of Turkey's control of greater Palestine, whose paramount leader was Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, Kook's greatest rabbinical rival. Kook once quoted a rabbinic axiom that "one should embrace with the right hand and rebuff with the left". He remarked that he was fully capable of rejecting, but since there were enough rejecters, he was fulfilling the role of embracer. However, Kook was critical of the secularists on certain occasions when they went "too far" in desecrating the Torah, for instance, by not observing the Sabbath or kosher laws. Kook also opposed the secular spirit of the Hatikvah anthem, and penned another anthem with a more religious theme entitled haEmunah.

Kook fathered three children through his two wives: two daughters and a son, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook. His nephew was Hillel Kook.


While Rabbi Kook is exalted as one of the most important thinkers in mainstream Religious Zionism, he was close to what is now called Hardal. Indeed, there are several prominent quotes in which Kook is quite critical of the more modern-orthodox Religious Zionists (Mizrachi), whom he saw as naive and perhaps hypocritical in attempting to synthesize traditional Judaism with a modern and largely secular ideology.Kook never shied away from criticizing his peers, religious and secular, as well as the increasingly cloistered traditionalists living in the Holy Land, whose way of life he characterized as being similarly affected by the negative and abnormal conditions of the Jewish exile, and therefore just as "inauthentic" as that of their Zionist counterparts. Kook was interested in outreach and cooperation between different groups and types of Jews, and saw both the good and bad in each of them. His sympathy for them as fellow Jews and desire for Jewish unity should not be misinterpreted as any inherent endorsement of all their ideas. That said, Kook's willingness to engage in joint-projects (for instance, his participation in the Chief Rabbinate) with the secular Zionist leadership must be seen as differentiating him from many of his traditionalist peers. In terms of practical results, it would not be incorrect to characterize Kook as being a Zionist, believing in the re-establishment of the Jewish people as a nation in their ancestral homeland. Unlike other Zionist leaders, however, Kook's motivations were purely based on Jewish law and Biblical prophecy. His sympathy towards the Zionist movement can be seen as a major stepping-stone to the Religious Zionist movement gaining momentum and legitimacy after his death.

The Israeli moshav Kfar Haroeh, founded in 1933, was named after Kook, "Haroah" being a Hebrew acronym for "HaRav Avraham HaCohen". His son Zvi Yehuda Kook, who was also his most prominent student, took over teaching duties at Mercaz HaRav after his death, and dedicated his life to disseminating his father's philosophy. Kook's writings and philosophy eventually gave birth to the Hardal Religious Zionist movement which is today led by rabbis who studied under Kook's son at Mercaz HaRav.

ee also

*Religious Zionism
*Volozhin Yeshiva

External links

* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7iHIRwpU2o Rav Kook's Biography video]
* [http://www.orot.com Selected Teachings of Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaCohen Kook (and others)] , orot.com
* [http://www.vbm-torah.org/archive/rk1-kook.htm Introduction to the Thought of Rav Kook] , vbm-torah.org
* [http://www.ravkooktorah.org/ Teachings of Rav Kook on Torah, Holidays, and Psalms] , ravkooktorah.org
* [http://www.ou.org/pardes/bios/ravkook.htm Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaCohen Kook] , ou.org
* [http://www.ucalgary.ca/~elsegal/363_Transp/Orthodoxy/Zionism.html#Kook Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935)] , Prof. Eliezer Segal
* [http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/Rav_Kook.html Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook] , jewishvirtuallibrary.org
* [http://www.zionist.org.uk/kook.htm Rav Avraham Itzhak HaCohen Kook (1865–1935)] , zionist.org.uk
* [http://www.mizrachi.org/aboutus/leaders/ravkook.asp Life and Priciples] , mizrachi.org
* [http://www.machonmeir.org.il/english/archive.asp?language=English&cat_id=12 Lectures on Rav Kook's writings] , machonmeir.org.il
* [http://www.ravkooktorah.org/timeline.htm Time-line of Rav Kook's life]
* [http://www.mercaz.org The Yeshiva he founded, today]
* [http://www.orot.com/leshemravkook.html Rav Kook and Rav Shlomo Elyashev zt'l ("Leshem")]
* [http://www.ou.org/pardes/bios/ravkook.htm Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaCohen Kook] , from Ou.org
* [http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/6721/kook.htm Kook Family Tree]
* [http://www.zehut.net/orotisrael_a_a.htm Chapters from Orot] , from zehut.net he icon
* [http://www.radicaltorahthought.com/Bio%20Kook.htm KOOK (Kuk), AVRAHAM YIZHAQ (1865–1935)] , "Encyclopaedia Judaica"



*"Ayin Aiyah", Commentary on "Ayin Yaakov" the Aggadic sections of the Talmud.
*"Igorot HaRaiyah", The Collected Letters of Rav Kook.
*"Olat Raiyah", Commentary on the Siddur.
*"Orot" - translation Bezalel Naor, Jason Aronson 1993. ISBN 1-56821-017-5
*"Orot HaKodesh"
*"Orot ha-teshuvah" - translation Ben-Zion Metzger, Bloch Pub. Co., 1968. ASIN B0006DXU94

Translation and Commentary

*(translation), "Abraham Isaac Kook: The Lights of Penitence, The Moral Principles, Lights of Holiness, Essays, Letters, and Poems", Paulist Press 1978. ISBN 0-8091-2159-X [Includes complete English translations of Orot ha-Teshuva ("The Lights of Penitence"), Musar Avicha ("The Moral Principles"), as well as selected translations from Orot ha-Kodesh ("The Lights of Holiness") and miscellaneous essays, letters, and poems.]
*cite book | authorlink=David Samson|first= David| last=Samson | coauthors=Tzvi Fishman | title=Lights Of Orot| publisher=Torat Eretz Yisrael Publications |location=Jerusalem| year=1996| id=ISBN 965-90114-0-7
*cite book |authorlink=David Samson| first= David| last=Samson | coauthors=Tzvi Fishman | title=War and Peace| publisher=Torat Eretz Yisrael Publications| location=Jerusalem |year=1997| id=ISBN 965-90114-2-3
*cite book | authorlink=David Samson|first= David| last=Samson | coauthors=Tzvi Fishman | title=The Art of T'Shuva | publisher=Beit Orot Publications | location=Jerusalem |year=1999| id=ISBN 965-90114-3-1
*(translation), "The Essential Writings of Abraham Isaac Kook", Ben Yehuda Press 2006 (reprint). ISBN 0-9769862-3-X
*Rabbi Chanan Morrison, "Gold from the Land of Israel: A New Light on the Weekly Torah Portion From the Writings of Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaKohen Kook", Urim Publications 2006. ISBN 965-7108-92-6


*"The Philosophy of Rabbi Kook", Zvi Yaron, Eliner Library, 1992.
*"Essays on the Thought and Philosophy of Rabbi Kook", ed. Ezra Gellman, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1991. ISBN 0-8386-3452-4
*"The World of Rav Kook's Thought", Shalom Carmy, Avi-Chai Publishers, 1991. ISBN 0-9623723-2-3
*"Rav Avraham Itzhak HaCohen Kook: Between Rationalism and Mysticism", Benjamin Ish-Shalom, translation Ora Wiskind Elper, SUNY Press, 1993. ISBN 0-7914-1369-1


*Simcha Raz, "Angel Among Men: Impressions from the Life of Rav Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook Zt""L", translated (from Hebrew) Moshe D. Lichtman, Urim Publications 2003. ISBN-10: 9657108535 ISBN-13: 978-9657108536
*Yehudah Mirsky, "An Intellectual and Spiritual Biography of Rabbi Avraham Yitzhaq Ha-Cohen Kook from 1865 to 1904," Ph.D. Dissertation, Harvard University, 2007.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Abraham Isaac Kook — en 1924 Abraham Isaac Kook, né à Grīva, aujourd hui en Lettonie, le 8 septembre 1865, et mort à Jérusalem le 1er septembre 1935, est un rabbin connu po …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Abraham Isaac Kook — Abraham Isaac Kook. Abraham Isaac Kook (1865, Grīva, hoy día en Letonia 1935) emigró a Palestina en 1904. En 1921, se convierte en el primer gran rabino Askenazí del Hogar Nacional Judío en el Mandato Británico de Palestina, cargo que se acababa …   Wikipedia Español

  • Abraham Isaac Kook — Kook am 15. April 1915 Großrabbiner Abraham Isaak Kook (Kuck) (* 8. September 1865 im lettischen Grīva; † 1. September 1935 in Jerusalem), hebräisch ‏הרב אברהם יצחק הכהן קוק‎, HaRav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook, auch unter dem Akronym …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • KOOK (Kuk), ABRAHAM ISAAC — (1865–1935), rabbinical authority and thinker; first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of modern Ereẓ Israel. Born in Greiva (now Griva), Latvia, Kook received the type of Jewish education that was customary in 19th century Eastern Europe. At a very early… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • KOOK, ẒEVI JUDAH BEN ABRAHAM ISAAC HA-KOHEN — (1891–1982), Israeli rosh yeshivah. Born in Zimel, Kovno region, Ẓevi Judah was the only son of …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Kook, Abraham Isaac — ▪ chief rabbi of Palestine born 1865, Greiva, Courland, Latvia died Sept. 1, 1935, Jerusalem       Jewish mystic, fervent Zionist, and first chief rabbi of Palestine under the League of Nations mandate to Great Britain to administer Palestine.… …   Universalium

  • Kook (Kuk), Abraham Isaac — (1865–1935)    Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Palestine. Kook was the first legally recognized Ashkenazi chief rabbi of the Land of Israel and is remembered as one of the greatest. His Zionist views aroused opposition among Orthodox colleagues when he… …   Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament

  • Kook — may refer to:A Yiddish surname meaning look * Abraham Isaac Kook, Chief Rabbi in the British Mandate of Palestine, considered to be Israel s first Chief Rabbi. * Zvi Yehuda Kook, son of the above, prominent Religious Zionist rabbi. * Hillel Kook …   Wikipedia

  • KOOK, SAUL ḤONE BEN SOLOMON ZALMAN — (1879–1955), Israeli Hebrew writer and scholar. Kook, who was born in Grajewe (Poland), was a younger brother of Rabbi Abraham Isaac kook . He studied in yeshivot and with his brother, whom he followed, settled first in Jaffa in 1904, and later… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Kook — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Kook peut faire référence à : un nom yiddish signifiant « regarder », porté par : Abraham Isaac Kook, grand rabbin de la Palestine… …   Wikipédia en Français

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