Monday, July 30, 2007

Hebrew University and Rav Kook

This is the famous painting of the opening of Hebrew University. It shows, among many other people (including the artist, if I remember correctly), Rav AI Kook, the chief rabbi of Palestine. His speech there and the degree to which he supported the university, has been a topic of controversy. Recently, Ari Chwat has been publishing archival material on Rav Kook's attitude towards academic study. In the current issue of Ha-Ma'ayan, he publishes a public relations letter written in Rav Kook's name which begins:

Jews the world over, all good and faithful Jews to whom the honor and glory
and the triumph of their people is dear and in whose hearts the glorious
occurences of recent days find an echo of cheer, surely did experience a thrill
of joy at the dedication of the Hebrew University and the triumphs attending
that event. Our hearts swelled with pride, and our heads were raised high -
perhaps for the first time since the exile - on that day.

He then goes on to explain that the Great World Yeshiva is being built "in the immediate vicinity" of the university. It emerges from the rest of the letter that the university is "a home for secular learning" and the yeshiva is meant to provide "a fitting home for our own lore".