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What I learned from Rabbi Simcha Kook

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Today one year ago Rabbi Simcha Kook passed away. On that same day my husband Yedidya and I decided to gather stories for a book about him. Two of these stories have had a significant influence on my life:
The first concerns his reaction to tragedy. Last week a resident of Rehovot -- where Rabbi Kook was the municipal rabbi for fifty years -- was killed in a rocket attack. Several people wrote me that "Rabbi Kook would simply cry for several long minutes upon hearing such news." We are quick to give advice regarding the security situation, to express our opinion, but throughout the years, following news of a death suffered in war or from a terrorist attack, Rabbi Kook would simply cry. The tears would flow as if it were a member of his own family. But why say "as if?" He felt that every Jew was in fact a relative of his.
The second story Yedidya and I call "Rabbi Simcha's Way." We noticed that in every visit and meeting with other people, before he would teach, he would compliment and validate those who were present. He would tell them how wonderful and important they were. He would recognize the special mission of each group that came to hear his guidance and wisdom.. His audience could have been new immigrants, soldiers, teachers, bus drivers, or custodians. His affirmation of them was not expressed in an artificial way since he truly believed everything he said. He sincerely honored every individual, no matter their station in life. We would all do well to adopt his attitude toward others every now and then.
These are just two stories about this giant of a man. In his memory.


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