Did Maran, Rabbi Avraham Y. Kook also follow the Kol Hator Approach to the Temple Mount and the Temple? Authored by Shlomo Moshe Scheinman

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The book on which my ideological outlook is based is Kol Hator

gaonpicMy view is based on the book Kol Hator, attributed to one of the students of the Gra (Vilna Gaon). Although there is a dispute as to who really authored the book, Rabbi Yitzchak Shlomo Zilberman z”l told me that he thinks the book was written by a student of the Gra, Rabbi Hillel Rivlin. And I will expand on his words elsewhere.


Another possibility claimed by academics is that the book was written by one of the descendants of Rabbi Hillel Rivlin, Rabbi Yosef (Yosheh) Rivlin, who was involved in the establishment of many Jewish neighborhoods outside the walls of the Old City in Jerusalem, and he also authored a book of poems based on the ideological outlook of Kol Hator.


Maran Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Hacohen Kook, wrote in praise of these poems: “I have read and currently learned so far a few of his poems, their externals are majesty and splendor, genius and rare art, and their internals are a wellspring of wonderful ideas and hints, founded on golden foundations, a wellspring of salvation in the ways of salvation, the building of Jerusalem and the return to Zion. He wrote them with a great holy spirit and put them into practice at the risk of his body and soul, great and deep Torah are the holy poems of Rabbi Yosef, and we need to learn them properly” [cited in the book “Brit Avot Beseraat Eliyahu”, p. 12].


Kol Hator: The Rectification of the Sin of the Spies by the building of Jerusalem

The sin of the spies in the desert in the days of Moshe (Moses) is one of the major general sins that rests upon the nation of Israel for all generations until this day. According to the midrash of our sages the cry for generations was decreed because of the sin of the spies. A cry over the destruction of the Temple, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the desolation of the land. In great measure Israel suffered and suffers in all generations, sufferings and travails of the bitter exile because of the sin of the spies. A major portion of this punishment for the sin was cast in the midst of the days of the act of the sin, namely in the generation of the desert, as explained in the Torah. However, the remainder of the punishment was divided into parts and cast upon all the generations, may the Merciful One protect us.

A great rectification for the sin of the spies can come by the redemption of Jerusalem and its building and by the activities for the ingathering of the exiles. In accordance with the well-known principle, of “this in contrast to this did the L-rd make”.

Now measure for measure is applicable both for liabilities and merits. Fix what you damaged; namely, fix every thing in accordance to its place, its time and according to the activity and the publicity of that activity. Now behold, the sin of the spies that brought the cry for generations in accordance to what our sages expounded on the verse “And they cried on that night” took place on the night of the ninth of (the Hebrew month) Av, the same date (years later) on which the Temple was destroyed.

It turns out that the rectification of the sin of the spies has to be by means of building the Temple and before the building of the Temple, there has to be the building of Jerusalem as explained by our Rabbi in accordance with the verse “Jerusalem shall be built and the Temple Sanctuary shall be founded”, (Yishayahu/Isaiah 44:28) which was said concerning the beginning of the final redemption, similar to the days of Koresh (Cyrus).


Rabbi Avraham Y. Kook
Rabbi Avraham Y. Kook

Did Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook follow the Kol Hator approach regarding the Temple Mount and the Temple?

4 days after the Balfour Declaration, on the 21st of Cheshvan, 5678 Rabbi Kook wrote[1]

In any case, in my humble opinion if it will be the will of Hashem, that we build the Temple even before the arrival of Messiah and the revelation of prophecy and the display of supernatural miracles, what impedes this matter, would not be so hard to overcome. (See the full source in Mishpat Cohain, Teshuva 94b for more details.)


altarIt is brought in the book “Hamikdash Oro Shel Olam” (The Temple is the light of the world) that Rabbi Kook tried to convince the British to allow the renewal of the sacrificial service on the Temple Mount.

The author S. Y. Agnon: Maran Rabbi Kook planned the renewal of the bringing the sacrifices

In the discussion on ‘Prayer in Israel’, which took place at Bar Ilan University, Prof. Dov Sadan (recipient of the Israel Literature Prize 5728 / 1968) described his conversation with the writer S. Y. Agnon regarding the renewal of the sacrificial work and the opinion of Maran Rabbi Kook zt”l on this matter. These are his words[2]


“We must not forget the impact of the assumption of the renewal of sacrifices upon the thinking of the Chibat Zion movement (such as Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Kalisher and Rabbi Eliyahu Guttmacher). And the position of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook, peace be upon him, will prove that not only did he dream all his days about renewing the sacrifices, and he prepared himself for it, but he sought to make it into reality. And I heard from S.Y. Agnon, that two persons hindered him, the one who did not understand the urgency of the matter – is Chaim Weizmann, and the one who understood the urgency of the matter is Ronald Storrs [the British governor of Jerusalem] and the rabbi felt that this was the point of decisive tragedy in his life” (Rabbi Ari Yitzchak Shevat in his article: ‘The sacrifices of the future in the Third Temple according to Rabbi Kook’).

Prof. Weizmann was one of the leaders of the Zionist Organization and had a decisive influence on the organization and the budgets, but he was distant from the Torah and mitzvot, and therefore treated Rabbi Kook zt”l’s initiative in this matter coldly. On the other side stood Ronald Storrs, the British governor of Jerusalem who sided with the Arabs in the conflict with the Jews. Ronald Storrs was accused of having supported behind the scenes the Arab riots against the Jews in the Jewish year 5680, and remained inactive when faced with the murder of Jews in the settlements of the country. Due to his attitude towards the Jews, Rabbi Kook refused to shake his hand in one case, since, as the governor of Jerusalem, he did many things to favor the Arabs for control of the city and the Temple Mount.

Talks with the authorities regarding the possibility of resuming work at the Temple

Despite the above, it is clear from the testimony of S.Y. Agnon that there was a discussion on this matter with both Prof. Weizmann and Ronald Storrs. This is also evident from the obituaries that were given for Maran Rabbi Kook zt”l on the day of his death, the speakers and writers mentioned among their words his plan to begin the sacrificial service. It turns out that this fact was known not only to S.Y. Agnon but also to journalists. This is how it appears in the newspaper ‘Davar’ (4 Elul 5695) – the newspaper of the workers of Eretz Yisrael, where it was written the day after the death and before Rabbi Kook was buried on the Mount of Olives:


“On his return from London to the Land of Israel after the Balfour Declaration… Rabbi Kook thought of renewing the sacrifices on the Temple Mount, and founded a special yeshiva called ‘Torat Kohanim’, to learn the laws of sacrifices. It is said that General Storrs stressed the politics and the risk about this suggestion and Rabbi Kook ceased to press for the idea”.

In other words, the fact that the talks were held in this matter was a well-known fact, but the special circumstances of the time, such as the tension between Jews and Arabs, as well as the existence of a hostile government in Israel, led Maran, Rabbi Avraham Y. Kook zt”l to the decision to wait for another opportunity. Thus, the idea of ​​renewing the commandments connected to the Temple were pushed away to the period when the people of Israel would rule the Temple Mount, (here ends the excerpt from, “Hamikdash Oro Shel Olam”.

According to Rabbi Kook the Commandment to Wage War Sanctioned by the Torah Overrides the Safety of Individuals

of Middle East

One might get the impression from the quote above, that Rabbi Kook believed that ensuring the safety of individuals takes precedence over the mitzvah of conquering the Land of Israel, since the rabbi backed away from the idea of ​​offering sacrifices during tensions with the Arabs and the British leadership. But it is not so. Rabbi Kook stated in his book Chazon HaGeula, page 222, that the war to conquer the Land of Israel at the outset pushes aside the mitzvah to ensure the safety of individuals. This, provided there is a reasonable chance of success in the war. This is what I understood from Rabbi Moshe Zuriel’s commentary on Rabbi Kook’s words[3].

Apparently, according to Rabbi Kook’s judgment, there was no reasonable chance of succeeding in conquering the place of the Temple, after Prof. Weizmann and Ronald Storrs objected.

A second possibility is why Rabbi Kook retreated from political activities for the Temple – based on an interpretation of the Gra to Shir Hashirim (the Song of Songs)

There are two interpretations of the Gra (Vilna Gaon) to Shir HaShirim. According to Commentary A, there is a prohibition of “the three oaths” to go out, on their own accord to build the Temple, until the coming of the Son of David (but not the rest of the Land of Israel). According to Commentary B, it implies that if there are too many tortures on the part of the Gentiles, G-d will cancel the oaths and bring redemption before the designated time.

The Book, “Kol Hator”, implies that the author leaned in the direction of Commentary A of the Gra to Shir Hashirim. However, when there is the consent of England “the Cyrus of the era of Rabbi Kook”, this is not considered going out on their own accord.

Those who understand the Book, “Kol Hator” well, know that the prohibition to go out on their own accord to build the Temple, ended in Jewish Year 5750 (autumn 1989 – autumn 1990)

There is a correspondence between the six days of creation and 6000 years of history from the time of the formation of the first man until the destruction of this world, which will take place according to the Talmud in the seventh millennium as explained in tractate Sanhedrin page 97.

Rabbi Ketina said, “six thousand years is the world and for one it is destroyed, for it was stated: ‘And G-d will be exalted alone on that day’. Abeyei said, two {millennium} it is destroyed for it is stated: ‘And he will bring us alive from the two days and on the third day he will raise us up and we will live before him’. It was taught in a Baraita in accordance to Rabbi Ketina’s view, just as the sabbatical year causes a cessation once in 7 years so too will the world cease {from development} for a thousand years out of seven thousand years for it was stated: ‘And G-d will be exalted alone on that day’. And it states: ‘a song of praise for the day of Sabbath, the day that is entirely Sabbath and it states, for a thousand years in your eyes is as yesterday when it passes by’. The Academy of Eliyahu taught: for 6 thousand years does the world last. Two thousand years is null, two thousand years of Torah and two thousand years – the days of the messiah and in our iniquities that have multiplied, it has been deducted from them what has been deducted.”

Many of our rabbis understood that not just in a general way is there a parallel between the 6 days of creation and the six thousand years of history, but rather there is a perfect parallel.
And this is the preview of the book Kol Hator that was printed in the introduction section at the end of the book Hatekufa Hagdola of Rabbi Menachem Kasher:

The period of the revealed time of the end, which is the period of the beginning of the redemption (Atchalta D’geula) opened and continues from Jewish year 5500. This thing was known to sages based on the principles of the wisdom of the Kabbalah. For there was a tradition in the hands of the sages of Israel that the six thousand years that our world stands in its present fashion is parallel to the six days of creation, each millennium corresponding to its parallel day [in the six days of creation] starting from the first millennium which parallels the first day until the sixth millennium which corresponds to day six of the creation. Now there isn’t a large or small detail in the six thousand years of this world that its principle is not rooted in the six days of creation in a fashion that those of wise intellect that know how to arrange the actions that G-d performed in the six days of creation and comprehend their deeper meaning, knew from the outset all the future things that would come to be in the world, every thing at its proper time and even a small event and this is in accordance to the testimony of the Vilna Gaon in his commentary to Safra Dtsniuta (chapter 5).
Now behold the Vilna Gaon knew that the period of the footsteps of the Messiah, it and all its occurrences that will in the future occur, were created on the sixth day from the first hour of the morning and onwards until the time of the end of the day (evening). Now since during the 12 hours of the night, the Holy One Blessed be He didn’t perform anything, behold the calculation of the 12 hours of daytime, starts from year 5500, that is to say the middle of the millennium. This is the same way as 12 hours are in the middle of a 24-hour period. Therefore our Rabbi the Vilna Gaon, with great wisdom deduced the time of the creation of the footsteps of the messiah by their root in the six days of creation, that is to say from the first hour of the morning of the sixth day. From the emergence of the word he knew that the period of the footsteps of the messiah in an actual way has opened up from the year 500 of the sixth millennium [that is to say in 5500]. And so too will it be understood by this principle, that every hour from the hours of the sixth day brings to light in an actual way the actions that are rooted in it from the time of creation for the period of 41 years and 8 months [comment by me: the intention is 2/3 of a year] for you find if you divide 12 hours of the day into 500 years, the time of their control, is as stated previously. {End of Quote}

One should note that in a general way also the Chatam Sofer [Responsa of the Chatam Sofer Volume 6, Siman 61] as well as the Ohr Hachayim [to Leviticus 6:2] agreed that there is a hint about the development of the redemption by what is described as being created on the sixth day.

And the matter is hinted at, that there is an essential difference between the years before 5750 and the years after that in comment 53 to chapter 1 and in Kol Hator chapter 5, section 1, point 10.

Do we have evidence that Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook shared the Ideological Outlook of Kol Hator?

Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook (son of Rabbi Avraham Kook) considered the book Kol HaTor, as emanating from a student of the Gra and agreed with what was written there. Also a student of Rabbi Kook, Rabbi Charlap was on the committee for the dissemination Kol HaTor to the masses, and also agreed that the book represents the opinion of the students of the Gra who established the Old Settlement (in Israel) with the highest level of sacrifice to promote the redemption of Israel.


At the time, I asked Rabbi Yitzchak Shlomo Zilberman ZT”L and he also agreed that Kol HaTor was written by the student of the Gra, Rabbi Hillel Rivlin. He replied that he thought Rabbi Hillel Rivlin was the author, and he had a political reason to present in the letters a late date for his arrival in Israel[4]. But he added that the view of the academics is that Rabbi Yosef “Yosheh” Rivlin, a descendant of Rabbi Hillel and the builder of the new neighborhoods in Jerusalem with real self-sacrifice, was the author of Kol HaTor, since there are many parallels between his poems and the book Kol HaTor.


I will add to Rabbi Zilberman’s words that Rabbi Yosheh Rivlin even erected the cornerstone of “Nachlat Sheva” on the 20th day of Omer (the 5th of Iyar) and predicted that it would become an important date for the people of Israel[5] (before Israel’s Independence Day was on the horizon).


Historian Aryeh Morgenstern provided evidence that the poems of Rabbi Yosef Rivlin that we have are really the words of the author (something that Rabbi Yossi Avivi recently began to challenge) since there is information in the poems that only a person like Rabbi Yosheh Rivlin could have written[6].


And I found in Rabbi Shimon Cohen’s Hebrew article at https://www.yeshiva.org.il/midrash/32124


The author of the books: “Brit Avot Beseraat Eliyahu” – a book of poems that expresses the principles of redemption according to the Gra and “Megillat Yosef” – a collection of articles. In the obituary delivered by Maran Rabbi Kook for Rabbi Yosheh, he said: “Ever since my youth, when I was still in the diaspora and reading news from the Land of Israel in the press, the excellent articles of Rabbi Yosef Rivlin that he wrote in Hamagid, HaMelitz and HaTziphira and elsewhere, occupied a great place in my heart. Passionate articles full of holy sentiments in favor of the building of Jerusalem and the settlement of the Land of Israel, full of vigorous defense for the honor of Jerusalem, its institutions and its leaders, against all the accusations of those days. Many times I was even moved by his words that cut sacred flames and in a very rich and elegant Torah style” (Midrash Shlomo, Pamphlet of Megillat Yosef, Chapter 2, p. 16). And about his poems he wrote: “I have read and studied a few of his poems for the time being, their externals are majesty and grandeur, genius and rare art, and their internals are a spring of wonderful ideas and hints, founded on gold foundations, a spring of salvation they are in the ways of salvation, the building of Jerusalem and the return to Zion. He wrote them with a great holy spirit and put them into practice at the risk of his body and soul, great and deep Torah are the holy poems of Rabbi Yosef, and we need to learn them properly” (Brit Avot Beseraat Eliyahu p. 12).


I asked Rabbi Moshe Zuriel if he knew if there was an influence of the book, Kol Hator on Rabbi Kook. He replied to me by email, “Rabbi Kook says that when there are sixty myriads (600,000 Jews) in Israel, this is the sign of the redemption. (Ein Aya to Brachot, chapter 9, paragraph 289, page 372) and was brought up briefly in the Siddur Olat Ra’aya regarding the blessing “Chacham Harazim” when they see sixty myriads in Israel.


There is no source for this anywhere in the sages, that this is a sign of redemption. But it is mentioned in Kol Hator. {end of quote}

All that was written above is an excerpt from a much larger Hebrew article available at https://60ribo.org.il/temple-mount/

Post by Shlomo Moshe Scheinman



Responsa, Mishpat Cohain, (matters of the land of Israel) Chapter 94

[2] Pages 32, 33

[3] In comments to one of my articles

[4] https://forum.otzar.org/viewtopic.php?f=51&t=46278&start=160

The author of the book, “Chazon Tziyon” wrote that indeed Rabbi Hillel did ascend to the land of Israel in Jewish year 5570. Then afterward in 5585 travelled to Russia to annul an anti-Jewish decree, and afterwards, moved to the land of Israel with his wife. According to this the Immigration (to Israel) certificate that he and his wife received was indeed in Jewish year 5592. However, at the beginning of the Aliyah movement of the Vilna Gaon’s students to the land of Israel, there were those (like Rabbi Hillel Rivlin) that arrived without government permission and Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin protested against them doing so. And therefore the census by Montefiore by his son, Rabbi Eliyahu, is not a contradiction to the Rivlin tradition.

Now if he had trouble with the law and also opposition from Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin, this can explain why Rabbi Yehosef Schwartz, around the year 5600 and many other witnesses of the 2nd generation from the Aliyah of the disciples of the Gra (Vilna Gaon), verify the version of Rabbi Hillel Rivlin, that he was already in Jerusalem during year 5572, while the first generation was quiet about it.

And here I will quote from the pamphlet, “Bachar Hashem B’tzion” (that I found on the internet) pages 125, 126, further on the subject of Kol Hator.

According to the tradition that was accepted by the Torah Giants of Jerusalem, the Gra (Vilna Gaon) gave specific instruction on the matter of the ingathering of the exiles and the flowering of the land. These matters were preserved by his disciple, Rabbi Hillel Rivlin who merited to dwell before the Gra for the course of 17 years, and to hear from him deep secrets on the matter of the settlement of the land of Israel, that he put into writing in a book that came to be known afterward by the name, Kol Hator.

For about one hundred and fifty years, the manuscript of the book was preserved, and it was studied by the great rabbis of Jerusalem throughout that period.

Afterward the great-grandson of the author, Rabbi Yitzchak Zvi Rivlin (Rabbi of Zichron Moshe) edited the book, and omitted all the sections that are not understandable to those who are not familiar with the Hidden Torah (Jewish Mysticism), and handed it over to his cousin, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Rivlin, and he published it (around the year 5706) an extract from the original book, in a limited edition, and afterwards additional editions have been published.

Since the book was preserved in manuscript for a hundred and fifty years, it was only known among the great men of Jerusalem, and therefore the book was not known to the general public and we do not find it being brought down by the general public, but it was used a lot in Jerusalem.

And on pages 312-314, the author brought the testimony of Rabbi Chaim Shraga Feivel Frank, a member of the religious court and also the rabbi of the “Yemin Moshe” neighborhood: “And to us, the descendants and great-grandchildren of the family were transmitted down to us orally one man to another (a chain of tradition) that our ancestor, the Rabbinic Genius, the Mystic, Rabbi Hillel, let his merit protect us, merited to stand before the Gra ZTvK”L (an acronym that praises a departed Tzaddik) for an extended period, and received from him hidden secrets about the settlement of the Land of Israel, etc., and the main things that he heard from the mouth of the Gra ZTvK”L, Rabbi Hillel put into the book “Kol HaTor”…

He also brought the testimony of the Rabbinic Genius, Rabbi Yishayahu Cheshin, (the head of the teachers in Talmud Torah, Etz Chaim in the previous generation) in favor of Kol Hator.

And so testified the Rabbinic Genius, Rabbi Eliyahu Re’em, Av Beit Din and head of those that slaughter animals in Jerusalem.

And so testified, the Rabbinic Genius, Rabbi Avraham Bardaki, zt”l

And so testified, the Rabbinic Genius, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l: “It was agreed upon by all the Great Rabbis of Jerusalem in the past generations, that the book, “Kol Hator” comes from the Gra (Vilna Gaon), and none of them ever entertained the idea to be skeptical about this” (from trustworthy witnesses that heard this from his mouth).

And so testified, the Rabbinic Genius, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, zt”l:  “We have never heard a challenge or skepticism about the book “Kol HaTor” “. (Same as above).

And on page 316 it is brought:

The Book, “Hamagid Doresh L’Tzion” page 64 brings a section from the letters of Rabbi Moshe Rivlin (he died in Jerusalem in year 5607) “And my master, my father in his writings Kol Hator, the Genius Rabbi Hillel of Shklov, disciple of the Gra (Vilna Gaon) states, etc…” And in section 2, page 113, “Also my father, let his light illuminate in the writings of Kol Hator speaks about this matter”.

[5] In the newspaper called, HaTzofeh, Jewish year 5711, there is testimony from the son of Rabbi Yosheh, Moshe, that his father made a speech at a dedication ceremony on the 5th of Iyar, 5629 at the placement of the foundation of the first house. There he said Yesod, (the Hebrew word for foundation) has a Gematria value of eighty, for now we are building a small foundation … but when eighty years go by, a bigger Yesod (foundation) will be established [Israel’s Independence Day, the 5th of Iyar, 5708 is the 80th 5th of Iyar from 5629.

Afterward I found  on a forum on the topic, that already in year 5704 (four years before the establishment of the state) that Yosef Yoel Rivlin wrote, that the laying of the foundation stone of Rabbi Yosheh was on the 5th day of Iyar, however, the celebration of the event was on a different date.  https://forum.otzar.org/download/file.php?id=77830&sid=367afd3a36f175521498c7fd2f8ac074

[6] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTldGFov7pE&feature=youtu.be

From 22 minutes into the Hebrew video and onward.