Can the Rav share with us his opinion regarding Rav Kook?
Rav Kook was certainly a frum Jew – only here we come to the mixing of the boundaries.
The boundaries were overstepped. Rav Kook made a very big mistake because he prepared the way for the worse ones to come. Now, it took some time before the worst ones appeared on the scene, but the worst ones couldn’t have come if the good one hadn’t prepared the way.
In those days there was no opportunity for the Va’ad Le’umi – that’s the National Council – to gain any control over religious affairs, because they were irreligious Jews. But money they had. So they were able to organize a religious council. But they needed some authority that would sanction – that would give them an entrance into Jewish religious affairs. Rabbi Kook, and I’m going to tell you now, maybe it was never published before but I heard it firsthand from the last Telzer Rav z”l – that’s the older brother of Rav Elya Meir z”l, and this happened in Lithuania. He told the following to us. He said that Rav Kook was a poetic soul, a man who became interested and excited over ideals. But he wasn’t always practical. He didn’t understand things in a practical way and therefore he undertook a new plan of action whereby he hoped that through his idealism, he would lead the pious Jews into the camp of the irreligious and they would occupy all the places. But the end was that the irreligious took his prestige and used it to occupy all the places in the Orthodox camp and that’s why today we have an entirely different picture. Eretz Yisroel up till a certain time was all Orthodox and the irreligious were all outsiders. They were pounding on the gates with bags full of money but they couldn’t get in. Rav Kook, in his innocence, in his temimus, he opened up the door for them. At first it wasn’t a flood – because who came after him? Rav Herzog was also an erlicher yid and a talmid chochom. And even Rav Unterman was an old- time Rav. But little by little – it’s like the old Rav Zonnenfeld said – the first Chief Rabbi will be a Kohen. That was Rav Kook. The second, a Levi, Rav Herzog. And the third, a Yisroel. The fourth – I don’t know what he’s going to be. And so I want to be very careful with the kavod of Rav Kook because there’s no question – and even Rav Herzog was an erlicher yid. But there’s no question also that these people made an error because all the gedolei yisroel disapproved – the vast majority – of this step. And what they did was to open the doors.