Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Third of Elul


Tonight is the third day of the month of Elul, marking the seventieth yahrzeit of one of the most remarkable,enigmatic, and elusive personalities ever produced by the Jewish people. I am, of course, referring to R. Abraham Isaac HaKohen Kook. Here in Israel, in Religious Zionist circles, he is known simply as the 'Rav,' the rabbi. Indeed, his thought (interestingly, less his Halakha) has been the almost exclusive source of interpretation and orientation for the Religious Zionist public, at least since the Six Day War. That same philosophy of imminent redemption is the one that has been at the center of the crisis of Religious Zionism that started with Oslo and reached a watershed with the retreat from Gush Qatif. His seventieth yahrzeit presents an opportunity to reexamine his teachings, to see if his interpreters really conveyed his message and (as a healthy move) to break the stranglehold that Kookian Orthodoxy (which, I believe, is an oxymoron) has on that community.

That, however, is not why the third of Elul resonates for me.

Thirty five years ago, another Abraham, Abraham Irving Woolf (Avraham Yisrael b. Yosef Reuven) passed away suddenly from an embolism at the age of forty nine. He left a stunned widow and three sons, aged 15, 13 and 10.

He was my father.

Thirty five years is a considerable amount of time, and yet despite that, I find that it's still difficult to speak of him. Nevertheless, as time has passed I’ve come to realize that part of the responsibility of teaching one’s children (and by extension, one’s students) requires not only the imparting of information but vivifying people whose lives should be remembered. That responsibility is especially true of children, now parents, who want to teach their own children. We are obligated to make our parents’ lives come alive for them, especially if our parents did not live to see them.

My father was a hard working and totally devoted husband and father. He passionately loved my mother and us. His business kept him working all kinds of odd hours. However, there were very clear red lines. Wednesday was always his day off, to be with us. Though we weren’t Orthodox, he was always home on Friday Night, and we always went to shul together on Shabbos morning. Business be damned, we were more important.

He wasn’t very expressive verbally. He expressed his love through action. He didn’t tell us very often (if, at all) that he loved us. He showed it. When we were cub scouts, he was the packmaster. When we became boy scouts, he joined the troop committee (and he really was not the camping type. He hated the army in WWII). When we joined little league, he became the team manager. He was there. I never appreciated what that demanded, until I had to pull acrobatics to be places that my children needed me to be (and I, with all the flexibility of a rabbinic/academic schedule, have succeded as much as he did.) It requires a special type of eloquence to speak through silence, through a warm hand on a head, through one’s shy, but strong, presence. He had that.

Thirty five years later, I still feel it. And its absence.

תהי נשמתו צרורה בצרור החיים

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

a very moving elegy.

1. in all of jewish history you find ayk so special?
perhaps he was something of a maverick in his breadth and novelty, but there were an astounding number of original and broad-thinking jews.
2. i question if all his positions were in fact "proper" or suitable; or i should probably say the way they have been interpreted, spun, and used.
3. i dont understand. why is kookian orthodoxy an oxymoron?
4. and we must respect kookian orthodoxy as the one brand of rz that spread torah throughout eretz yisrael.

daat y said...

very prsonal and moving eulogy of your dad a"h.especially the way you emulate what you loved about him.

Tzemach Atlas said...

My father also died young. My father also expressed himself through actions rather than words. You don't know when you have it and it hits you like a hammer when you miss it.

Rabbi Shaul Marshall Praver said...

Israel must be wiped off the map.”
“Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation’s fury.”

“Is it possible for us to witness a world without America and Zionism?
This goal [is] attainable, and surely can be achieved.”
                                                                                     Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran.  October 2005




Dangerous Words need clear actions

By Rabbi Shaul Marshall Praver

Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to accomplish two things by calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map."
He wants to demonstrate to Muslims worldwide that America and the West lack the resolve to stop him.
He also wants Israel to be dissuaded from conducting a preemptive strike on his nuclear facility.
While he well understood there would be world condemnation of his statements, his intent in making them was to demonstrate to the Muslim world that, while America and the West would respond with harsh words of condemnation, there would be no actual consequences to Iran.

President Ahmadinejad is also playing a head game with Israel. He wants Israel to think the following scenario:
Iran actually wants Israel to conduct a preemptive strike because the place of Iran's Nuclear weapons program will be, in the aftermath of the strike, NO WHERE to be found; which would better enable Ahmadinejad to establish world perception of Israel as the bully of the region, not Iran. If this occurred, Ahmadinejad would be better positioned to justify why Iran needs Nuclear weapons; i.e. to protect itself from a regional hostile nuclear power; Israel!

And whereas, if Israel thinks like this, they will lose their resolve to conduct the very preemptive strike Ahmadinejad desperately wants Israel to forgo. Ahmadinajab knows that Israel can do it. As such, Ahmadinejad is trying to "confuse the Satan." Moreover, hidden in the strength of Ahmadinajab's statement is Ahmadinajab's desperation. For example, he threatens the wrath of the Islamic brotherhood upon Islamic countries that recognize Israel, precisely because Islamic countries, increasingly, are recognizing Israel.

In response, Israel has to simply be confident in what Israeli intelligence knows, and have the resolve to conduct a pin point strike if and when necessary. Israel must keep her spirit simple, clear and calm and so must the United States. We don't need mere condemnations, we need actions! It's no longer time for giving Iran "one last chance" or a "scolding." It is time to implement sanctions against the Mullah lead government, terminate Iran from the United Nations and terminate Iran's Nuclear "Energy program" forthright.

It would be best if America and the West acted accordingly with clear resolve such that Israel be spared the necessity of conducting a preemptive strike. The military option must be the very last resort. We must keep our spirit calm, we must pursue justice and we dare not be afraid.

In conclusion, producing condemnations without actions would be walking right into Ahmadinejad's trap.

"Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit,"

(Zechariah 4:6)


Rabbi Shaul Marshall Praver
Founder and host of Rabbi Rock TV Enterprises

Rabbi Shaul Marshall Praver said...

Israel must be wiped off the map.”
“Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation’s fury.”

“Is it possible for us to witness a world without America and Zionism?
This goal [is] attainable, and surely can be achieved.”
                                                                                     Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran.  October 2005




Dangerous Words need clear actions

By Rabbi Shaul Marshall Praver

Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to accomplish two things by calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map."
He wants to demonstrate to Muslims worldwide that America and the West lack the resolve to stop him.
He also wants Israel to be dissuaded from conducting a preemptive strike on his nuclear facility.
While he well understood there would be world condemnation of his statements, his intent in making them was to demonstrate to the Muslim world that, while America and the West would respond with harsh words of condemnation, there would be no actual consequences to Iran.

President Ahmadinejad is also playing a head game with Israel. He wants Israel to think the following scenario:
Iran actually wants Israel to conduct a preemptive strike because the place of Iran's Nuclear weapons program will be, in the aftermath of the strike, NO WHERE to be found; which would better enable Ahmadinejad to establish world perception of Israel as the bully of the region, not Iran. If this occurred, Ahmadinejad would be better positioned to justify why Iran needs Nuclear weapons; i.e. to protect itself from a regional hostile nuclear power; Israel!

And whereas, if Israel thinks like this, they will lose their resolve to conduct the very preemptive strike Ahmadinejad desperately wants Israel to forgo. Ahmadinajab knows that Israel can do it. As such, Ahmadinejad is trying to "confuse the Satan." Moreover, hidden in the strength of Ahmadinajab's statement is Ahmadinajab's desperation. For example, he threatens the wrath of the Islamic brotherhood upon Islamic countries that recognize Israel, precisely because Islamic countries, increasingly, are recognizing Israel.

In response, Israel has to simply be confident in what Israeli intelligence knows, and have the resolve to conduct a pin point strike if and when necessary. Israel must keep her spirit simple, clear and calm and so must the United States. We don't need mere condemnations, we need actions! It's no longer time for giving Iran "one last chance" or a "scolding." It is time to implement sanctions against the Mullah lead government, terminate Iran from the United Nations and terminate Iran's Nuclear "Energy program" forthright.

It would be best if America and the West acted accordingly with clear resolve such that Israel be spared the necessity of conducting a preemptive strike. The military option must be the very last resort. We must keep our spirit calm, we must pursue justice and we dare not be afraid.

In conclusion, producing condemnations without actions would be walking right into Ahmadinejad's trap.

"Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit,"

(Zechariah 4:6)


Rabbi Shaul Marshall Praver
Founder and host of Rabbi Rock TV Enterprises