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Friday, July 21, 2006

איש אשכולות

I was once asked on a thread why I am a talmid of Rav Kook. I answered that one of the many reasons is because he is the only Gadol of the past 100 years to have mastered the entire Torah in all of its aspects. No area was beyond his reach. He achieved greatness in halacha, aggada, lamdus, philosophy, kabbalah. And more than just mastering these different areas, he weaved them into a coherent system where one area of Torah informs us about the others. One of the commenter replied that he frankly finds it frightening that I think that Rav Kook was the only gadol to have mastered the entire Torah. Well, I am obviously no authority on the matter but I was thrilled to find that Rav Shlomo Yosef Zevin Zt"l actually wrote the exact same thing in his remarkable book (which everyone should really read cover to cover), "אישים ושיטות". Here is the relevant passage (pg. 232):

:"לא יהיה הדבר להגזמה, אם נאמר שמרן הגרא"י הכהן קוק, ז"ל, היה בדורנו היחיד בין גדולי התורה, שהיה שולט בהלכה ובאגדה כאחת... כל מקצועות התורה היו ברשותו.. ולאו דוקא בהלכה. עולם האגדה הי לא פחות פתוח לפניו. חזון ושירה, מחשבה ומחקר, הגיונות ודעות - כל אלה היו שוטפים בלי הרף, כמעין הנובע, ממוחו ללבו ומלבו למוחו"

It would not be an exaggeration, if we say that Maran HaGaon Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook Z"l, was unique in our generation among the Torah Masters, who had mastered halacha and aggada as one ... all the disciplines of Torah were at his disposal ... and not only in Halacha. The world of aggada was no less open before him. Vision and song, machshava and investigative methods, ponderings and ideas - all these would flow unstoppably, like a gushing spring, from his mind to his heart and from his heart to his mind.