Monday, February 26, 2018

seeing the inside

Sometimes when you hear a shtickel torah you know right away who said it without being told.  For example, when you hear 'tzvei dinim," you think R' Chaim, or at least someone following in the footsteps of Brisk.  Even if I didn't tell you this pshat is from R' Tzvi Yehudah, I think you would immediately identify it as something only R' Kook (father or son) would say: 

The gemara at the end of Megillah writes that R' Yehoshua ben Korcha was asked, "Ba'meh he'erachta yamim?" in what merit did he live such a long life.  He responded that the great merit he had is that he never once looked at the face of a rasha.

R' Yehoshua ben Korcha was the son (according to some shitos) of R' Akiva, who was called "ka'reiach," the bald one (Bechorot 58).  He grew up at a time of political ferment and rebellion -- remember that it was R' Akiva who championed Bar Kochba and encouraged the rebellion against Rome.  Imagine R' Akiva, with his son Yehoshua, sitting in this armed camp, surrounded by tough soldiers who are preparing for war.  Imagine the environment -- an army camp is not the beis medrash; these were not all lamed vuv tzadikim in the army of Bar Kochba. 

Years later, his colleagues came to the now old R' Yehoshua and asked: we don't understand it.  You grew up surrounded by the "nationalists," surrounded by people fighting for independence, people interested in taking back the country, rough men of physical strength and courage, men who were not among the yoshvei beis medrash.  How then were you zocheh to such a long life?  How do you emerge from such an environment spiritually rich and rewarded by Hashem?

R' Yehoshua ben Korcha answered: I never looked into the face of a rasha.  You see rough men, fighting men, coarse men , resha'im-- but that's because you are only looking at the outside.  When I looked, I only saw the inside -- the greatness of their holy neshomos.

Is this not what Rav Kook, both father and son (whose yahrzeit is coming up), were all about?  They knew how to look at Jews and not see the face of a rasha -- they knew how to see the inside.  

1 comment:

  1. "not all lamed vuv tzadikim"

    not 36 hidden tzadikim, but hidden tzidkus, which to overlook would mean shortened life*,
    as if one sinned in one of the 36 ways that incur kares (Krisus, Mishna 1.l)

    *at least for one on the level of R' Yehoshua ben Korcha