Harav Simcha HaKohen Kook, Zt”l

By Hamodia Staff

Harav Simcha HaKohen Kook, zt”l.

YERUSHALAYIM – The Jewish world was deeply saddened on Tuesday by news of the petirah of Harav Simcha HaKohen Kook zt”l, one of the outstanding Torah sages of the generation.

Rav Kook served for many years as chief rabbi of Rehovot, rabbi of the Hurva Synagogue in Yerushalayim’s Old City, and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Maor HaTalmud.

He passed away on Tuesday at the age of 92.

He was born in Yerushalayim on the 17th of Av, 1930 to his father Rav Raphael and his mother Bilah Rachel in Beit Mandelbaum, built by his grandfather Rav Simcha Mandelbaum, zt”l, which later became known to history as the Mandelbaum Gate, situated on the border between Jordan and Israel.

In his youth, Rav Simcha Kook studied at the Kfar Haroeh Bnei Akiva and at the Chevron Yeshiva in Yerushalayim.

In the mid-1960s, he opened a yeshiva high school in Netanya, which became part of to the Bnei Akiva network.

Rav Kook became Chief Rabbi of Rehovot following the tragic death of his brother Harav Shlomo Kook, who had held the post. He was killed in a car accident along with his wife and two sons.

As Rosh Yeshivas Maor HaTalmud, which today numbers over 500 bachurim, he would travel several times a year to Jewish communities all over the world to raise funds.

Rav Kook was a member of the Chief Rabbinical Council of Israel for 25 years, until 2008.

It was known that Rav Kook’s door was always open to anyone who with a shailah or who wanted to draw close to Yiddishkeit. That was also true for the mayors of the city, including those from the secular left. They were welcome guests at his seudos Shabbos.

At the same time, Rav Kook led the struggle for shmiras Shabbos in Rehovot. On Erev Shabbos, just before Shabbos came in, he would go to the shopping centers and beseech to the owners to close their doors. He also organized Mussaf outside one store or another that was operating on Shabbos.

“We are not demonstrating ‘against,” he used to say. We are demonstrating ‘for—for Shabbos, for Torah, for HaKadosh Baruch Hu.”

In a hesped on Tuesday, the Chief Sephardi Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, said of him that “he led his congregation with great dignity and worked to fortify religious practice through his many years in office.”

Rav Kook is survived by his sons: Rav Chaim, rosh yeshivas Toras Rafael; Rav Aryeh, a rosh yeshiva at Meor HaTalmud; Rav Ben Tzion, principal of the seminary Ali Be’er; Rav Avraham Yitzchak of Bais Chelkia; Rav Dov, principal of the Talmud Torah Chemdas HaTorah in Yerushalayim; Rav Immanuel, director of Yeshivas Toras Rafael, who served his father with great mesiras nefesh. His son-in-law is Rav Yaakov Leizrowitz, rosh yeshivas Chachmas Shlomo in Rehovot.

The levayah was scheduled for Wednesday morning from Yerushalayim to Rehovot, although the time of departure had not yet been set.

Rav Simcha Kook, zt”l, walking in the Old City of Yerushalayim with ybl”c Mr. Shlomo Werdiger.

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