When Rav Kook visited the United States in 1924, scores of people came to see and meet him. The purpose of his trip, however, was to raise funds for Torah institutions inÂ EretzÂ YisraelÂ and Europe.
The Philanthropist’s Question
At one gathering in Rav Kook’s honor, a well-known philanthropist agreed to give a very sizable donation to the cause, but only if the chief rabbi could explain to him a Jewish custom that he found puzzling.
“At the conclusion of both the Seder night and Yom Kippur, Jews all over the world declare their heartfelt wish â€” ‘Next year in Jerusalem!’ I understand why Jews in the Diaspora say this,” said the man. “But why do Jews who live in Holy City say it? Are they not already there?”
The Jerusalemites’ Prayer
The Rav listened attentively to the question and answered genially. “The matter is quite simple, my friend,” he explained. “First of all, in Jerusalem we add one word to our prayer. We say, ‘Next year in theÂ rebuiltÂ Jerusalem!’Â And we still have a long way to go before that request is fulfilled in its entirety.”
“But there is more,” continued the Rav with a smile on his face.
“When we beseech God, ‘Next year in Jerusalem,’ we mean that we hope to be there in the fullest sense â€” in body, soul, and thought. We pray that our situation will be different than it is today, when people dwell in Jerusalem, but are preoccupied with planning trips to America to raise funds.”
Judging from the size of the man’s donation, it was clear that he was especially pleased with the second answer….
(Adapted from “An Angel Among Men”Â by R. Simcha Raz, translated by R. Moshe Lichtman, pp. 253-254)