Rabbi Simcha HaKohen Kook officiating the wedding of Sivan Rahav-Meir and Yedidya Meir.
Rabbi Simcha HaKohen Kook zt”l: An Appreciation
BY SIVAN RAHAV-MEIR
Rabbi Simcha HaKohen Kook, who passed away one year ago on the 23rd of Iyar at the age of 92, did so many great things: He was the beloved chief rabbi of the city of Rechovot for decades and rabbi of the “Hurva” Synagogue in the Old City of Jerusalem. He was President of the “Meor HaTalmud” yeshiva in Rechovot and stood at the head of many other educational institutions throughout the years. He was an eloquent speaker who was much sought after by audiences both in Israel and abroad, and led many public initiatives, especially in building bridges between the non-observant and religious sectors. But among his most memorable deeds, personally speaking, was his officiating our wedding.
He was the brother of the grandfather of Yedidya, my husband, and hosted us in his home in Rechovot on the Shabbat before the wedding. It was difficult to keep up with him as he quickly walked between so many synagogues on Shabbat. At the third meal (seuda shlishit), he sat down to speak with us. I remember the picture of his famous uncle, Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook zt”l, on the wall behind him. You could see his uncle’s special qualities in him, his nephew, as well: sensitivity, compassion, and love for every individual, at times to the point of tears, yet together with an uncompromising steadfastness regarding his values and his faith.
The pre-marriage advice he gave us came from a story in the Talmud. It concerned the wicked Yerovam ben Nevat. G-d grabbed his garment and entreated him to retreat from his evil ways. If he would return to the proper path, then G-d and Yerovam and King David would stroll together in Gan Eden. But then Yerovam asked: Who will go first? G-d answered that King David would go first. Yerovam responded: If so, I do not need to go. And so, instead of walking in Gan Eden together with G-d and King David, he chose Gehinnom.
His message to us was clear: Ego is an enemy. The desire to prevail over the other person and prove that you are better can spoil and destroy everything. This is true in marriage, in children’s education, and in all areas of life.
After 92 years of concern for the honor of heaven, and never for his own, Rabbi Simcha went up to G-d, in Gan Eden, together with King David.
● Translated by Yehoshua Siskin.
Sivan Rahav-Meir is a media personality and lecturer. She lives in Jerusalem with her husband, Yedidya, and their five children, and serves as World Mizrachi’s Scholar-in-Residence.