The Crying that Suddenly Turned to Joy
BY RABBI YEHOSHUA WEITZMAN
It was Chanukah, the night before my wedding, and I wanted to receive blessing and guidance from Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook zt”l. I spoke with Rabbi Yossi Badihi, Rav Kook’s personal assistant, who suggested I come to Rav Kook’s home at the time of Chanukah candle lighting, since everyone else would be at their homes lighting candles and Rav Kook would be available to speak with me.
I followed his advice, and so I merited to be with Rav Kook for the lighting of the Chanukah candles. The Rav prepared himself, washed his hands, made the blessings and lit the candles, and afterwards sang Maoz Tzur, according to the custom of the Jewish people. The Rav was not a singer, but he sang the song with great focus and intense emotion.
When he sang the first lines of each stanza, describing the suffering of the people of Israel throughout the generations, Rav Kook wept. But when he came to the final sentence of each stanza, which relate the various miracles of salvation, his crying was immediately transformed to joy, and he sang with great happiness. It was incredible to witness the change in Rav Kook’s mood as he sang the different parts of the song.
It was evident that Rav Kook’s mind was in control of his emotions and guided him at all times. When he had to be sad, he was sad from the bottom of his heart to the point of crying. And when he needed to be joyous, in one moment he was joyous with all his heart.
Rabbi Yehoshua Weitzman is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Ma’alot Ya’akov, and was a student of Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook.