This year also witnessed the publication of the Hebrew version of Yehudah Mirsky’s important English biography of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (1865-1935), Rav Kook: Mystic in a Time of Revolution (Yale’s Jewish Lives series, 2014). R. Kook served as the first Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Eretz Yisrael. He was the foundational theologian of contemporary Religious Zionism, and one of the most important Jewish theological voices of the modern period.
The publication of this Hebrew translation illustrates the virtues of cultural cross-fertilization. Written for an American audience with very little knowledge of this important figure, Mirsky had the freedom to expertly explore the many sided, multi-polar and radical nature of R. Kook’s thought. In Israel, such exploration was constrained by R. Kook’s identification with the stream of Orthodox religious Zionism and by the controversial identification of the Kook family with the settlements in the Greater Land of Israel (primarily Judea and Samaria, the West Bank.) Mirsky’s well written volume brings an “American” perspective on R. Kook, greatly enriching the Israeli public’s knowledge and understanding of this iconic figure.