2010 National Jewish Book Award Finalist
in Modern Jewish Thought and Experience

Gold from the Land of Israel. A New Light on the Weekly Torah Portion. 
from the Writings of Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaKohen Kook.
Gold from the Land of Israel.
Hardcover, 368 pages.

"Rabbi Morrison has done a remarkable job in presenting the teachings of Rav Kook in a clear and approachable fashion."

--Rabbi David Samson

"Those who are not familiar with the Rav's teachings will be exposed to the profound ideas and remarkable scope of his writings."

--Rabbi Yehoshua Magnes

”Purchase this book if you truly want to understand Rav Kook and bring the fulfillment of his teachings into your heart...

Rav Chanan Morrison explains Rav Kook's Torah like no one else."
(read entire review)

--Yoely Zipkin

Silver from the Land of Israel Silver from the Land of Israel

A New Light on the Sabbath and Holidays

From the Writings of
Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaKohen Kook

by Rabbi Chanan Morrison

Cover | Table of Contents | Sample Pages | Author | Praise | Reader Comments

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Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Urim Publications
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Because of their poetic and mystical nature, Rav Kook’s writings are dificult even for readers who are fluent in Hebrew and rabbinic texts. Silver from the Land of Israel uses a clear, succinct style to provide the reader with a window into Rav Kook's original and creative insights.

A companion volume to Gold from the Land of Israel on the Torah, this book presents Rav Kook's thoughts on Shabbat and Jewish holidays. It elucidates his views on many topics, including:

  • What is the inner meaning of the shofar blasts?
  • Why are we instructed to drink on Purim?
  • What were Rav Kook's views on secular Zionism?
  • What is the role of art and literature?
  • Why do we need both an oral and written Torah?
  • Why must the Jewish calendar be set in the land of Israel?
  • Why does a Jewish king need his own sefer Torah?
  • In what way is the Shabbat like a bride?
  • Why do we not celebrate Chanukah with a festive meal?
  • Why is the Temple so important to us?

Praise for Silver from the Land of Israel

Rabbi Morrison has produced a volume that presents a picture of Rav Kook in depth, one that should be welcomed by all lovers of Jewish tradition.

Rav Kook was the first Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel. He spoke from a background that was both Orthodox and kabbalistic/Hasidic. As I read Rabbi Morrison's work, I was especially impressed with the nuances of Rav Kook's thought. Breadth not only describes Rav Kook's knowledge, but also his openness and love for all Jews.

I was for example especially impressed by Rabbi Morrison's discussion of Rav Kook's views on Orthodox and non-Orthodox. In the essay on "Unity and Repentance", he brings out Rav Kook's love for all Jews and his emphasis on the idea that rather than point the finger at others we should all follow the classic definition of the righteous person as someone who judges himself strictly while judging others leniently.

I wish to commend Urim for having produced not only a quality text but a quality book as well. The page layout is well done and the book itself lies flat when open, facilitating easy reading. I highly recommend this book for inclusion in all Jewish libraries and all libraries with general collections in Jewish studies and comparative religious studies.

Daniel J. Rettberg
AJL Reviews

Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaKohen Kook (1865-1935), the first Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel, has long been recognized as one of the most significant Jewish thinkers of the modern era, one who combined vast erudition in all areas of Torah scholarship together with a firm basis in general philosophy and a keen awareness of the upheavals of modernity.

His great corpus, still being published and often difficult even for the native Hebrew reader, has been until recently completely off-limits to the English speaking audience. Amongst the recent contributions to the field of Rav Kook's writings in English was Rabbi Chanan Morrison's collection, Gold from the Land of Israel (Urim 2006), in which he masterfully adapted R. Kook's sermons on the weekly Torah reading, culling material from a wide variety of R. Kook's Hebrew works.

Morrison, who studied in the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva, founded by R. Kook in 1924, has now offered the reader a companion volume, Silver from the Land of Israel, which deals with R. Kook's thought regarding the Sabbath and the Holidays, including not only Biblical holidays such as Rosh HaShana or Passover, but also the modern festivals of Yom HaAtzmaut and Jerusalem Day, celebrations that were begun, of course, after R. Kook's own death, but which he in a sense anticipated in his writings.

Morrison's methodology in both volumes is not to translate directly from the writings of HaRav as R. Kook is often referred to by Israelis, but rather to freely adapt the raw material, often a blend of several sources, into a new unified whole, in order to best present the often complex ideas in a clear and flowing manner.

What I found particularly important in this attempt to present R. Kook's thinking to a wide audience of English readers, many of whom may be unfamiliar with R. Kook’s philosophy, is that Morrison, through the genre of the sermon, has managed to capture many of the seminal ideas of R. Kook’s unique worldview and to incorporate them into his essays. Thus the reader receives much more than a beautiful thought regarding a given holiday; he is also privileged to come away from this work with a fine exposition of some of the corner points of R. Kook's philosophy, and this in and of itself is no small feat.

Morrison is also careful to season all of the above with a good number of delightful stories and anecdotes regarding R. Kook. These stories do more than simply make for a good read; they provide a personal dimension to the sermons, and make them come alive as the reader catches a glimpse of the fascinating person behind the ideas. Morrison also does a good job of placing some of the essays in historical context, and we begin to understand the mood of the Jewish People at certain key points of the 20th century, including the aliyot to Israel, World War I and the Balfour Declaration, in which R. Kook (stranded in London due to the war) played a key role.

All in all, Silver from the Land of Israel is both a delightfully inspiring book of ideas regarding the Sabbath and Holidays, and a wonderful introduction to the spellbinding and unique world of R. Kook, one of the most influential Jewish thinkers of our times.

(Read entire book review here)

Rabbi Zvi Leshem, Jerusalem Post
Spiritual leader of Congregation Shirat Shlomo in Efrat, and author of Redemptions: Contemporary Chassidic Essays on the Parsha and the Festivals.

"With his latest book, "Silver From the Land of Israel," Rabbi Chanan Morrison provides the 'main course,' namely the words of Torah, for many a pleasant Shabbat and Yom Tov meal.

"As the companion volume to his previous collection, "Gold From the Land of Israel," this sampling of Rav Kook's teachings on the Jewish holy days enables both beginners and seasoned travelers to embark upon this great modern mystic's often difficult-to-navigate seas of wisdom. Here are cogent and accessible essays on the mysteries of the Shofar of Rosh Hashanah, the ox and goat of Yom Kippur, the 'lonely willow' of Sukkot, the light that emerges from darkness of Chanukah, the disclosure of sublime 'secrets' on Purim, the national and spiritual liberation of Passover, and 'seeing the sounds' of the essential unity of all creation on Shavuot, among many other topics. With his essays on Israel's Independence Day and Jerusalem Day, Rabbi Morrison also clarifies Rav Kook's Zionism, which turns out to be more nuanced than many realize.

"These estimable contents are matched by Urim's superb book design which makes them all the more readable. This is the kind of kesef ve-zahav, gold and silver, we all should seek."

Rabbi Dovid Sears
Author of The Path of the Baal Shem Tov, director of the Breslov Center of New York

"Such an uplifting collection of essays... a wonderful gift.

"The writings of Rav Kook, with their allusive mix of Chassidic and Talmudic learning, are impenetrable to many readers. That is why Rabbi Morrison authored this book, whose goal is to summarize Rav Kook's views on these topics, interspersed with excerpts from his writings.

"Talk about uplifting. When it comes to the Jews and the Jewish people, it's hard to imagine anyone more upbeat than Rav Kook.

"He lived at a time when, and in the place where, mainly secular Jews were building up the Land of Israel, And yet, as Chief Rabbi, he did not denigrate their accomplishments. In fact, he fended off its critics from the religious world, noting that living in the Land of Israel was a critical act, in-and-of-itself.

"There is no need to to check the level of kashrut of those who come to what was then Palestine, he wrote, for "one may find in every Jew, even the most unworthy, precious gems of good deeds and positive traits. Certainly the Land of Israel helps elevate and sanctify them. And if this is not evident in them, it will become so in their descendants."

"Although Rav Kook died well before the founding of the modern state, he believed that 'the dawn of redemption' (atchalta de'geulah) - which is a process that advances in stages - is upon us.

Douglas Wertheimer
Editor of the Chicago Jewish Star

Praise for Gold from the Land of Israel

“Rabbi Morrison has done a remarkable job in presenting the teachings of Rav Kook — a giant of twentieth century Jewish thought — in a clear and approachable fashion. I highly recommend this book for anyone seeking a good introduction to the inspiring wisdom of this preeminent scholar.”

Rabbi David Samson
Author of the “Lights on Orot” series

"Gold from the Land of Israel is a wonderful introduction to the profound teachings of HaRav Avraham Yitzchak haKohen Kook zt"l. In these succinct and clearly-written essays, Rabbi Morrison has succeeded in expounding on major themes from Rav Kook’s thought. Those who are not familiar with the Rav’s teachings will be exposed to the profound ideas and remarkable scope of his writings.

"Rav Kook zt”l was one of the outstanding scholars of his time, and his teachings and writings are the cornerstone of Jewish life in Israel today. By entering the realm of Torah as presented by Rav Kook, one strengthens his bonds to Eretz Yisrael.

"Not only is this book a tremendous boon for English-speaking readers, but the translation of Rav Kook’s writings enables them 'to awaken the holiness hidden in each language.'"

Rabbi Yehoshua Magnes
Rosh Yeshiva, Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva

"Rabbi Chanan Morriston, a former student at Mercaz HaRav, is deeply immersed in the writings and thought of Rav Kook and has done a masterful job of extracting Rav Kook’s thoughts on the weekly Parashah. This is a book to return to again and again."

Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins
Jewish Media Review

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (1865-1935), the celebrated first Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel, is recognized as being among the most important Jewish thinkers of all times. His writings reflect the mystic's search for underlying unity in all aspects of life and the world, and his unique personality similarly united a rare combination of talents and gifts.

Rav Kook was a prominent rabbinical authority and active public leader, but at the same time, a deeply religious mystic. He was both Talmudic scholar and poet, original thinker and saintly tzaddik.

About the Author

After graduating with a B.A. in Mathematics from Yeshiva University (New York), Rabbi Chanan Morrison studied for several years at Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav, the Jerusalem yeshiva founded by Rav Kook in 1924. He was ordained after completing rabbinical studies in the Ohr Torah Stone (Efrat) and Midrash Sephardi (Jerusalem) rabbinical seminaries.

Rabbi Morrison taught Jewish studies for several years in Harrisburg, PA, before returning to Israel. He and his family subsequently settled down in Mitzpe Yericho, an Israeli community in the Judean Desert.

In an effort to maintain contact with former students, Rabbi Morrison began emailing weekly articles on the weekly Torah portion based on the writings of Rav Kook. Over the years, this email list grew at a phenomenal rate; it now benefits thousands of readers from all over the world. He is frequently featured on the Torah section of the Arutz Sheva website and his work can be read on his own website at http://www.ravkooktorah.org.

His first book of essays of Rav Kook's writings, Gold from the Land of Israel, was published by Urim Publications in 2006.


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