Monday, September 14, 2009

Guardian of Jerusalem or... Part 1 - his relationship with R Kook

In regards to R Yosef Chaim Sonnefeld, I've always been confused by some conflicting reports regarding his role in the various nasty conflicts by the zealots of Jerusalem. In some reports, he appears as an innocent bystander, manipulated by the zealots for their purpose, in others it seems even clearer that he was a driving force behind many of the demonstrations.

The official biography of R Yosef Chaim האיש על החומה seems to be mildly apologetic. R Kook is "misguided" but R Yosef Chaim maintained a friendly relationship with him anyway. In a famous report published in R Hirschenson's Malki BaKodesh (for reasons that will become clearer in the next post) R Tzvi Pesach Frank (who was of course not an uninterested party) describes R Yosef Chaim as a pawn in the hands of the zealots.

I found another report (ShuT HaMaor Volume 2 pg. 434 a brief biography of R Bentzion Goldwicht of Montreal):

The "Rishmi HaGadol" refers to the Chief Rabbi (i.e. R Kook), According to these reports, the conflict was started by troublemakers, etc. R Sonnenfeld had the greatest respect for R Kook and only argues with him for reasons of friendship, etc.

In all this, R Sonnenfeld appears to be a moderate zealot who was "used" by the Kannoim for their purposes. In the next post, I will describe a more active role on his part.


Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

That's a great video, but at most it shows a working relationship, not a friendly or even cordial one. Actually, I don't even think it shows a working relationship. (Not that I think you linked to it as evidence!)

Fotheringay-Phipps said...

My understanding is that RYCS felt that R' Kook was a good and sincere man and a great scholar but who was naive in his approach, and this could have disastrous consequences. (Many others shared this view, see e.g. the Gerrer Rebbe's report.) So he opposed his policies fiercely, but did not want to attack him on a personal level.

So the denials are that he had personal animosity to him, and the "active role" was in opposing his aproach, leadership and movement.

No contradiction.

Anonymous said...

What did R Kook think of RYCS?


Wolf2191 said...


With regard to Rabbi Sonnenfeld he would say: “Even when he says something
good, he says it out of wickedness, for evil, too, has good as its source.”

25Interview with R. Shalom Natan Ra’anan, Interview Portfolio, R. Kook’s House,
Jerusalem, p. 1.

in A Roznak - Hidden diaries..

I have no idea what that is supposed to mean.

Anonymous said...

Well I agree but I think the post should have more info then it has.

Anonymous said...

jackal acidity tenne bustling sits belliappa resumption gasket

Creative Commons License
Ishim V' Shittos by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at