There is a recent article in which Rabbi Moishe Bane writes the following :

The legendary Chief Rabbi Avraham Yitzchok KaCohen Kook z”l, observed that in every society, in every religion, in every country, in every era throughout history, there is a remarkable inverse correlation between a community’s level of education and sophistication and the degree of its religious intensity. The more educated a community, the less vigorous its religious commitment. Is this observation not evidence, asked Rav Kook, that religion generally appeals only to the most primitive minds? Doesn’t this inverse correlation prove that we, as sophisticated individuals, should recognize the folly of a commitment to, and passion for, Torah Judaism?

Rav Kook explained that every society, in every religion, in every country, in every era throughout history, provides their youth with roughly the equivalent of a third grade religious education. Consequently, in those societies in which that third grade religious education is accompanied by a third grade secular education, the youth mature into adulthood satisfied with their understanding of religion. By contrast, when a community receives a third grade religious education, but then goes on to receive a high school, university and an even more advanced secular education, they consider the simplistic nature of religion, as they had been taught, and dismiss religion as being primitive.

Where can I find Rav Kook writing such a thing?

  • Similar idea judaism.stackexchange.com/a/93116/759
    – Double AA
    Aug 14, 2019 at 16:23
  • 1
    Here are some facts: Hebrew isn’t the first language of the individual quoting R. Kook; said individual saw this piece 40 years ago (!); said individual is not exactly a ‘rabbi’ - if you get what I mean. Here is an observation: Given these facts people often misquote [albeit, unintentionally] and embellish. My point: You have a better chance sourcing the original quote from people much more familiar with R. Kook’s thought and oeuvre, e.g. R. Moshe Zuriel, R. Shlomo Aviner, Bezalel Naor et al.
    – Oliver
    Aug 14, 2019 at 17:08
  • @Oliver I'm going to go out on a limb here and kindly suggest your comment would be stronger without that little pinch of avek lashon hara regarding the president of the OU Aug 15, 2019 at 9:24
  • I appreciate and surely accept your criticism; I didn’t know (kinda, still don’t) that there was avak LH. If I had to guess - you’re referring to the mention that the individual is not a rabbi in the traditional sense of the word/title. The purpose was to help recognize that the person who read the text forty years ago easily could’ve mis-understood/remembered/quoted what he read - this fact being one of the determinants.
    – Oliver
    Aug 15, 2019 at 15:29
  • 2
    @Oliver the avak lashon hara wasn't that he isn't a rabbi, but the rest of the wording (not exactly a ‘rabbi’ - if you get what I mean). E.g., if I were to say "Oliver isn't exactly a 'scholar' - if you get what I mean," you might rightly find it insulting
    – wfb
    Aug 15, 2019 at 21:16

1 Answer 1


I have asked this question to R Moishe Bane, the president of the OU, and he responded

Thanks for the interest. I came across Rav Kook’s thought in an essay of his that I read in a rabbi’s home library in 1979. I have spent hours searching for the journal and have yet to track it down. I recall it was published in the second half of the 1920’s.

In a followup email where I told him I'd run it past two other scholars of R Kook he added

I will owe you a big debt of gratitude if you locate the cite. I, too, have run it by several Rav Kook scholars who did not know the article, but found the message consistent with Rav Kook’s views and presentation.

I then asked R Chanan Morrison about this - he translated lots of R Kook's writing into English (ravkooktorah.org) who answered

I also wondered what his source is. I am not familiar with such a statement, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

and R Binyamin Tabady who told me this was in line with R Kook's thought but did not exist per se in writing.


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