Rav Soloveitchik, based on a conversation he had with members of Kibbutz Kinneret fifty years after the fact, told the following story about Rav Kook:
In 1913, Rav Kook, reborn Israel's first chief rabbi, took a tour visting the kibbutzim of Ein Harod, Degania, and Kinneret.
When he arrived at Kinneret, it was Friday evening, Erev Shabbat.  The Rav went into the non-kosher dining room with two loaves of challah and a bottle of wine.  He said kiddush, ate a ke-zayit of challah, and retired for the night.  While he was in the dining room, lights were turned on and off and, on the kibbutz the next day, every Shabbat restriction was violated.  But Rav Kook did not react to any of this.
On Motzei Shabbat, Saturday night, he danced with the kibbutzniks.  For those who don't know, kibbutz founders, a 100 years ago, were an irrepressibly inspired and jubilant group.  "Work all day and dance all night" was not just a slogan but an accurate depiction of the mood of the first Israeli settlers.
Judaism, God, and Torah,  however, did not inspire them.  They were anti-religious to the extreme, more so than the most anti-religious people you  meet today.  They were hard core leftists, even Marxists, in their political views.
But Rav Kook was undeterred.  A fanatical lover of all Jews, he saw the early kibbutzniks as saints, erecting scaffolds for building what would ultimately become a Torah enterprise, the Third Jewish Commonwealth.  Yes, these scaffolds and fledgling institutions had a strong secular bent, but that was just part of the heavenly ordained plan, part of the inevitable unfolding of Jewish experience and history.  Rav Kook did not utter a single word of disapproval during his stay at the kibbutz.
When Rav Kook took leave of his hosts on Sunday morning, he left them with these words:   להתראות ולאכול ביחד סעודה אחת 
"Until we meet again and eat a meal together."  That same day, all the plates in the kibbutz were thrown out and new kosher plates and cutlery were introduced.
As Rav Soloveitchik and others have noted, Rav Kook was the sort of figure who could cause a transformation in those around him.  Rav Soloveitchik says Rav Kook had a "religious tremor" and was someone who was "swept off his feet by the storm of religiosity."  It is famously said of  Rav Kook  that whereas most people are challenged with reaching the proper focus during prayer so that they are truly communicating with God, Rav Kook's challenge was coming back down to Earth from the heavenly summit he reached and the divine encounter he experienced, without fail, every time he prayed.
Rav Kook, according to Rav Soloveitchik, was someone whose love for God was clearly the greatest love of his life, attatining the highest level of divine service in this obsessive infatuation.  As stated by Rambam in Hilchot Teshuva, chapter 10:
"What is the proper degree of love for God? That a person should love God with a very great and exceeding love until his soul is bound up in the love of God. Thus, he will always be obsessed with this love as if he is lovesick.
A lovesick person's thoughts are never diverted from the love of that woman. He is always obsessed with her; when he sits down, when he gets up, when he eats and drinks. With an even greater love, the love for God should be [implanted] in the hearts of those who love Him and are obsessed with Him at all times."
The only rabbi of our time, other than Rav Kook, who could affect such radical change in a Jew was the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Completely secular Jews would visit him and, in one-on-one encounters, become transformed. During their meetings, the Rebbe would ask them about themselves and encourage them to use their God given talents to the fullest. Upon leaving, such Jews often underwent drastic change. One Jew would start keeping kosher, another would begin to wear tefillin, and still another would decide to send his children to a Jewish school.
This is what happens when you are in the presence of a Jew possessed by an obsessive love for God.

 

 

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