every seven years, upon the advent of the sabbatical year (in which jewish law prohibits the working of the land in israel), the fields cultivated by jews are sold to non-jews, thereby permitting the continued working of the land. the main advocate of this legal arrangement was rabbi abraham isaac ha-cohen kook, whose stand on this issue is supported by the israeli chief rabbinate to the present day.
rabbi kook's ruling was issued in 1910, when he served as rabbi of the moshavot (agricultural colonies) in israel. this edict, which was intended to save the fledgling jewish agriculture from collapsing if the law of the sabbatical year was observed literally, aroused the ire of the leading ultra-orthodox scholars, who regarded it as an attempt to sub-ordinate jewish law to zionist ideology. the ongoing conflict with the extremists among the ultra-orthodox would trouble rabbi kook's life for many years, despite the tremendous goodwill he enjoyed among the jewish public at large.
the sign above the entrance gate of his home states that the construction was completed in 1923.
to the right at the end of the entrance corridor is the rabbi's study, whose modest appearance is truly amazing. the rickety table, chair, and closet in which the rabbi's clothes were kept are the only items of furniture. the books in the room are not rabbi kook's original volumes and were brought there after the house was turned into a museum. a profile of rabbi kook, composed entirely of excerpts from his writings, hangs on a wall of the study. on the wall of the parlor, further along, is a small wall rug. this was the first rug to be woven in the bezalel school of arts and crafts, and was presented to rabbi kook by boris schatz, the founder of the school, as a token of gratitude to the former, who supported the establishment of bezalel.
the room to the left contains a display on the life and works of rabbi kook. here you can read one of his letters addressed to ''our outstanding poet'' hayyim nahman bialik, written in poetical language. after the exhibition room is the yeshivah hall where rabbi kook taught. this was the first talmudical academy in israel in which the language of instruction was hebrew, and not yiddish. all of the furniture is the original pieces and includes, against the eastern wall to the left of the torah ark, rabbi kook's chair, which was presented to him by the high commissioner herbert samuel. the merkaz harav yeshivah is presently situated in the kiryat moshe neighborhood.
the building is currently a center for seminars and other educational activities based on the teachings of rabbi kook. it houses an archive and an important library of rabbi kook's writings.