In the 1930s, a group of new immigrants visited Rav Kook in Jerusalem. The Jewish refugees had fled Germany, forced to leave behind most of their wealth and property.
As the chief rabbi met with them, he felt the depth of their dejection and unhappiness.
Wishing to boost their spirits, Rav Kook quoted Isaiah’s comforting words of consolation. With poetic imagery, the prophet described Jerusalem’s amazement as her children — the Jewish people — suddenly return after long years of exile:
מִי אֵלֶּה כָּעָב תְּעוּפֶינָה וְכַיּוֹנִים אֶל אֲרֻבֹּתֵיהֶם.
“Who are these? They fly like clouds, like doves returning to their cotes!” (Isaiah 60:8)
What is the difference, Rav Kook asked the new arrivals, between the flight of a cloud and that of a dove? Why did Isaiah use these two analogies?
A cloud, he explained, moves involuntarily. Buffeted by storms and strong winds, clouds are pushed from place to place.
The dove, however, is a different story. It flies where it wishes to travel. Longing for home, the dove returns to its beloved nest.
Isaiah foresaw that the Jews returning to the Land of Israel would not be a homogenous group. Some would arrive charged with idealism. Stirred by powerful yearnings to return to their homeland, they would come like doves returning to their cotes.
But other Jews would migrate because violent storms uprooted them from their countries. With few available options, they would find themselves in the Land of Israel, wandering like the involuntary movement of clouds.
Rav Kook then spoke directly to the new immigrants:
Even those who arrive like displaced clouds can find within themselves the longings of a dove wanting to come home. Once you have discovered these aspirations within, you will be able to make your homes here in joy and happiness. As it says,
וּפְדוּיֵי ה’ יְשׁוּבוּן וּבָאוּ צִיּוֹן בְּרִנָּה וְשִׂמְחַת עוֹלָם עַל רֹאשָׁם.
שָׂשׂוֹן וְשִׂמְחָה יַשִּׂיגוּן נָסוּ יָגוֹן וַאֲנָחָה.
“Those whom God redeemed will return.
Singing, they will enter Zion;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
while sorrow and sighing will flee away.” (Isaiah 51:11)
(Adapted from Mo'adei HaRe’iyah pp. 148-149)