Revach L'Neshama RSS feed for - Section: SEFORIM Category:INTRODUCTION Copyright 2007, Revach L'Neshama en-US Revach L'Neshama Logo 144 31 Fri, 03 Dec 2021 03:00:00 +0000 240 Shaarei Tzvi - Unlocking The Best Kept Secret In Megilas Esther

Every now and theb there is a Chazal that drops a bombshell, which changes everything you everything. Its implications are far reaching and force you to go back and rethink each scenario that it applies. One such Chazal is the one in Esther Rabba (3:10) that says that every time the Megila says HaMelech without Achashveirosh it truly refers to Hashem, whose name is not written in the Megila. Well there are 169 instances of this so we just take it for granted.

However a curiosity remains as to how would the Megila be read according to this Medrash. Rav Menachem Tzvi Roter the son of Rav Ahron Yeshaya Roter of Shaarei Aharon fame, wrote a Sefer called Shaarei Tzvi where he goes through almost of the HaMelechs and explains according to Medrashim and other Meforshim in each instance how HaMelech refers to Hashem.

This work is not only is it fascinating because of its subject matter and approach, but it is also integral to the proper understanding of the greatness of the miracle of Purim. Purim is a miracle done from behind the scenes and if we dont understand Hashem's hidden role then indeed it because just another story whose twists and turns have a happy ending. However this is far from the truth and we need to examine Hashem's active role every step of the way.

So for those of you who have been waiting years for a Sefer like this, hurry there is still some time before Purim to enjoy!

Sun, 13 Mar 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Shraga Feivel Freedman - An Ambassador's Handbook - A Sefer On Kiddush Hashem Rabeinu Yona in Shaarei Teshuva writes that Hashem separated us as His nation and gave us Torah and Mitzvos so that we, Klal Yisroel can serve as vehicles of kiddush Hashem in the world. This means that each Mitzvah performed is in reality a means towards increasing kavod Shamayim.

If this is the case, we, the ambassadors of Hashem in the world must ensure that the Mitzvos that we do, and the Torah that we learn do in fact serve to further kavod Shamayim. Yet unfortunately, this is not always the case.

It could be that the reason why this Mitzvah is not on the forefront of our minds is because of a lack of clarity and understanding of the role that Torah and Mitzvos play in bringing Kiddush Hashem to the world. Why is it so important to impress upon the world belief in Hashem? How does learning Torah, putting on Tefilin, and many other Mitzvos serve to increase kavod Shamayim? And how is it that despite the fact that all of our Avodas Hashem serve to be Mekadesh Shem Shamayim, there is still so much anti-semitism in the world which almost seems to be inevitable? How does the concept of Eisav sonei Yaakov fit in with kiddush Hashem? If our purpose is to increase the recognition of Hashem in the world, why is it not our role to publicly preach and proclaim our Emunah in Hashem to the world?

There is a sefer called Mekadshei Shemecha that was recently written that sheds light on these important yesodos. In the pesicha of the sefer Harav Matisyahu Solomon writes "that it is crucial in our times to strengthen ourselves in this mitzvah and one who learns this sefer will develop more caution and sensitivity to live his life al Kiddush Hashem". Kiddush Hashem is a concept that every Jew must understand with clarity.

Mekadshei Shemecha was written by Rav Shraga Feivel Freedman a Rebbi in Toras Chaim Denver. The Pesicha was written by Rav Mattisyahu Solomon. Aside from Haskamos from the Roshei Yeshiva of Torah Chaim, Mekadshei Shemecha also received warm haskamos from Rav Elya Ber Wachtfogel, Rav Shmuel Kaminetzky, and Rav Yitzchok Sheiner.

For free download of this Sefer, copy and paste the following link into your browser.

Thu, 20 Jan 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Olas Tamid By Rav Shmuel Hominer - Kindle Your Ascent Now long ago in the old Yishuv of Yerushalayim lived a holy Jew named Rav Shmuel Hominer zt"l.  I don't much about his personal life, but I do have the privilege of knowing one of his grandchildren.  Actually, I know him quite well, as does anyone who opens up one his seforim and sees the Yiras Shamayim leaping from the page.  After all, what more is there to know about a person? 

Rav Hominer was quite a prolific author in his day, although he was niftar relatively young. He is most famous for his treasured series called Eved HaMelech on Torah, Nevi'im Kesuvim where he points out the mitzvos in each pasuk.  There are many mitzvos in Tanach, both D'Oiraisa and D'Rabanan, that are not part of Taryag.  This holy Yid wanted to make sure we didn't miss any of them.

Another one of his seforim is called Olas Tamid on Tefila.  It is relatively well known in Yerushalayim and is a classic that no one should miss.  It is a peirush on Tefila that stirs the soul.  He goes through davening, explaining to us the significance of many of the lines of the davening.  It is all based on the simple meaning, as he shines it and holds it up for all of us to marvel at.  No earth shattering chidushim, just plain old Ahavas Hashem and Yiras Shamayim in a way that is contagious.  It makes you want to daven better.  It makes you enjoy the davening more.  Most of all it makes you feel like davening is a special treat that should be taken full advantage of.

To give you a taste, he explains the words at the end of Birchas Hashachar, "V'Dabkeinu B'Mitzvoisecha", we are attached to your mitzvos.  What are we davening for here?  He explains that a person can be doing a mitzva such as Tefilin or Tzitzis and not even have any idea.  A person can go back and forth past his mezuza for days and weeks and not even notice it.  The gemara says in Menachos (43) that a person who wears tefilin and tzitzis and has a mezuza on his door will not do an aveira.  This is proof he says, that someone who has all these things and still does aveiros, is not attached to them.  Therefore we should daven every morning to be zocheh to be attached and aware of these mitzvos that we are already doing in order to unlock the great potential in them.  Read this sefer and your Tefila will surely be Olah Tamid!

Tue, 01 Jun 2010 03:00:00 +0000

The 613 Mitzvos are the centerpiece of our heritage, our purpose in the world, and the creation of man and the world surrounding him.  In the spirit of Shavuos we will introduce The Shirei HaMitzvos, a poem by Rav Yehonoson Eibushitz on all the Taryag Mitzvos.  Each line of the song describes, in poetic fashion, one of the Taryag Mitzvos.  The mitzvos in this work are listed according to the Sefer HaMitzvos of the Rambam. First the 248 mitzvos Aseh, and then the 365 mitzvos Lo Saaseh.  

Aside from the beautiful verses that make this poem a masterpiece, the structure of the poem is laid out in a fascinating manner. Rav Yehonoson Eibushitz divides the mitzvos into seven sections (88 mitzvos per section) to correspond to the seven days of the week.  He suggests saying one section every day, enabling the reader to go through all Taryag Mitzvos each week.  It is said that there is a special Kabalistic Segula for Parnassa to say it at the table during your meal.

Each day’s poem is done in a different order of the Aleph Bais, with each of the four lines beginning with the same letter.  So, for example, the first 88 mitzvos are ordered in a simple ascending Aleph Bais.  The verses for each of the first four mitzvos begin with the letter Aleph.  The next four begin with the letter Bais.  By time you have gone through the 22 letters letter of the Aleph Bais you have covered the first day’s mitzvos; all 88 of them.  Each day follows this same theme, only the order of the Aleph Bais changes.  The second day uses “At Bash” where the order is the Aleph then Tuf, then Bais and Shin, and so on.  Seven days, seven orders, all Taryag Mitzvos.  It is worthwhile to go through them on Shavuos. 

Each day can be dowloaded from our Taryag Mitzvos/Shirei HaMitzvos section where we provide the orginal version as well as a parallel english version.

Tue, 18 May 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Story Of Purim: Pirsumei Nisa - No Matter How Old Or Wise You Are This Sefer Will Surprise You Purim is one of those stories that as you grow older you think there is nothing left to hear anymore.  Yet paradoxically we are still left with so many unanswered questions that we have learned to live with over the years.  This year we were fortunate to find a sefer that changed everything.

Pirsumei Nisa, written in Lashon Kodesh, by Rav Tzvi Hirsch Weiss of Williamsburg is an astounding sefer.  This sefer fills in many of the gaps of the Purim story.  But more than just address all the questions that gnawed at the back of your mind for years that have not been satisfactorily dealt with, it does it in way that will leave you feeling incredibly satisfied.  The extensive research is apparent in the breadth of and depth of the finished product.  Easy issue dealt with fully, and is not just answered from one point of view.  Many opinions are brought for each detail from a wealth of different Medrashim as well as Rishonim and Acharonim.

It starts with an in depth look into the backgrounds of all the major personalities and events leading up to the story of Purim, that we may have never known.  It provides greater clarity on events that are known but only in passing.   It covers each small event in great detail and tells the what, why, and how.  It also provides information on the post Purim lives of the heros.

This is not a sefer that you will be able to read cover to cover before Purim, but it is a great encyclopedia for almost any topic want to know about. If you pick it up you will delight in its contents and it will certainly add to you Adar Simcha.

Sun, 21 Feb 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Chaim Zaitchek - Refracting The Light Of Novhardok Our great gedolim are multi-faceted people.  To describe their greatness is impossible, since it stretches across vast expanses of sterling character.  It is like white light that can only be seen when refracted by a prism.  Only then multiple colors visible to the human eye.  It is written of an amora that he had ten talmidim.  When he died each one of them committed to carry on one of his traits.

The same can be said about the Alter of Novhardok Rav Yosef Yoizel Horowitz.  If we were to try to understand his Middas HaBitachon and his iron will, we can catch a glimpse through the life and ways of the Steipler Gaon zt"l.  His unyielding straight-mindedness in doing whatever Hashem wanted at the moment, without looking to the left or right and without any regard to the implications and the price he would ultimately pay, gives us a glimpse of his great Rebbe.  

There is another aspect of the Alter that is known to those who have learned his Sefer, Madreigas HaAdam.  The Alter was a master psychologist.  He understood the human mind in ways so deep, that reading his works help us open up parts of our psyche that we didn't even know existed.  He unraveled to perplexities and deep rooted complexes of the human heart and mind.  He challenged people to get to their own core and discover what really drives them.  His quest was for the ultimate truth in which he was unrelenting.  To be Oveid Hashem any other way was a farce in his eyes.

Rav Chaim Zaitchek, a talmid of the Alter, was his heir in this respect.  His Sefer Ohr Chadash, which is actually a collection of Rav Chaim's many writings on the Parsha, is a journey into one's self through the stories of the Parsha.  It is one lesson after the other in how to find the truth in your action and thoughts Bein Adam LaMakom, Bein Adam LaChaveiro, and mostly Bain Adam L'Atzmo.  It is a collection of dazzling diamonds that will let you experience the Parsha in a way you have never done before.  The Sefer's beauty goes beyond the content.  Rav Zaitchek's ability to paint a picture with glorious phrases and elegant prose keeps you hanging on every word grasping for the next.  He paints such a vivid picture that you feel like you are with the Avos, agonzing over a great Nisayon.

Ayin Panim LaTorah, there are seventy faces to the Torah.  Rav Chaim Zaitchek's is one that is readily available thanks to those who put the sefer together.  It is a work that you should not miss!

Mon, 28 Dec 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Mordechai Neugershal: Tough Questions, Real Answers The first and only time so far that I had the pleasure of hearing Rav Mordechai Neugershal speak, was a few years ago at a money raising event at a friend's house in Eretz Yisroel.  I had never heard of Rav Neugroshal before, so when a clean shaven very young looking man with a mustache walked through the door and received a hero's welcome, as we were munching on food and shmoozing, I was wondering what all the fuss was about.  As if bring fawned over by all the older esteemed rabbonim was not enough, he then got up before everyone else to deliver the keynote address.  I don't think I ever heard such a smart, funny, original, and caring speaker in all my life.

To this day I still don't know exactly what Rav Neugroshal does, but I do know that he is a legend in the Israeli Kiruv world and despite his unconventional appearance, (especially in Eretz Yisroel Chareidi circles), he is universally revered.  Recently he put out a Sefer called  "V'Hasheivosa El Livavecha" that covers many of the hard questions people ask about frum Hashkafa, whether dealing with the treatment and attitude towards women, non-Jews, gilgulim, other Jewish groups, animal rights, an dozens of other sensitive topics.  He tells it like it is from a Torah perspective and does not try to bend it to fit society's expectations.  Torah is the center of gravity and it makes perfect sense once he straightens out you crooked heart.

He is breath of fresh air in a world awash in Kiruv, where a quick workshop can turn almost anybody into a Kiruv professional, repeating the mantra without really understanding or being able to back up what they preach.  Sure we are trying our best and it is very important.  But boy is it nice to hear it from the cool refreshing spring whose sweet waters keep pouring forward.  You need not read the entire book to benefit from it.   You can use it as an encyclopedia to answer the questions that surely come up from time to time. 

The Sefer has earned the Haskama of the Rosh Yeshiva of Chevron, Rav Dovid Cohen, as well as Rav Asher Weiss who give both the author and the Sefer glowing reviews.  V'Hasheivosa El Livavecha by Rav Mordechai Neugroshal is must have for anyone who wants real answers to tough questions.

Sun, 06 Sep 2009 03:00:00 +0000
A Tribute To The Book That Was Never Written As the last remaining survivors of the generation that suffered through the holocaust reach their golden years, a deluge of books and memoirs have flooded the market, and rightfully so.  Each survivor's story is unique and needs to be retold.  The Belzer Rebbe said that anyone who survived the ordeal surely had two Malachim protecting them on either side.  That makes for interesting and important reading.

What's unique about every single book that is published is that these firsthand accounts are all told by survivors.  Not to diminish their stories, as each person's survival was worse than death many times over, however where are the books by the people who were murdered, starved to death, gassed, burned, and a thousand other cruel life ending tortures?  What was their end like and what did they learn from their experience?

Each one of them was died Al Kiddush Hashem and we don't even have single first hand account of their experience in death.  How does it feel to be beaten so badly that you don't survive?  What was it like when their Neshama could not take it any more and tore itself from their bodies?  How does the Malach HaMaves confront a person who dies Al Kiddush Hashem?  How are they greeted in Shamayim?  What justice do they see from the vantage point of the Olam HaEmes?  What is the point and how will this all end?

"Etzrach Mi Yitein Eifo V'Yictivun Milai", I scream, "if only I can write my story" (Kinos 8).  Sadly for us, dead people don't tell stories, only survivors do.  Their stories are written in blood not ink, but the author is not among the living to be able to form the words.  These unwritten stories come from every generation and from every spot on earth where our ancestors carried their weary bodies and spirit.  These stories come from places where they hoped to escape the bitter Galus and enjoy a brief respite, but more often than not the Tzaros caught up with them faster than they imagined.

Today we sit on the floor and say the Kinos as well as read the stories of the few remaining survivors from Klal Yisroel's most recent tragedy.  These stories shed some light on the pain but they are missing the punch line.  However one glorious day in the near future we will be zocheh to read these unwritten stories.  

Today we honor the still unpublished story that will one day arise from the ashes and bring Moshiach on its cover.  It will surely be the all time bestseller.  The title?  "Hashem Melech, Hashem Malach, Hashem Yimloch L'Olam Va'ed."

Thu, 30 Jul 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Orchos Shabbos - Defining Hilchos Shabbos For A Generation

I once heard, although I have not verified it, that when the Michabrim of the Orchos Shabbos showed the manuscript to Rav Shmuel Auerbach and asked for a haskama, he said that if the sefer is going to be become a fundamental resource for Hilchos Shabbos they need to go back and strengthen the footnotes. With words like that from their revered Rebbi, the two Michabrim both famous poskim in their own right, went back it was to the drawing board. After working for a long time to satisfy their Rebbi's critique, they came back with the first volume of Orchos Shabbos. The rest as they say is history (see Rav Shmuel Auerbach's haskama as it seems to lend credence to this story).

Every generation has a defining Sefer on Hilchos Shabbos, bringing the masses clear easy to understand halachos of shabbos including all the contemporary issues that come up over the years as technology advances and so does the complexities of the way we do things. When I was younger it was Shmiras Shabbos KiHilchoso by Rav Yehoshua Neuwirth, a talmid of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach. Judging from sales in the shuls and in seforim stores around town for latest volumes Bais and Gimmel, the Orchos Shabbos seems to have now filled this coveted number one spot in every family's bookshelf.

This honor seems truly deserved. Both Rav Sholom Yosef Gelber and Rav Yitzchok Mordechai HaKohen Rubin (a Dayan on the Bais Din of Rav Nissim Karelitz) are no newcomers to writing seforim. Rav Rubin's sefer on Hilchos Nida, Mareh Kohen is one of the most popular on the subject. The michabrim have an extraordinary talent for teaching the most complex issues even to those previously unfamiliar with the topic. If you are from the few that have not scooped this sefer off the shelves yet, hurry because they are probably almost gone.

Important Note: We have no personal interest in this sefer or any other Sefer other than the fact that we truly believe what we write and we want to share our excitement with our readers.

Sun, 05 Jul 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Rabbi Yoselman Of Rosheim - It's Not A Book, It's A Sefer Sometimes you can learn more from a story than you can from a Sefer.  The classic book Rabbi Yoselman of Rosheim (also known as Rav Yosef ben Gershon of Loanz) by Rabbi Marcus Lehman is one of those stories.  The author Rabbi Lehman lived in the terrible days when the enlightenment had ravaged German Jewry.  Trying to mount a counter offensive Rabbi Lehman wrote books on an enlightened level to appeal to the lost souls and strengthen those still trying to hang on.

Rabbi Yoselman of Rosheim is the inspiring story of a devout and Holy Jew who singlehandedly saved the scattering of German Jewry in the very difficult time in Jewish history right after the start of the Spanish Inquisition.  Traditional Christian hatred and slander of the Jews in Germany made expulsions of the Jews the sport of the day from various regions and cities.  This was complicated by the internal strife and the split from the Church by Martin Luther.  The only thing these two groups could agree on was anti-semitism.  To top it all off, Charles V who was the King of Spain and was spreading the inquisition across all his territories outside of Spain was elected to become the Emperor of Germany.

In this light Rabbi Lehman tells the story of Rabbi Yoselman who with piety, cleverness, and Mesiras Nefesh dedicates his life to traveling the length of Europe to save his brethren from threat after threat.  Rabbi Yoselman is adored by all those who meet him and are touched by his sincerity, selflessness and other fine traits.  He does this time after time under impossible conditions and hardships for close to fifty years, until his dying day.  It is one of the most important books one can ever read to learn the true meaning of Mesiras Nefesh for the Klal.

Another incredible side of the story are the Jews who Rabbi Yoselman defends.  They cling to Yiddishkeit in the face of death, through beheading and being burned alive.  The mesiras nefesh of the ordinary Jew in those days was something to behold.  They held strong despite that no Jew was ever safe for a single minute.  Your head spins as threat after threat flares up, non stop.  What a life.

The historical aspect is also fascinating for those who care for history.  While my Jewish knowledge of that period was limited to the inquisition and the budding of renaissance in Tzfas, this account of Germany during that very same period opened up a whole new world.  In fact after double checking non-Jewish sources to verify the historical facts mentioned in this book they all turn out to be accurate, unbiased, and unexaggerated.

Buried in the book is also the account of Rav Shlomo Molcho and Dovid Reubeni in their quest to win over Charles V to initiate the coming of Moshiach and Rabbi Yoselman's correspondence with Rav Shlomo Molcho.  Whether you read books or not, this is one you should not miss.

Mon, 27 Apr 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Looking For The Perfect Hagadah? I myself have amassed a decent sized collection, but this year I found the treasure of all treasures, as its name Otzar Divrei HaMeforshim suggests.  I am not going to share with you my frustration about the myriad of hagados that come out every year but I will say that this one is unique.

First and foremost it is packed from cover to cover.  It is a compilation of divrei torah from hundred of sources.  In the Hakdama the author Rav Shaul Yechezkel Weiss of London (Author of Otzar Divrei HaPoskim Al Shulchan Aruch) writes that in preparation for this work he has gone through more than 600 hagados, 3,000 Sifrei Kodesh that cover Yetzias Mitzrayim (seforim on Chumash, Moadim, and Drashos from Shabbos Hagadol).  This is clearly evident in the finished product.

Two things that make this Hagadah eminently valuable is that it gets to the crux of the matter in the shortest possible fashion, enabling you to see many things very quickly and is especially useful if you are looking for answers to a particular question.  The second incredible feature of this hagadah is the way he zeroes on the key issues and give answers from across the spectrum.  Many times we are not satisfied with the answers we have heard for some of the more famous questions.  Here is where the buck stops.  If you don't find something to satisfy you in this hagadah you better come up with your own answer or daven very hard to find the because he has got most of what is out there covered.

Only time will tell for sure, but I think you will be hearing from this sefer on Revach throughout the week, especially in Revach List where we will open a new section called "Why" and give numerous reasons for many of the things that we do on Pesach.  Either way if you have an opportunity to get this Hagadah yourself we highly recommend it.

We'd love to hear about your favorite Hagada as well.  Help us out and comment below on the Hagada that is near and dear to your heart.  Share your treasure with the rest of us.  There is always room for another hagada on the table!

Sun, 29 Mar 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Meoros HaShabbos - The Shabbos Meal Savior A few years ago, I arrived to shul one morning and saw a new Sefer for sale called Meoros HaShabbos.  It looked like the perfect way for me, a struggling father, to keep the Shabbos table running in an orderly fashion.  I thought the marketer was a bit ambitious, leaving 50 copies instead of the usual 5.  I had a good laugh the next day when I came back to shul and not a single copy was left.  Apparently many fathers were willing to buy the sefer in the hopes of a more serene meal.

It's been a few years now, and every half a year, me and everyone else keep buying each new volume that comes out.  So I am sure I am speaking for many, and not just myself, when I recommend the sefer for all those with children of all ages at home.

There are two pieces for each Shabbos, one for Leil Shabbos and for Shabbos by day.  Each piece has two parts, halacha and a story.  The halacha follows a certain order which first covered the positive aspects of Shabbos like candle lighting, Kiddush, Havdala, etc.  Since then we have been making our way through the 39 Melachos.  The halachos are written clearly and easily for children of all age to both understand and enjoy.  The pieces are short enough for everyone to listen too without testing their patience, and I must admit, we have all learned a lot from them, especially since we all learned it together and can remind each other "B'shaas Maaseh".  The stories are usually entertaining and thoughtful and so is the short biographical sketch of the Gadol in the story.

When I was a kid some of my friends had something they learned at the table as a family.  The Meoros HaShabbos has taken it to a new level and is truly a valuable work.  Moreover since it follows a particular schedule it in a way is the Daf Yomi where you don't feel alone.  You are part of a larger group of Klal Yisroel, all learning the same thing...  and all enjoying the Shabbos meal that much more.

Sun, 08 Feb 2009 03:00:00 +0000
HaMe'oros HaGedolim - The Joy Of Learning Chumash Rashi The word Chumash is synonymous with Rashi.   You don't learn one without the other, they go hand in hand.  While there are many peirushim on Chumash, our entire understanding is based on the medrashim and the way that Rashi for whatever reasons chose to explain it.

Learning Rashi face value is not that difficult.  The more challenging questions are why Rashi chose to explain something a certain way or why he chose a particular medrash to explain the story or how Rashi even came to certain conclusions.  This is the way to "learn" Rashi.  Rav Eliyahu Dessler used to instill in his talmidim that Chumash and Rashi must be learned with the same depth and toil as a gemara.  Similarly, Rav Shmuel Birnbaum used to say that if you learn Chumash and Rashi on Friday because you want to take it easy at the end of the week, it is bitul torah.  You must learn Chumash-Rashi, but with no less geshmack and bren than learning a hard sugya. 

Rashi is one of the most if not the most commented on commentary that exists.  Rashi very quickly became the standard commentary and therefore attracted the attention of almost every single Torah commentary whether from the Rishonim and Acharonim or the Acharonim that came after him.

How can one find these commentaries in one place?  A Mikraos Gedolos Chumash comes to the rescue.  HaMe'oros HaGedolim includes 11 commentaries on Rashi.  It includes the classic Peirush from the father of all Rashi commentaries, Rav Eliyahu Mizrachi  It also includes the famous Gur Aryeh from the Maharal MiPrague and the Sifsei Chachomim that is printed in most Mikraos Gedolos chumashim.  In addition it has peirushim on Rashi from the early Acharonim including the Maharshal and the Levush as well as some of their famous talmidim including the author's of the Mateh Moshe, Be'er Sheva, and Masas Binyomin.  It also has a very special peirush from Rav Dovid Pardo, who lived in the times of the Chida who speaks of him highly, called Maskil L'Dovid. He is quoted by Rebbi Akiva Eiger.

Almost any question you always wondered when learning a Rashi, is answered somewhere on the page in this monumental edition.  They even included the Peirush Ramban because after all like Rav Chaim Volozhin says, learning Chumash-Rashi without the Ramban is like learning gemara-Rashi without Tosfos.

If you find this chumash too daunting, we can recommend the Chumash Shai La'Morah which handpicks from many of these peirushim in its big print and easy read running commentary on Rashi.  Either way, don't leave Rashi in the dark forever.  Turn on the "big lights" the Meoros HaGedolim.

Sun, 25 Jan 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Nefesh Shimshon - Rav Shimshon Pincus In English Our site often has Divrei Torah and Hashkafa from Rav Shimshon Pincus zt"l.  Even when an article does not specifically refer to something he said, his spirit is often behind the choice of what is written.  Rav Shimshon's hashkafa, fiery and brutally honest and down to earth, yet often based on esoteric insight made simple, he has had a tremendous impact on today's thinking.

Although Rav Shimshon published only a small number of seforim in his short lifetime, during the past several years since his tragic petira, we have been fortunate that his family and talmidim have published over a dozen books based on tapes of his "shmuezen" and his writings.  These include the Yomim Tovim, Shabbos, Chumash, Emunah, Chinuch, Family Life, Torah, Tehilim, and of course a Hagada.

Now for the first time, one of these great works has been translated to English.  Nefesh Shimshon on Shabbos will open up your eyes to new dimensions of the holy day of Shabbos.  His words will capture your heart and you will start to experience Shabbos in ways you never have before.  Go along for the ride and your spirits will truly be lifted from the mundane world of the six work days to a world of kedusha, a world of the Bais HaMikdash, a world of Hashem.

With the introduction of Nefesh Shimshon on Shabbos to the English speaking world, may multitudes of Am Yisroel be zocheh to bask in the holy light that Rav Shimshon has uncovered for us.  Hopefully this is only the start!

Sun, 07 Dec 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Shlomo Freifeld - Now We Are All Talmidim In Parshas Chayei Sara, Rashi quotes Rav Acha who says that the Torah repeats Eliezer's story because the words of the slaves of the Avos are more beautiful then the Torah of their children.  Many fundamental aspects of Torah can be learned from these stories.  In the book "Rav Shlomo" about Rav Shlomo Freifeld these same words ring very true.  This is not a book, it is a living and breathing Sefer Torah.  This book is unique in that it tells a story, in fact hundreds of stories about Rav Shlomo, woven in beautiful tapestry, by the author Rav Yisroel Besser, so seamlessly that you feel like you are reading one long story from beginning to end.

Rav Shlomo was so beloved, that the author, without any previous connection to Rav Shlomo, was able to cull together and amass an incredible amount of stories from so many devoted talmidim, happy to share memories of the their Rebbi.  Story after story with each one unique and significant  Each one giving light from a slightly different angle giving the reader a small understanding of a complex and giant of a man called Rav Shlomo.  Each story is a piece of 1,000 piece 3D jigsaw puzzle.  Each beautiful piece filling a unique space.  I would give an example of a story but there are two problems.  Which one to choose?  The larger problem is that any single story may leave the reader with the wrong picture of this multi faceted Tzaddik.  His life was an entirety of stories. 

In the forward Benjie Brecher, who was the driving force behind this book, confesses that he was skeptical that an outsider could understand Rav Shlomo enough to truly understand the depth of Rav Shlomo.  After seeing the completed work and calling it a masterpiece, he says that the author himself through the process "became a talmid of Rebbi".  As a reader I can tell you that thanks to Rav Yisroel Besser, thousands of people over the past couple of months have also become Talmidim of Rebbi by virtue of picking up the book and not putting it down until the pages no longer turn.

Sun, 07 Sep 2008 03:00:00 +0000

There is a tendency around Tisha B’Av time to tell stories and discuss the great Churban of European Jewry at the hands of the Nazis over 60 years ago. Tisha B’Av is indeed a time to mourn all the catastrophic events that befell Klal Yisroel over the generations because they all came from the same Cheit, the Cheit HaMeraglim that occurred on Tisha B’Av.  However to us these stories seem to act as a surrogate for the main cause of mourning, which is the Churban Bais HaMikdash.

Part of the reason may be that it is easier for us to relate to events that happened just a few years ago to our parents and grandparents.  We can read hundreds of books and chronicles capturing the events in great detail and speaking in a language and tone that we understand.  It is much harder for us to relate to events that occurred two thousand years ago in world so different than the one we live in today.  Moreover the source material for most of us is the Gemara and medrashim.   These stories don’t paint a total picture and seem to us too far away, over simplistic, and primitive.  We don’t see the full picture with all the details and historical background information.  It lacks color and clarity.

In “A Time To Weep”, Rabbi Laibel Resnick gives us a dramatic account of the Churban that is so alive it makes you feel like you are there.  You read it as if it is current events with all the political considerations and real battle strategies. He depicts in a way that you can see these events playing out even today. Suddenly the Churban is “here and now”.   Kamtza Bar Kamtza is no longer a “camp play”.  The various factions within the Jewish world seem eerily similar to today’s situation.  You can smell and taste the hunger, illness, and death in the air of Yerushalayim.

The Gemara Taanis (30b) says “Kol HaMis’abel Al Yerushalayim Zocheh V’Ro’eh B’Simchasa”, whoever mourns Yerushalayim will merit seeing its joy.  We can thank Rabbi Laibel Resnick for his brilliant compilation and keen insight that not only gives us a window to the pain of Yerushalayim but also will transform your Tisha B’Av into a time of weeping and even a time of bitter tears.

Sun, 27 Jul 2008 03:00:00 +0000
A Unique Sefer By A Unique Gadol: "Gedolei HaDoros" by Rav Yechiel Michel Stern

What do Rav Sherira Gaon, The Meiri, The Seder HaDoros, The Chida, and Rav Yechiel Michel Stern all have in common?  They are all great gedolim of their generations that found it important and worthwhile to invest time and effort into writing a sefer on the Gedolim of previous generations.

Rav Yechiel Michel Stern, the son of the Kaminetz Mashgiach Rav Moshe Aharon Stern zt”l, may be the most prolific author of our generation.  You may never have heard of him but you undoubtedly have at least one if not more of his dozens of seforim in your Seforim Shrank.  He is a posek in the Ezras Torah section of Yerushalayim and is constantly publishing new books ranging from halacha to kabala and everything in between.  His vast knowledge in all chochmos shines through in his personally published library.

I was once privileged to visit his home with a friend of mine who helped him publish some of his seforim.  Although I had many of his seforim in my house I wanted to take the opportunity to add to the collection.  He showed us his three volume set called Gedolei HaDoros of short biographies of Gedolim from the time of the Rishonim.

The format covers the major details of their life and sometime a story or an interesting psak halacha that they may have said.  In describing the greatness of the Gadol, rather than spew forth rhetoric (which would sound almost identical for each Gadol) he quotes what other gedolim in their generation said about them.  This gives the reader a better sense of the greatness when seeing who said what about whom.

Why is this sefer so important?  Rav Stern in his foreword quotes from he Rambam and the Chida about the importance of learning about tzaddikim and the great positive effect it has on the reader. It sets an example for us to follow, as stories of tzadikim can be the greatest Mussar sefer.   I once heard that it is special Segula to remember what you learn if you picture the Tanna, Amora, Rishon, or Acharon who says it, standing before you.

Gedolei HaDoros give you an excellent opportunity to learn about hundreds of gedolim that you heard about and many whom you haven’t, but should.  All the seforim on our shelves represent the Neshamos of their authors.  With the Gedolei HaDoros you can put their Guf on your shelf as well.

Mon, 30 Jun 2008 03:00:00 +0000
To Appreciate A Ramban: The Shalmei Nochum - By Rav Nochum Borowsky

It is said that when the Alshich HaKadosh gave his weekly drasha in Tzfas and explained all the different ways that Lavan cheated Yaakov, the Arizal was seen listening to the drasha and smiling.  When they asked him why he was smiling he said that the spirit of Lavan was hovering above the Alshich as he spoke, nodding in agreement to every word said.

Rav Chaim Volozhin is credited with saying that learning Chumash without the Ramban is like learning Gemara without Tosfos. The Shalmei Nochum on the Ramban by Rav Nochum Borowsky Shlit”a has already earned itself a reputation as classic sefer on the Ramban.  The Ramban’s peirush is noted for following recurring ideas and core principals with related bits and pieces scattered throughout many Parshios.  In each Parsha, Rav Borowsky asks a few questions on a Ramban and then proceeds to build his answer using well grounded “lomdus” always backed by the Ramban’s own words in other places in Chumash.  He weaves a masterful tapestry bringing the Ramban to life and giving the reader 100% confidence that that the Ramban is hovering above smiling approvingly.  

Shalmei Nochum was published in 5765 with an impressive list of Haskamos including Rav Moshe Shternbuch, Rav Moshe Shapira, Rav Yisachar Mayer, and Rav Yisroel Elya Weintraub.

Shalmei Nochum has quickly become a classic and is cherished by anyone who learns Ramban regularly as it opens up new levels of understanding.  It is also a wonderful sefer for those who don’t learn Ramban to give them a taste of the sweetness of a “Geshmakeh Ramban”. 

Sun, 15 Jun 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Moreh Nevuchim Al HaTorah - Excitement Sans the Philosophy One of the great works by one of the great Rishonim has been a closed book to most of us; the Moreh Nevuchim by the Rambam.  It once aroused passion from both its supporter and protagonists but nowadays it only arouses curiosity and collects dust.  Although there have been various translations from the original Arabic to Hebrew, most of these translations are very difficult to understand since the Rambam gave clear instructions (Shu”t HaRambam 143) not to expound on his words and to translate it as written. Since his reason for writing it was very specific, he felt that a loose translation with his ideas expounded on by others could cause great damage if incorrect.  He goes as far as saying that if a reader comes across something not in accordance with Chazal, he should know that he is misunderstanding the passage.

The greater difficulty with the Moreh Nevuchim is that it is a philosophical work which is not a wisdom that many of us are vey fluent in today.  Moreover the Rambam is defending the Torah from the philosophical viewpoints of his day.  Since we aren’t familiar with those viewpoints the task of understanding the Moreh Nevuchim becomes that much more difficult.

While overall the Moreh Nevuchim is philosophical treatise, along the way the Rambam explains many mitzvos and hard to understand concepts and stories in the Torah.  We’ve all heard some over the years but only mere glimpses.  Now Rav Dovid Makover has done us a great favor by pulling out all these gems and putting them together in a Sefer called Moreh Nevuchim Al HaTorah (published by Mosad HaRav Kook 2005).  He goes Parsha by Parsha and quoting the relevant pasukim and bringing the relevant passages of the Moreh Nevuchim.

These passages are more loosely translated than ever before.   In his Hakdama, Rav Makover explains that he did not stick to the Rambam’s instructions because the parts he brings down are not philosophical.  He only brings down the parts that either explain the meaning of the pasukim or story or the fascinating reasons for the Mitzvos.  Furthermore he says the Ramban in his peirush on Chumash brings down many of these passages from the Rambam and he himself explains them.

Take a trip through this wonderful new door opener and peer into the many fascinating reasons for the mitzvos based on history and philosophy in accordance with the Rambam’s view that the mitzvos also have a logical, humanitarian, and social component to them in addition to being the command of Hashem.  You will also learn that many of the stories are much more logical than is normally explained by other Meforshim.  Pick up this interesting easy to read sefer.  We are sure you will enjoy it!

Mon, 12 May 2008 03:00:00 +0000 One of the least known gedolim of our generation sits right before our very eyes.  We put him in the spotlight yet we don’t even pretend to know him.  That is Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv shlit”a.  The Posek HaDor is from the few public gedolim that manages to stay out of the public and spend most of his time doing what he enjoys most; sitting and learning our holy Torah.  The fact that he doesn’t head a yeshiva or make his way around the dinner circuit has protected him from becoming public property.

In fact not many people know that beyond paskening day-to-day halachos, Rav Elyashiv is considered to be a great Mekubal.  Rav Aharon Leib Steinman was once quoted as saying in passing, that Rav Elyashiv is the greatest Mekubal of this generation.  Of course no one has ever seen him reading from a Zohar.

The Divrei Aggada published by Yifei Nof in 2005 gives an amazing glimpse to another side of Rav Elyashiv not seen or heard by most people of this generation.  This collection of fiery “shmuesen” and Divrei Torah on the Parsha and Yomim Tovim tells a picture of, not an elderly posek hiding behind his gemara ,but a young firebrand who speaks clearly and with passion.  The drashos and insight on each week’s parsha overflow with and inspire Ahavas Hatorah, Yiras Hashem, and Tikun HaMiddos.

These drashos were given in the years around 1950.  At that point Rav Elyashiv had taken his father’s position as the head of Tiferes Bachurim, which his father Rav Avrohom zt”l founded after arriving from Europe, to instill the love of torah learning in the drifting frum society.

Pick up the sefer to enjoy the warmth emanating directly from the neshama of the Gadol HaDor.  It is far more exciting than the big Sheitel controversy.

Mon, 05 May 2008 03:00:00 +0000 For years, while counting Sefiras HaOmer every night I wondered what the middos were all about.  Week after week as we went through the matrix of Chesed, Gvura… I knew it must mean something but I never saw it discussed anywhere.  I figured since Sefiras HaOmer is about spiritual growth and preparation for Kabalas HaTorah, these middos must describe the road from here to there, but it was sealed book to me.  Until one day around six years ago I discovered a Sefer dedicated to this very topic.

It is written by Rav Daniel Frisch zt”l from Toldos Aharon who was niftar 5765/2005 just three years ago.  During the Holocaust as a young boy he managed to survive the camps and made his way to Eretz Yisroel.  He was a well known Mekubal in Yerushalayim and a widespread disseminator of Kabalah, writing among other works, his popular peirush on Zohar, Masok M’Dvash which has become the gold standard today.  

In the Sefer each day has two tracks.  One describes the sefiros and three ways how a person should improve that day in his relationship with Hashem.  The second track describes three ways how the sefiros relate to a persons behavior Bein Adam L’Chaveiro.  This book is easy to understand and speaks to people of all levels. The 34 page forward gives depth and insight to the avodah of the days of Sefira and the importance of Tikun HaMiddos.  

For me and other people not familiar with kabalah you must take much for granted.  For example each middah is said to at various times to represent different emotions and avodos.  This left me a bit confused but the fact is that all these different things are all connected and represent various aspects of the same middah.  

Haskamos were given by the Eidah HaChareidis and Rav Yechiel Fishel Eisenbach the Rosh Yeshiva of Shaar HaShamayim a Yeshiva for Mekubalim in Yerushalayim and one of the places where Rav Frisch gave shiurim.  It was first published in 5761/2001.  Later small pocket size summary was published by the Keren Birchas Avrohom.  We have included in our daily offering a short glimpse of the sefira of the day primarily based on this sefer and it is available as a daily email.

This sefer is a must have for all those who want to use sefiras ha’omer as a time for self improvement as the Torah intended.

Mon, 28 Apr 2008 03:00:00 +0000