The Megillos have been packed away for next year, while the loads of mishloach manos and other chametz (and the nosh) are quickly being consumed. Brooms and mops are being wielded along with other reinforcements, and the fumes of Easy-Off and Windex waft through the air. Purim quickly becomes a distant memory as families turn their attention to the approaching Yom Tov of Pesach. Various haggados and Pesach-related sefarim, both new and old, are being prominently displayed in Judaic bookstores, as the focus on the meaning and depth of Pesach begins to be explored anew.
The Torah Vodaas Haggadah, one of the most anticipated haggados to be published in years, is taking its place of prominence at the forefront of the retail displays. The product of months of preparation, this unique sefer is a compilation of the divrei Torah of seven prominent Roshei Yeshiva who—collectively—led Yeshiva Torah Vodaas for nearly a century. A perfect complement to the Seder, this work includes, in addition to the Roshei Yeshiva’s divrei Torah, the Pesach minhagim of these legendary figures, as well as biographical sketches of their lives. Beautifully laid out in a most aesthetically pleasing way, the Haggadah is a delight for the eyes as it is for the mind and heart.
“After spending some time reviewing the shtiklach,” one reader commented, “I had such a hard time deciding which ones to say at my Seder. Each and every one is so beautifully written, and contains such depth and timeless lessons, that it is difficult to choose just a few to repeat at the Seder. I anticipate that the ten or so that I did pick will serve as a springboard for discussions on emunah with my children and family. I am eagerly looking forward to this year’s Seder. And I have so much left over to say for next year, too!”
This project was the brainchild of Tsemach Glenn, a devoted talmid of Yeshiva Torah Vodaas. While still in the yeshiva, he developed a close relationship with Rav Simcha Sheps, Rav Avrohom Pam, and Rav Elazar Kahanow zichronam livrachah, and he initially planned to compile the Pesach divrei Torah of just these three Roshei Yeshiva. Upon the advice of Rabbi Binyomin Zev Karman, a colleague from his days as a talmid in Torah Vodaas, Glenn decided to also include in the Haggadah the works of Rav Reuvain Fain and Rav Gedaliah Schorr zichronam livrachah, under whom he had learned. As the project progressed even more, Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky zt”l was added, due to Glenn’s close relationship with his son, Rav Binyomin Kamenetsky shlit”a. Finally, it was decided to include Rav Shlomo Heiman zt”l as well, since he passed away childless and many of his former talmidim at Torah Vodaas, who felt like they were his children, wanted to do something in his memory.
(The Roshei Yeshiva of Torah Vodaas who were omitted from this volume were nevertheless not neglected. Time constraints and the difficulty gathering and translating their chiddushim dictated that they instead be included iy”H in a second volume, one that is already underway and scheduled for release in time for Pesach 5772. This volume will include Rav Reuvain Grozovsky, Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, Rav Shmuel Kushelevitz, Rav Aharon Yeshaya Shapiro zichronam livrachah, amongst others.)
Given the sheer magnitude of divrei Torah available from these Roshei Yeshiva alone, it was necessary to peruse many, many of their works and the writings of their talmidim in order to narrow down and select the pieces that would be most appropriate for this Haggadah. From the onset, the writers hired for this project strove to have the sefer bring out the greatness of the miracle of Yetzias Mitzrayim, impart emunah, and foster a feeling of ahavas haTorah. Indeed, their goal was met with success, and the Torah Vodaas Haggadah truly does all of the above.
The beauty of this Haggadah is that it really encompasses the length and breadth of Torah Vodaas history. Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz zt”l sought to infuse his talmidim with a broad array of Torah views and personalities. The authors managed to capture the essence of each one of these Roshei Yeshiva: the measured logic of Rav Shlomo Heiman; the Chassidic insights of Rav Gedaliah Schorr; the truthful and novel elucidation of Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky; the mussar of Shanghai and the “Mir element” of Rav Reuvain Fain; the fiery passion of Rav Simcha Sheps; the eloquence and eidelkeit of Rav Avrohom Pam; and the halachic brilliance of Rav Elazar Kahanow, zichronam livrachah. There is no doubt that this Haggadah has something for every reader, no matter who he or she may be.
From Kaddesh through Nirtzah, readers of The Torah Vodaas Haggadah will be able to envisage these masters of Torah and mussar imparting to them the emunah and ahavas haTorah that they possessed. Indeed, a Torah Vodaas talmid learning from this Haggadah will be transported back to the shiurim of his great rabbeim. Others, no doubt, will be drawn to these gedolim of yesteryear, and will feel an immediate connection with them. Either way, The Torah Vodaas Haggadah will surely give you a Pesach experience to be long remembered.
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