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Torah Connections: Seforim in Review

torah connectionsBy Rabbi Yair Hoffman for the Five Towns Jewish Times

The ability to extrapolate precious life lessons from our Meforshim is a skill that needs to be carefully cultivated and taught. This skill is different than just constructing a Dvar Torah. It is the ability to be carefully attuned to what the meforash is saying, and clarifying and crystalizing an important insight in psychology or the nature of midos or bitachon. It is rechecking to ensure that this insight has been derived properly – not putting our own thoughts into the meforash but extrapolating the principles from organically. And it is also applying it practically to modern situations.

Torah Connections by Rabbi Rosman, the director of Yeshivas Aish HaTorah in Yerushalaim, is just such a Sefer wherein this approach to meforshim can be seen.

The author’s ability to carefully distill life lessons from Meforshim is remarkable. His masterful use of what the Gedolei haMussar tell us is woven beautifully into each parsha, and he offers his readers practical suggestions for implementation. This sefer makes relevant the timeless messages of the Gedolei HaMeforshim to people at all stages of Yiddishkeit and at all levels.

Aside from all this, the sefer is filled with remarkable mareh mekomos – ideas and thoughts that have escaped our attention – until now. Thus, we learn of the Sefer Charedim’s view that Hashem commanded Avrohom to leave Eretz Yisroel temporarily to foster a greater love for it. The author suggests on his own that this explains Klal Yisroel’s pining love for Eretz Yisroel – placing it in our spiritual gene pool. We are treated to a gem from Rav Shimon Shkop’s introduction to his sefer on lomdus in parshas Kedoshim. We encounter one of the Chasam Sofer’s students where, in his introduction to the Kol Aryeh, he explains a deeper meaning of the first line in Shma – that Hashem’s Names are also One – Hashem’s strict Justice stems from His Mercy.

We learn of the Tomer Devorah’s position explaining arvus – that every Yiddisha neshama contains a bit of every other Jew’s neshama. We encounter the maharal’s explanation in parshas vayigash that Yaakov Avinu recited Shma when he re-encountered Yoseph because his love of Hashem had demonstrably increased more now that he had a deeper understanding of how everything that Hashem does – is for the best. His loss of Yoseph for all these years had a purpose.

In Parsha Trumah, we learn about the mishkan and how the kruvim face each when we do what Hashem wants of us. Rabbi Rosman cites the Ritva’s question on the Gemorah in Yuma 54b. Why were the kruvim embracing when the enemy had entered the Beis HaMikdash? At that point, Klal Yisroel was not doing the ratzon Hashem! One answer the author provides is from the Ri M’gash. Hashem wanted to show the gentiles a small glimpse of His love for Klal Yisroel – even at the moment of destruction. He also cites Rav Chaim Shmulevitz that when we punish our children – it should only be through palpably detectable love.

In Parshas Tetzaveh, the Ramban teaches us the origin of the term Urim v’Tumim. He explains it as a two part message that the Kohen receives. First the letters light up – hence the allusion to the word light – Urim. Then, if the Kohain gadol merits – he receives ruach hakodesh as to the order of the letters. Hence the allusion to the word perfection – Tumim. Why did Aharon HaKohain merit this tool – which involves prophecy? Rabbi Rosman cites the Drashos HaRan that his lev tov – his love for others and his good heart enabled him to receive this gift. Rabbi Rosman then cites Rav Chaim Shmulevitz’s explanation as to why Eli mistook Chana’s prayers for drunken behavior – he did not have the requisite level of love to feel Chana’s pain in his heart. Rabbi Rosman then tells us that we should emulate this aspect of Aharon HaKohain whenever we give advice to others.

After each parsha, there are footnotes where the author cogently presents numerous different approaches to the issues brought up in the text itself. The footnotes are deep, exhaustive, and succinctly written – not an easy task.

Throughout the sefer, there are inspirational stories of famous Torah personalities that are woven into the concepts and ideas the author presents. One can surmise that this may be the influence of Rav Hanoch Teller to whom the author acknowledges in the introduction.

The sefer has 443 pages of depth. And while each section is only about two to three pages in length, it contains profound concepts and ideas. Torah Connections is eminently usable for Rabbonim, teachers, and anyone developing a deeper theme in Torah. It has an excellent table of contents where topics from other parshios can be specially picked out. It also has an excellent index. In short, readers will gain enormously from this sefer and it is a highly recommended addition to the Shabbos table.

The reviewer can be reached at [email protected]

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