Perhaps three of the most iconic and beloved rabbis of our time are Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveitchik, and Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Each in his own way has given to our faith and people valued insights and teachings that have helped enhance the spiritual quality of our lives for now, and for generations to come.
Thus, it should not come as a surprise to note the almost complete sellout of a new haggadah that features the work of these three rabbinic greats.
“The Night That Unites,” edited by Rabbi Aaron Goldscheider with artwork by Aitana Perlmutter and published by Urim Publication, envelops into one volume some of the best teachings that each of these Torah luminaries brought forward in the last century. The choice of teachings, stories, and questions contained in this collective work represents some of the finest Torah learning for presentment at your Seder table.
Several years ago Rabbi Moshe Weinberger, of Woodmere’s Congregation Aish Kodesh, wrote an excellent English commentary on Rav Kook’s classic “Orot HaTeshuva.” The following segment was extracted from that work and included in this haggadah under the title, “Learning from the Holocaust.” It is inserted at the midpoint of the magid section before the recitation of the ten makot. Please read this segment carefully and consider the personalities and the wise words they uttered.
“Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik went to a Farbrengen, a special joyous Hasidic gathering, on the occasion of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s 80th birthday. He had come to honor the great sage and that night. The Rav was very impressed by the brilliance and erudition of the Rebbe.
“On the way home, Rabbi Soloveitchik commented that there was one thing with which he did not agree. When he offered the Rebbe a l’chaim, a toast, the Rebbe said, ‘Now the descendants of Rav Chaim Volozhin and the family of the Ba’al Ha Tanya have finally come together.’
“The Rebbe was referring to the split between the two great families and their followers. Two hundred years previously there had been a great schism between the Jews of these two streams. The followers of one group took a more scholarly and learned approach to Judaism, while the followers of the other adopted a more joyous and spiritual approach. Symbolically, the Rebbe felt that sharing the evening represented a unity that had been missing until that time.
“Rabbi Soloveitchik said that this was not true. They had indeed come together earlier. When Hitler had put the followers of Hassidism and the followers of their opponents, the Mitnagdim, together in the same gas chambers … he said that it was THEN that we realized that there is no difference between one Jew and another.”
At the appropriate time, right before we open the door to, G-d willing, hopefully greet Elijah, this segment will be recited at my Seder.
This review originally appeared in The Jewish Star