Review of The Night That Unites Passover Haggadah Softcover Edition

March 29, 2015

By Dov Peretz ElkinsThe Night That Unites

The philosophies of three major Jewish personalities lie at the heart of this Haggadah. Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, and Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach believed that the Jewish people have a critical role to play in demonstrating and sharing a unique way of life with the world. As Jews, we share in the universal historical experience of mankind and therefore must contribute to the benefit of all humanity.

The artwork on the cover of this Haggadah depicts three concentric circles of human endeavor as uniquely taught by these spiritual giants, moving outward from the individual to the collective whole. At the center lies the importance of the individual. Each Jew is to forge his or her path and engage in a life dedicated to the ideals and mitzvot of the Torah. Second, beyond our individual concerns, we are also called on to develop and thrive as a nation. Finally, there is a third sphere which takes us beyond our individual and national concerns; we are called upon to take a unique place in inspiring the world, praying for, and working towards the Redemption of all humanity.

Offering a fresh and original look at the Seder night, this Passover Haggadah is a unique compilation of the teachings of Rav Kook, Rabbi Soloveitchik, and Reb Carlebach. Together with discussion questions and contemporary insights, this Haggadah powerfully engages the reader on the most compelling and memorable night of the year – The Night That Unites.

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Review of The Night That Unites Passover Haggadah

March 19, 2015

The Night That UnitesTeachings from three extraordinary rebbes intertwine in conversation as the author percolates wisdoms across 3,000 years of tradition. Thematic explorations include the Jewish inner fire expressing kindness, the defiance of reclining, and the joy of being creative. You may also find yourself discussing the merits of being a public Jew, a discerning leader, or contemplating the nature of a holy nation. Hallel contains insights on reliance, joyous song, gratitude, and a desire for unity. This gem will provide years of inspiration.

This review appears in Jewish Family Times Passover Edition

Review of The Night That Unites

June 3, 2014

by Rabbi Elan AdlerThe Night That Unites

Can you make room for 3 more at your table? You’ll want to with this new Haggadah by Rabbi Aaron Goldscheider. In this one magnificent 300-page contribution to the genre of Pesach seder volumes, the author brings us the wisdom and inspiration of 3 giants of our people: Rav Kook, Rabbi Soloveitchik and Reb Shlomo Carlebach. Their comments on various aspects and themes of Seder night are interwoven with the author’s own insights, and what you hold in your hand, and eventually read avidly from cover to cover, is a goldmine of interpretations, teachings and stories for everyone at the table.

Rabbi Goldscheider has gifted us with several valuable and practical aspects to this Haggadah which make it welcome and exceptional. First, the title of the comments of each of the 3 rabbinic giants is highlighted in a different color-Rav Kook in red, Rav Soloveitchik in green, and Reb Shlomo in blue. Keeping this in mind, the seder leader can choose comments from all the Rabbis in page order, or choose to focus on just one or two for the evening. As I read through the Haggadah, I put sticky notes on every comment that I couldn’t wait to share at my seder. Rav Kook’s “Ahavat Eretz Yisrael,” Rav Soloveitchik’s “Ahavat Torat Yisrael” and Reb Shlomo’s “Ahavat Am Yisrael” break through again and again in brief whisps of depth and elegance. The author uses conversational language in each presentation, so no seder participant needs to struggle with hard words or clunky translations of the text. Each comment of the Rabbis aims for the intellect as well as the heart. Rabbi Goldscheider skillfully chooses master lessons by each of the greats, and drops them into the Haggadah at just the right moments. No matter what “color commentary” one chooses, each individual teaching is “delicious” you can’t wait to serve it at your seder. Read the rest of this entry »

An Old Story, Newly Retold

June 1, 2014

by Steve Lipman The Night That Unites

The three rabbis — Abraham Isaac Kook, the first Ashkenazic chief rabbi of Israel; Joseph Ber Soloveitchik, for decades the philosophical leader of the Modern Orthodox movement; and Shlomo Carlebach, the troubadour whose music became the soundtrack for a few generations of Jews — whose thoughts about Passover Rabbi Goldscheider brings together, numbered among the most influential  leaders of 20th-century Judaism. All shared an open-minded spirit that transcended denominational labels, though all were Orthodox.

“The great rabbinic personalities featured in this volume share common cause in their profound desire and great efforts to bring unity to our people,” Rabbi Goldscheider writes in his introduction. Ordained by Yeshiva University, he served as a pulpit rabbi in the U.S. for two decades and now lives in Jerusalem.

He supplements the rabbis’ teachings with additional readings (“special sections”) on kindness, the Holocaust and Israel, and discussion questions. And illustrative tales from the rabbis’ lives.

The Haggadah’s layout makes it easy to follow the order of the seder, and Perlmutter’s drawings at the start of each section are spectacular. The book is comprehensive, but may better serve as a study guide before Passover; a collector’s item, it’s another Haggadah you will fear staining.

The full review appeared on

Review of The Night That Unites

May 23, 2014

by Jay Michaelson The Night That Unites

“The wise son, and to me, hands down the best new entry of the year, is “The Night That Unites,” published by Urim Publications and assembled by Aaron Goldscheider. At $39.95 per copy, it makes a good case for a downloadable app. But buy one copy for the treasure trove of insights, primarily from Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, Rav Kook, and Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Like many interpretation-rich Haggadot, this one is not suitable for seat-of-the-pants, read-as-you-go use at the Seder. Rather, it rewards advance preparation; bookmark your favorite parts, and share them on the first night of Passover.

What “The Night that Unites” misses, interestingly, is the incongruity of its three primary sources. This trio is a motley crew indeed: the rational legalist, the nationalistic mystic and the hippie. Unfortunately, “The Night that Unites” often lapses into hagiography, whitewashing Soloveitchik, Kook and Carlebach into three barely distinguishable exemplars of everything good and righteous. Ironically, “The Night that Unites” unites too much. It would have benefited from exploring the productive tensions between these three luminaries, rather than glossing them over.

Still, I learned a lot, and considering that I’ve reviewed a dozen Haggadot in each of the last six years, that’s saying something.”

The full review of “All the 2014 Haggadah Info You’ll Ever Need” is on The Jewish Daily Forward

Prepare to be Surprised

May 18, 2014

by Yonoson Rosenblum Journey Together: 49 Steps to Transforming a Family

As I was reciting Tefillas Haderech on a recent early morning flight from Denver to Los Angeles, I noticed that the fellow across the aisle was reading his Psalms. I was confident that he would soon strike up a conversation, and, sure enough, five seconds later, he inquired, “Are you a rabbi?” 

From past experience with evangelicals, I knew that we would have a pleasant conversation, and find much about which we could agree politically and with respect to the parlous moral state of our world. And indeed, he began by telling me that former Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, had spoken at the local university, Colorado Christian, and he had been impressed. 

But I confess that I also assumed that my conversation partner for the hour-and-a-half flight to Los Angeles would not be highly educated or too intellectually sophisticated, and that the conversation would consist mostly of my throwing out red meat in the manner of Rush Limbaugh.

I could not have been further off track. I soon learned that my traveling companion was a pilot (which explained his recitation of Psalms — “I know everything that can go wrong”), and held a PhD in geological sciences. He had headed a geological survey company that left him rich enough to retire at 40, and thereafter told his wife that he intended to devote the rest of his life to more spiritual pursuits. 

His wife, by the way, had finished her pathology residency in her early 20s. But they decided that he was making enough money for her to concentrate on child rearing. In addition to their own two biological children, when their youngest was ten, they adopted a child from Korea whose parentage would have left him as a permanent outcast in Korean society. 

I could not help but be impressed by the elevation of spiritual values above purely material ones, and in his wife’s case, the choice of child rearing above professional prestige. 

But there were more surprises to come. His son completed his doctorate at Cambridge University in one of the hard sciences, and his son’s wife had earned her doctorate in physics in the laboratory of Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest living physicists, but no great friend of religion. Her research was so important as to make her a vital national resource for the British government. For good measure, my new buddy’s brother is the chief economist in the antitrust division of the Justice Department. 

Nor has all this higher education — at places where atheism is the default position — been at the expense of religious belief. When his son told his wife that he didn’t think they could afford more children after their fourth, she told him not to worry, “G-d will provide.”  Read the rest of this entry »

The Night That Unites Passover Haggadah: A Review

April 6, 2014

by Alan Jay Gerber TheNightThatUnites9789655241532

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