Joseph on Joseph: The Rav’s take on the Tzaddik

by Alan Jay GerberVisions and Leadership

The subject of the life’s journey of Joseph, Yosef Hatzaddik, is the subject of weekly Torah readings till the end of December, which includes the festival of Chanukah.

This week’s essay focuses on the work Vision and Leadership: Reflections on Joseph and Moses [Ktav Publishing House, 2013] by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, edited by Rabbi Reuven Ziegler, Dr. David Shatz, and Dr. Joel Wolowelsky for the Toras HaRav Foundation.

This review deals with the Rav’s take on Joseph.

According to Rabbi Reuven Ziegler, the Rav identified with Joseph, not just because they both had the same name and because Joseph was misunderstood by his siblings. Rabbi Soloveitchik identified with Joseph mainly because he was a dreamer and Joseph demonstrated, throughout his life’s experience in Egypt, that one can remain a loyal Jew even while living in the most advanced society of that era. Further, both were to spend their life’s work interacting within their respective societies at the highest levels.

Much in this work points to the Rav’s highlighting Joseph’s activities as parallel to the ultimate destiny of the Jewish people.

In the Rav’s essay, “Joseph The Dreamer” he observes: “As Jews, we have a living memory which spans centuries and millennia. We also have an awareness of a common destiny. The past is real to us; the future is also real – as real as the past. Basically, this memory of the past, together with anticipation of the future, are two experiences of brothers. And since Jews are brothers, that is what unites us: the common past and the common future.”

This common bond, when joined with trust, has forged for Jews, throughout history, the binding force that assured for us that collective strength that has guaranteed our existence through the ages.

The relationship between Joseph and Pharaoh was predicated upon the wise advice that Joseph gave the monarch that led to the continued economic integrity of the Egyptian governance. Consider the following interpretation of Joseph’s words by the Rav:“However, there is a way to avoid the distress and disaster which will be caused by the seven cows, and that is the Continue reading “Joseph on Joseph: The Rav’s take on the Tzaddik”


The Kosher Bookworm: Yes, It’s Rosh Hashanah, Again

by Alan Jay Gerber

Yes indeed, it is Rosh Hashanah once again, and there are some really fine, high quality books for your continued learning pleasure.

To really understand the true meaning and feeling for the upcoming “Yimei Ratzon,” a close reading of some of the most authoritative teachings concerning this holy season is always in order. This year is no different, and by the time you finish with this essay, you will be inspired to read some of the selections suggested or revisit previous Kosher Bookworm reviews for even more choices.

Once again The Commentator strikes: Rabbi Yitzchak Sender’s latest work, The Commentators’ Rosh Hashanah: Prayers and Torah Reading [Feldheim, 2012] brings to our readers a 317 page anthology of original essays on the most important liturgical works found in the machzor, spanning the entire repertoire of the sacred writ of this season. Starting with the selichos prayers and spanning the entire liturgy, both the halachos as well as the deeper meanings of the text are subjected to the classic Commentators treatment. Through humor, anecdotes, and homiletics, we are brought face to face with the wisdom, inspiration, and profound ethical teachings whose purpose it is to bring us to appreciate the true logic and purpose of the concept and practice of real, heartfelt teshuvah.

Dr. Erica Brown, that educator of educators, has once again brought to our homes a unique, and quite original work entitled, Return: Daily Inspiration For The Days Of Awe [OU Press/Maggid, 2012] wherein, by using the calendar based technique of the ten days of repentance, presents for our use a daily discipline of readings based upon a series of Al Chet selections, with each day headed by a differing ethical theme. These themes include faith, destiny, humility, compassion, anger, honesty, and holiness.

Drawing upon a plethora of literary sources, her multi-cultural presentment gives our time honored themes of teshuva a unique and most relevant meaning for all Jews seriously interested in the deeper theological, as well as practical meanings, of what the concept of repentance should mean to all of us. This work is a true supplement to that great work by Rabbi Ezra Bick, In His Mercy: Understanding the Thirteen Midot [Maggid/Yeshivat Har Etzion, 2010]. Also, to be referenced from a previous review, is Dr. Louis Newman’s work, Repentance: The Meaning and Practice of Teshuvah, [Jewish Lights, 2010]. Also it should be noted within this same literary genre, is Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski’s now classic Twerski on Machzor: Rosh Hashanah [Artscroll, 2011, 2012], a supplement now in its second printing, and most deservedly so.

In addition, we have a second volume of Rabbi Moshe Weinberger’s excellent commentary on Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook’s Orot Teshuvah, Song of Teshuvah [Urim/ Penina Press, 2012] Continue reading “The Kosher Bookworm: Yes, It’s Rosh Hashanah, Again”