Every so often a book hits the shelves that changes the conversation. In his captivating new book, “Succos Inspired: Discovering Depth, Joy & Meaning,” Rabbi Moshe Gersht manages to infuse new life into the holiday of Succos.
A holiday rich with meaning, too often we find ourselves with little time to prepare spiritually for Succos. With the short time after Yom Kippur to get our sukkas build and decorated and cook all the festive meals, during chol chamoed might be the time to get the most out of the latter part of the holiday.
Uplifting, insightful and easy to digest, Rabbi Gersht’s book has been lauded for looking at Succos in a new light by such leading Torah luminaries as Rabbi Abraham. J. Twerski, MD; Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller; Rabbi Akiva Tatz, and Rabbi Shlomo Katz. The book has received letters of blessing and approbation from Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetzky, Rabbi Dovid Cohen, and Rabbi Zev Leff, plus many well-earned accolates.
Making Aliyah from his home in Los Angeles nearly a decade ago, Rabbi Moshe Gersht lives in Jerusalem with his wife and family. He has spent years studying under Rabbi Beryl Gershenfeld, Rabbi Chaim Ilson, and Rabbi Asher Arieli, and his approach to Jewish thought is heavily influenced by the teachings of the Maharal, the Ramchal and the Chassidic masters.
When Rabbi Gersht isn’t peeling back the layers of a Torah topic or revealing the rich meaning of a Yom Tov, he enjoys composing music. “Succos Inspired” is his first book.
When asked what sets this book apart from other Succos books, Rabbi Gersht said, “They basically don’t exist.”
“There is one other book strictly on Succos, called ‘Sukkos Secrets,’ that I know of,” he said. “However most material written in English is compiled together with the Yomim Noraim.
“Even on Heb-rew bookshelves, there are only a handful of books that discuss Succos, and they are almost all written in the last fifty years. There are many books on the halachos of Succah and the lulav and esrog, but what we are discussing here are books on the deep ideas and secrets that exist under the surface of the holiday and it’s mitzvos. ‘Succos Inspired’ paints a picture of what the deeper reasons are to what we are celebrating and shows how they apply to our lives today.”
In general, even though the vast majority of the time Rabbi Moshe Gersht is learning through shas and poskim, he spends a considerable amount of time delving into the more hidden esoteric parts of the Torah searching for the secrets of life that are buried within. In his fourth year in Yeshivas Mir, they arrived at Maseches Succah.
As he was preparing for the wonderful summer session of learning, he made the decision to not only learn the more revealed halachik aspects of the masechta, but to fully engage himself in the holiday through learning all the depth in mussar, chasidus and machshava he could find on the subject.
Simultaneously, Rabbi Gersht, who had already longed to share his Torah with the world, was looking for a way to give back without leaving his fulltime seat in the Beis Midrash.
A longtime mentor of his, Rabbi Yosef Lynn (Mashgiach of Machon Yaakov), had suggested writing out pieces of Torah that spoke to his heart and give them to other educators to use as platforms for classes. In doing so, he could maintain his regular learning and also begin to feel the gift of giving.
With these two events happening side by side, Rabbi Gersht decided the way he was going to give over and retain the beautiful Torah he was preparing to learn was to transform it into a sefer that would be user friendly to the English speaking community. He had noticed that Succos in a large way had become the forgotten holiday, and he felt this would be a great opportunity to share the wealth of Torah with those who didn’t have access to the sefarim in Lashon Hakodesh.
Succos Inspired is in Jewish bookstores and available online at SuccosInspired.com.