kosher bookworm

Readings for Sefirah and summer


This year’s spring edition of Ohr HaTzafon, by Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz of North Woodmere, features a lucid translation and commentary on the Haggadah that is dedicated to the memories and legacies of four educators from this Long Island community. Among them is one gentleman whom I knew personally, and thus my personal interest in this literary work.

Rabbi Chanina Hertzberg, of blessed and sacred memory, received the following most deserved eloquent tribute from Rabbi Lebowitz:

“Rabbi Chanina Hertzberg, zt”l, was my elementary school menahel, and we all loved him even more that we feared him. Rabbi Hertzberg taught us how fortunate we are to be Jews, and how proud we should be of being true servants of G-d. He taught us the value of honesty and valued the diversity of his students, recognizing that the Jewish people are to be loved regardless of background.”

This heartfelt sentiment is deeply appreciated, and speaks to the literary integrity and high quality of this new work by Rabbi Lebowitz.

Another essay in this anthology is titled Epilogue to the Exodus: Kibbush Haaretz, Then and Now, by Michael Oppenheim, dealing with the Hallel section of the Haggadah and focusing on Psalm 136, particularly the spiritual importance of the Land of Israel. Of special interest is the author’s unique and detailed take in the section titled “Status of Lands Conquered by Tzahal,” analyzing the legal status in Jewish law of IDF-conquered territory. The essay cites the opinions of Rav Yitzchak Herzog zt”l, Rav Eliezer Waldenberg zt”l, Rav Ben Tzion Uzziel zt”l, Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank zt”l, and Rav Shalom Goren zt”l, among many others.

Of note will be the author’s take on military actions during the Six Day War of 1967, and of the opinions of Rav Avraham Sherman concerning the implications of the military conquest resulting from the conduct of this war, especially the positions taken by the United Nations in this matter.

Also of timely interest is the recent publication by ArtScroll of the Mishnah Elucidated edition of Tractate Avos. Of particular interest is the essay found on pages 4 through 5, titled The Custom to Study Avos on Shabbos Afternoons. This essay teaches us the history and origin of this practice and its practical value to us today, especially in the enhanced application of the numerous commentaries cited in this new edition of this cherished and sacred work.

And, finally, speaking about Pirkei Avos, the recent untimely passing of Joe Bobker z”l prompts me to bring to your attention his commentary, “With a Twist of Humor.” In it, Joe places a well-earned smile on this sacred literary discipline for your spring and summer learning routine.

Do try to obtain these works, and come to further appreciation the sacred teachings of our Sages.