kosher bookworm

The unique Torah scholarship of Nachum Katz


This week it is my honor to bring to your attention the Torah teachings of Rabbi Nachum Katz and of his new Hebrew sefer, “Hinachem Nafshi.” Here are excerpts from an anline interview I recently conducted with the author.

Please tell us about your background:

“I grew up here in Far Rockaway and attended Yeshiva of South Shore elementary school. I am a talmid of yeshiva R’Chaim Berlin. After learning there throughout my high school years and for a subsequent six years in bais midrash and kollel, I was privileged to study halacha under the renowned posek, Rav Feivel Cohen, zt’’l, the author of Badei Hashulchan.

“Furthermore at Chaim Berlin I was greatly inspired by the approach of Rav Hutner, zt’’l. We were taught to delve into the Chumash and look for deeper meanings in each parsha. We were taught to view each minute detail of the stories of the avos through the lens of maaseh avos siman l’banim.

“We were taught that, if viewed properly, each parsha was meant to inspire our hearts and and thus stimulate a greater sense of ahavas Hashem. I took these teachings very much to heart. Even at a young age I began to dedicate much time to the study of Chumash and I started compiling notebooks full of insights which would eventually form the nucleus of my sefer.”

Why did you write this sefer?

“Every Jew has a unique part in Torah. We are taught that there are 600,000 letters in the Torah corresponding to the formative members of Klal Yisroel. Each letter has its own unique significance. Each is indispensable. A Sefer Torah that is missing just one letter is pasul.

“I believe that a ben Torah who is blessed with some unique insights has an obligation to share them with his fellow Jews. Perhaps he can offer an answer to a question that has been bothering others. Perhaps, he can further enlighten and thus inspire others with a novel approach. Thus in a similar vein, each Jew’s special contribution to Torah learning is unique. Perhaps he can fill in a letter that was missing in his friend’s Torah and thus help make it complete.

“Hinachem Nafshi is presented as well developed ma’amarim. There are no stories or fluff in this work. It is not a collection of Vortlach. The reader seeking a quick and easy one-liner Dvar Torah will be disappointed. Rather, the author leads us upon an in-depth and methodical learning adventure in which each ma’amar is clearly developed and each chidush is very strongly supported by multiple proofs.

“Throughout this sefer are hundreds of questions that are addressed in an inspiring and clearly organized manner built upon clearly thought-out yesodos. Many of these questions are the very basic ‘I should have asked that’ type and it is refreshing to discover that someone now has not only asked them but has also most painstakingly developed clear and convincing approaches to answer them.”

A word of caution: Although this sefer is organized on the basis of the Torah parshios, the author advises in his introduction that the book is not a comprehensive  Torah commentary. Rather, it is a collection of his own thoughts presented in over 70 ma’amarim. He did not set out to write ‘’something’’ on each parsha.