Reviewed by Rabbi Yair Hoffman
The Mesivta of Long Beach stands among the most prestigious Torah institutions in America. For over half of a century, it was led by one of the leading Talmidim of Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l: Rav Yitzchok Feigelstock shlita. It is well known that Rav Aharon consulted very often with Rav Feigelstock, whom he considered as one of his closest students. His shmuessim and divrei Torah inspired a nation in their most formative years. Elul. Rosh haShana. Yom Kippur. Sukkos. Shmini Atzeres.
Generations of Talmidim were enthralled with Rav Feigelstock’s unique combination of the emotional and intellectual. Now, for the first time, five decades of shmuessim are distilled into one remarkable sefer sponsored by Reb Avrohom Betesh. Yehegeh Chochma does the job. It informs. It inspires. It motivates as it simultaneously stimulates. In this author’s view it is so filled with remarkable nuggets of destined to be a classic.
What is the tefilah of v’esain pachdecha really about? It is about undoing or rectifying the terrible chillul Hashem that exists currently in the world. Hashem is the Ultimate Giver – providing for our well-being every day. Instead of recognizing the goodness he does for us – what do we do? We curse and blaspheme His Holy Name. We must be pained over this travesty and at least on one day of the year we yearn for recognition of His Benevolence (p.80).
What else should we be davening for on Rosh HaShanah?
In the section called Iyun Tefillah, we find a list:
We should be davening for our brethren living in Eretz Yisroel amidst all the dangers of terrorism.
We should be davening for our brethren that are estranged from Torah. Through no fault of their own, they have never tasted the glorious taste of Torah and Mitzvos.
We should be davening for all those who are suffering from illness in our times: young and old.
We have to daven for the welfare of the yeshivah movement – the yeshivos and other institutions of Torah. They are the foundation stone for the success of the nation.
We should daven for the well-being of the Gedolei Yisroel – that they should continue to have strength to lead. We should also daven for the creation of future and worthy Gedolei Yisroel.
If we have a friend that we know needs something – whether it is of a physical or spiritual nature – we should be davening for that for him.
And when we do make these requests, we must do so without demands, with no expectations, like a poor person at a doorstep requesting alms.
The Shofar stops the Satan in his tracks right? Not always. When we are not careful in the Kedusha of Shabbos – well, stopping of the Satan doesn’t work (p.67).
Our Bais Yaakovs and girls schools are well known for their chessed programs. What about Chessed for Yeshiva students? Rav Feigelstock says that it is impossible to grow in Torah without Chessed (p.75). Every yeshiva student should contemplate the lot of his fellow Jew a few minutes each week and be genuinely concerned over his or her fate.
The Sabba of Kelm poses an interesting question on the pasuk in Yeshaya 44:22. “I erased your transgressions like a thick cloud, and like a cloud have I erased your sins; return to Me for I have redeemed you.” Doesn’t teshuva precede forgiveness? Why is the order switched? Rav Feigelstock explains that the very nature of Yom Kippur is one of forgiveness, out of the genuine benevolence of Hashem. One of the conditions in the day, however, is that we return to Hashem. This is the message that the Navi is imparting to us.
Rav Feigelstock further writes that the illumination we receive on Yom Kippur lasts until after Sukkos (p. 121). He further cites his Rebbe, Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l, that there is an internal connection between Yom Kippur and Sukkos in that Sukkos is the natural culmination of Yom Kippur. If a prisoner’s sentence was repealed, if he was forgiven, wouldn’t the natural reaction be that of complete and utter joy? This is truly zman simchaseinu – what the Yom Tov of Sukkos represents.
This remarkable Sefer is filled with pearls of insight into Torah that will certainly enhance our appreciation of the days of Awe that are approaching. The reviewer highly recommends this sefer.
The reviewer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org