Reviewed by Rabbi Yair Hoffman
This Pesach, you can give yourself a treat in Jewish machshava with the purchase of Maggid HaRakiah, by Rav Doniel Glatstein shlita. It is a Sefer purportedly on both the month of Nissan and the Yom Tov of Pesach – but it is much more. Prepare yourself for 498 pages of original machshavah – that deal with weighty matters and with the proper Torah hashkafos on thousands of topics. It deals with so many aspects of Jewish history (for the Blood libels, for example, see Maamar 7). But most importantly, it is a sefer that imbues the reader not just with knowledge – but with yiras shamayim and Torah inspiration.
In maamar #1, Rabbi Glatstein inspires us with a demonstration of how the entire month of Nissan abounds with Kedusha. In maamar #14, he demonstrates that the seder of Pesach – the order inherent in it all actually forms and fashions the future Ge’ulah. In maamar #19, Rabbi Glatstein demonstrates that the essence of the entire Haggadah is an expression of thanks and gratitude and that, in and of itself, inspires us to a higher level of Kedusha. In maamar #23, Rabbi Glatstein delineates the differences between Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariah and Rabban Gamliel in their general approach to Torah and how that manifests throughout the Hagaddah. (Interestingly enough, Rabbi Glatstein’s unique style of Torah learning, applies both approaches as can be seen throughout his seforim).
RABBI GLATSTEIN’S NOVEL APPROACH
How does he do it? Rabbi Glatstein’s unique style is one of probing. Prodding. Dissecting. And through it all – he unfolds latent thoughts and understandings. He uncovers ideas and meanings that we would have missed if not for Rabbi Glatstein’s intellectual probing instrument.
Examples abound. In explaining the phrase in the hagaddah, “lehavi yemos hamashiach” Rabbi Glatstein (p. 486) tackles the topic of, “Kol HaMoadim asidin livatel – that all the holidays – in the future, will become batel.” He cites the Rashba (Responsum 1:93) as asking, “How could this be?” Rabbi Glatstein gathers a number of statements of Chazal and probes. He answers that the word batel has been misunderstood. Rather, it means that the details of the final Geulah will be so breathtaking and awe-inspiring – that the rest of the Moadim will pale in comparison. “Batel”, means “will pale the others.”
We know that the answer is correct because it follows the lines of previous masters of Machshava – The Satmar Rebbe zt”l in Divrei Yoel Motzei Yom Kippur (page 418) writes the same thought, but without Rabbi Glanstein’s slew of Divrei Chazal that leads to this conclusion. We also see this in the Bnei Yissaschar (Maamar Chodesh Adar 4:8), but once again without the probing and prodding that brought us to it.
THE FOUR EXILES
In Maamar 45, Rabbi Glatstein cites Bereishis Rabbah 2:5 that there are four exiles, of course. Yet the Midrash does not mention which will be the fourth – merely calling it “malchus haR’shaa – the Evil Empire” (with apologies to R. Regan). In numerous places, however, we do come across the four – Bavel, Maddai, Yavan and Edom. Why isn’t the golus of Yishmael reckoned with the other four exiles?
Rabbi Glatstein cites the Ibn Ezra (on Doniel 2:39) that Greece and Rome are combined as one – and that the exile of Yishmael is the fourth. Rabbi Glatstein cites the Maharal as putting forth two answers: That Chazal only included exiles and empires that had conquered directly from a Malchus Yisroel. Only those empires, or exiles, are worthy to be reckoned. The rise of Yishmael was only established after the malchus of Yisroel was already taken by Rome. The second answer is that it is included within the exile of Paras – Persia.
But how do the two connect? Rabbi Glatstein connects them with a Gemorah in Yuma 10a. He understands that Rome symbolizes the west (a reasonable assumption – since all of western law is based upon Roman law). The Gemorah states that there will be a final battle between Rome and Paras.
But before we start to panic (in light of the recent headlines about Iranian Nukes) – Rabbi Glatstein presents his own possible reconciliation. He cites an Arizal (Likutei Torah parshas Ki Saytzay) that states that the 4 exiles correspond to the four letters in hashem’s Name and that of Mitrzayim corresponds to the kotzo shel yud – the tip of the yud – which is equated to all of them.
Rabbi Glatstein probes and prods further. Why should this be so? How does it work? He understands the words of the Arizal as presenting that Golus Mitzrayim is a Klal – and the others are a prat. A Klal is a general principle – or category. A prat is a detail – something included in the general category. Golus Mitzrayim encompasses them all.
How so? The Maharshal (responsum #88) states that the exile of Mitzrayim began through Yishma’ailim – through the seeling of Yoseph by way of the Yishma’ailim. Rashi (Psachim 65b) discusses wrapping the Korban Pesach like Yishma’ailim (represented now by the Afikoman).
But why? Rabbi Glatstein reminds us that Yishmael’s mother was Hagar – daughter of Pharoah. He then cites a slew of hints and connection between Yishmael and Mitzraim. Ultimately, Rabbi Glatstein demonstrates that all the parallels lead to one inspiring message – just as He redeemed us from Golus Mitzrayim – He will redeem us from Gaolus Yishmael that is so rooted in Mitzrayim. May we see the wonders of this Geulah quickly and completely in our days.
Truthfully, Rabbi Glatstein’s sefer is so filled with pearls and nuggets of inspirational insights that a review cannot really do it justice. Every single page is eye-opening. Each maamar is capable of inspiration.
It is no wonder that Rabbi Glatstein’s tapes and lectures have enjoyed such widespread popularity. He has authored other seforim as well, “Maggid HaRakiah on Adar and Purim” and Eloka d’Rav meir Aneini. They can be ordered at RabbiDG.com with free delivery.
The reviewer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org