The Talmud speaks disparagingly of those who stand in respect for a Torah Scroll, but do not stand up for a Torah sage. A righteous and learned person is a living Torah Scroll. Indeed, outstanding people make it their business to observe the everyday behavior of great men, so that they can learn from every gesture and nuance what the Torah expects of a Jew.
That is why this collection of biographical sketches is so important, and why its predecessors have been so popular. It is a textbook of inspirational conduct. Not many people can plumb the depths of Rabbi Elazar Menachem Man Shach’s Talmudic genius, but no one can fail to be moved by his boundless dedication to the welfare of a struggling young student. How can one fail to be uplifted by the Bobover Rav, who inspired — and virtually gave hope and purpose — to his fellow Holocaust survivors, helping them revive themselves, found flourishing families, and create a magnificent kehillah? Who can fail to fell awe and respect for the elementary school rebbe who understood his talmidim’s individual needs, and helped them grow in Torah and middos?
These are only a few examples from this marvelous anthology. There are more than a score of biographies, each one a gem. These stories appeared originally in The Jewish Observer, and it is the sixth in this series of anthologies. They are all exceptional reading, filled with fascinating vignettes from the lives of famous and not so famous people, all of whom are role models par excellence.
From the classic yeshivos of Eastern Europe and the halls of Porat Yosef, to the Battei Midrash and shuls of Brooklyn and Wickliffe, Ohio and so many other places on the Torah map — this book exposes us to the greatness and humility of people we wish we had known, and will be proud to emulate. It is our opportunity to serve them, and then learn as a result.
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