A rabbi I once knew…
Pruzansky: I still know, because you are forever known by your words, deeds and thoughts.
Adlerstein: became an inspiration for life.
Shafran: seemed to never stop smiling other than when he was concentrating while praying or studying; his default facial expression was simply one of joy. His name was R’Dovid Hecksher, and I didn’t just “know” him; he was my rebbe in Yeshivas Kol Torah during my first year of yeshiva gedolah who was called by his Maker at a young age, leaving our world a much less happy place. May his memory be a blessing.
Pruzansky: should set aside time to study Torah daily as a matter of love and not obligation.
Adlerstein: has a share in the World to Come; he or she ought to find out what that implies.
Shafran: is an essential piece of Klal Yisrael, the Jewish people, without whom our people would be unwhole; hence our obligation to love and value every Jew.
In studying the Torah…
Pruzansky: one should choose something that is both enjoyable and enriching. There is a part of the infinite world of Torah that can appeal to everyone. Find it, cherish it, and then broaden your horizons with it.
Adlerstein: one must gravitate toward the subject matter he finds most attractive.
Shafran: each of us connects his or her mind to every other Jew who is doing the same, and with every Jew over history who did the same.
A rabbi should…
Pruzansky: never be afraid to teach the truths of Torah, but it must be imparted in a variety of ways to make it palatable to disparate audiences.
Adlerstein: blend expertise with reason and compassion.
Shafran: always remember three things: that he is an example for others and thus has a special responsibility to act in an exemplary way; that, despite his title, others may be more learned and more wise than he; and, if he serves a shul, to keep his sermons short.
By following halacha…
Pruzansky: a Jew connects with the Creator and perfects his own soul.
Adlerstein: a Jew binds every part of his or her being to the Divine.
Shafran: we prove, and empower, our faith in a Creator who, by virtue of His omniscience, knows better than we what is best for us.
The future of Judaism…
Pruzansky: is secure, not because of the Jews but because of their God.
Adlerstein: is with those who accept the yoke of mitzvos.
Shafran: will lead to the final redemption of Klal Yisrael, no matter what. Our great opportunity is to be positive parts of what brings it about.
It’s a miracle…
Pruzansky: that the Jewish people have survived until today, are prospering, and have been reborn as a national entity in our own homeland. It is such a stupendous miracle that we take it for granted.
Adlerstein: is a phrase that properly should be applied to all phenomena equally, taught the Ramban.
Shafran: that Klal Yisrael exists as an entity, despite the persecutions it has endured, despite the exiles it has suffered, despite its scattering around the world, and especially despite its so-often internal disharmony.
My belief in Hashem…
Pruzansky: informs, I hope, my thoughts, values, character and deeds.
Adlerstein: is at the core of my being.
Shafran: needs no assistance, unlike my recognition of His omnipresence, which so terribly does. Even R’Yochanan ben Zakkai’s students needed the same, since he blessed them as he lay dying with the words: “May the fear of Heaven be to you like the fear of flesh and blood.” When they exclaimed: “Is that all?” he responded, “If only! Just think! When a person commits a sin in private, he says ‘May no person see me!’”Harvey Rachlin
About the Author: Harvey Rachlin, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is an award-winning author of thirteen books including “Lucy’s Bones, Sacred Stones, and Einstein’s Brain,” which was adapted for the long-running History Channel series “History’s Lost and Found.” He is also a lecturer at Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York.
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