Title: Lilmod Ulelamed
Author: Rabbi Mordechai Katz
In my weekly Jewish Press column, “Dear Dr. Yael,” I occasionally recommend books that will enhance shalom bayis, parenting skills and the quality of the Shabbos table. Lilmod Ulelamed, eloquently written by Rabbi Mordechai Katz, is a newly revised and expanded version of the original that was published by Feldheim Publishers in 1978. It is a book that can truly improve your Shabbos table.
Reading it over Shabbos, I realized its true value as a perfect parshah companion. Lilmod Ulelamed, a synopsis of the weekly parshah and based on traditional sources, contains commentary and insights from the Talmud and sages, past and present. Along with midrash, the book includes inspiring parables, anecdotes and sayings. It is detailed and offers an easy-to- follow topic outline for each parshah. Readers will come away with a fundamentally richer and fuller understanding of the parshah, having become energized by insightful life lessons that will mechazek them on a regular basis.
This book, also published by Feldheim, will add spice and excitement to your Shabbos table. You are also likely to benefit from the wisdom gained and improve the quality of a future speech that you deliver at a simcha or other appropriate occasion.
The week of Parshas Vayishlach was the Shabbos Sheva Berachos of my niece and new nephew. My sister-in-law, always game for a challenge, made an amazing Shabbos Sheva Berachos in her and her family’s beautiful home. As it was necessary to come up with an appropriate d’var Torah, I glanced at the “Commentaries, Insights and Anecdotes” section of Lilmod Ulelamed. And sure enough, a piece on the “Mitzvah of Escorting” emerged.
Based on Bereishis 32:25-33, this segment in Lilmod Ulelamed brings out the following: We learn from the Torah the importance of accompanying others. The night before Yaakov’s confrontation with Eisav, Yaakov was left alone when he returned to retrieve some objects that he had left behind. He was attacked by Eisav’s sar (heavenly guardian) and in the ensuing struggle, was injured in the thigh. Because of this, Hashem imposed a prohibition upon the descendents of Yaakov against eating the sciatic nerve (gid hanasheh) of the thigh.
If Yaakov was only injured and not killed, why was this prohibition against eating the gid hansheh given to his children? The reason the order was given was to teach them the valuable lesson of accompanying another individual.
Yaakov’s sons had behaved inconsiderately when allowing their father to return by himself. They should have remained with him. Therefore, this prohibition was also extended to them and their descendants (Da’as Zekeinim, Bereishis 32:33).
The Chazon Ish demonstrated the importance of escorting others. He was returning home late from a wedding one night and saw a young boy walking apprehensively in the street. The Chazon Ish understood that the young lad was afraid to walk by himself so late at night. He accompanied the boy home, even though it was quite a distance from his own house (Pe’er Hador, volume 4, page 48).
In this vein, we escort the chassan and kallah on the day of their wedding. This tradition of having a shomer with them on their wedding day continues to this day. The idea behind it is to protect them from any harm.
This d’var Torah was appropriately connected to the need for a chassan and kallah to protect each other for the rest of their life together.
Lilmod Ulelamed saved the day (and Shabbos) for us. It provided us with a fitting d’var Torah in the well-deserved glowing words spoken about the chassan and kallah and their parents.
Lilmod Ulelamed will undoubtedly inform and inspire a whole new generation of readers. The reader will have the opportunity to explore the Torah text with this insightful companion and experience the impact of every parshah’s eternal wisdom.
Rabbi Reuven Feinstein, in his haskamah of this book, says: “Lilmod Ulelamed, by Rabbi Mordechai Katz, is an anthology of parables, homilies and practical insights on the parshas hashavua. They reflect authentic Torah perspectives on life. The parshiyos have been summarized in an easy-to-read format. They present timeless messages that are a welcome addition to the family Shabbos table or to anyone learning the parshas hashavua.
“This monumental work, which was first published over 30 years ago, is being re-introduced in clear and simple language that benefits both the beginner and those who are well-versed in the Torah. Each parshah contains practical lessons that can be immediately applied to our lives. Lilmod Ulelamed offers hundreds of anecdotes and stories that make for lively and enriching reading.”
With similar complimentary sentiments offered by Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Rabbi Yitzchok Scheiner, Rabbi Joseph Elias and the Naroler Rebbe, Rabbi Berish Shapiro (and an endorsement of the original Lilmod Ulelamed sefer by Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l), I highly recommend this incredible book.
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