HAGGADAH FOR PASSOVER WITH COMMENTARY BASED ON THE SHIURIM OF RABBI JOSEPH B. SOLOVEITCHIK
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by Rabbi Yosef Adler
Hardcover, 143 pages
ISBN 13: 978-965-524-011-5
Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, zt”l, known as “The Rav,” exemplified the value of studying in anticipation of Jewish
holidays (chagim) through his lectures and study sessions. Every year, several weeks
before Pesach, the Rav learned the laws of Pesach and the Haggadah text with
his students at Yeshiva University and with the general public at Congregation
Moriah in Manhattan.
This Passover Haggadah compiles the Rav’s commentary from those shiurim into
an accessible resource for pre-Pesach studies and an insightful accompaniment
to the Pesach Seder. Not only does the Rav illuminate the halachic basis of many
of the mitzvot of the Seder, but he also expounds on the traditional text with
universal and relevant interpretations.
Includes the full Passover Haggadah text in Hebrew with an English translation plus commentary.
About the Author
Rabbi Yosef Adler was a student of the Rav and his personal shamash for two years.
He received his rabbinical ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological
Seminary of Yeshiva University, and is both the mara de-atra of Congregation
Rinat Yisrael in Teaneck, New Jersey and the Rosh ha-Yeshiva of Torah Academy
of Bergen County.
reviews of the Rav Soloveitchik Haggadah
Local rabbi’s Haggadah shares Soloveitchik’s wisdom
Using meticulous notes saved from the 1970s, Rabbi Yosef Adler compiled "Haggadah for Passover with Commentary based on the Shiurim of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik" while on sabbatical in the summer of 2006. It was published last month by Urim Publications ($22).
Adler, the longtime rabbi of Cong. Rinat Yisrael in Teaneck and head of school of the Torah Academy of Bergen County there, was a disciple of the man referred to respectfully as "the rav" in the world of Yeshiva University and centrist American Orthodoxy.
In his introduction, Adler relates that he was a sophomore in high school the first time he heard Soloveitchik lecture (in Yiddish) at a Mizrachi convention. He would later become one of some 2,000 rabbis ordained by Soloveitchik during the latter’s 45-year tenure as rosh yeshiva of YU’s affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS).
Until just a few years before his death in 1993, at the age of 90, Soloveitchik lectured regularly at RIETS and at Cong. Moriah in Upper Manhattan. In the four weeks spanning Purim and Passover, he would focus his study sessions on the laws of the holiday and on the Haggadic text.
Although Soloveitchik’s grandson Yitzchak Lichtenstein previously published a Haggadah incorporating material from his grandfather’s lectures, and others have published works on Soloveitchik’s insights into the holiday, Adler felt there was more to be mined.
"The Lichtenstein Haggadah is purely halachic [dealing with Jewish laws] and does not explain the text of the Haggadah itself, so I felt I could make a contribution," said Adler. "Everything [in the book] I heard from the rav directly, and it has greatly enhanced my own understanding of the seder."
This full Hebrew-English Haggadah includes seven pages of Adler’s own commentaries, as well as his seven-page Hebrew summary of the laws of the seder. "Aside from the halachic section, I wrote it primarily in English for a broader audience without an extensive talmudic background," said Adler. Hebrew phrases do appear frequently within the text of the commentary; most are either translated or transliterated.
Soloveitchik, in keeping with the outlook of the Brisker rabbinic dynasty of which he was a scion, wrote several well-known philosophical volumes but was famously hesitant to commit his many oral lectures to book form. However, a few of his devoted disciples and descendants have published a solid body of work based on their notes or audiotapes of Soloveitchik’s teachings. The Haggadah marks the first one compiled by Adler.
"I always think about doing more with the material I have from the rav, but the problem is that I don’t have the time," said Adler. "The Haggadah was possible because it’s sort of a self-contained unit, and I was able to spend every single morning for three and a half months working on it uninterrupted while I was on sabbatical in Israel almost two years ago."
Soloveitchik was considered by many to be an embodiment of YU’s motto, "Torah U’maddah," or religious scholarship combined with worldly knowledge. Born in what is now Belarus to a family of well-known Judaic scholars, he earned a doctorate in epistemology and metaphysics from the University of Berlin and was as comfortable quoting from Plato as he was from Moses Maimonides. The writings of the medieval Jewish thinker served as Soloveitchik’s main source in formulating his innovative ideas about creation, repentance, divine providence, and prophecy.
Soloveitchik founded the co-educational Maimonides School in Brookline, Mass., five years after immigrating to the United States in 1932, and was among the first rabbis to open Talmud study to girls — at both Maimonides and at Stern College for Women of YU.
For articles about the rav in the Yeshiva College newspaper written last year by Adler as well as Rabbi Howard Jachter — a Torah Academy instructor of Talmud — see here.
-Abigail Klein Leichman
NJ Jewish Standard
Rabbi Yosef Adler was a student of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, known as the Rav, and served as his personal assistant for two years. Rabbi Adler attended the Rav’s weekly shiurim, or public lectures, for 13 years, with four sessions each year devoted to Passover. In “Haggadah for Passover with Commentary based on the Shiurim of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik” (Urim Publishers), Rabbi Adler presents the profound insights of the Rav, as they relate to the seder and observance of the holiday, along with his own commentary. Rabbi Adler is the spiritual leader of Congregation Rinat Yisrael in Teaneck, N.J. and heads the Torah Academy of Bergen County.
NY Jewish Week
In R. Yosef Adler's recently published Haggadah for Passover with Commentary Based on the Shiurim of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (pp. 32-33), R. Adler quotes R. Soloveitchik as explaining that Ha-Makom is a name that refers to a hidden God. The prophet Yechezkel, who lived in Babylonian exile, praised God with "Barukh kevod Hashem mi-mekomo." This directly contrasts with Yishayahu's praise of God, "Kadosh kadosh kadosh melo kol ha-aretz kevodo." Yechezkel, living in exile where God is more hidden from Jews, spoke of a hidden God, the God of Hester Panim (hidden face).
R. Soloveitchik explained that this is why we wish mourners "Ha-Makom yenachem eskhem..." (may God -- Ha-Makom -- comfort you among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem). In their time of sorrow, when in their pain they cannot see God's plan for the world, we use the name Ha-Makom to comfort them and not a name that implies closeness to God.
Similarly, our text of the Haggadah, which was intended for the exile (see the Netziv's Haggadah commentary on ke-ha lachma), emphasizes the name Ha-Makom to refer to His hidden face, which is the reason for the many troubles of exile over the centuries.
-R. Gil Student
Rabbi Soloveitchik (1903-1993) was known as "the Rav" in the world of centrist American Orthodoxy for which he was the foremost philosopher, talmudic scholar, mentor, and role model. Between Purim and Pessah, he regularly led study sessions on the laws of Pessah and the Haggada text at Congregation Moriah in Manhattan and at Yeshiva University, where he ordained some 2,000 rabbis during his 45-year tenure as rosh yeshiva of its affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS). (Available from the same publisher is a biography, Memories of a Giant: Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik, edited by Michael A. Bierman.)
This full Hebrew-English Haggada presents many of the ideas expressed in those lectures, as compiled by one of the Rav's disciples. Ordained at RIETS, Adler is the longtime rabbi of Congregation Rinat Yisrael and the rosh yeshiva of the Torah Academy of Bergen County, both in Teaneck, New Jersey. Adler's stated aim is to bring to light insights that have not previously been published.
The volume includes seven pages of Adler's own commentaries, as well as a seven-page Hebrew summary of the laws of the Seder. Although some of the Hebrew phrases in the main commentaries are either translated or transliterated, this Haggada is geared to users with a solid Judaic background.