Ideas and insights of the Sfas Emes on Pesach, Shavuos, and Succos.
The Three Festivals -- Pesach, Shavuos and Succos -- are “Moadim,” they are the Divinely ordained encounters between the Creator and His people. And in the process of encountering his Maker, a Jew encounters himself. How much has he grown? Is he moving in the right direction? How can he improve?
For four generations, Sfas Emes has been described as “a mirror of the soul.” The work contains the Sabbath and Festival discourses of Rabbi Yehudah Aryeh Alter of Gur, over a period of more than thirty years. Profound, scintillating, and pithy, it is incredibly rich in ideas. Great scholars marvel at it, saying that every time they review passages, even those they have seen many times before, they glean new insights. It has been aptly said that what one sees in the Sfas Emes is a measure of one’s own spiritual station.
But...the world of the Sfas Emes has been closed to the vast majority of those who knock at its doors – because of a language barrier and the need for a road map through its complex and inspiring themes.
Into this breach steps Rabbi Yosef Stern. His attempt to capture the essence of Sfas Emes’ thought on the Three Festivals is an act of great courage – and a remarkable success. An exceptional Torah scholar and student of Sfas Emes, Rabbi Stern has isolated the primary trails of thought in many hundreds of discourses and ties them together, topic by topic, in essays that are a joy to read, stimulating as well as informative. While the conceptualizations are his own, Rabbi Stern’s work has received the blessings of the Gerrer Rebbe zt”l noteworthy indication of the esteem in which the author is held.
This work gives us a mirror by which to encounter ourselves. But it is more. It is an entry pass to the portals of some of the loftiest and most enlightening thought of the last century.
Spend the Moadim with Sfas Emes -- it will take you from where you are to where you want to be.
By Rabbi Yosef Stern