Learning by example and anecdote is a surefire way to get a lesson’s message through. In his just-completed series of commentary on the Chumash, “Unlocking The Torah Text: An In-Depth Journey Into The Weekly Parsha” (Gefen Publishing / OU Press), Rabbi Shmuel Goldin of Congregation Ahavat Torah of Englewood, NJ, has written a unique user-friendly commentary on the weekly parsha.
Rabbi Goldin, a graduate of Yeshiva University and former president of the Rabbinical Council of America, uses personal experiences and recent Jewish history to enhance his commentary, thus giving ancient events and personalities a contemporary relevance.
An example that caught my attention comes from the commentary to this week’s parsha, Vayetzei, in the book of Genesis. Rabbi Goldin sets up this lesson with the follow contextual element:
“In the course of his journey from Be’er Sheva to Charan, Yaakov arrives at a location where he is forced to bed down for the night. There he dreams his famous dream of a ladder stretching from the earth heavenward.”
Into this context, Rabbi Goldin relates to us an absolutely fascinating episode that he shared with members of his congregation some years ago that involves a verse form the parasha in a way that teaches a lesson of relevance to the recent events in Eretz Yisrael. The balance of this week’s essay will be in Rabbi Goldin’s words and emotions.
“A number of years ago I traveled with members of my congregation to Eastern Europe prior to our annual mission to Israel. Among our experiences was a visit to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, a way station for countless of our brethren on the journey to their final destination.