AS: Your new book, Inspired, has three elements – an inspirational Torah insight, stories, and “takeaways.” Can you tell the readers a little about each of these three parts?
RBP: People today are looking for real inspiration in their lives. In my new book I offer an uplifting insight that really speaks to the reader, followed by a powerful story that brings home the message, and a short takeaway quote to carry the inspiration into the reader’s heart.
AS: Your stories are so varied. They range from the normal everyday stuff (a van breaking down on a highway that teaches a lesson in tefilah and bitachon) to the poignant (the incredible emunah of a bereaved parent) to the unbelievable (a tray of gefilte fish brings unexpected healing that shocks all the doctors). Is there a common thread among the more than 70 stories in Inspired?
RBP: I searched for stories that people can relate to in their everyday lives, so that people would say, “Hey, that story really could have happened to me.” The common thread is that it is these are down to earth stories that have a positive message that speaks to every person, whatever their challenges, whatever their background.
AS: These are complicated times we live in. How can we stay upbeat and, yes, inspired?
RBP: Although life can be quite complicated, a Yid has to open his eyes and see all the incredible berachah and hashgachah pratis happening to him on a daily basis. When we focus on the positive in our lives and see the hand of Hashem constantly guiding us, we will always live inspired.
AS: With all these great stories, do you have any personal favorites – and why?
RBP: My favorite story is about a young man named Manish who really wanted to get married, but nothing was happening. After hearing about the power of davening on Seder night, he cried out to Hashem — and days later he was miraculously answered. I love the story because I met Manish myself one day while shopping in the local grocery store where he works, and heard first-hand his story. His amazing emunah peshutah left me truly inspired.