Consolation, Hope, Chizuk: New Books by Rabbi Yechiel Spero and Rabbi Berel Wein

I — along with Klal Yisrael — am still reeling. The loss of Rav Chaim zt”l, the Sar HaTorah, the humble leader of our generation, has left a hole in our hearts and lives.

And this, coming on the heels of the Russian invasion, with images and headlines reminiscent of a Cold War that we’d all believed had melted into global peace, leaves many of us unsettled. Melancholy. Maybe just plain scared. Emotions intensified by loss of the gadol hador.

But life must go on, so I put my sadness to the side and open Rabbi Yechiel Spero’s newest book, What A Story!

I read about an act of kindness that a woman did for a surviving orphan of the Chevron Massacre. That kindness was repaid half a century later — and it reminds me that every good deed done, every pasuk of Torah learned, makes an eternal impression. I begin to feel a stirring of consolation.

Now here is an elderly Russian Jew, a child during the Communist revolution who knew nothing about Yiddishkeit. It took one tiny childhood memory — of a little lamb, a “chad gadya” — to bring him back to Torah. Reading that story, I remember that there is always hope.

I read story after story written in Rabbi Spero’s warm and inspiring style, and I feel my spirits rise as I enjoy a sorely needed jolt of chizuk.

Klal Yisrael will always survive.

Rabbi Berel Wein’s new book, Struggles, Challenges and Tradition, gives me still another dose of comfort. Rabbi Wein is one of Torah Jewry’s most articulate and beloved historians. This impressive coffee-table book, with over 150 photographs, takes us on a breathtaking global tour of the Jewish world from 1820 – 1940. It was a restless time, an era of great changes. We travel through Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Austria-Hungary, the British Empire, Eretz Yisrael, and the Americas. We see the many “modern” forces ranged against Torah Judaism. And we see how, despite all the “ism’s,” and all the naysayers who claimed Orthodoxy was doomed to extinction, Torah leaders and their communities fought back and laid the groundwork — despite the horrors of the Holocaust — for Torah to survive. And, yes, for Torah to thrive to an almost unimaginable extent.

And as I read about our people’s resilience, again, I am comforted in these troubled times.

Two books of truth — one of stories, one of history. Very different, and yet both giving us the same messages: messages of emunah, of consolation, of hope.

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