“You have to put these shiurim into print!”
Rabbi Daniel Glatstein, mara d’asra of Kehillas Ahavas Yisrael in Cedarhurst, New York, a prolific world-renowned speaker with a global following, and one of the most popular speakers on Torahanytime.com, was urged by his students and listeners to create a book of his shiurim.
Rabbi Glatstein has compiled ten years of shiurim in a beautifully written inspiring sefer: The Mystery and the Majesty, published by ArtScroll.
This book will enhance your davening and divrei Torah with its rich tapestry of sourced material that is informative, surprising, and thought-provoking. Rabbi Glatstein’s clear writing can be appreciated by people on all levels of scholarship and helps the reader to develop an appreciation of the treasure trove of ideas that our holidays offer. His shiurim appeal to Jews of all backgrounds, from scholars to beginners and baalei t’shuvah. He includes many sources, including some that are rare and almost unknown.
The sefer is divided into sections. It begins with Elul, then Rosh HaShanah, then Aseres Y’mei T’shuvah, then Yom Kippur, then Sukkos, then Hoshana Rabbah, and finally Sh’mini Atzeres/Simchas Torah. Each chapter ends with extensive endnotes that are mar’ei m’komos for that chapter. In addition, within each chapter there are sections that draw the reader in. Here are just a few intriguing examples:
Why Does T’shuvah Work Only for the Jewish People? An Astounding Explanation
T’shuvah: MeiAhavah or MiYirah (Out of Love or Fear)?
How Can We Ask Hashem to Increase Our Merits for Us?
The Elul section begins with a teaching of Rav Itzele Peterburger, a talmid of Rav Yisroel Salanter, founder of the musar movement. Rav Itzele teaches a revolutionary understanding of the first mishnah in Maseches Rosh HaShanah that says mankind passes before Hashem in judgment on Rosh HaShanah. “In fact, the mishnah is not teaching us that we pass before Hashem one at a time; that goes without saying. Rather, this mishnah is teaching us that as we pass before Hashem in single file, it is our position on this procession that is crucial to the outcome of our yom ha’din and is a key component as to the type of year we will have.” Rav Itzele teaches a practical way to move up in the line and be assured a better judgment on Rosh HaShanah. If we start doing t’shuvah early, then we will be ahead of those who prepare after us. Rav Itzele adds that the more fearful one is regarding the judgment, the more rachmanus Hashem will have on that person. By preparing early, one demonstrates that he has a genuine eimas ha’din (fear of judgment), which is a z’chus to arouse the mercy of Hashem.”
T’shuvah was gifted only to the Jewish people. The reason, cited in the name of the Chida, states: “You are children to Hashem your G-d.” Rabbi Glatstein offers a fascinating sourced explanation of this idea.
He also poses the question: Why does blowing the shofar twice silence the Satan? Rabbi Glatstein offers the answer of Rabbi Akiva Eiger. When the Satan hears us blowing the shofar the first time, he knows that we are doing t’shuvah. He starts to list the aveiros we committed during the year. When he hears us blow the shofar a second time, this blowing demonstrates our love of doing mitzvos, and it means that our t’shuvah must be t’shuvah from love. In this case, all of our sins will be converted into mitzvos. So, when the Satan sees that the sins are being transformed to mitzvos, he is silenced.
Rabbi Glatstein shared a beautiful teaching of Sefer Mishnas Yosef that one does not reach the Kisei HaKavod in one leap. One must climb the ladder of t’shuvah one rung at a time – one letter at a time.
He explained that the concept of our making a small opening and Hashem will do the rest is illustrated by the shofar, which has a small opening on the bottom and the top has a much wider opening. “This indicates that even if we sincerely open our hearts only a small amount to do t’shuvah, then Hashem will widen that small opening and elevate us.”
When we are standing before Hashem in judgment on Rosh HaShanah, we don’t want to use anything, according to the Beis HaLevi, that will remind Hashem of our sins. This is why we don’t use a cow’s horn, and why the Kohen Gadol doesn’t wear gold vestments when serving in the Beis HaMikdash. A cow’s horn would remind Hashem of the Golden Calf, as would gold vestments. At times, we may have used our mouth for lashon ha’ra, r’chilus, motzi sheim ra, sheker, etc. However, we have the gift of t’filah that bypasses our mouth. The Beis HaLevi writes that the shofar represents t’filah that arises from the depths of the heart and it does not use the mouth in the same manner that it had been used to commit the aveiros that involve speech. “The shofar is the cry from the heart of a Jew. And the heart of a Jew is holy and pure.”
This writer had the honor of interviewing Rabbi Glatstein about his new sefer. He expressed hakaras ha’tov to Dr. Chaim Moeller, who transcribed the shiurim, and to Mrs. Felice Eisner, who edited it five times with him. His goal in writing this sefer was to uncover hidden treasures and dimensions of the Yamim Nora’im and to reveal new layers of meaning to the reader. He hopes his sefer will help people see the great happiness and joy in these days and be able to tap into it. He noted that people find it is a good reinforcement to see a shiur in print that they originally heard. Often people listen in the car and aren’t able to focus as well as when they are reading the ideas in print. Also, he hopes people will use the ma’rei m’komos to do their own in-depth learning and research.
When asked which section was his favorite one, he shared that he especially enjoyed the part about Hoshana Rabbah, as many people are not familiar with the deeper meaning of the day, and he tried to uncover the hidden secrets of this holiday.
He chose a title with a cliffhanger feel to it, and it is a very fitting title for a sefer that captures the magnificent mystery and majesty of these holidays.
It is clear from learning from this sefer why Rabbi Glatstein is called a rising star in the world of rabbanus and Torah education. This is a remarkable sefer that will impact your Yamim Nora’im, Sukkos, and the entire year. The Queens community wishes Rabbi Glatstein continued success in his shiurim, speaking, and writing, and all his holy work.
By Susie Garber