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Rejoice in Your Festivals: Penetrating Insights into Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot Hardcover – February 1, 2008
"What makes this book so special is how the rabbi blends the religious content of the droshos with the events of the day. Given the tense tenor of our own times, this work helps us to better appreciate the task rabbis face weekly in attempting to apply our Torah to contemporary events and personalities." —Jewish Star magazine
About the Author
Rabbi Zvi Dov Kanotopsky was the director of the Insitute for Advanced Talmud Study at Bar Ilan University in Israel and a lecturer at Hebrew University and Michlalah College for Women. During his career he also taught at various schools of Yeshiva University and served as the rabbi of two different communities. David A. Zomick is business process outsourcing consultant and a former vice president of engineering and chief scientist at Honeywell Aerospace. Rabbi Kanotopsky was the rabbi of the synagogue in which he was raised.
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The sermons are written in simple English, with logical progression, with no repetition, and no attempt on the part of the sermonizer to show how smart he is - a typical fault of many rabbis. The following are some examples that show the rabbi's teachings.
As Germany was surrendering in 1945, Rabbi Kanotopsky urged his congregation to work for the establishment of a State of Israel. During the same year, he spoke about the differences of opinions among Jews, compared this dissention to the divergences among the Israelites at the Red Sea, after they left Egypt, and stressed that the future of Judaism after the war depends upon unity.
Focusing on the start of the United Nations, he wrote that the new organization, no matter how well-meaning, will not work if the countries are unable to differentiate between good and evil; if evil nations can join the UN and participate in controlling the world.
Apropos of many over-zealous Jews today who stone Jews who desecrate the Sabbath, Rabbi Kanotopsky wrote that we must be optimistic about the future of non-observant Jews and treat all people respectfully, for there is a very good chance that if these people are treated properly they will return to the proper path.
In 1948, when the State of Israel was about to be created, the rabbi warned that the ancient sages taught that people will only prosper if they have proper positive goals.
The rabbi occasionally addresses mystical ideas such as how does a person tap into and develop his and her soul?
He addresses many other interesting and relevant questions, such as: What are the barriers to achieving happiness? What is the significance of the Israelites in Egypt putting blood on their doorposts and what connection does it have with circumcision? Why do some Jews stay up all night on Shavuot? Did the practice start because of superstition? When did the observance of saying yizkor, the memorial prayer, begin, and what is its meaning and relevance?
Some questions are midrashic, as: How can we understand that "Moses ascended to heaven," and the midrashic view that he did not go all the way up?
Some of the questions address fundamentals, as: Is divine revelation a continuous process or has it stopped?
All in all, the volume is both interesting and thought provoking.
Each Drasha is carefully if not lovingly constructed with great precision, and requires no leap of faith by the reader. Ideas are presented in simple language but with sophisticated constructs. The author draws from a broad field of Jewish exegetical literature, yet insures that the reader will not feel overwhelmed or left behind. This volume should be kept close at hand, especially as each of the Regalim approach, rather than on a bookshelf.