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The Three Festivals -- Pesach,
Shavuos and Succos -- are “Moadim,” they are the Divinely ordained
encounters between the Creator and His people. And in the process of
encountering his Maker, a Jew encounters himself. How much has he grown? Is he
moving in the right direction? How can he improve?
For four generations, Rabbi Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter of Ger - Sfas Emes (
1847-1905) has been described as “a mirror of the soul.” The work contains the
Sabbath and Festival discourses of Rabbi Yehudah Aryeh Alter of Gur, over a
period of more than thirty years. Profound, scintillating, and pithy, it is
incredibly rich in ideas. Great scholars marvel at it, saying that every time
they review passages, even those they have seen many times before, they glean
new insights. It has been aptly said that what one sees in the Sfas Emes
is a measure of one’s own spiritual station.
Rabbi Yosef Stern attempts to capture the essence of Sfas Emes’
thought on the Three Festivals is an act of great courage – and a remarkable
success. An exceptional Torah scholar and student of Sfas Emes, Rabbi
Stern has isolated the primary trails of thought in many hundreds of discourses
and ties them together, topic by topic, in essays that are a joy to read,
stimulating as well as informative. While the conceptualizations are his own,
Rabbi Stern’s work has received the blessings of the Gerrer Rebbe zt”l
noteworthy indication of the esteem in which the author is held.