Seventy Conversations In Transit
with HaGaon HaRav Joseph B. Soloveitchik zt”l
By Aaron Adler
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The Talmud (Berakhot 7b) relates that ”Attending to one’s teacher of Torah is more meritorious than studying under him” – גדולה שימושה של תורה יותר מלימודה.
This work is a compilation of seventy edited conversations conducted between our great Rebbe, HaGaon HaRav Joseph B. Soloveitchik zt”l (1903-1993) and me predominantly while in transit.
While a student at Yeshiva University, Rabbi Aaron Adler, now a communal rabbi and rosh yeshiva in Israel, had the privilege of serving as Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s driver. In this charming and edifying book, Rabbi Adler records some of the conversations he had while driving with “the Rav,” one of Judaism’s leading figures in the twentieth century, bringing to life the Talmud’s teaching that “service of Torah is greater than study.”
These discussions relate to Jewish law, teaching and studying Torah, the well-being of Israel and the Jewish people, ethics, and more “mundane” topics, revealing a more personal dimension of a scholar known for his demanding intellect. Rabbi Adler ably draws out the implications of the Rav’s comments and provides the context necessary to understand the Rav’s views.
”My Shabbat, Parshat Zakhor, was transformed into a Shabbat of sweet memories of the past years. It appears to me that all those who studied with the Rav z”l will enjoy this sefer, for it encompasses both halakhic issues as well as issues of Hashkafa….” – Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Rosh Yeshiva and Rosh Kollel, Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (YU)
”I sat down this afternoon just to peruse it casually, but I could not put [it] down until I read the entire book. Yishar ko’ah gadol. It is one thing to read the Rov’s magnifcent intellectual and religious gems – which I continue to do – but reading firsthand reports of his derekh hahayyim provides very important insights into the Rov as a person, as a Halakhic thinker, and as one who knows how to apply Halakhah in the context of Halakhic public policy. His gadlus was in all of those areas” – Rabbi Carmi Horowitz, Professor Emeritus of Jewish Thought and Intellectual History, Michlalah Jerusalem College
”The Rav, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, zt”l, represented in his life’s work this dimension of the Aron. He protected the integrity of our traditions, both intellectual and practical, from all illicit incursions into the Holy of Holies…. He made Torah portable, relevant and alive even in the modern environment, far from the protected existence he had known as a child.” – Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO, OU Kosher