Category Archives: Reviews

The Maharik – A History & Overview

The Maharik – Rav Yosef Colon was born in about 1420 in Cambary, France on the border with Italy. His father Rav Shlomo Colon was a student of Rav Yochanon of Paris. Their last name was originally Yonah, however due to persecution was changed to Colon, which is similar to Colombe, french for dove. 

Rav Yosef spent his formative years in Germany, before heading back to France upon his marriage. due to persecution, he fled to Northern Italy and became a traveling Melamed. It was during this time that his reputation preceded him to the various locales he visited and he soon amassed a following of hundreds of students. He became a Rav in Piedmont in Northern Italy, before moving on to positions in Bologna and Mestre. During this period, there was mass emigration of the Jewish community from Germany to Italy and the community of Manitoba was founded and needed a leader. He became Rav and rosh yeshiva.

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Bas Ayin – His Life & His Sefer

The Bas Ayin, Harav Avraham Dov Auerbach of Ovritch was born in in 5525/1765 in the Ukrainian town of Chmielnik.

He was a fascinating and important figure in the early Chassidic era. While not much is known about his early life, we know his father was a saintly man who was a close confidante of the Baal HaTanya, he was orphaned at the age of 9 and lived with his grandfather until marriage. 

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Blueprints of Breishis – A Review

Over the past century, we have seen an increasing abundance of commentaries and Seforim on the weekly Parsha. Given this abundance of Sefarim, it is surprisingly difficult to find a peirush that connects the pesukim or perhaps the entire Parsha together. This is a novelty perhaps introduced by Abravanel and few others including the eminent student of Ramchal, Rav Moshe Dovid Valy. However, the majority of the peirushim are based on the pasuk or on singled out events in the Parsha.

Blueprints of Breishis by R’ Chaim Stepelman, gives us a unique outlook on the entire weekly Parsha. By analyzing the name of the Parsha, the author masterfully weaves together a common theme inherent in the Parsha, leaving the reader with an appreciation for the full Parsha. The Sefer also contains sections of review and an explanation of names found in the Parsha.

By learning the depth of the Parsha name and the theme included there in, we will understand how the name of the Parsha is not just a random word selection but is indeed the blueprint for the entire Parsha. I look forward to learning Blueprints of Shemos.

This sefer can be purchased at

The Artscroll Mesillas Yesharim – An Overview

Mesilas Yesharim is a step-by-step guide to climb through the ladder of Kedusha described by Reb Pinchas ben Yair (Avoda Zara 20b) to reach the zenith in Kedusha and Avodas Hashem.

This sefer has become a timeless classic in the Jewish library. It is passed down that the Vilna Gaon declared after reading the Mesillas Yesharim, that if the Ramchal would still be alive, he would walk from Vilna to Amsterdam to learn from him.

While this sefer has indeed become a classic and is studied the world over, it may be hard to understand without a teacher to help. Therefore, Artscroll and their team of Talmidei Chachamim have put together this edition of the Mesillas Yesharim, with an elucidated english translation as well as extensive footnotes and sources.

This sefer is available for purchase at

New Studies in the Weekly Parasha – An Overview

Studies in the Weekly Parasha by Prof. Nechama Leibowitz

An acclaimed teacher, Prof. Nechama Leibowitz taught Torah for decades and developed her analytical style to understand the Chumash. Her methodology was to present the pesukim, with the peirushim and work to understand the pshat in the pasuk.

As she herself said “I have no derech… I only teach what the commentaries say. Nothing is my own.

Her books, originally published in Hebrew, became an instant classic and have been studied by scores of students over the past decades.

While many academic studies of Torah tend to rationalize events and ideas that may seem hard to imagine or supernatural, Prof. Leibowitz constantly sought the fuller meaning of the pasuk through both pshat and drash. As she once said “the plain pshat of a supernatural event is supernatural” (Bereshis, p.255).

Born in 1905 in Europe to an Orthodox family (her elder brother was Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz), she made Aliyah in 1930 and taught for decades thereafter. She won the Israel Prize in 1956 and gave shiurim in universities, on the radio and across Israel. She was nifteres in 1997 at age 92, unfortunately she did not have any children.

This set is available for purchase at Amazon

This review is based on material from Wikipedia and The Lookstein Center
Thank you to
Yael Unterman for her valuable input into this review.

Even Sheleima – An Overview

Even Sheleima

Even Sheleima is a compendium of the teachings of the Vilna Gaon put together by his Talmid Rav Shmuel Meltzen. The Sefer goes through the process of the intellect of Judaism and takes one on a journey beginning with the discussion of how to break bad middos, and continuing with ideas to increase Avodas HaShem and battling the Yetzer Hara. He then brings us to understand Yirah and Ahava and fulfilling the Mitzvos HaTorah. Once we have this down pat, he discusses raising children, Tefillah and learning Torah. He winds down down with a discussion of reward and punishment and the purification process needed to enter Gan Eden. The last chapter discusses Inyanei HaGeula.

A Teaching – Every passing day a person has a Neshama Yeseira and that gives us additional ruach haKodesh. On Shabbos we get additional Chochma to understand that which we learned (wth the Ruach Hakodesh of the week) in a deeper way.

This sefer is available in both Hebrew and English versions.
The Hebrew version can be purchased here
The English version can be purchased here