By Rabbi Yair Hoffman
The Nesivos Shalom, a remarkable work by Rav Shalom Noach Berezovsky, zt’l (1911–2000), the Slonimer Rebbe, has taken the world by storm. From seminary students to advanced kollel yungeleit, the sefer has brought tens of thousands to a higher degree of dveikus Bashem.
Now, two new works have just come off the press in time for Elul and the new yeshiva z’man. For the first time, the Slonimer Rebbe’s shiurim on Shas have become available. The second work, entitled Nesivos Shalom: Divrei Shalom v’Emes, is a compilation of inspiring divrei machshavah that the Slonimer Rebbe delivered to avreichim and others. We will first discuss the shiurim on Shas and later discuss the new volume of machshavah.
The Slonimer Rebbe had a unique combination of Chassidish philosophy and a Lithuanian style of learning. He attended Yeshiva Toras Chesed in Baranovitch, where the rosh yeshiva was a grandson of Rav Eliezer Gordon of Telz and the mashgiach, Rav Moshe Midner, was a student of Rav Chaim Soloveitchik. Rav Shalom Noach opened up the Slonimer Yeshiva in Yerushalayim in 1941, where he gave shiurim in Shas for over five decades.
The three-volume work was edited by his former student Rabbi Elimelech Weinberg. The shiurim are on the standard yeshiva masechtos: the first volume covers Nedarim, Gittin, and Kiddushin; the second volume Yevamos and Kesubos; and the third covers Bava Kamma, Bava Metzia, and Bava Basra.
In his shiur on the nature of one of the four categories of Nezikin, bor (a pit), the Slonimer Rebbe analyzes difficult statements of the Rambam, asks incisive questions on the approach of the Chazon Ish, and ultimately agrees with the approach of Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer, zt’l, in how he understands the Rambam.
Anyone studying the work will be struck by the Slonimer Rebbe’s clarity of analysis and precise lucidity in setting up the problems in the sugya as well as the various approaches toward resolving them.
In another shiur, he understands the obligation of paying damages with the highest-valued properties (idis) as biblical as well, and cites proofs to that effect. Each masechta is followed by an outline of what is covered in the shiurim of that masechta.
Divrei Shalom v’Emes contains two parts: The first contains machshavah delivered in the years 5714–5741, while the second part contains discussions that he delivered with avreichim in the years 5741–5750, some of them in the United States.
Below is a translation of a section of a speech he delivered to educators in America (found on page 358, letter #4 in this work).
“Now just as any building requires a foundation, and without that foundation there is no permanency to the edifice, there is also a foundation for a life of spiritual fulfillment and to deriving pleasure in our service of Hashem. That foundation is what our sages have told us in Pirkei Avos: ‘The world stands on three things: on Torah, on Divine Service, and on gemilus chassadim.’
“They correspond to the defining characteristics of the three Avos: Avraham, with his trait of chesed; Yitzchak, with his trait of avodah, which are the korbanos a Jew will offer his blood and cheilev to Hashem Yisbarach; and Yaakov, with his trait of tiferes—beauty, alluding to Torah, as is known.
“According to the teachings of our Masters, the Master of Kobrin said, ‘The chesed of Hashem all day’—on a day that a Jew does not perform an act of kindness for his brother, that day is not reckoned as a true day in his life. The same thought is cited in the name of the Shela at the end of his commentary on Pesachim. The previous Rebbe of Slonim remarked that on a day that a person does not offer to Hashem his natural persona and the abilities of his unique soul, that day is also not reckoned as a true day.
“The same is true in regard to Torah. A day in which a Jew does not have a set shiur in the study of Torah, is not reckoned as a true day in his life. It is as if he was dead on that particular day.
“We see, at least, that if a person performs these things each day—this becomes a foundation for a spiritual life, that he not succumb to the stream of everyday culture. These three things provide the foundation to overcome the trials of life, for these three involve the matter of bonds—the bond with his fellow members of Israel, the bond with the Creator, and the bond with Torah . . .”
It is no wonder that the Nesivos Shalom has sparked so much ruchniyus in Klal Yisrael! v
Rabbi Hoffman can be reached at Yairhoffman2@gmail.com.