From 2007-2009, as part of OU-JLIC’s weekly Mishmar program, Brooklyn College Students were treated to homemade kugel, cholent and Divrei Torah from the Izhbitzer Rebbes. Dozens of students attended these classes, rain or shine, Fall, Spring, Winter and even during Summer vacation. In order to help students follow, understand and review what they were learning, Rabbi Reuven Boshnack placed the text and translation on a page. These source sheets make up the core of Rabbi Boshnack’s new sefer, Pathways to the Heart. Each teaching is accompanied by a practical lesson which emerges from the section, as well as citations to pursue the topic in greater depth.
Below, is a Q&A conduced with Rabbi Boshnack by Ari Hirsch of the Jewish Vues:
How excited are you about your new book Pathways to the Heart?
I’m really excited to share it with everyone. These teachings are life-changing, inspiring, profound, and help shed light on teachings of Chazal, as well as and parshas hashavua. The Izhbitzer Rebbes are very systematic, each teaching contributing to building an encompassing world view. If Avodas Hashem is about “building a Mishkan in your heart (ala the Sefer Chareidim and Rav Hutner) then we need to remember that our learning and davening add bricks, rooms and floors. The more torah from the House of Izhbitz that one learns, the more they’ll have in order to build with. Is this the first sefer you wrote? This is actually the third! I’ve also written one on the Sefas Emes, and on the Maharal as well!
How did you come up with the name “Pathways to the Heart”?
It was based on a Shmuz from R’ Shlomo Freifeld Ztz”l, in which he described the ways that a person thinks, feels and activates their emotions, as Pathways to the Heart. It is my hope that these teachings will help the reader, traverse the pathways of their hearts, to know themselves, and meet the Master of the world on those paths.
What is the House of Izhbitz & what is the Izhbitzer tradition??
The first Rebbe of Izhb- itz, Rav Mordechai Yosef Leiner was a student of the Kotzker, and Reb Bunim of Pshischa. He was the Rebbe of R Tzadok Hakohen of Lublin, the famous incredibly deep Chassdic Thinker, R Leibele Eiger, (Grandson of Rebbe Akiva Eiger.) The House of Itzbitz includes, His sons the Rav Yaakov Leiner , the Beis Yaakov and the Naos Deshe, Dov Shmuel Asher Leiner, and his Grandson was Rav Gershon Henoch, the Radzyner, who searched for the Techeles. Nowadays, Rav Hutner, ZTZ”L quoted extensively from the Sefarim, developing their teachings, as did Rav Freifeld, ZTZ”l. So,you’ll see them “between the lines” of Pachad Yitzchak. I’ve heard a lot of Izhbitzer Torah from my Rebbeim, Rav Moshe Weinberger and Rav Binyomin Cherney. Their teachings are penetrating and demonstrate how every teaching of the Torah speaks to each person at all times, especially reflecting our struggles to maintain optimism and emunah in a world that doesn’t always go according to our plans. They teach us that even in those low moments, Hashem is there encouraging us.
“It began as a weekly Shiur on Thursday nights, with our students at OU-JLIC @ Brooklyn College, and I made translation sheets to share with them.”
Do you have a Chassidishe background?
Please tell everyone about your new sefer.
Pathways to the Heart is an Introduction to the Chassidic school of Izhbitz. It follows the order of the Parshios of the week, includes both the Hebrew text and a translation. I included a practical piece of advice that emerges from each parsha and a section of cross-references for further study. Reading your sefer, I happen to like the Practical Advice that you give at the end of every Parsha.
How did you come up with that?
My Rebbe, Rav Moshe Weinberger, often times would stress the need to connect learned concept to our practical lives. We learn so much information, but often times we lack the insight of how to take these abstract lessons and convert them into our practical advice.
How long did it take you to write this fantastic book?
It took me 3 years. It began as a weekly Shiur on Thursday nights, with our students at OU-JLIC @ Brooklyn College, and I made translation sheets to share with them.
How can someone purchase Pathways to the Heart?
You can get it at your local seforim store, or online at: http://kodeshpress.com/bookauthor/ boshnack-rabbi-reuven
Are you currently working on anything else that you would like to share?
I’m currently writing another volume on Yomim Tovim, another sefer on the Maharal, and Essays on the Jewish Months.