April 16, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
April 16, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Ahavath Torah To Hold Special Simchat Beit Shoeva in Honor of Rabbi Goldin

Englewood–Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood will hold a Simchat Beit Hashoeva on October 12 at 7:00 pm, with music, dancing and refreshments, to dedicate its new sukkah and honor Rabbi Shmuel Goldin for completing his five-book series, “Unlocking the Torah Text.” The last book, “Devarim,” has just been published.

“There are not enough words to describe our appreciation for Rabbi Goldin,” said Lee Lasher, president of Ahavath Torah. “People are always telling me about his great Torah insights, the depth of his knowledge and the ease of understanding he brings to the text. They’ll say they needed a D’var Torah and got one from the books. Or, someone told me he had a question about the parsha and picked up one of the books and the answer was there. Rabbi Goldin has held a class on Friday night for parents and kids for years. He can speak to a 10-year-old and a 50-year-old.” Marcy Cohen, chair of the event, said Rabbi Goldin “is the anchor of the Englewood Jewish Community” and deeply appreciates that “he has taken the time to get to know my entire family, despite the tremendous size of the community.”

Lasher said they expect a large crowd, probably around 200 people, and have invited many special guests including Rabbi Goldin’s colleagues, community rabbis, officers of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), the mayor of Englewood and officials of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey. Lasher said that Geffin, the publisher of “Unlocking the Torah Text is a partial sponsor of the program and told him the books are selling even better than expected. They will be available for sale that night. Lasher suggests that people can purchase sets to give as a donation to the shul or schools, or buy for bar/bat mitzvah presents.

Rabbi Goldin told JLBC that writing “Unlocking the Torah Text” series was a wonderful experience. “I picked up new friends and communicated with people who run study groups with the books, educators using the books in the classroom, rabbis using them for sermons and families who are using them for shared study.” But he also has some bittersweet memories. “The project spanned 9 eventful years of my life,” he mused. “Three of my children got married and my mother passed away. She reviewed my manuscripts before I gave them to a professional editor. She reviewed the first three and part of the fourth.”

Rabbi Goldin began the first book, Bereishit, in 2003 when he was on sabbatical, not knowing if it would even be published. He contacted one publisher who would only commit if all books were completed at once. He then found two more who agreed to publish as they were written with the understanding there would be five in the series. He chose Geffen. The next four books were written while he carried out his responsibilities as a communal rabbi and teacher. He learned a lot about time management. “You are able to be more productive than you thought, and use down time you don’t know you have,” he said. “I would carry around pages with me and edit at weddings.”

Each book in the “Unlocking the Torah Text” series has a similar structure, Rabbi Goldin said. He broke down each parsha into studies, on the model of Nechama Leibowitz, but in a more accessible way. He went through each study, raising questions about the topic. He would start with a specific text and then give context to the phenomenon he was looking at. He would explore classical and modern commentaries and add his own insights. The last section includes “points to ponder,” reviewing what was discussed and suggesting issues for further thought, analysis and discussion.

Devarim was the hardest book for him to write, Rabbi Goldin said, since he had the least experience with it. It is read over the summer, when he is often away, so he has not taught it much, either to the Englewood community or to students at Yeshiva University where he also taught. “It gave me a chance to do some new learning,” he said. He also noted that the format makes it a very different book. It is not a story narrative; it is written in the first person and tells of the last 5 weeks of Moshe’s life. “There are debates as to how the text originates. Are these God’s words that Moshe personalizes? Are they Moshe’s words that God accepts and incorporates into the Divine Torah text? Are they a product of combined effort ultimately accepted by God? There are also numerous questions that can be asked about the content of the text. Why are some commandments given for the first time in this volume? Why are some repeated from previous volumes of the Torah while others are not? The book is fundamentally comprised of Moshe’s farewell addresses to the nation. How does he choose which lessons to share at this dramatic time?”

Rabbi Goldin said his paternal grandfather, Rabbi Hyman E. Goldin, was a prolific author of over 50 books. “I always wanted to see my name on the rows of books by Goldin.” And now he can. “If someone had told me 10 years ago, that I would have done this, I wouldn’t have believed him,” Rabbi Goldin said, thinking about the scope of his accomplishment. “It’s hard to let go. But I’m already thinking about the next project.”

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles