Jan 25, 2011
Unlocking the Rogatchover's Torah

There's Benshimon, and there is his father Rabbi Avraham Benshimon, a Talmid Chacham in Montreal, who recently wrote about the Rogatchover Gaon.

By Dovid Zaklikowski, chabad.org

Long recognized as a one of the most brilliant minds of the past generations, but whose writings were primarily relegated to the purview of a small cadre of scholars, the Rogatchover Gaon – literally, the "genius of Rogatchov" – has for many years occupied a lofty space, inaccessible to the masses.

A new volume released by the prestigious Jerusalem publishing house of Mosad Harav Kook seeks to change all that, providing the keys, so to speak, to unlock the teachings of the early-20th century rabbinic leader.

Written by Rabbi Avraham Benshimon, a scholar and educator in Montreal, Canada, the work thematically annotates and explains the writings of Rabbi Yosef Rosen, whom the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, credited with "brilliantly shaping general rules for every single concept in Torah study."

As a young child in Rogatchov, Belarus, Rosen earned a reputation as a brilliant and diligent scholar. He later became one of the two rabbis of Dvinsk.

"It was said of him," writes Rabbi Shlomo Yosef Zevin, author of the Talmudic Encylopedia, "that he never took a haircut, because he never wanted his head to be uncovered and stop him from his studying."

But while his in-depth analyses on Talmudic concepts have been discussed by various commentators, much of Rosen's work has not been popularly studied. His writings frequently employ the use of short staccato sentences of enormous depth, alluding to an underlying logic, but demanding patient reflection on the part of the student.

"The Rogatchover wrote his commentary very [precisely], and without further explanation," relates Rabbi Yosef Motchovitz of Mosad Harav Kook.

"When you begin to study the Rogatchover's works, short in words, but long in the depth of what they explain, you find someone who has the authoritative power over all parts of scholarly Jewish teachings," explains Zevin. "He finds what connects all of the aspects of the particular laws on a subject and then breaks it down into rules that explain difficult passages in those laws."

On more than one occasion, the Rebbe pointed out that the Rogatchover's genius stood unmatched. Beginning when he was 17, the Rebbe corresponded with Rosen, and would later base his teachings on some of Rogatchover's foundations.

"He ate, drank and slept like every human being," the Rebbe said in 1987, "however, his way of learning was wondrous."

According to Motchovitz, Benshimon – who just completed his third volume on Rosen's commentary to Maimonides' legal code – has "brilliantly intertwined the words of the Rogatchover with his annotations and explanations."

For Benshimon, dean of the post-yeshiva Kolel Ledayanus in Montreal's Petach Tikvah Synagogue and an instructor at the Lubavitch Women's Seminary, the new book represents a practically unending quest to research every one of the sources referenced by Rosen.

"When commentaries cite a source, they bring down a few words about what they're referring to," he explains. "But the Rogatchover never [spells out] what he's referring to on the page, or sometimes in an entire chapter."

Motchovitz says that the result is a brilliant and cohesive commentary.

"We were astounded the first time we reviewed the material," he states. "Our editorial staff had to do very little touchups to the text."

Benshimon, who studied in the Central Lubavitch Yeshiva in Brooklyn, N.Y., and the Chabad-Lubavitch run Rabbinical College of Canada, works directly from Rosen's handwritten notes provided by Machon Tzofnas Paneach, the association formed to preserve his teachings.

Benshimon "is a great Torah scholar," says Motchovitz, "and we are looking forward to publishing many more volumes."

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Rabbi Avraham Benshimon * photo courtesy of Chabad.org
Rabbi Avraham Benshimon * photo courtesy of Chabad.org

Opinions and Comments
Very True
Benshimon "is a great Torah scholar," says Motchovitz, "and we are looking forward to publishing many more volumes."
(1/25/2011 12:58:21 PM)
Boruch N. Hoffinger BS"D
'Marbe Torah, Marbeh Chaim!'
F A N T A S T I C !
Thanks to Rabbi Benshimon!
(1/25/2011 12:58:40 PM)
he's unbelievable, hes a genius. he was my teacher is SEM. hes also a doctor
(1/25/2011 1:18:35 PM)
Heshy Benshimon's (from Meontreal) father?
(1/25/2011 1:36:24 PM)
yeah i think theres only 1 Benshimon family from montreal, lots of boys, yeah Heshy and the musician guy.
thats why theyre all so smart!!
(1/25/2011 2:55:56 PM)
they are all smart
they are all not only smart but very kind and giving!father and mother and all rhe children-- smart is from hashem, but kind and sweet and honest is their own avoida!

we in montreal are lucky to have them here
(1/25/2011 3:59:27 PM)
is "central Lubavitch tesiva in brooklyn" the same as Oholei Torah?
(1/25/2011 4:04:26 PM)
there are other books, but....
I've seen this one, it's way more understandable then the other ones out there, alot better put together too.
brilliant job! and waiting for the other ones to be out in the stores.
(1/25/2011 5:16:10 PM)
growing hair
if im not mistaken, the Rebe said that reason for long hair was becuase of brocho received from Tzemach Tzedek to learn nozir, which the Rogachover took to mean not to cut his hair like a nozir.
(1/25/2011 6:38:32 PM)
Chaya Mushka
Rabbi bensimion is our AMAZING teacher in BCMS!!!! We love his classes!!
(1/25/2011 6:41:05 PM)
wow,way to go
lots of hatzlocho. This family is amazing!!!! Every one of them!!!
From a cincinnati fan
(1/25/2011 7:01:54 PM)
Correction: Who put this together?
it seems from this article that Mosad Harav Kook did all the work and found someone, "Rabbi Benshimon" just to write it.

Let's correct this;
Rabbi Benshimon decided on his own to do this, through his connections he got the manuscripts, he put it all together, did all the work, THEN Rabbi Benshimon needed someone to print and sell the Sefer so he found Mosad Harav Kook to do this for him. If they wouldn't have wanted to, he would have found another publishing company...
(yes, these are all facts!)
(1/25/2011 7:54:19 PM)
to #7
no it means tomchei temimim
(1/25/2011 7:56:49 PM)
Did the Rogatchover give smicha to the Rebbe?
It is said that one of the Rabbis who gave smicha to the Rebbe was the Rogatchover. Can you confirm?
(1/25/2011 8:01:54 PM)
To number 7
central Lubavitch yeshiva in brooklyn is a reference of 770, if I'm not mistaken.
(1/25/2011 8:03:33 PM)
first sefer was an immediate sold-out!
Bracha Vhatzlacha!
(1/25/2011 8:04:11 PM)
Rabbi Benshimon is amazing and so are his sons!
(1/25/2011 10:12:11 PM)
of course R'Benshimon put it all together
andl to get Mosad Harav Kook to publish is MAJOR.
they publish only a fraction of the inquiries for publishing.
the book must be on a very high level
(1/25/2011 10:25:30 PM)
rabbi benshimon is a big talmid chochom
(1/25/2011 11:10:52 PM)
to 14 -
yes the Rebbe MH"M got Smicha from the Rogatchover - its even in the begining of Hayom Yom (not in first version) by Rebbe's short biography
(1/25/2011 11:25:07 PM)
He's also humble
Noone knows his true worth...He should grow to new heights and continue teaching Torah to others. Yasher kochacha
(1/25/2011 11:44:12 PM)
a cousin of the ben-shimons
all the benshimons are talented in different ways,
taking after their father and mothers father - r' yeshua heshel ceitlen
(1/26/2011 12:19:01 AM)
Pinchos Woolstone
I believe he worn the yamulke given to him by the Tzemach Tzedek since his opshernish and did not want to take it off his head even for a haircut.
(1/26/2011 9:31:40 AM)
what is the name of the sefer ?
am i really missing something here?
can someone please tell me the name of the sefer-especially if it's the third in the series......
(1/26/2011 10:16:52 PM)
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