A group of friends gathered for drinks, but there was nothing on the table.
"Nu," said one, "we need a drink."
They looked around, searched through the cupboards, riﬂed through their pockets, but came up with nothing. How depressing.
"If we have no vodka," someone else piped up, "then we can at least talk about vodka."
And they beamed, their melancholy forgotten.
This was the story Rav Avraham Yaffen, the rosh yeshivah
of Novardok and the Alter of Novardok's son-in-law, told at a gathering of erstwhile talmidim
after he moved to Eretz Yisrael.
They were reminiscing about the yeshivah in its glory days, when its network spread all across Poland. Those were the days when they learned Gemara and mussar with a bren, with diligence and fervor, exchanging new Torah insights, refining their worldview, and spurring each other to grow to loftier heights with incredible mesirus nefesh.
Now that time had passed. It was another world, one to which they could never return.
How could they ever recapture the spirit of those days?
"Well," their rosh yeshivah told them, "if we have no vodka, then we can at least talk about vodka!
"Those days of glory may be over, but we can preserve the growth and learning we achieved, the fervent exchanges of Torah, the personal examples that we were able to emulate, by remembering them and talking about them. Through those memories, the Alter and his talmidim - and the Torah they taught - will live on in us."
The V'Higadeta series on the parashah and yamim tovim embodies this spirit. Between these pages, Rav Yaakov Galinsky brings alive the lessons he learned from his illustrious rebbes and the other gedolim of his time, those such as Rav Yaffen, Rav Shach, the Chazon Ish, the Steipler Gaon, Rav Chaim Ozer, and so many others.
He has passed the torch of his mesorah of Torah and mussar study to us, and he has done so with a sense of humor, with engaging stories and parables, and with penetrating insights that we won't soon forget.
In his unique, animated style, Rav Yaakov Galinsky brings the weekly parashah alive. As you unearth this magnificent treasure of stories and real-life lessons, Rav Galinsky's derashos will transform you and your Shabbos table.