In mid-1960s, people were still talking about the JFK assassination, the anticipated moon landing, the escalating war in Vietnam. One topic rarely discussed, however, was “kiruv.” The movement that has brought countless Jews back to their heritage barely existed, except in small pockets here and there, and in the minds and longings of a handful of dedicated men and women.
Foremost among those visionaries was Rav Noach Weinberg zt”l.
In the past, Rav Noach had worked as a salesman, and he brought his salesman’s expertise to his goal of sharing the beauty of Torah to all Jews. This was his problem: He had the most wonderful product imaginable — Torah! — but how could he “sell” it to Jews who knew nothing of their heritage?
The answer, he realized, was in the Torah itself — in the sixth chapter of Pirkei Avos, in which Chazal list the 48 ways to acquire Torah.
Amazingly, Rav Noach took those 48 ways and turned them into a series of lessons that literally changed the lives of countless searching Jews. More amazing still, these lessons also changed the lives of tens of thousands of Jews who were already Torah-observant.
And — again, amazing! — next week, though Rav Noach zt”l is no longer with us, we will be able to share his insights with the publication of Rav Noach Weinberg’s 48 Ways to Wisdom, adapted by Rabbis Nechemia Coopersmith and Shraga Simmons.
The authors have achieved the impossible: They have captured Rav Noach’s unique personality on the printed page! The power of Rav Noach — and this book — is his ability to show how abstract ideas can impact and transform our actions, thoughts, and emotional lives. For example, Chazal’s thirty-first “way” of acquiring Torah — “le’ehov es HaMakom, to love Hashem — is the starting point for a brilliant exposition on enhancing our gratitude for our relationship with G-d. As we learn to deepen our relationship with Hashem, we discover also how to transform our relationships with others into something deeper, stronger, finer.
Reflecting Rav Noach’s insistence that the 48 Ways should be incorporated into every aspect of our lives, each “way” includes brief suggestions, “Applied Wisdom,” ensuring that Chazal’s words enhance our day-to-day experiences.
In these pages we will learn how to listen effectively, achieve understanding of ourselves, maximize our time, and capture the “wow” in life. All this, and so much more, in 48 Ways to Wisdom.