by Dixie Yid at Mystical Paths
I began learning Divrei Yoel (by the Satmar Rebbe, Rav Yoel Teitelbaum, zt"l) before I got totally involved in Chabad. On the other hand, I learn it now, if anything, more than before.
The basic outline of any piece out of Divrei Yoel is like this: 1. First, the Rov asks a bunch of questions, normally starting with a question on an actual passuk, or a Rashi. Sometimes, he will go straight to Midrash after quoting the possuk, and ask a question on the Midrash. Then, he'll ask a number of other questions on the parashah(sometimes related to the first question, but more often not). Sometimes, one of the questions will be based on a Yismach Moshe, or a Kedushas Yom Tov. Sometimes one of the questions will be based on a Zohar.
Then he answers the questions. Usually, in order to answer the questions, he has to go into some Gemarra. Standard themes are: qualities of a Tzaddik, the importance of strict and loving observance of the mitzvos, etc. Then he'll use the Gemarra to frame the way you look at the possuk. In so doing, he usually answers the secondary
questions. Finally, with the new perspective that he has employed (based on the Gemara, and developed through answering the other questions) he tackles the original question.
He rarely has an uplifting "yehi ratzon" and almost never comes out and says "the practical lesson for us is" or "as far as our Avodah is concerned" etc. The message is usually clear from the drosho. If you give it over and feel the need to explain the "message," you're sort of like explaining the punch line of a a good joke... the explanation is never as good as the punch line.
You see him employ this style in his seforim about Zionism. Whatever points he wants to make, he seems more comfortable making them through making droshos on midrashim, Gemarros, possukim, etc. He brings everything together, but the real strength of his words are in the droshos.
One of the things I really like about his droshos is that they really are a workout on the mind. You have to juggle a number of topics all at the same time (because there are so many loose ends at the beginning, and he deals with all of them)
I have 2 other favorites that might surprise you. One is the Tosher Rebbe. His seforim (all called by the name Avodas Avoda) are amazing (There is a set of 2 that is on the Parashah in Loshon Kodesh; there is a set of 2 on the Parashah in Yiddish, and one sefer that goes according he the parashah, but is really a book of addresses that the Tosher Rebbe gave on or around Yartzheits of various tzaddikim, usually Motzei Shabbos). He usually asks one or two questions on the parashah, and then gives a very geshmake answerwithin a few pages. In the meantime, he usually explains some oranother concept in Chassidus, calling on traditional Chassidus seforim. Then, he'll go for a few more pages giving over some practical mussar based on whatever point dominated the drosho. He aims straight for the heart, and has a real power. He has a real following. Many Admorim visit the Tosher Rebbe. The Kosover Rebbe spends Shabbos Chazon by the Tosher Rebbe, and brings many of his Chassidim with him.
The other is the Shomer Emunim, R' Aharon Roth. His main sefer iscalled Shomer Emunim. I don't know how to describe it other than tosay that he has a very powerful approach to Yiddishkeit. He doesn't mince words. And he has very high expectations. Amazing! He neverwrote anything on the parashah, though some students put together somevertlach that came from a variety of sources and arranged themaccording to the parashah. I find that sefer hard to follow, because Idon't think his teachings were intended to be turned into sound-bytes like that.
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