Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapiro, “The Piaseczner Rebbe” (1889 – 1943) is also known as the Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto because he remained in the ghetto and continued to offer his leadership during the excruciating years of the war. He was from a renowned rabbinic family and was known for his progressive educational ideas and his profound psychological and spiritual insights. I have been deeply moved by his writings contained in his book Aish Kodesh, which were written under unbelievably horrific conditions during his years in the Warsaw Ghetto. I especially recommend the translations and commentaries of Rabbi Nehemia Polen (my colleague at Hebrew College) in his book The Holy Fire.
Another of Shapiro’s books, Derekh HaMelekh, (The Royal Road) consists of commentaries on the weekly torah readings written between the world wars. I have recently started learning Derekh HaMelekh and I have been struck by how much his writings are models of the kind of organic thinking that I am trying to underscore in this project called Organic Torah. Here is an example: Continue reading