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Last Look at the Moon

Yisroel Besser

He could resolve the most sophisticated arguments revolving around Torah and science, while never budging from the tiniest detail of the Shulchan Aruch. Rav Shimon Schwab ztz”l was a master at bridging eternal spiritual principles with the draws of modern American life, while standing guard over the sanctified thousand-year-old mesorah of Germany’s Jews. In a rare interview, his son Rav Yosef Chaim Schwab — master educator in his own right — pulls back the curtain on a life touched by greatness.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The stories he shares of his venerated father’s life and legacy is a rich, compelling narrative. It’s easy to see how this retired manufacturer has become a popular maggid shiur — a camera and microphone used for his online shiurim share space with the pictures and notes on Rav Yosef Chaim’s desk. Following two successful careers — first at Bell Labs, one of America’s foremost think tanks, and then in jewelry manufacturing — he eventually returned to his first love. His shiurim are popular on Kol Halashon, JRoot Radio, Torah Anytime and, for close to three decades already, in Monsey’s Ohr Somayach. And his sefer, Niflaos HaTorah, is seeing its fourth printing.


Today, though, Rav Yosef Chaim isn’t talking about his own achievements. Instead, he’s agreed to a rare interview about his father, Rav Shimon Schwab, whose 19th yahrtzeit falls out on Purim Katan, the 14th of Adar I. Perhaps a 20-year tribute would have been more standard, but 1995 was a Jewish leap year, and so is 2014, when Adar I has arrived again.

By way of introduction, Rav Yosef Chaim indicates a towering stack of seforim: Spanning two continents and six decades, they are the 13 collected works of his father. Starting with a hashkafah pamphlet written when Rav Schwab was a young talmid in Mir, Poland, all the way through Maayan Beis Hashoeivah — Rav Schwab’s classic on Chumash — the seforim, says Rav Yosef Chaim, tell the full story of his father’s evolution, the development of his ideas as they interfaced with the challenges of modern society.


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