Bernard Revel: Builder of American Jewish Orthodoxy, by Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff (OU Press, Yeshiva University Press) is the incredible story of how one man – Rabbi Dr. Bernard (Dov) Revel z’l built Torah in America.
“It was the year 1891. R’ Issac Elchanan Spektor, the illustrious spiritual leader of Kovno, Lithuania, had just finished examining his colleague’s six-year-old youngster. Turning to the child’s father, he exclaimed, ‘Rabbi of Pren, the L-rd has blessed you with a true genius – an illui. Your Dov possesses a photographic memory. He will someday be, with the help of G-d, a leading rabbinical luminary in Israel!’… At the age of six, Dov could recite from memory many pages from tractate Baba Kamma. The young student’s fame gradually spread and he was called ‘The Prenner Illui,’ the prodigy from Pren” (Bernard Revel, p.27).
This is the story of how one young illui became the visionary who dreamed, founded and built Yeshiva College (today known as Yeshiva University), against many odds and with much perseverance and toil.
The book outlines in fascinating, precise, and well researched detail the absolute dearth of Torah and Orthodoxy in America at the end of the 1800’s – early 1900’s. It was into this world that R’ Dr. Revel built Torah in America.
The book is superbly well written, and this historical work will fascinate, impress and educate the reader. Also included are the responsa and published writings of R’ Dr. Revel. Bernard Revel is a wonderful and highly recommended addition to any library!