Rabbi Yechiel Spero brings all his acclaimed storytelling talent to the inspiring life of Rav Yitzchok Sternhell, one of the unsung heroes of the resurgence of Torah in postwar America. In these pages, we meet the luminaries of “Itche Sanzer’s” past – his ancestors, Rav Shmelke of Nikolsburg and Rav Mendel of Rimanov; the Divrei Chaim of Sanz, whose teachings molded him; and the Minchas Elazar of Munkatch, his beloved rebbi. We also encounter many gedolim, both pre and postwar Europe. And, of course, we meet – and learn to love and respect – Rav Yitzchok himself. When the Holocaust came to an end, Rav Yitzchok Sternhell had almost nothing. No, that’s not accurate: Though most of his family had perished, though he had no belongings or money, he possessed a wealth of Torah learning, a treasure of faith and trust in Hashem. Still more assets: He had with him his illustrious ancestry, his matchless teachers, and his uncompromising determination to rebuild Torah life as he’d experienced it in Europe. And rebuild he did – first, immediately after the war, in Salzburg, Austria, and then, in what was the fledgling Torah community, in Baltimore, Maryland. For decades, Rav Sternhell was the rav of a Baltimore kehillah initially composed mainly of survivors. He founded Shearis Hapleita, a boys’ school that aimed to replicate the chadarim of prewar Europe. He brought the first chalav Yisrael milk to Baltimore, and was instrumental in raising the standards of kashrus in the city. He was a man of contrasts: fearless and outspoken and uncompromising when it came to issues of Torah, sensitive and loving and warm to every Jew. Be prepared to be amazed and inspired by the story of this unassuming, modest man, a world class talmid chacham, a revered leader, and, always, a builder of Torah.
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