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Traveling with the Maggid

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Traveling with the Maggid

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Traveling with the Maggid
A Journey to Great Torah Centers of Yesteryear By Rabbi Paysach J. Krohn Artscroll - Mesorah Publications, New York: 2007
ISBN 13: 978-1-4226-0229-4

Reviewed by Herbert White - September 18, 2007

Come along with Rabbi Paysach J. Krohn for an awe-inspiring tour the great Yeshivot of pre-war Eastern Europe in his new book, Traveling with the Maggid: A Journey to Great Torah Centers of Yesteryear. Part travelogue and part history, and filled with more than 150 pictures, this book takes you not only a virtual tour of these great centers of learning, but also introduces you to the history of these institutions and the many Gedolim and Rabbanim that they produced, ranging from Chofetz Chaim to Reb Chaim Leib Tiktinski.

This book focuses primarily on twelve influential centers of Jewish learning: Vilna, Ponevezh, Telshe, Kelm, Kovno, Slabodka, Radin, Voloshin, Minsk, Mir, Baranovitch, and Grodno, detailing the major Yeshivot of each city and their histories. While many of these great Yeshivot are now no more, others have taken on a new life in America or elsewhere. What is most inspirational of all however, is that some of these ancient centers of learning are once again filled with the sounds of Yeshiva Bochurs, and that vibrant, observant, Jewish communities are burgeoning in places like Minsk and Baranovich.

In 2003, R' Krohn was asked to lead a group of tourist on a tour of these fabled centers of learning. In preparation for this trip he immersed himself in the history of these great institutions and the biographies and teaching styles of the great Gedolim that once taught there so that he could share this knowledge with the people who would be touring with him.

Throughout the pages of this book, he shares with the reader his knowledge of the region, insights into the lives and deeds of the Gedolim, and the great role these centers of learning have played in Jewish history. Along the way, R' Krohn offers vignettes of the 2003 tour that he led. As well the book is amply illustrated with both historic pictures, and pictures from the tour.

While Traveling with the Maggid can be read as a pure history book or as a travel book, it is at its heart a book about spiritual growth. As you read through the book, you'll discover that more than just taking a virtual tour of the Yeshivot, you are on a spiritual journey that not only reconnects you with the past but which will encourage you to greater heights of Yiddishkeit, Emunah, and Torah study.

R' Krohn is a prominent lecturer, and has led several tour groups on trips through Eastern Europe, visiting past, and present, centers of Jewry. Within the pages of this book he brings to the fore not only his personal knowledge of the region, but also the combined wisdom of many Torah scholars and Historians who have added insight and depth to the book. For those who are unable, or who have yet to make this journey, this book will give you a fascinating glimpse into this bygone, yet in many regards, still vibrant world. For those who have been fortunate enough to make this journey in person, Traveling with the Maggid serves as a scrap book of your journey, one that you can share with friends, and family for years to come.

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