Author Spotlight: Rabbi Immanuel Bernstein


Author Spotlight: Rabbi Immanuel Bernstein

In this edition of Author Spotlight, we’re excited to feature Rabbi Immanuel Bernstein, a prominent figure in Jewish education. Known for his insightful books, Rabbi Bernstein’s transition from teaching Torah in classrooms to writing has been a remarkable journey.

Rabbi Bernstein grew up in London and studied at Yeshivas Ateres Yisrael in Jerusalem, receiving ordination from Rabbi Chaim Walkin. He teaches at Yeshivas Machon Yaakov in Jerusalem and also offers popular online Chumash classes. He has authored eight notable books, including “Purim: Removing The Mask and Darkness to Destiny: The Haggadah Experience.”

In our conversation, we explore Rabbi Bernstein’s inspiration for writing, the challenges he faces in the process, and the joy he finds in sharing his knowledge. We’ll also hear about the influences in his life, like his father, Rabbi Isaac Bernstein, and other authors who have shaped his thinking.

Join us as we delve into Rabbi Immanuel Bernstein’s world, where teaching, writing, and a deep passion for Torah come together to inspire and educate.

What inspired you to write your books?

Initially, my Torah teaching took the form solely of actual shiurim and classes to students. However, in time, I came to appreciate the written word as an important medium through which to spread Torah. A person can pick up the book and read it in their own time and connect with it in their own setting and at their own pace.

What are some of the challenges you faced while writing your books?

A significant challenge is taking all the sources and ideas I have assembled on the topic and arranging them properly, making sure that things flow and thematically find their place in the sefer, and are not just piled in there all together. A sefer is a journey, and the reader deserves a cogent line of travel.

What are some of the things you enjoyed most about writing your books?

One of the most enjoyable and eye-opening parts of writing a sefer is discussing it with colleagues and students, who very often have keen insight into how things should be presented, ordered, etc. I have gained immeasurably from their ideas, and they often result in a dramatic enhancement of the sefer. For me, that is an amazing learning experience.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?


Which opportunities or personalities played a key role in your career path?

My father, Rabbi Isaac Bernstein, zt”l, a master teacher and renowned orator, was undoubtedly the biggest influence on me and my teaching. This was true both in terms of the range of sefarim he introduced me to and the love of each one of them that he imbued within me. Additionally, I learned from him how to construct a shiur so that it is a voyage of Torah discovery, as well as how to choose and put together words that will communicate the idea in an effective, engaging, and hopefully exciting manner.

What is the most inspiring feedback you’ve ever received? Did that impact what you did next?

One of my sefarim is called Teshuvah, and the goal is to provide the reader with a meaningful and elevated connection to the days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I received an email from someone I do not know who wrote that she had never connected to these days, but was able to do so with the help of the sefer. She said that this, in turn, changed her entire year, setting it on an upward trajectory. She concluded by saying, “How do you thank someone for giving you eternity?” When I read that email, I was extremely happy, and extremely humbled.

What are some of your hobbies or interests outside of writing?

I enjoy reading up on the histories and biographies of the rabbinic greats of the generations, getting a sense of their lives and the times in which they lived. I think it gives one a greater appreciation for their Torah, and certainly gives it a more individual feel.

What is your favorite sefer?

There have been many over the years. Two favorite sefarim that were very impactful in my formative years were the Pachad Yitzchak of Rav Hutner and the Shiurei Daas of R’ Yosef Leib Bloch of Telz. More recently, I have been inspired by the writings of R’ Leib Mintzberg of Yerushalayim, entitled Ben Melech.

Who are some authors or thinkers you admire or draw inspiration from?

I greatly admire the approach and writing style of Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan; it is direct, clear, and conversational. I very much identify with that style as the contents of my books all began as shiurim, and I am very happy to try and preserve the discussion-like tone of the topic, even when it is put into print.

What are you working on next?

There are two projects currently in the works:

  1. A booklet called Moments and Meanings, which is designed to serve as a companion to the siddur, highlighting certain key moments in the tefillah and providing the ideas and meditations to make them more meaningful and connectable.

  2. An English presentation of selected pieces of the classic commentary Meshech Chochmah on the Torah.

If you were granted an extra three hours per day, or a spare million dollars, what would you do with them?

I’m not sure what I would do with the entire million dollars, but I would probably use some of it to buy spare pens. The rest I would give to my wife.

Do you see writing as a kind of spiritual or therapeutic practice?

Very much so. It is a special privilege to be able to contribute to the knowledge and appreciation of Torah of the readers.

What is one piece of advice you’ve received that has significantly influenced your career?

A good friend once told me that it is critical for a Torah teacher to remember that even if he has taught this topic before, he has never taught it to the people sitting in front of him right now. In that regard, it is an entirely new experience. I found that to be very inspiring and refreshing.

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