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Discovered in the rubble of the Warsaw Ghetto, Rabbi Kalonymus Kalmish Shapira's wartime writings exemplify the faith of Hasidic Jewry under the unimaginable conditions of the Nazi occupation. Published in 1960 under the Hebrew title Aish Kodesh, the notes of Rabbi Shapira's weekly Sabbath sermons and annotations have been studied by pious Hasidim and secular academics alike, seeking his answers to the searing theological questions posed by the war. Why do the righteous suffer? Where was God during the Holocaust?

Torah from the Years of Wrath provides a new and essential scholarly contribution by placing Rabbi Shapira's writings in their immediate historical context. Using a wide variety of primary sources in Yiddish, Hebrew, Polish and German, Abramson situates the sermons within the daily experience of Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, demonstrating that Rabbi Shapira's often enigmatic discourses contained veiled messages-opaque to later readers, but readily understood by his congregants at the time-that related directly to the traumatic events endured by his Hasidim. Abramson's reconstruction of the micro-history of the Ghetto reveals that Rabbi Shapira's work represents a sustained act of spiritual heroism, helping his followers place their individual tragedies within the cosmic meta-history of the Jewish people, as expressed in the Torah itself.



Publication Date



Henry Abramson


Aish Kodesh, Rabbi Kalonymus Kalmish Shapira, Warsaw Ghetto, Jewish history, Hasidim


Jewish Studies

Publisher's Statement

Available here are the first two chapters of this book. For non-commercial and educational use only.

Torah from the Years of Wrath 1939-1943: The Historical Context of the Aish Kodesh