On Feb. 7, following the opening of the Seforim Sale, Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University, held a book launch for The Final Exam, a compilation of his letters to students. At the event, Dr. Erica Brown, Vice Provost and Director of the Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks-Herenstein Center for Values and Leadership, he discussed, among other topics, the book’s letters and why he felt there was a need for the book.
In The Final Exam, Rabbi Berman presents the core Torah values that inspire a life of wisdom, contribution and purpose through the powerful medium of personal letters. With penetrating analysis of core texts, the perspectives of his own teachers and stories of his journey through and to Yeshiva University, Rabbi Berman offers a compelling, multi-valanced prism that honors Torah U-Madda as an educational philosophy while expanding it into a worldview that also embraces truth, dignity, and compassion. In the book, he encourages readers to integrate these values into a life of faith and religious integrity that sets as its goal a path to redemption.
In addition to discussing YU’s Core Torah Values with Dr. Brown, Rabbi Berman discussed what inspired him to write the book. He referred to the great sage Rava, who taught that in the fullness of time, after one departs from this world, each of us is asked six questions about how we spent our time in this world. Rabbi Berman discussed how, collectively, the answers to these questions express the way in which we lived, worked, loved, studied and built a better tomorrow. These questions challenge us and guide us at crossroads in our lives and in our day-to-day decisions. From the Rava’s perspective, all of our education and years on earth are a preparation for this final exam.
“Sometimes as students, we are so focused on the grade and the task ahead that we lose sight of our real goals and purpose,” said Rabbi Berman. “For you, our students, and for all members of our community who are seeking to continue growing in your life journey, I hope this book helps spark your thinking about your potential to lead lives of meaning, service and contribution.”
The event ended with a question-and-answer session with students and a book signing.
Rabbi Berman’s book launch was just one of the many events at the Seforim Sale. Other events included a talk with Rabbanit Chana Henkin about her son’s book, Studies in Halakha and Rabbinic History; a conversation with Dan Grunfeld, author of By the Grace of the Game; the introduction of a new book, Batei Yosef, by Rabbi Herschel Schachter and Rabbi Mordechai Willig that was edited by Rabbi Daniel Feldman and Rabbi Josh Flug, and a launch of Rabbi Dr. Samuel Lebens’ new book, A Guide for the Jewish Undecided.
The sale also marked the kickoff of Jewish Values Month, sponsored by the Sy Syms School of Business in celebration of the School’s 36th anniversary. Part of that celebration included “What’s the Secret to Making It All Work?,” a panel of successful executives discussing practical workplace Halacha [Jewish law].
Open to YU students, faculty, staff as well as the broader community, the sale had thousands of orders with many thousands of visitors throughout its 19-day run.
For more information about Rabbi Berman’s new book and the full interview, visit yu.edu/thefinalexam