Rabbi Jacobs begins by discussing AJ Heschel. He first considers his formative influences, which included his hasidic childhood, the Baal Shem Tov, the writings of the Kotsker rebbe and German secular culture. Peppered as always with anecdotes, personal recollections and quotations from his prodigious memory, Rabbi Jacobs then offers insights into Heschel’s personality and behaviour before outlining his view of Hasidism, its relevance to the modern world and his mystical theology. He closes with further recollections of AJ Heschel’s life.
Rabbi Jacobs then turns to the Rogochover rebbe, one of the outstanding geniuses of the modern world, but less well known outside academic and rabbinic circles. A brilliant scholar of independent mind, the Rogochover would revise the entire Talmud once a month, concentrating on the earlier sources, particularly Maimonides. He was disdainful of later commentators and halachists, neglected the tosefos and rarely considered other authorities. Speaking, as always, without notes, Rabbi Jacobs recounts stories he heard from acquaintances who knew the Rogochover, with a vividity, clarity and humour that almost brings this astonishing character directly into our living rooms.