BJH: Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from?
RHE: I’m originally from Rochester, New York, a small, little snowy town up north near polar bears and penguins. I grew up there and at 13 years old I was shipped out to Baltimore. I went to Ner Israel for eight years. I then learned by Harav Moshe Soloveitchik for a year. Afterwards, I moved to Lakewood, where I currently live. I started dabbling in Kiruv and gave classes at TorahLinks Yeshiva, in Lakewood. Currently I am the Meor Mekareiv at Princeton University, in addition to being in BMG and teaching at TorahLinks, I’m living the life!
BJH: What does your daily schedule look like?
RHE: To start, I do my best to learn as much Torah as I can. I’m currently learning two sedarim a day at BMG. A couple of days a week, I go to Princeton University and I deliver classes on the fundamentals of Torah, on the Parsha, on Judaism, on Rambam, and Tanach and Gemara, etc. Sprinkled throughout the week I give various speeches at Rutgers and different shuls around the area, mostly on the Parsha. When I’m not speaking, I’m involved with Torah Links as I mentioned earlier, which is a post-college program aimed at combining job opportunities and deepening Yiddishkeit. They connect students with businessmen for internships and Torah study.
BJH: What made you decide to pursue this direction and could you tell us who or what inspired you to pursue this passionate journey into Torah and teaching?
RHE: It all began with my father, who was greatly influenced by an extraordinary individual named Rav Shlomo Freifeld ZT”L. Rov Shlomo Freifeld, the Rosh Yeshiva of Shor Yashuv, was a remarkable figure, deeply immersed in the world of Torah. Growing up with this fiery passion, I realized that I, too, had the ability to share Torah with enthusiasm and energy.
BJH: What do you believe sets your approach apart from others in your field? What is your unique flair?
RHE: My approach is all about passion, energy, and a willingness to ask those fundamental, thought-provoking questions. I don’t settle for superficial explanations. Instead, I dive deep into the core of our tradition. I infuse my teachings with captivating stories, statistics, and unconventional anecdotes from my travels around the world. I believe in exploring all aspects of life, and weaving them into the tapestry of Torah. My goal is to engage people, make them stop and think, and ultimately help them develop a deeper understanding of our heritage.
BJH: Your passion is palpable. Now, let’s talk about your book. Could you share the title and what readers can expect from it?
RHE: Of course. My book is titled “The Parsha on Fire.” It’s not just another Torah commentary; it’s a journey into the heart of the Torah’s most critical concepts. What makes it unique is its passionate and unapologetic approach. It tackles those fundamental questions that we often overlook. For example, why did we erect stones smack in the middle of the Jordan River, only to leave them behind? Or why did Lot’s wife turn into salt for looking back? Or why when we coronate a king do we take out a bottle of extra virgin olive oil and pour it on his head? These questions are vital, and the answers are rooted in profound concepts. My book is filled with stories, statistics, and ideas that will leave readers with a deeper and more enthusiastic understanding of the Torah.
BJH: Fascinating title and approach. Who do you believe is your target audience for this book?
RHE: I’ve written this book to be accessible to a wide audience. Whether you’re a university student at Princeton, a busy mother of nine in Baltimore, or a seasoned Talmid Chacham in Kollel, I want my book to resonate with you. It covers foundational concepts important for all Jews. My aim is to help people of all backgrounds develop a deeper understanding of their heritage and spark their enthusiasm for Torah.
BJH: Outside of your Torah-related work, do you have any hobbies or interests you’d like to share?
RHE: Definitely. Apart from my direct Torah-related activities, I host a podcast on Spotify called “The Parsha on Fire Podcast.” It’s an extension of my mission to ignite passion for Torah in people. I also enjoy traveling, observing the world, and incorporating those experiences into my teaching. It’s about finding stories and inspiration from diverse sources and weaving them into the tapestry of Torah.
BJH: Your dedication shines through in all aspects of your life. If someone wants to learn more about you, your podcast, or your book, where can they find you online or on social media?
RHE: Thank you for asking. You can find my podcast, “The Parsha on Fire Podcast,” on Spotify. I also send out a weekly email with the podcast and a PDF version of the content, which you can subscribe to by emailing me at TheParshaOnFire@gmail.com. Additionally, I’m associated with ShiurEnjoyment.com, a Chicago-based platform, and you can find my book, “The Parsha on Fire,” on Amazon, as well as in select bookstores.
BJH: Do you have any parting words of advice or a message you’d like to share with our readers?
RHE: I’d like to leave you with this: In our short time in this world, we have a choice to be passionate, fiery Jews who approach Torah with enthusiasm and depth or to merely float along. Embrace your role as a Jew, never settle for mediocrity, and let the fire of Torah burn brightly within you!