| Behind the Book |

Powerful Moments

“Worry less. Somehow, Hashem makes sure that things work out. Trust the process — Hashem’s process.”

Book: Powerful Moments
Author: Rabbi Yitzchok Hisiger
Publisher: ArtScroll Mesorah


The author in three lines:

Rabbi Yitzchok Hisiger is an editor at ArtScroll / Mesorah Publications. He’s written for Yated Ne’eman since 2005, and is the author of several books. Brooklyn-born, Rabbi Hisiger presently resides in Lakewood, NJ.


The book in two lines:

A collection of fresh, inspiring short stories and anecdotes arranged by theme. You can dip in and out of the pages to find and savor the perfect story.


What’s the story behind this book?

Some years ago, I realized that nothing beats a short story for impact. A true story in particular is a powerful vehicle for an inspiring message. I began to write a column of short stories, and people began sending me stories to include. Ultimately, I published two books of stories under the title Food for Thought. Powerful Moments is a kind of sequel.


What motivated you to continue when things got challenging?

More than anything, it’s the encouragement I receive from my wife and children, from my parents and in-laws, from my siblings and extended family — and, of course, from readers! Readers don’t always realize how much their feedback means, but when someone is kind enough to call or email with a kind word or specific comment about a story, it infuses a writer with a desire to keep writing.


The hardest part to write

I find the actual writing to be one of the easiest parts, because I write gradually, over time, not in long sittings. Organizing of the stories and the editing process are much more tedious. Also, we included over 150 photos in this book, and choosing and organizing the pictures was a big task as well.


Which author do you wish could mentor you?

Just one? There’s so much to learn from so many brilliant writers. Growing up, I was an avid reader of Rabbi Hanoch Teller’s books. I have no doubt that he’d have fabulous tips for me.

I’m sure I would also benefit from the guidance of our own esteemed general editor, Rabbi Nosson Scherman, whom I’m fortunate to see in action each day


Global Writing

I’ve written in the airport, on planes, in hotel lobbies and wedding hall coat rooms, in the car and on the bus, in doctors’ waiting rooms — even in an amusement park! Time is too precious to waste.


If you could send a note to yourself in ten years, what would it say? 

I’m not sure! But if I could have written a note to myself ten years ago, it would have said, “Worry less. Somehow, Hashem makes sure that things work out. Trust the process — Hashem’s process.”


The book you’ve read again and again

As a kid, I read Ruchoma Shain’s classic All for the Boss dozens of times. More recently, I read the biography of Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz ztz”l several times. It’s an amazing book containing life lessons for one and all, beautifully written by Rabbi Yisroel Besser. Speaking of him, I’ve also gone through Just Love Them, the biography of Rabbi Dovid Trenk ztz”l, more than a few times.


What’s the superpower you’d want most?

I wish I had the power to properly address three of the crises in our frum world today: the parnassah crisis, the kids-who-don’t-fit-into-the-system crisis, and the shidduch crisis. I don’t know if that’s what you meant by “superpower,” but these are issues that trouble me, and I truly wish I had a way to address them, because they’re plaguing so many members of Klal Yisrael. This gives me no rest.


What you left unwritten

Stories which I couldn’t verify, as great as they are. Verifying is a major part of the process. It would be a horrible feeling to publish a story and later find out that I got the details wrong — or that the story never happened.

When someone tells me a story, I try to take notes. After writing it up, I’ll do my best to email a final version to the source of the story — the protagonist, if possible — to ensure it’s correct and then implement any necessary changes.


Voice from the Past

I’ve saved voicemails from readers for years. I still have one from years ago left by Rav Moshe Goldberg ztz”l, who was a source of chizuk to me.


Favorite Feedback:

Just last week, a prominent rav whom I hadn’t known beforehand tracked me down to tell me that he thoroughly enjoyed the book, that he’s already told a dozen stories from the book to his kehillah, and that he’s folded the corners of hundreds of pages in the book containing stories he hopes to use. I was floored. This one person’s kind words and expressions of chizuk will be the impetus to keep going.


The song or niggun that often plays in your mind

I love this question, because music is another passion of mine. The song “Ki Lashem,” composed by the venerable Rav Shmuel Brazil, was released about 20 years ago. For some reason, it’s had a rebirth in recent years, and I saw some recent clips of it being performed, so it’s gotten into my head now. It’s a soul-stirring melody that is so genuine, so heartfelt — so full of regesh.


An early experience when you learned the power of writing

I was a voracious reader in my youth. There was just nothing as compelling as a good book. So from a young age, I saw how impactful other people’s writings were, and I wanted to try my hand at some writing of my own. I still feel strongly that we can’t overestimate the power and reach of the written word.


What will readers walk away with?

I want them to find a story, or two, or more, that really talks to their neshamah and infuses them with the desire to do more, to be more, to be uplifted. There are hundreds of stories in Powerful Moments, and I’m confident that readers will find dozens that are meaningful to them.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 769)

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