Posts

New Books from Urim!

Image
New Books from Urim!
Jews in Medicine: Contributions to Health and Healing Through the Ages Ronald L. Eisenberg / 464 pages
This is an amazing collection of Jews who have made contributions to medicine from the Talmudic era till today. There are 450 entries along with pictures organized by region and area of specialization. Also includes words of introduction on medicine in Judaism. An exciting resource.
Living in the Presence Benjamin Epstein / 240 pages

A Theology of Holiness

Image
A Theology of Holiness Rabbi Alec Goldstein Kodesh Press / 258 pp
The secret is out. If you've wondered how Kodesh Press got its name, it's because the founder, Rabbi Alec Goldstein, has spent 10 years looking into the idea of "holiness, kedusha," and he just published his fascinating and exciting new study, "A Theology of Holiness: Historical, Exegetical, and Philosophical Perspectives."
His new book is a study of the idea of kedusha in Judaism. Some of the highlights include a lengthy analysis of the meaning of the root k-d-sh, how Chumash uses the word in context, and how the commentaries understand the word. 
He offers five different theories about the phrase "kedoshim tihyu." Simply put:
First, Rashi says it means to keep a "subset" of the commandments, like keeping kosher and observing the laws of intimacy. Second, Rambam says it means keeping all 613 commandments, not just a subset. Third, Ramban says it means to separate even from whic…

Mavericks, Mystics, and False Messiahs

Image
Mavericks, Mystics, and False Messiahs Rabbi Pini Dunner Toby / 208pp
Mavericks, Mystics, and False Messiahs is an exciting look into some of the odd and colorful episodes in Jewish history. These include the stories of Shabtai Tzvi, Samuel Falk, George Gordon, the Emden-Eybeschutz controversy, Rav Yudel Rosenberg, and several others.
Least known on the list of characters is probably Ignatius Timotheus Emanuel Trebitsch-Lincoln, who was born in Hungary in 1879. During the course of his life he was a huckster and con man, a Protestant missionary, an Anglican priest, a member of the British Parliament, a spy for Germany, a Buddhist monk, and more. Very colorful personality.
These are stories most people don’t know, and in some cases, stories that the Jewish establishment wishes you didn’t know. Some chapters read like a suspense novel, others are more documentary or encyclopedic in nature. All are well-done and enjoyable.
The book is a very fun read and a great window into these odd events. I…

Hilkhot Avelut: Understanding the Laws of Mourning

Image
Hilkot Avelut: Understanding the Laws of Mourning Rabbi David Brofsky Maggid/RCA  266 pp
Looking forward to getting my hands on it since the announcement of it’s release, this week I finally got my copy of David Brofsky’s new work on the Laws of Mourning, “Hilkhot Avelut: Understanding the Laws of Mourning.” 
Hilkot Avelut dissects all the major aspects of mourning, presenting them from the original texts, usually the Talmud right through to the practical halacha. It is the only work of its kind on the laws of mourning in the English language. There is no other place to turn in order to understand the evolution of the laws and customs of mourning.
Unfortunately, the table of contents does not do justice to the book as it only lists the “primary” topic of every chapter, for example, there are chapters on: “Aninut”, “Burial”, and “Yahrzeit”. However, each of these chapters contains a treasure trove of sub-topics besides actual mourning that readers would want to read about. For example, there…

Roots and Rituals: Insights Into Hebrew, Holidays, and History

Image
Roots and Rituals Mitchell First Kodesh Press / 255 pp

Even more than in his previous book (“Esther Unmasked”) Mitchell First, a lawyer, once again treats us to lots of cool facts and bits of information that most people don’t often come across. In this volume he focuses on “Hebrew, Holidays, and History”.
In addition to the Hebrew language, the Hebrew section includes entries relating to the liturgy. For example, there are great entries on the history of the Haftorah, with 4 or 5 theories on how it originated, how the Shema made its way into the Shabbat Mussaf Kedusha, and a history on the praying for one’s national government. Some of the words and terms that are analyzed include: hefker, brit, chalom, chatan, and, kallah, she’ol and a good number more including a presentation of the many foreign, primarily Egyptian, words in Tanach (and you thought that “totafot” was the only one!) Indeed, the study of different words and phrases makes up a major component of the book.
The “History” sect…

Pshuto Shel Mikra

Image
Pshuto Shel Mikra Rabbi Yehuda Copperman z”l Translated by Rabbi Immanuel Bernstein Mosaica Press
Although I shy away from “parsha books” I was excited to receive a copy of Rabbi Yehuda Copperman’s “Pshuto Shel Mikra” which has now been translated into English by Rabbi Immanuel Bernstein. For those who may not be familiar with the author, Rabbi Copperman was the founder of the Jerusalem College for religious women (Michlalah), and was an extremely beloved teacher, mentor, and friend to all who knew him. He was a pioneer in the idea of combining advanced Torah education with advanced secular education, an idea that many went on to adapt. He was a formidable scholar in his own right.

Pshuto Shel Mikra reflects Rabbi Copperman’s educational approach of encouraging his students to focus on the simple meaning of texts. The current English edition (although Rabbi Copperman was an English speaker, born in Dublin, he wrote almost entirely in Hebrew) is a two-volume set with 1-7 essays per parsha. …
Roots and Rituals: Insights into Hebrew, Holidays, and History by Mitchell First (Kodesh Press, 2018) https://amzn.to/2KQziXO
SPECIAL GUEST POST Reviewed by Rabbi Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein
I must say that once again, First comes in first place. This book is not simply comprised of three separate sections, rather every chapter is chock-full of insights into history, liturgy, and the Hebrew language. I must also say that I admire Mr. First's daring use of alliteration (the literary device which joins alimony with allegory) in his book's title. Of course, only two-thirds of that title mirrors that of my first book Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness, & Hebrew.
Mr. First's book appeals to and is readable by the scholar and layman alike, to the Talmid Chacham and Am HaAretz, to the serious scholar and the cynical boor. As an avid reader of Mr. First's weekly articles in the Jewish Link of New Jersey, I appreciate the humor in his ever-changing byline, and was glad to see th…