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The Emperors and the Jews

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The Emperors and the Jews Ari Lieberman Mosaica Press / 355 pp
The Emperors and the Jews is a truly exciting and fascinating presentation on the relationship between the Roman Emperors and the Jews. 
The emperors discussed include Alexander the Great, King Ptolemy, Vespasian, Hadrian Antonius, and more. Interspersed within each chapter are mini-biographies on the great sages and Jewish leaders that were predominate in that era.
For example, in the chapter on Alexander the Great we will have his biography, what life was like in the Roman Empire in his time, and his relationship with the sages. Contrary to popular misconception, not all Roman emperors were anti-semitic and life under Rome wasn't always that bad.
What is truly trailblazing is that Lieberman cites all the Talmudic and rabbinic references where the emperor being presented is mentioned along with the traditional commentaries. This makes the work into a beautiful synthesis between Jewish and non-Jewish perspectives on the pers…

Defining the Moment: Understanding Brain Death in Halakhah

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Defining the Moment: Understanding Brain Death in Halakhah Rabbi David Shabtai, MD Kodesh / 415 pp
I was completely blown away by the clarity and readability of Defining the Moment: Understanding Brain Death in Halakhah by Rabbi David Shabtai. 
Medical papers, articles, and books, far too often scare away the layman rather than educate him. In this book, Rabbi Shabtai presents the relevant issues surrounding brain death in unprecedented clarity. For the first time, certainly in terms of a book of this caliber on medical issues, I am able to say that I understood what was presented and walked away more educated than I had begun.
Rabbi Shabtai covers everything from the basics to the advanced. Among the topics covered are organ donation issues, including the fascinating process and procedures, cardiopulmonary issues, and of course brain death, cardio death and the like. Everything is explained in a clear manner. 
The relevant rabbinic texts, from Talmud to Shulchan Aruch, along with the…

Harry Fischel: Pioneer of Jewish Philanthropy

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Harry Fischel: Pioneer of Jewish Philanthropy  KTAV Publishers, 2012 Edited by Rabbi Aaron I. Reichel, Esq. GUEST POST: Reviewed by Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein Many of Jerusalem’s hallowed streets bear the names of 20th century Jewry’s most remarkable figures: Rechov Chafetz Chaim, Rechov HaRav Kook, Rechov Chaim Ozer, Rechov Polanski, Rechov Brandeis, Rechov Straus, and Rechov Magnes. One man's biography involves all of these esteemed personalities. It recalls the life and times of an individual — Harry Fischel (1865–1948) — who laid the foundations for Orthodox Judaism in America and in Israel. It is no wonder that Mr. Fischel too was honored with a street bearing his name in the City of Gold. I first came across the name Harry Fischel when studying the work Tosafos HaShaleim, which was published by Machon Harry Fischel. Little did I realize that Harry Fischel is not just the name of a publisher, but the name of a visionary who accomplished so much for the Jewish people. Mr. Fischel…

New Books from Urim!

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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

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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

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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

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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…