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From Forbidden Fruit to Milk and Honey

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From Forbidden Fruit to Milk and Honey  A Commentary on Food in the Torah By Diana Lipton Urim Publications / 302 pp
Hearing about this release certainly “whet my appetite” to get my hands on it. A parsha book that focuses exclusively on food in the Torah was a cool idea, I thought. Although many might mistakenly believe that the Jewish love affair with food originated at the turn of the 20th century in the Delicatessens of the Lower East Side, this book shows that the Jewish love affair with food extends back to the Bible, and by extension, the first days of Creation.
The book includes one chapter for every parsha. Each chapter begins with a general 2-4-page essay on the theme of food in the parsha that is submitted by a different author each time. Following the opening essay, Diana Lipton selects a number of excerpts from the parsha relating to food and shares her thoughts and commentary on what we can learn from these verses. Many of these opening essays and commentaries are truly …
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Am I My Body's Keeper? By Michael Kaufman Urim / 332 pp
There is nothing worse for our bodies than…food. Yes, between the additives and preservatives, combined with the inexcusably large portions which we eat --that our bodies do not need or want-- we are literally destroying our health one meal at a time. 
Add to this equation the fact that we are Orthodox Jews, making the situation even more alarming. We can’t get away from food. Whether it’s pat shacharit, three meals on Shabbos, Melaveh Malka, a vort, a bris, a wedding, a l’chaim, a Kiddush, a Friday “to'amei’ah” session, or a yartzeit tikkun, we are seemingly trapped into eating. And here’s my favorite: “I’m not sure if I had a kezayis, so please pass me some more [fill in a carbohydrate and fat saturated food] so that I can be sure I can say a bracha achronal…” And I didn’t even comment on the near total disinterest and disregard for exercise in the Orthodox community. (“…because it’s bittul Torah”)
As one who has lost about …

#Parasha

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#Parasha Weekly Insights from a Leading Israeli Journalist
Welcome to Our Table
Rabbi Ari Wasserman
Distributed by Feldheim / 465 pp.

Ari Wasserman has done it again! This time with a parsha sefer, a book on the weekly Torah portion. As the subtitle says, it is full of "Words of Torah, Insightful Questions and Inspiring Stories."

There are two entries on every parsha. Every entry contains a short Dvar Torah. Following the opening Dvar Torah, there is another short essay, often a story, thought, and/or practical application of the opening Dvar Torah. Finally, a question is posed that is intended to trigger the mind and the mouth. The book is made especially personable as it includes responses that the author received from guests and family when he first posed the question at his table!

Being familiar with virtually every other "Family" parsha book that is available today, I can assure readers that "Welcome to Our Table" has upped the bar and set a new standard.

I conclude with a sample from this week's parsha:

Reason To Believe

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A Concise Code of Jewish Law for Converts Rabbi Michael J. Broyde Urim / 180 pp
Rabbi Michael Broyde’s newest work, A Concise Code of Jewish Law for Converts, is an extremely unique and original contribution to the world of English halachic literature. At the same, time, it also serves as a great outreach effort to converts.
There are essentially two sections to the book, each of similar length. The first section addresses the halachic issues relevant to converts, and it is arranged in the order of the Shulchan Aruch. This makes it especially useful for rabbis and others studying these issues. For example, just as S.A. OC 25 discusses the mitzvah of tefillin, S.A. YD 2 discusses shechita, and S.A. CM 7 discusses judges, so too, these halachot relevant to converts can be found in the book under the same categorization. Of course, the most prominent issue of halachot relating to converts are those relating to marriage, making the Even Ha’ezer section of the book quite practical and thor…

Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen

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Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen
Between War and Peace
Yechiel Frish and Yedidya Hacohen
Urim / 335 pp


There may never have been, and likely never to be, a more well-rounded rabbinic leader in the State of Israel than Rav Shear Yashuv Cohen. 
Rav Shear Yashuv, who I can consider one of my personal mentors, was a scholar, warrior, peace maker, pietist, and community activist. Although primarily associated with the city of Haifa, a worthwhile story in its own right, he played a role in the establishment and direction of the State of Israel.
In this volume, readers will learn things about Rav Shear Yashuv as never before revealed. An inspiring biography that is full of personal accounts and testimonies, it also offers a unique angle on the establishment of Israel in general, and the rabbinate in particular. I would also add that there is a subtle political commentary between the lines (Does anyone know that Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer called Rav Kook “the backbone of the entire Jewish people” or th…