Welcome to Torah Book Reviews! Torah Book Reviews is a blog for reviews of books on all Torah related topics by Rabbi Ari Enkin. Publishers and authors are welcome to submit books, in Hebrew or English, for review on the site.
Books can be sent to me at: Rechov Nachal Dolev 31/15, Ramat Beit Shemesh, 99630, Israel. Email: rabbiari / hotmail / com
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Urim Publications / 523 pages
order of the “sefirot” that are a popular study during the Sefirat Ha’omer period, Journey Together is a guide for building and repairing relationships during the 49 days of
the sefira count. Consistent with the themes of the individual sefirot, the primary
attributes that are focused in the book are: loving kindness, strength/restraint,
harmony/truth, endurance, humility, foundation/bonding, and
The book opens with a
great introduction on the importance if counting the omer, and a primer about
the concept of the sefirot. Each of the seven content-packed chapters opens
with an explanation of what that week’s sefira emanation represents. For
example, week one opens with a discussion of “chessed” and its ramifications on
creation and the world. We then examine examples of the day’s sefira in the
context of the Biblical figure who is associated with it, and then move on into
the motivational stories. And so it is with each day's sefira
The book is
overflowing with ideas and inspirational teachings,
anecdotes, analogies, and stories to help us transform the days of sefira for
better. There is an extremely refreshing blend of teachings from modern
day rabbis, educators and inspirational speakers, such as Rebbetzin Jungreis, Rabbi
Avraham Twerski, Rabbi J.B. Soloevitchik, Rabbi Akiva Tatz, Rabbi David Aaron, Rabbi Stewart Weiss, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, and many others.
The book is impressively up to date, covering very recent events and figures
in both the secular and Jewish world with stories from Nefesh B’nefesh, Nachshon Wachsman,
Gilad Shalit, Hatzala, Zaka, and many others to convey improvement messages. At the end of each day’s teaching there is a concluding page
that offers questions and discussion points on implementing what was learned in
that chapter. One can also use the material in the book as a self-help and inspirational guide all year long.
Here’s an excerpt:
Malchut sh’b’Netzach (Leadership/Dignity within Endurance)
within netzach allows all the sefirot to come together in a holistic,
comprehensive way to ensure that our endurance is balanced and not distorted by
extremes in our drive to actualize and achieve results. Malchut within netzach is
a steady course that incorporates a mature state of being that can overcome
challenges and obstacles over time, while working towards a worthy outcome with
dignity, sovereignty, leadership and vision.
leader and teacher who embarked on a mission from G-d to bring three million
Jews out of Egypt, receive the Torah, teach a people how to transform
themselves into servants of Hashem and survive through 40 years in the desert
was none other than Moshe Rabbeynu. With the completion of this task, Moshe
rectified the sefirot that had been
imbalanced since the sin of Adam and Eve.
must do the same in our own lives by displaying malchut within netzach – sovereignty and leadership in
achieving, though hard work and determination, worthy life goals and ultimately
our mission. Let’s look at a couple of people who succeeded at this.
“True Super Heroes”
may recall her face and name when all of Israel mourned the loss of her
courageous son, Nachshon, brutally murdered by terrorists in October 1994 and
her response then: “Hashem answers all our prayers, but sometimes His answer is
few know that Esther Wachsman has another courageous son, Raphael who has Down
syndrome. In a moving article in the Jerusalem Post, Esther describes
how society has scorned Raphael and how his four-year-old twin brother has
tried to defend him against the cruelty of other children by saying, “My
brother has a soul from G-d, and you should just thank G-d that he made you
normal.” Relating this incident, Esther writes:
hands shake and I burst with pride, knowing that my husband and I
were instrumental in enabling Raphael’s brothers to love him, care for him and
protect him just a little more than anyone else. My wish is for all of you
readers, all of society to treat those among us who are slower, less
sophisticated (and thus less cynical), as the beautiful and pure souls they
are. Accept them, embrace them, love them, for they are your brothers and
sisters. Please show them the empathy and caring, the concern that you showed
my family in our darkest days, while praying for and mourning my son Nachshon.
I have made it my mission to be both of these sons’ voices, for they have no
the quest to give both her sons voice, she has created a project called “True
Super Heroes” that is designed “to promote tolerance and combat prejudice
against challenged individuals … [for] these heroes and their Herculean
struggles to overcome their G-d-given disabilities do not always make
headlines, but True Super Heroes they remain.”
Wachsman has had to endure the unspeakable murder of her son Nachshon, may G-d
avenge his blood, as well as to find the strength to face the challenge of
raising a child that society labels as inferior. She has gathered her love for
her children and then deployed its power to focus and worked tirelessly along
with Shalva, the Association for Mentally & Physically Challenged Children
in Israel. In this she has created a lasting legacy while bonding with Hashem
and her family.
is a true Super Hero.
It is clear that a lot of work when into making this book. It's definitely one of
the better sefira companions that I’ve seen. http://www.urimpublications.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=UP&Product_Code=Journey49
[i] Wachsman, Esther, “True
Super Heroes,” The Jerusalem Post, Oct. 26, 2012, p. 21.
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
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.
rabbinic texts, from Talmud to Shulchan Aruch, along with the…
Sexuality and Jewish Law
In his Sexuality and Jewish Law, Yaakov Shapiro, an ordained
rabbi and non-conformist Lubavitcher chassid, offers a thorough, unapologetic,
and uncensored presentation of everything relating to sexual activity and
All rabbinic texts that deal with sexual matters are cited along
with the interpretations and comments of all the relevant rishonim, achronim,
and poskim. There is also a full presentation of the various halachic opinions
and resolutions to the contradictions between them. The exhaustive endnotes are
essentially an additional book in their own right.
While the book is extremely well researched and impressive
in its scope, the author clearly has an agenda and bone to pick. As he writes in
the introduction, the book was born out of a bad experience and frustrations with
what he was being taught in chattan classes and the “one-sided” approach to
the laws of intimacy. The author seeks to put an end to the strain, fe…