Journey Through Nach

Journey Through Nach
Rabbi Daniel Fine / Chaim Golker
Adir Press

Let’s face it. We graduates of Chareidi yeshivot have little command of Nach, to say the least. And for various reasons, even fewer of us make the effort to really learn Nach like we make the effort to learn a daf. We give ourselves all kinds of excuses and justifications why we don’t know Nach nearly as well as we should.

Well, those days are over.

Rabbi Daniel Fine and Chaim Golker have done us all a tremendous service with the publication of their Journey Through Nach. Journey Through Nach is a two-volume work that provides a chapter by chapter summary of every book of Nach. Each of these summaries are written in a way that includes and weaves together the interpretations of all the major commentators. There are also all kinds of divrei Torah and mussar that make an appearance every few chapters, and are featured in a distinct grey box. There are maps, charts, and other study aids, as well. Included in the appendix are a number of essays that tackle some of the more sensitive episodes of Nach.

Here’s an excerpt:

Iyov

Perek 1: We are told of Iyov’s wealth and children (he had seven sons and three daughters), and of Iyov’s offering of sacrifices to Hashem in case he needed to atone for any sins his children might have committed. Additionally, the pesukim convey the sense of unity within Iyov’s family; this is demonstrated by the nightly feasts hosted by each of Iyov’s sons for his siblings (Ralbag 1:4). On Rosh Hashanah ‘the Satan’ (which Rav Sa’adya Ga’on maintains means a jealous human in this case; the Ibn Ezra 1:6 disagrees. The Ralbag 1:1 opines that there was no Satan at all here – it is merely a parable form of conveying ‘Hashem’s thought process’) claimed that had Iyov been tested he would not have maintained his faith and loyalty to Hashem. Hashem allowed the Satan to do anything to Iyov aside from killing him (the goal was to shower reward on Iyov for passing these tests – Ramban 1:8). During the feast of one of his sons, Iyov was informed by four consecutive messengers that his entire livestock had been destroyed together with their attendants, and eventually that the building where his children were dining had collapsed, killing all ten children.  Yet Iyov remained steadfast in his faith, accepting his tragedies with perfect faith (indeed it is from Iyov’s statement in pasuk 21 that the Gemara learns that ‘One must make a blessing on bad news just as one does on good news’).

Perek 2: The Satan tested Iyov and afflicted Iyov’s entire body with boils. Iyov’s faith began to crack. Though the pasuk (10) comments that ‘Iyov did not sin with his lips’ Chazal (see Rashi 2:10) pick up on the implication here that in his thoughts he did sin. Iyov “sat upon the ashes”, as a sign of mourning (Ibn Ezra 2:8). Iyov’s three friends came to visit him and cannot recognize him due to his suffering; they tore their garments and cried. They sat for seven days in silence before Iyov opened his mouth and cursed the day on which he was born’.

I must comment that I am concerned that the yeshivshe style and manner that the book is written in might limit its appeal in the wider Jewish community. So too, there is an overemphasis on accepting Chazal’s interpretations of the more “controversial” passages, to the complete exclusion of a literal reading of the verses. Although I certainly accept the tradition and authority of Chazal, I am also loyal to what Chazal themselves teach us, namely, that ein mikra yotzei midei peshuto. For example, I believe that David sinned, and I am unconvinced that any of Shlomo’s (or Shimshon’s) wives converted, certainly not a conversion-for-marriage that would be recognized by the Eida Chareidit.

While Journey through Nach can certainly be used as a stand-alone reader, it is made even more powerful if one uses it alongside the original text. With this sefer you will be educated and empowered. You will get to know the history of our people, and the history of our land. Journey Through Nach is an extremely valuable contribution to the world of English Torah literature. I love it. It has inspired me to learn Nach, and it will inspire you too. Yoma tava l’rabanan.


The best price for the set seems to be here: http://zbermanbooks.com/journey-through-nach-2-vol-fine-golker

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