Welcome to Torah Book Reviews! Torah Book Reviews is a blog for reviews of books on all Torah related topics. 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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The Poetry of Rav Yosef Tzvi Rimon
The Poetry of Rav Yosef Tzvi Rimon
A Myrtle in the Desert
(Translated by Daniel Farb)
Gefen Publishing / 102 pages
Although my interest in poetry hovers somewhere between minimal
and non-existent, one cannot help from being taken aback by the poetry of Rav
Yosef Tzvi Rimon.
Originally written in Hebrew, the volume “A Myrtle in the
Desert” has been translated into English by Daniel Farb. (Rav Rimon wrote
several other books of poetry, as well. Perhaps they too might be translated someday.) The primary themes of the poems in a “Myrtle in the Desert” are God, prayer,
and the Land of Israel. The mystical world features prominently in these poems.
Born in Poland in 1889, Rav Rimon learned in the yeshiva of
Rav Reines before making Aliyah at 20 years old. Rav Rimon wrote a style of poetry
that although religious in nature --spiritual actually-- its words touched the religious
and secular alike. From Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook to Bialik, everyone found meaning
in his words, meaning which continues to be relevant today. The close relationship
that Rav Rimon enjoyed with Rav Kook had a great influence in him and their writing
styles are similar. His grandson and namesake, Rav Yosef Tzvi Rimon, is a rabbi
in Alon Shevut and a major halachic authority in the religious Zionist sector.
As poetry is not my genre, my brief comments on this work do
not do it justice. As even the poetically illiterate me can tell, these poems
are very special. They were written in a difficult era for the Jewish people and they
bridge the events of fighting for independence from the British to the founding of the State
of Israel. More than just poetry, this book is a piece of history.
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…
The Spiritual Revolution of Rav Kook
The Writing of a Jewish Mystcic
By: Rabbi Ari Ze'ev Schwartz
Gefen / 270 pp
I was wildly impressed with the Spiritual Revolution of Rav Kook. After getting my hands on everything available in English over the years on Rav Kook's writings, this is the first, yes, the first, English book on Rav Kook that I was able to fully understand.
Although not a translation of any single work of Rav Kook (as most other translations are) The Spiritual Revolution of Rav Kook contains important and inspiring excerpts from all over Rav Kook's writings. The book is divided into four categories. The first is "The Individual" which contains teachings on God, Torah, prayer, Teshuva, personal growth, and more. The second is "The Nation" which includes many of his (in)famous teachings on Zionism. The third is "Humanity" which includes a chapter on our relationship with other religions. The fourth is "Creation" which is a…
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.