Showing posts from 2018

God versus Gods: Judaism in the Age of Idolatry

God versus Gods: Judaism in the Age of Idolatry by Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein Mosaica Press / 398 PP
SPECIAL GUEST POST Reviewed by Rabbi Naftali Kassorla
The Torah world can once again rejoice, as one of its rising stars, Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein, the author of Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness, & Hebrew has produced another impressive work in God versus Gods: Judaism in the Age of Idolatry.
In this work, Rabbi Klein draws upon copious amounts of sources, and years of immersion in Torah Study, to present both the historical/sociological history of idol worship, the development of polytheistic cults from primeval monotheism, and the extent of their worship in ancient times.
But most importantly, Rabbi Klein tackles an important issue that is riddled with much confusion: To what extent were the the Jews of the First Temple period and earlier, truly steeped in the practices of Avodah Zarah?
The plain reading of Tanach and the prophets’ exhortations seem to imply that idol worship was rife wi…

Books Received (March 2018)

With Pesach quickly approaching, I have no time for proper book reviewing.
As such, I will simply list some of the titles I recently received, along with some brief comments. Cover photos at the bottom of the page.
1.  Walking the Exodus Margaret Malka Rawicz Urim / 520 pp
A modern-orthodox woman's journey to re-trace the steps of the Exodus.  Loaded with pictures, personal stories, and sprinkled with divrei Torah. One of the most fascinating and captivating reads I have ever gotten my hands on. Highly Recommended. I hope I find the time to read every page.
2. Equality Lost Essays in Torah, Halacha, and Jewish Thought Rabbi Yehuda Henkin Urim / 190 pp
A reprint of the 1999 volume. I'm not sure why *this* volume was reprinted. I am a fan of Rabbi Henkin but this is not one of his more impressive works. Good resource for sources on Kol Isha, Women and Kaddish, and other similar "Women's Issues." 
3. The Gates of Joy The Laws and Customs of the Jewish Wedding Rabbi…

The Spiritual Revolution of Rav Kook

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…

The Battle of the Generation

The Battle of the Generation By: Hillel S 305 pp/ SC
The Battle of the Generation is a book in the “Shemiras Einayim” genre. As the title implies, guarding our eyes and avoiding sexual sins very difficult in our generation where promiscuity is respected if not outright encouraged. The book is written anonymously by a student of Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier who gave his haskama and is mentioned several times in the book.
Truth be told, I am not a fan of these types of works. I put away my Likutei Moharan because I felt that sexual issues were over emphasized. Indeed, most of the shemiras einayim books and websites these days are Breslov influenced. I find that most men in these Breslov gotta-work-on-myself-all-day-its-the-most-important-avoda circles spend more time thinking about how not to think about sex than most men actually think about sex! Sometimes reading these books brings on more sin than if they weren’t read (as the author of this book says himself)! As such, I generally don't …

From Forbidden Fruit to Milk and Honey

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 …
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 …