“Professor Samuel Levine’s book, Was Yosef on the Spectrum?, is fascinating and compelling. For readers not knowledgeable about people with disabilities, Levine perfectly summarizes the work we do, explaining that “[i]t is not uncommon for individuals with disabilities, once they receive the appropriate services, structure, and supports, to be able to exercise the talents they posses and achieve the goals that would otherwise continue to elude them.” In addition, through his close study of Joseph, Levine shows how characteristics of individuals with autism can often be both limiting and sources of strengths. In short, Levine’s thesis is quite credible, and I recommend his book.”
Steven M. Eidelman is the H. Rodney Sharp Professor of Human Services Policy and Leadership; and Faculty Director of The National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities
We are now gratefully in the debt of R. Twersky’s disciple, Rabbi David Shapiro, who has published the first volume of Torah of the Mind, Torah of the Heart: Divrei Torah of the Talner Rebbe on Bereshit and Shemot (Urim Publications), which records a sampling of R. Twersky’s teachings in the Talner Beis Midrash where he served as the Admor (the only Harvard Professor ever to lay claim to such a position outside the Ivory Tower). The short essays in the book, arranged according to the weekly portion, focus on religious-philosophical themes. Central among these are: the need for humility and inwardness, avoiding routinization in religious life, developing sensitivity to God’s role in our daily encounters, and the centrality of kedusha and our responsibility to generate it within society.
The story of Joseph (the title of my book uses the Hebrew “Yosef”) presents a fascinating and memorable narrative, which has been both the focus of careful study for countless generations of readers and scholars of the Bible, as well as the subject of a wide range of art and literature, from the visual arts to novels to Broadway. Much of this interest, among both religious adherents and broader culture, likely stems in large part from the challenging questions that arise in the course of the story.
Joseph’s behaviors, interpersonal relationships, personal journey, and development are often difficult to understand. At times, they even seem to defy explanation as he faces concomitant and interconnected challenges, opportunities, and experiences, often at once, both surprising success and unexpected failure. Over the years, I have read the biblical story of Joseph numerous times, and I have studied the text through the prism of the works of classical Jewish commentators, spanning thousands of years and geographical locations across the world.
Most readers of Samuel J. Levine’s Was Yosef on the Spectrum? Understanding Joseph Through Torah, Midrash, and Classical Jewish Sources will likely focus their energies on the question in the book’s title. Is it appropriate to attribute autism to one of our biblical heroes? Are the author’s arguments for such a thesis persuasive? Yet it would be a shame if that issue exhausted discussion about a volume which deals with many significant interpretative questions regarding the Joseph narrative. Levine, a professor of Law and Director of the Jewish Law Institute at the Touro Law Center, has done an impressive amount of research, combing the traditional commentaries and midrashim for relevant material, and reading the verses quite carefully. Following up on his footnotes provides ample reward, particularly since Levine addresses the later chapters in Genesis which many Humash students do not get to. After evaluating the central thesis, this review will then explore some important ideas in Levine’s work.
The story of Yosef can be a puzzling one. The cast is set of one of our Avos, Yaakov, and his 12 sons — all presumed to be tzadikim, before shifting to Mitzrayim where the greatest leaders in Egypt get mixed into the sibling rivalry madness. According to the literal interpretation, these tzadikim certainly seem like bad boys, in effect trying to kill their brother and deceive their father.
“During my teaching career I often had students entering the field of medicine and nursing. I would tell them to always remember that they are doing God’s work. Rabbi Dr. Goldstein is such a person, who did God’s work as a chaplain for close to forty years… Rabbis, social workers, physicians, nurses and children with aging parents will want to read this book.” -Rabbi Dr. Norman Strickman.
Forthright and frank, yet respectful and sensitive, this book will help couples enrich their marital and sexual lives, and maintain passion and intimacy within the framework of Jewish tradition. I Am for My Beloved conveys essential information about intimacy—with an informative and practical approach. The information provided in this book will enable couples to enjoy a more open and fulfilling intimate connection, both emotionally and physically.