by Marion M. Stein
This volume is the latest in MeOtzar HoRav Series. As with all other texts by the Rav, this one was not written by him, but rather it is taken from transcriptions and edited by his students and associates. The text in this volume is very rich and deserves to be studied along with all other commentaries on Torah. The Rav’s thoughts on Joseph and Moses go far beyond what the title might suggest, bringing new and rare insights into the familiar stories that he discusses. These insights are both practical and philosophical and thus greatly enhance one’s reading of the Torah.
One example will illustrate what happens when even a single word is analyzed by this great teacher. Take the word “justice.” In his chapter entitled “Justice, Peace and Charity: Moses as Judge” we are given a thorough explanation of the difference between justitia civilis and the Jewish idea of mishpat shalom. In the former, there is a winner and a loser; one who is “right” and one who is “wrong.” In the latter, justice and charity and peace go hand in hand. There is no winner and no loser. There is a give and take on both sides. The Rav expands on these principles and lays the groundwork for a much deeper understanding of Moses’ role as “judge.” He was not only a judge but in his role as judge, he was really a teacher and friend as well. This particular chapter is very useful now during the month of Elul as we prepare for the Yamim Noraim (the Days of Awe). The book contains a general index as well as an index to Biblical and Rabbinic sources. This reader suggests that the book along with all the others in the series be part of all Jewish high school libraries and all synagogue collections. It would also be appropriate for all academic Judaica collections. Highly recommended.
This review originally appeared in the AJL newsletter.