What the Torah talks about when it talks about food

March 11, 2018

In ‘From Forbidden Fruit to Milk and Honey,’ Diana Lipton compiles an extensive commentary on the themes of sustenance in the Bible. Forbidden Fruit web 2

Jessica Steinberg • The Times of Israel

 

The first thing to know about “From Forbidden Fruit to Milk and Honey,” Diana Lipton’s commentary on food in the Torah, is that it isn’t a book about what people ate during biblical times.

In fact, most of the 54 scholars who contributed to this compilation of essays don’t usually write about food. They write about the Bible.

“That’s what made it so different,” said Diana Lipton, the Cambridge-trained scholar who compiled the book of essays (and a Times of Israel blogger). “It’s not what they usually write about, but everyone’s an expert, no matter what they think.” Read the rest of this entry »


Jewish Law as Rebellion: A Plea for Religious Authenticity and Halachic Courage

March 8, 2018

Review by Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz • Jewish Journal

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As I’ve been a close student of Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo’s for many years and am very familiar with his philosophy, I found myself excited and eager to read his latest book: Jewish Law as Rebellion: A Plea for Religious Authenticity and Halachic Courage (Urim Publications, 2018). I was not disappointed. In this masterful work, Rav Cardozo not only critiques the great challenges that Jews face in the world but also lays out an inspirational and comprehensive vision of contemporary Judaism, one where, “Halacha’s main [function] is to protest against a world that is becoming ever more complacent, self-indulgent, insensitive, and egocentric” (21).  Read the rest of this entry »


Gender Equality and Prayer in Jewish Law

March 5, 2018

Review by Aryeh Klapper • JOFA 

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In Gender Equality and Prayer in Jewish Law, Rabbis Ethan Tucker and Micha’el Rosenberg have produced a book that is noteworthy for its integrity, accuracy, and clarity. The authors worked for many years to refine the book’s content and responded to critiques with thanks and openness to revising their arguments, if not their conclusions. (Full disclosure: I am thanked for my “sharp and serious critiques and criticisms” [p. 9], ongoing from when I was a stripling Orthodox rabbinic adviser at Harvard Hillel while they were undergraduates.) The formal elements of their arguments are consciously crafted to fall within traditional and contemporary Orthodox halakhic parameters. The quality and humility of their work can serve as a model for private and public halakhic conversations about such issues.

This hard-earned and well-deserved praise does not mean that the book ought to succeed in directly affecting the davening practices of halakhic communities, nor that it successfully justifies the genderidentical practices of current prayer communities that otherwise follow the halakhot of prayer. It is vital to understand why, even if the explanation is lengthy. Read the rest of this entry »


Healthy in Body and Spirit

March 4, 2018

Michael Kaufman’s potentially lifesaving new work

Yonoson Rosenblum • Mishpacha Magazine

body's keeper 1In the gym that I frequent too infrequently, there hangs a New Yorker–style cartoon depicting a doctor speaking to an overweight, middle-aged man sitting on the examination table. The caption reads: “What fits your busy schedule better — exercising one hour a day, or being dead 24 hours a day?”

Michael Kaufman makes a similar point at the outset of his potentially lifesaving new work, Am I My Body’s Keeper? Torah, Science, Diet and Fitness — for Life. “Since a prerequisite for living a Torah life is obviously ‘living,’ the Jew must be keenly aware of the very first duty to be healthy, for otherwise no mitzvos can be observed and no Torah learned.”

In his haskamah to Kaufman’s work, Rabbi Yosef Fleischman, rosh kollel of one of the largest Choshen Mishpat kollels in the world, notes a striking paradox. Read the rest of this entry »