Chava Pinchuck ● AJL Reviews
The Shulchan Aruch—the Code of Jewish Law (the “Code”)—was authored by Joseph Karo in 1563, and it remains the most widely accepted compilation of Jewish law ever written. Rabbi J. B. Solovetchik, z”l, articulated an “action to experience paradigm,” whereby doing the mitzvahs with intention provides a link to God. Looking at the “Code” through this lens, Rabbi Grunstein shows the reader how to elevate his observance of the commandments by knowing whether obligations are biblical, rabbinic, or custom, knowing the background and historical context, and providing practical suggestions.
Continue reading “Beyond Routine”
Doreen Wachmann ● Jewish Telegraph
Professor Samuel Levine’s CV runs to 22 pages, citing all his academic achievements in the field of Jewish and American law.
Yet his latest book, Was Yosef on the Spectrum? Understanding Joseph through Torah, Midrash and Classical Jewish Sources (Urim Publications) deals with a more controversial topic. He suggests that the great biblical character Joseph may have been autistic.
Many charedim nowadays see red if anyone dares to criticise heroic biblical characters. Twenty years ago, there was a riot in Manchester with the visit of Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, who had written an article suggesting that Moses was not a politician — surely a compliment rather than an insult?
So why did Prof Levine choose to stray from his usual academic paths and write on such a controversial subject?
Continue reading “Was Yosef Autistic?”
Yaakov (Jack) Bieler ● Jewish Book Council
This collection of academic papers on the teachings of Rabbi Joseph P. Soloveitchik developed from a joint conference that took place in 2012 at Yeshiva University in New York and Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv. (A companion volume of Hebrew-language papers from the conference is forthcoming.) Reflecting the Torah U’madda (Torahand secular knowledge) polymath that R. Soloveitchik himself embodied, the papers represent many disciplines, all viewed from both a Jewish and secular perspective, including philosophy, hermeneutics, history, and literature.
In a wide-ranging essay, Dr. David Shatz notes that while it is commonly believed that R. Soloveitchik published relatively little during his lifetime, this view is erroneous; in fact, the Toras HoRav Foundation has been systematically issuing volumes of R. Soloveitchik’s talks, developed from audio tapes and manuscripts, that have enabled scholars and laypersons alike to delve deeply into and comment on his ideas. Many of the papers in this volume draw upon these writings. Shatz also speculates as to why R. Soloveichik has attracted much greater interest since his passing in 1993, particularly among non-Orthodox and even non-Jewish scholars. Shatz’s encyclopedic summary of the many articles that have been published concerning R. Soloveitchik’s writings provide a wonderful resource for those who wish to study these matters further. Other notable essays include Ephraim Kanarfogel’s discussion of R. Soloveitchik’s uncanny knowledge of lost German Tosafist Halachic material, and Shira Weiss’s paper appraising the influence on R. Soloveichik of the medieval thinker Judah HaLevi.
Academic papers are not written for the casual reader, and some of the terminology and citations in this volume can prove daunting. However, readers seeking to seriously engage with these thoughtful presentations of R. Soloveitchik’s vast and erudite contributions to modern Jewish thought are sure to benefit.
Yaakov (Jack) Bieler ● Jewish Book Council
Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, zt”l, was the universally acknowledged leader of Modern Orthodoxy during the latter half of the twentieth century, when he served as Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva University, head of the Halacha (Law) Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America, and spiritual mentor for the Mizrachi religious Zionist organization. His passing on April 8th, 1993 left a profound void for those who looked specifically to him for brilliant and original Torah insights and methodology, guidance in halachic (legal) and hashkafic (thought) matters that have arisen due to the modern experience, and as an exemplar of excellence in Judaic and secular studies and their interaction.
This volume is a unrevised reissue of the out-of-print collection of forty-two eulogies offered by family members, former students, and admirers, which was originally published in 2003. While the eulogies contain inspiring personal recollections, words of Torah, and moving anecdotes, one wonders what those who first eulogized the Rav over twenty years ago may have wanted to add to their memorials for this incredibly great man after the passing of two decades.
J.B. Holderness ● Yeshiva University Staff News
In December, Samuel J. Levine, Professor of law and director of the Jewish Law Institute at Touro College, published a book entitled Was Yosef on the Spectrum?: Understanding Joseph through Torah, Midrash, and Classical Jewish Sources. The book examines the behavior and relationships of Yosef through the lens of our modern understanding of autism. Our own cataloger Yosef Cohen submitted a review of the book to the author and received an appreciative response. The following are excerpts of the review and reply:
Continue reading “Engaging with the Author: Samuel J. Levine”
Yaakov (Jack) Bieler ● Jewish Book Council
Theologian and Jewish philosopher Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits (1908−92) was the author of many books of Jewish thought, history, and philosophy. For this new haggadah, editor Reuven Mohl has selected passages from these works to comprise the commentary that accompanies the traditional text.
The Passover seder has many components, including rituals, like Kiddush (the sanctification of the holy day being celebrated) and Hallel (psalms commemorating the Exodus experience); reading passages from rabbinic literature; and engaging in long standing traditions — children asking questions, opening the door to welcome the prophet Elijah, and reciting liturgical poems. Mohl has drawn from Rabbi Berkovits’s incredibly broad oeuvre to provide thought-provoking insights pertaining not only to the haggadah but also observations that go beyond the text, including his strong advocacy for living according to halakah — Jewish law.
Interspersed with many of Rabbi Berkovits’s more philosophical and theological statements are stories and comments about the Holocaust, which he experienced first-hand. Seeing the topics playing off one another throughout the haggadah offers a unique insight into Rabbi Berkovits’s experiences and thinking.
Review by Amos Lassen
Dr. Ronald Eisenberg brings two of his great loves, Judaism and Medicie together in “Jews in Medicine” in which he focuses on the contributions made by Jews over time to the medical profession. He shares the history of
More than 450 individual Jewish physicians who he divides by region and area of specialization, “all within a historical context—from Talmudic times to the modern era, from Islamic and Christian lands to the spread of Jewish communities in Europe after the Spanish Inquisition.” There is a large section devoted to the modern era that focuses on European and American physicians and includes Jewish Nobel Prize winners. Included is a description of physicians who were leaders in the Zionist movement and those who contributed to the development of medicine in the State of Israel.
Continue reading “Jews in Medicine”
Professor Randy Lee ● Widener Law School
Reflections on Jewish and American Disability Law and on the God Who Makes All Things Good
“Professor Sam Levine, Director of the Jewish Law Institute here at Touro, recently published a book, Was Yosef on the Spectrum. Was Yosef, son of Jacob, son of Rachel, prophet, mystic, favorite of his father, selected savior of the civilized world, master businessman, and Broadway star, on the spectrum?
When Professor Levine first
mentioned that possibility to me and began to explain his reasoning, I felt what
I thought were two different responses.
My first response was, “Isn’t that clever! Isn’t that neat. Isn’t it creative and lawyerly how Professor
Levine has managed to find a way to connect all those events and all those
conversations together to support his thesis.”
Continue reading “Touro Law Conference – Was Yosef on the Spectrum”
Jack Mason ● Midwest Book Review
in the Presence: A Jewish Mindfulness Guide to Everyday Life”, Rabbi
Epstein explains that living in the present has become a therapeutic
cornerstone; that living in the presence transforms the technique into a
simplicity, straightforwardness, and heartfulness, ”Dr. Benjy” presents an
approach culled from the teachings of the great Jewish spiritual masters that
span thousands of years.
Continue reading “Living in the Presence”
Dov Peretz Elkins ● Jewish Media Review
A remarkable book, a
page-turner. Hard to put down. This wonderful collection about the intellectual
contributions of Rabbi Yitz Greenberg will be of interest to professionals and
laypersons interested in Jewish life. Anyone who reads it will be inspired,
uplifted and engaged.
Continue reading “A Torah Giant – new review”