COULD JOSEPH BE ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM? – new review of Was Yosef on the Spectrum?

January 6, 2020

Different Brains

THE STORY OF JOSEPH

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.

COULD JOSEPH BE ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM?

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The Autism Question and Beyond: Rereading the Joseph Saga

January 5, 2020

Yitzchak Blau ● Lehrhaus

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.

To read the entire review, click here.


Was Yosef on the Spectrum – New Review

December 12, 2019

Michele Justic ● Five Towns Jewish Times

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.

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Straight from the book – Was Yosef on the Spectrum

December 1, 2019

“Pharaoh realizes that, given Yosef’s self-absorption, his lack of social skills, and his inability to navigate social challenges, Yosef is vulnerable to the maneuverings of those who are more clever, cunning, and calculating. Pharaoh has maintained power through shrewd utilization of his formidable political savvy, but Yosef is particularly ill-suited to deal with the bare-knuckled world of politics and the sharks who will be looking for every opportunity to hurt him – and possibly, by extension, cause harm to Pharaoh himself. Pharaoh preempts these threats by giving Yosef a new and honorable name – and with it a new persona – as well as a wife, who can help protect him from the attacks and advances of others. Significantly, Pharaoh selects a woman who is from a distinguished family – possibly the family of Potiphar – who not only bestows further honor on Yosef by virtue of her pedigree, but who is presumably familiar with the intrigue and machinations of royal politics, and along with her family will be able to anticipate and help ward off challenges to Yosef.  With these in place, Yosef is finally safe to go out on his own, leaving the protective watch of Pharaoh and traveling throughout the Land of Egypt.  

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Was Yosef on the Spectrum – Review

November 27, 2019

Rabbi Dr. Geoffrey (Rav Gedaliah) Haber

Professor Levine makes a cogent case for Yosef (Joseph) being on the ASD spectrum, albeit, high functioning. His analysis of the biblical and secondary sources makes a strong case (except in Chapters 9 and 10) for his argument. According to this analysis, Yosef  would be at the high functioning end of the ASD spectrum (formerly Asperger’s Syndrome) and his manifestation would change with maturity as noted in the book. Whatever counterarguments might be made, it was fascinating to read about how many traits and challenges Yosef shared with “high-functioning” persons on the spectrum. I thought it was an insightful piece and I’ve recommended it to others. 

Rabbi Dr. Geoffrey (Rav Gedaliah) Haber is the Director of the Department of Spiritual Care in Baycrest, Toronto. He holds a BA, BA, MA, DMin, DD (Hon.), is a Certified Supervisor-Educator, Clinical Pastoral Education (CASC), Board Certified Chaplain (NAJC), Certified Spiritual Care Practitioner (CASC), Registered Psychotherapist (CRPO), and Adjunct Lecturer at Knox College, University of Toronto (TST).

Straight from the book – Was Yosef on the Spectrum

November 18, 2019

“The story of Yosef (Joseph) presents some of the most challenging questions of all biblical narratives. Yosef’s behavior, interpersonal relationships, and personal journey and development are often difficult to understand, and at times seem to defy explanation. Leading commentators are repeatedly puzzled both by Yosef’s actions and by the events that surround him: from Yosef’s bitter interchanges with his brothers, which his father Yaakov (Jacob) is apparently unable to mediate, to the events in the Land of Egypt, where Yosef finds both failure and remarkable success, to Yosef’s strange machinations, when his brothers travel to Egypt to purchase food and later settle in Egypt along with Yaakov.

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The Day I Met Father Isaac at the Supermarket

October 23, 2019

Dov Peretz Elkins ● Jewish Growth

Rabbi Jack Riemer is without doubt the most talented preacher in American Jewry. He has a knack of finding an idea where others cannot find a needle in a haystack. His homiletical eye is so well trained, that rabbis around the world rely on him for fresh ideas. This book is no exception – it is inspiring, funny, wise, and insightful. Read it over and over again.

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