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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Insights from the Rabbi Who Wrote the Book on ‘Open Orthodoxy’

October 22, 2019

Jonathan Kirsch ● Jewish Journal

“Orthodoxy” with a capital “O” is a misunderstood and misused word in Judaism. Modern Orthodoxy is used to identify the mainstream of strictly observant Judaism, of course, but “ultra-Orthodox” is an adjective that is applied to the Charedi, Chasidic and Yeshivish movements in Judaism, each of which is distinct from the others. 

So, where does “Open Orthodoxy” fit into the Jewish world?

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Review: Redeeming Relevance in the Book of Leviticus

October 3, 2019

Arthur G. Quinn AJL News and Reviews

The author is a rabbi and a writer on many aspects of Torah. This volume is the last in a series on all five books of the Torah and deals with Leviticus (or, as Rabbi Nataf refers to it throughout: Vayikra). Each of the five chapters is dedicated to an aspect of Vayikra. Chapter one is devoted to the interpretation of sacrifice that is relevant for contemporary practice. Chapter two discusses the integrity of Vayikra as a free-standing book in its own right. Chapter three focuses on ritual purity, dietary customs, and reproduction. Chapter four contends with sin and family matters, and chapter five presents Vayikra as a book of laws with few stories contained within its pages. This book is a brief commentary on Leviticus, but it carries a unique perspective. Footnotes are scattered throughout but no index or bibliography are provided.

This volume would be a worthwhile addition to any adult collection.


Review: The Just Still Lives by His Faith

October 2, 2019

David B Levy AJL News and Reviews

This insightful, well-written, original and important work is one of the best collections of over forty Torah essays in Biblical exegesis and Rabbinics in many years. As such, it is recommended for all libraries and to scholar and layman alike.

Munk is best known for translating Torah commentaries by commentators from the 15th to 18th centuries, but also included in this volume are a selection of his public lectures and independent research. Some of these essays have been published before (for example in L’Eylah, the organ of Jews College in England, or in “Ascent” of Tzefat). Most of the essays included here, however, appear for the first time, providing a great boon to readers and enabling them to benefit further from the breadth and depth of Munk’s Torah knowledge and scholarship. Moreover, the fact that this volume is in English will allow his research to reach a much wider audience.