Alan Jay Gerber • The Jewish Press
It is a new year with new reviews for your reading and learning pleasure.
One of our nation’s oldest Jewish publishers, Ktav Publishing, recently brought to the Jewish reading public a fascinating literary work, “Six Days of Cosmology and Evolution: A Scientific Commentary on the Genesis Text With Rabbinic Sources” by Daniel Langer, with an endorsement from astrophysicist Dr. Amitai Bin-Nun.
With the upcoming Torah readings from the book of Genesis this timely work should serve as a unique literary experience tailored to both our religious and intellectual needs.
The method employed by the author utilizes a verse by verse analysis of the Genesis narrative of the story of the world’s creation through the use of both scientific and rabbinic “lenses”.
In his introduction the author details for us his goals in what has in previous generations proven to be a daunting literary experience.
“The aim of this book is to demonstrate that the Torah’s account of Creation is not in conflict with the sciences of cosmology, geology, or evolution. This requires an understanding of the nature of time, the overlapping character of the six days, and the use of homonyms in the Bible.”
Further on the author details the following very candid sentiments:
“This approach will be criticized from the left and from the right. Fundamentalists who hold a literal reading of Scripture may object to the suggestion that words in the Torah can mean different things to different generations, or that passages can be reinterpreted in ways that conform to empirical data and scientific theory. Scholars on the left hold that the Torah is not a science text: treating it as such distorts its message.”
The author concludes his introductory thesis with the following teaching from that great scholar Rabbi Elie Munk, zt”l, from his classical commentary, “The Call of the Torah” where he teaches us the following:
“The Torah does not stipulate as an absolute act of faith that G-d exists. Indeed, the existence of G-d is presupposed throughout, but it is not the object of a proof, nor even of a doubt. But the word order in the initial verse of the Torah [The word “God” appears after “created”] discreetly suggests that we seek out G-d in Creation, and so progressively acquire with our intelligence that which faith puts forward to us at the beginning of our human experience. For faith is crowned by knowledge.”
The timely publication of this work beginning with the reading of Sefer Bereishis makes for a very fortunate religious literary decision.
Do read and enjoy this new literary contribution.
Elliot Resnick • Jewish Press
Translating one peirush on Chumash is hard enough. Translating 15 is nothing short of remarkable. But Eliyahu Munk has done just that. The Ohr HaChaim, the Alshich, the Akeidas Yitzchak, the Kedushas Levi, the Ksav v’Hakabalah, the Chizkuni, the Shelah, the Tzror Hamor, the Tur, Rabbeinu Bachye – all translated into English by one man.
And he’s still going strong. At age 96, Eliyahu Munk is now translating the Meshech Chachmah. Amazed at this literary output, The Jewish Press recently called Eliyahu Munk in Israel to speak to him about his life and work.
The Jewish Press: What’s your background?
Munk: I was born in Frankfurt, Germany. My father came from Cologne and taught mathematics, chemistry, and physics.
I attended Rav Joseph Breuer’s yeshiva 10 hours every week. He taught me the haftarot, and the way he made a navi come to life is something I haven’t forgotten. He had a knack of making a navi talk to you. It was a terrific thing. Read the rest of this entry »
JLNJ Staff • Jewish Link of New Jersey
In “Scholarly Man of Faith: Studies in the Thought and Writings of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik,” Dr. Kanarfogel and his co-editor, Dr. Dov Schwartz, professor of philosophy at Bar-Ilan University, bring together the expanded studies of written works of the rav that emerged from a joint conference between YU and Bar-Ilan in 2012. Other YU faculty contributing chapters include Rabbi Shalom Carmy, assistant professor of Jewish philosophy and Bible at Yeshiva College; Rabbi Dr. David Shatz, Ronald P. Stanton University Professor of Philosophy, Ethics and Religious Thought at Stern College for Women; and Dr. Daniel Rynhold, associate professor in modern Jewish philosophy at Revel…
“In ‘Scholarly Man of Faith,’” said Dr. Kanarfogel, “outstanding international scholars examine areas of his intellectual endeavors that have not been fully explored, making the volume valuable to anyone interested in the rav’s teaching…. I have had the pleasure of investigating with my fellow scholars the forces that have shaped the distinct elements of the Jewish character.”
(Courtesy of Yeshiva University) Rabbi Dr. Ephraim Kanarfogel, E. Billi Ivry University Professor of Jewish History, Literature and Law at Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, has co-edited two new volumes, one focusing on the writing of Rabbi Dr. Joseph B. Soloveitchik and the other on the emergence of Jewish identity during the medieval period in Europe.
Phil Jacobs • Jewish Links of NJ
Food is at the heart of Jewish life and culture. “From Forbidden Fruit to Milk and Honey” spotlights food in the Torah itself, as it explores themes like love, compassion, social justice, memory, belonging, deception, life and death. Originally an online project to support the food rescue charity, Leket Israel,the book comprises short essays on food in the parsha by 52 internationally acclaimed scholars and Jewish educators, and a verse-by-verse commentary by Diana Lipton.