New Review – Was Yosef on the Spectrum

December 13, 2018

Ben Rothke ● Jewish Link of New Jersey

Understanding Yosef

In his paper “Is There Science in the Bible? An Assessment of Biblical Concordism,” Rabbi Dr. David Shatz writes that “some distinguished scientists, for some reason mostly physicists, push for concordist readings. Other intellectuals, for example those immersed in the humanities, are as a rule wary of, or put off by, such interpretations.” Concordism is a system of textual interpretation that is meant to establish a fusion between biblical texts and scientific data.

Read the rest of this entry »
Advertisements

Dvar Torah on Parshat Vayeshev – Was Yosef on the Spectrum

December 3, 2018

Jason Ciment recently gave a short dvar torah on parshat Vayeshev, influenced by Dr. Samuel Levine’s new book Was Yosef on the Spectrum?.

Watch it here: 

Available for order on
Urim Publications

New Review – Was Yosef on the Spectrum?

December 2, 2018

Jewish Media Review · Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins

Yosef’s behaviors, interpersonal relationships, and personal development are often difficult to understand, and at times seem to defy explanation. This book offers a coherent and cohesive reading of the well-known Bible story, presenting a portrait of Yosef as an individual on the autism spectrum. Viewed through this lens, Yosef emerges as a more familiar and less enigmatic individual, exhibiting both strengths and weaknesses commonly associated with autism spectrum disorder.

“Sam Levine was my student in yeshiva, and I have known him for decades….I enjoyed his book on Yosef, which presents a thoughtful and creative literary analysis of the story, based on a close reading of the Chumash, midrashim, and classical meforshim.”
Rav Menachem MendelBlachman, Senior Ra”m at Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh

Samuel J. Levine is a Professor of Law and Director of the Jewish Law Institute at Touro Law Center. He has served as the Beznos Distinguished Professor at Michigan State University College of Law, and he has taught at the law schools of Bar-Ilan, Fordham, Pepperdine, and St. John’s Universities.


New and Forthcoming from Urim Publications

November 26, 2018

New Article by “American Interests” Author Lenny Ben-David

November 19, 2018

The Patriarch Isaac and the Aussie Light Horsemen

What the Capture of Beersheva in 1917 Taught Me about Isaac

I am ashamed to say it, but when I was a kid I thought Isaac, the Jewish patriarch, was a wuss: a good son, a spitting image of his father, a willing volunteer to be sacrificed to God, a learned man, and a farmer. But he didn’t travel the world like his father Abraham – from Babylon to southern Turkey, to Canaan, Egypt, Philistine, and back to Canaan. He wasn’t a warrior like Abraham who commanded 300 fighters on a forced march from the Dead Sea to Damascus to battle kings. Isaac paled in comparison to his son Jacob who raised 12 sons and a daughter, prepared defensive formations to meet a threatening Esau, and traveled to Egypt. Jacob was the founder of the people of Israel, his namesake.

While the lives, travels, and travails of Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph are spread across much of the book of Genesis, the story of Isaac barely fills this week’s Torah Parsha, Toldot. What was remarkable about his story in the Bible? Well, the Torah relates, he dug wells, he opened wells that had been sealed by the Philistines, and he gave names to the wells.

Rabbinic literature compares flowing water to the Torah – essential for life – and the rabbis credit Isaac for the nurturing Torah he provided. Three of his wells were given names related to the first and second Temples, according to tradition, and the third name signified the third, future Temple. And wells always played an important role for the romances of the Torah – by a well Abraham’s servant found Rivka, Isaac’s eventual wife. Hagar, Abraham’s second wife, found refuge at a well where later Isaac first met Rivka. And Moses met his wife Zipporah by a well.

Read the rest of this entry »

New Review – Jewish Guide to Practical Medical Decision-Making

November 5, 2018

Rabbi Ari Kahn • Explorations

Medical Decisions web 1Compassion and Healing

Jewish medical ethics is a robust field, which quickly grows as the medical and scientific inquiry advances. While many volumes have been written on Jewish medical ethics, Jason Weiner’s Jewish Guide to Practical Medical Decision-Making  is unique. Rabbi Weiner has written an excellent and important work from a perspective unlike others who have addressed  this topic. While previous studies have been published by experts in Halacha, or experts in medicine, or experts in ethics. Rabbi Weiner may, in fact, be all of the these, but first and foremost he is a chaplain; he works in a hospital, and deals with patients on a daily basis. While I have studied, taught, and even given psak(halachic rulings) in many of the areas discussed in this book, my involvement is often theoretical. Reading actual cases, and learning from Rabbi Weiner’s experience, sensitivity, and wisdom, is both instructive and invaluable.

One powerful example begins on p.93: Rabbi Weiner describes his interaction with the parents of a child suffering from what turned out to be a terminal illness. These parents  asked if they were permitted to pray for their son’s recovery, and Rabbi Weiner answered in the affirmative. When the illness took their son’s life, the devastated parents criticized the rabbi for allowing them to foster false hope.[1]

Read the rest of this entry »


New Review – Song of Teshuva 4

October 31, 2018

Midwest Book Review • Judaic Studies

song of teshuva 4Abraham Isaac Kook (7 September 1865 – 1 September 1935) was an Orthodox rabbi, the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of British Mandatory Palestine, the founder of Yeshiva Mercaz HaRav Kook (The Central Universal Yeshiva), a Jewish thinker, Halakhist, Kabbalist, and a renowned Torah scholar, and arguably one of the most celebrated and influential rabbis of the 20th century. Rabbi Kook’s seminal work on repentance, Oros HaTeshuvah, is recognized as a classic of Jewish thought but has, because of its difficult language and its theological depth, remained inaccessible to many. “Song of Teshuvah” presents readers with the original Hebrew text of Oros HaTeshuvah with a new translation into English, as well as expert commentary in English from Rabbi Moshe Weinberger.

Weinberger draws on his extensive knowledge of Jewish philosophical and inspirational literature to provide profound, moving, and fresh insights into the text, richly explicating the ideas in Oros HaTeshuvah in an accessible and clear but not superficial manner. Readers will come away with a firm grasp on the profound truth at the heart of Kook’s classic work: that teshuvah (repentance) is not a somber process of self-deprivation but a joyful journey back to God and to the core of each individual.

“Song of Teshuvah” covers chapters 14 through 17 of Oros HaTeshuvah and is the fourth and final volume in this simply outstanding series. “Song of Teshuvah” is unreservedly recommended for synagogue, college, and university library Judaic Studies collections in general, and Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook supplemental studies reading lists in particular.