Review: Faith and Freedom Passover Haggadah

September 27, 2019

Roger S. Kohn, Silver Spring, MD AJL News and Reviews

This a traditional Haggadah, with translation in English, supplemented by a commentary that is drawn from twelve books and three articles of Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits (1908–1992), a Modern Orthodox rabbi and educator. Almost two hundred excerpts are included here, and a quarter of these are from only four books, Faith after the Holocaust, 1973 (17 excerpts), Man and God, 1969 (13), God, Man, and History, 2004 (13), and Between Yesterday and Tomorrow, 1945 (11). The excerpts can be quite long, often over one or two pages, and introduced in the translation with a word or words in bold type; the same expression found in the translation is then used to introduce the excerpt. As the editor warns us in his introduction, the excerpts are all from published works “sometimes with abridgments and slight edits.”

Recommended to all readers interested in the writings of Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits.

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Review: Encyclopedia of Jewish Values: Between Man and Man

September 24, 2019

Randall C. and Anne-Marie Belinfante ● AJL News and Reviews

In this, the third of Rabbi Nachum Amsel’s Encyclopedias, the author continues to explicate the values and principles that underlie Jewish laws and precepts as they apply to contemporary Jews. In particular, this volume focuses on those laws governing interaction between Jews and the people around them, be they Jewish or otherwise. Amsel covers a diverse range of issues: in addition to considering topics such as war, modesty, tzedakah, and hospitality, he considers more seemingly “modern” concerns such as climate change, advertising and universal health care, weighing how Jewish legal sources apply to them.

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“Weiss propounds ‘Open Orthodoxy’ in new book”

August 29, 2019

Fred Reiss, Ed.D. ● San Diego Jewish World

Reform Judaism in eighteenth century Germany and Hasidism in the Ukraine in the same century represent the first modern ruptures in traditional Judaism; the former due to European emancipation, the latter a spiritual revival movement. The freedoms granted by American democracy led to further balkanization, including Reconstructionist, Conservative, and Humanistic Judaism. Orthodox Judaism is not without its own divisions, such as Haredi Jews and the Modern Orthodox.

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The Encyclopedia of Jewish Values: Between Man and Man

August 4, 2019

Ben Rothke Jewish Link of New Jersey

This is volume three of Amsel’s encyclopedia series. Here, he covers a wide range of topics on the interpersonal level including subjects from business ethics, modesty with dress, self-defense, to peer pressure, physical beauty and ugliness; privacy vs. community, and much more.

At about 5-10 pages per topic, Amsel does an excellent job of surveying the topic. He provides copious sources for those that want to do a deeper dive in the topic. This is a most worthwhile reference.


New and Forthcoming Titles

July 14, 2019

The Encyclopedia of Jewish Values, Between Man and Man

June 25, 2019

Midwest Book Review ● The Judaic Studies Shelf

Rabbi Dr. Nachum Amsel is the director of education at the Destiny Foundation and the author of The Jewish Encyclopedia of Moral and Ethical Issues and The Encyclopedia of Jewish Values. With “The Encyclopedia of Jewish Values: Between Man and Man” Rabbi Amsel provides a continuation to his widely praised “Encyclopedia of Jewish Values”.

“The Encyclopedia of Jewish Values: Between Man and Man” is a deftly organized compendium of Jewish values and ethics that deal with human interaction. The topics addressed in this work include Jewish attitudes to leadership, business ethics, modesty with dress, self-defense, peer pressure, family, friendships, and more.

Gleaning from the Bible and classic Jewish texts, as well as later authorities such as Maimonides, Nachmanides, Rashi, and the Code of Jewish Law, “The Encyclopedia of Jewish Values: Between Man and Man” is accessible to readers of many backgrounds.

“The Encyclopedia of Jewish Values: Between Man and Man” covers a veritable compendium topics that range from: Animals – How Jews Should Relate; Antisemitism and Amalek; Business Ethics; Civil Disobedience; Climate Change – Is It a Jewish Issue? and Drugs, Alcohol & Marijuana – Are They Ever Permitted in Judaism?; Ethics of Torture in Judaism; Family – the Key to Jewish and World; Redemption; Friendship; Getting Old, Being Old and Senility; to Going Beyond What is Required: Good Idea or Obligatory?; Honesty and Cheating; Human Dignity, Human Embarrassment, and Humiliating Oneself; Individuality and Conformity; Jewish Happiness; Jewish Hospitality – Hachnasat Orchim; Jewish Leadership – What is It?; Universal Healthcare (Obamacare) from the Jewish Perspective; and so much more!

Critique: Deftly organized alphabetically from Advertising to War, “The Encyclopedia of Jewish Values: Between Man and Man” is enhanced for easier access with a five page Index and a complete listing of Hebrew Sources. An impressively organized and presented work of meticulous and exhaustive scholarship, “The Encyclopedia of Jewish Values: Between Man and Man” is unreservedly recommended for personal, synagogue, community, college, and university library Judaic Studies collections and supplemental curriculum reading lists.


Rabbinic Authority Vol. 4

June 3, 2019

Daniel D. Stuhlman ● AJL Reviews

Rabbi Warburg continues his series on Jewish law in this fourth volume of Rabbinic Authority. If you don’t have the previous three volumes, you should purchase them because Warburg refers to them so that he does not have to repeat material. This volume deals with issues concerning children within a divorce proceeding as well as issues surrounding the agunah (lit. ‘chained wife’). When dissolving a marriage without co-operating parties the Beit Din (religious court) will on rare occasions declare the initial kiddushin (marriage ceremony) was mistaken (called bittul kiddushin or kiddushin ta’ut). This means the marriage is annulled and was a mistake. Warburg discusses the Halkhah and precedent for ending a marriage when both parties don’t agree, as well as the definition of marriage and ways of ending a marriage with a coerced get or without a get.

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