December 1, 2015
By Rabbi Ari Enkin,
I am at a loss for words to describe how blown away I am by the magnitude of Avinoam Fraenkel’s Nefesh Hatzimtzum.
Nefesh Hatzimtzum is a translation and study guide to R’ Chaim Volozhin’s Nefesh Hachaim. For those unfamiliar, Nefesh Hachaim is the “Shulchan Aruch” of hashkafa and philosophy. The concepts presented by R. Chaim are a basic platform to give us knowledge of the closest that is humanly achievable in relating to God and by extension, our ability to serve Him.
Nefesh Hatzimtzum is simply outstanding. It is a crisp and clear presentation of what has essentially been a closed book. Now Nefesh Hachaim is not only accessible, but in Fraenkel’s two volume set (over 1600 pages!), one also enjoys the benefits of a spoon fed education on the material. Read the rest of this entry »
August 2, 2015
By Rabbi Ari Enkin
That the shidduch world has gone mad is not news to anyone, but that there are competent and credible individuals within the frum world who don’t fear tackling the issue, might just be. Dr. Michael J. Salamon’s “The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures” takes a frank look at what young religious ‘daters’ are going through. From the nauseating questions that parents and shadchanim have no shame asking, to the real life shidduch experiences, this book is full of shidduch stories that should have been written in a fiction novel or a book of Jewish humor. Sadly, however, they are the true stories that so many young men and women are experiencing. Read the rest of this entry »
July 29, 2015
By Rabbi Ari Enkin
Following the order of the “sefirot” that are a popular study during the Sefirat Ha’omer period, Journey Together is a guide for building and repairing relationships during the 49 days of the sefira count. Consistent with the themes of the individual sefirot, the primary attributes that are focused in the book are: loving kindness, strength/restraint, harmony/truth, endurance, humility, foundation/bonding, and leadership/nobility.
The book opens with a great introduction on the importance if counting the omer, and a primer about the concept of the sefirot. Each of the seven content-packed chapters opens with an explanation of what that week’s sefira emanation represents. For example, week one opens with a discussion of “chessed” and its ramifications on creation and the world. We then examine examples of the day’s sefira in the context of the Biblical figure who is associated with it, and then move on into the motivational stories. And so it is with each day’s sefira count
The book is overflowing with ideas and inspirational teachings, anecdotes, analogies, and stories to help us transform the days of sefira for better. There is an extremely refreshing blend of teachings from modern day rabbis, educators and inspirational speakers, such as Rebbetzin Jungreis, Rabbi Avraham Twerski, Rabbi J.B. Soloevitchik, Rabbi Akiva Tatz, Rabbi David Aaron, Rabbi Stewart Weiss, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, and many others. Read the rest of this entry »
July 16, 2015
By Rabbi Ari Enkin
I’ve never read poetry in my life before, and frankly, I have no interest in it. But I grabbed the opportunity to examine “religious poetry.” I know of no other work of Torah poetry in the orthodox world.
Ira Bedzow’s new book “Things Overheard in the Synagogue” is a beautiful and quaint collection of over seventy pieces of poetry reflecting his thoughts and emotions and many different issues in the Jewish world in general, and the synagogue world in particular. It’s a work where the author “gets things off his chest.” There are also a number of pieces where the author uses poetry as a springboard for Talmudic and Midrashic commentary. There are also about twenty short essays in the section “Remarks and Reflections.” Read the rest of this entry »