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Jewish Thought

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  • Modeh Ani

    Rabbi Reuven P. Bulka

    Modeh Ani is all about gratitude, and so much more. Discover the hidden but powerful layers of meaning contained in the twelve words that comprise Modeh Ani, in this fascinating study. Your Modeh Ani, or Modah Ani, will never be the same.

    About the Author
    Rabbi Reuven P. Bulka is Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Machzikei Hadas in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He is the author of close to 40 books, chairs the Trillium Gift of Life Network, and is President/CEO of Kind Canada Généreux. Together with his wife Leah, they are grateful for their children in many generations, all of whom say Modeh Ani or Modah Ani every day.

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  • The Just Still Lives by His Faith

    Eliyahu Munk

    ''The majority of these articles deal with subjects which may trouble the thinking believer, and perhaps even more so the person who has not yet come to terms with belief in the Torah and its interpreters, the carriers of our sacred tradition. This is why I have chosen the above quotation from Habakkuk as the title of this book.'' ~ From the foreword by Eliyahu Munk

    Contents

    • The Book of Jonah as an Indictment of the Jewish People
    • Discrepancies Between Chronicles and the Book of Kings
    • Are There Really 613 Biblical Commandments?
    • On the Who, When, and How, of Prayer
    • Solar and Lunar Eclipses and Their Impact on Society
    • Leviathan in the Bible, the Talmud, and in Our Liturgy
    • Amalek, Then and Now
    • Yiftach and His Daughter
    • A Strange הלכה – Mayim shelanu
    • On the Phenomenon of the Scapegoat for Azazel
    • Reflections on G-d’s Impartiality and the concept of זכות אבות
    • Prophets Who Misunderstood the Visions Granted Them
    • Lip- service in Lieu of Animal- sacrifice?
    • How Does the Bible Relate to the Death Wish of a Person?
    • Imperfections in Nature
    • Judaism and Collective Punishment
    • Does G-d Favour Democracy as a Form of Government?
    • Yaakov – Yisrael
    • Contradictions in the Laws About Vows
    • Is There a Limit to G-d’s Power?
    • Does a Prophet Forfeit His בחירה?
    • In Defence of Nadav and Avihu
    • Why Were Jacob’s Remains Embalmed?
    • Reflections on the Appointments of Successors by Our Leaders of Old
    • Dilemmas Inherent in Acceding to Popular Demands
    • Hair (Human and Animal) as Viewed by the Bible, the Talmud (Halachah) and Aggadah
    • Ruth as the Ideal Convert
    • Son or Daughter – Whom Do You Prefer (Is Preferable in the eyes of G-d)?
    • Discretion Versus Transparency
    • Are the Jewish People Lovable?
    • Examination of Marit Ayin Related Legislation in the Shulchan Aruch
    • Non- observance of the Challah Legislation as a Cause of Death during Childbirth
    • Parshat Balak: The Evil Eye
    • קדוש השם – אמונה – והשואה
    • From Metaphysics to Physics
    • The Torah’s Major U- turn
    • God’s “Racism” Versus His “Impartiality”
    • Why Two תוכחות?
    • Michal Daughter of King Saul and Wife of King David
    • Cloning – the Ultimate Form of Idolatry
    • Why Does Man Shun G-d? Is G-d Frustrated with Man?
    • Hereditary Elitism?
    • A Nation in the Making
    • Torah Versus Time
    • Two Toras, Why?
    • Extra Dimension
    • Chidushei Torah

    About the Author

    Mr. Eliyahu Munk was born in Frankfurt on Main, where he received his education at the Samson Refael Hirsch Realschule, as well as at the Yeshivah headed by Rabbi Dr. Joseph Breuer, ZT''L.

    After emigrating to England, he continued his studies at the Yeshivah in Gateshead.

    He served in Jewish education, primarily in Toronto, Canada for close to 30 years, before making aliyah to Israel in 1978. During his years in Canada he also pursued a business career while teaching. Since settling in Jerusalem, Mr. Munk has been busy translating numerous classical Torah commentaries into English. Publication of the Torah commentary by Samuel David Luzzatto (Sha'dal), brings the number of authors whose works Mr. Munk has translated to 14, comprising 53 volumes totaling over 23,000 pages.

    It is this editor's hope that the volume submitted herewith will be as enthusiastically received by his ever increasing circle of readers as have his earlier efforts.

    Also translated and annotated by Eliyahu Munk:

    Torah Commentary by Samuel David Luzzatto (4 volumes)
    Torah Commentary by Rabbi Bachya ben Asher (7 volumes)
    Haketav Vehakabbalah by Rabbi Tzevi Mecklenburg (7 volumes)
    Or Hachayim by Rabbi Chaim ben Attar (5 volumes)
    Tzror Hamor Torah Commentary by Rabbi Avraham Saba (5 volumes)
    Mikraot Gedolot, Hachut Hameshulash, Rabbeinu Chananel, Rash bam, R dak, Rabbi Ovadiah Seforno, (4 volumes)
    Tur on the Torah by Rabbi Yaakov ben Rabbeinu Asher (4 volumes)
    Shney Luchot Habrit by Rabbi I. Horowitz (3 volumes)
    Midrash of Rabbi Moshe Alshich (3 volumes)
    Kedushat Levi, Torah commentary by Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev, plus many anecdotes about him, (3 volumes)
    Akeydat Yitzchak by Rabbi Yitzchak Arama (2 volumes)
    Chizkuni Torah Commentary by Rabbi Chizkiyahu Ben Rabbi Manoach (4 volumes) 

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  • Scholarly Man of Faith

    Ephraim Kanarfogel and Dov Schwartz

    1 Review(s)

    This volume addresses a series of fascinating yet less-explored aspects of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik's teachings and thinking. The essays included delve into the Rav's approach toward understanding biblical figures in a comparative light, his views on emotion and intellect and their interrelationship, his appreciation of Yehudah ha-Levi as a seminal Jewish thinker, his unusual understanding of the history of medieval rabbinic literature and the implications for modernity, and his attitude and approach toward scientific method. The volume concludes with an extensive bibliographic survey of contemporary scholarship on Rav Soloveitchik's writings and thought. Long-time students and listeners, and an ever-increasing cadre of newer devotees, will not fail to be deeply impressed and inspired by the range, profundity, and humanity of the Rav's work

    Contents:
    • Introduction
    • Shalom Carmy, "In Many Respects God was Closer to Abraham than He was to Moses," Themes in Emergence of Ethical Man
    • Shira Weiss, Biblical Hermeneutics in the Thought of R. Soloveitchik: A Preliminary Appraisal of the Influence of R. Yehudah Halevi
    • Alex Sztuden, The Identity of Love and Cognition in the Thought of R. Joseph Soloveitchik
    • Ephraim Kanarfogel, The History of the Tosafists and their Literary Corpus according to Rav Soloveitchik's Interpretrations of the Qinot for Tishah B'Av
    • Daniel Rynhold, Science of Hermeneutics? Rav Soloveitchik's Scientific Method Revisited
    • David Shatz, Contemporary Scholarship on Rabbi Soloveitchik's Thought: Where We Are, Where We Can Go
    • Contributors
    About the Editors: 
    Ephraim Kanarfogel is the E. Billi Ivry University Professor of Jewish History, Literature, and Law at Yeshiva University's Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. He is a winner of the National Jewish Book Award for Scholarship and the Goldstein-Goren International Book Prize in Jewish Thought, and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the international journal, Jewish History.

    Dov Schwartz is Professor of Philosophy at Bar-Ilan University, where he heads the Warhaftig Research Institute for Religious Zionism. He is a winner of the EMET Prize in the Humanities, and serves as editor of Da'at, a leading journal of Jewish thought, and the bibliographic journal Alei Sefer.

    Shalom Carmy, "In Many Respects God was Closer to Abraham than He was to Moses," Themes in Emergence of Ethical Man 
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  • The Light of the Ben Ish Chai on Megillas Rus

    Introduction by Rabbi Yisroel Reisman

    The Light of the Ben Ish Chai on Megillas Rus is a translation of the Ben Ish Chai’s commentary on the Book of Rus. The Ben Ish Chai masterfully illuminates the text through pardes exposition. Pardes is exposition of 1) pshat, the plain meaning of the verse; 2) remez, holy numerical exposition; 3) drash, extrinsic source exposition and 4) sod, kabbalah. The Ben Ish Chai weaves all into this work along with memorable allegories to delight readers and bring out the shine of Torah.

    This sefer should be a core part of everyone’s library and will benefit both the advanced and beginner scholar. Sefer Rus cannot be understood simply by a superficial read; the Ben Ish Chai brings out the sefer’s beautiful themes of modesty, loyalty and kindness, which are the hallmark of the Jewish people.

     

    Acclaim for
    The Light of the Ben Ish Chai on Megillas Esther

    There is a phrase which is used to depict an outstanding sefer – beautiful wisdom in a beautiful vessel.  This would serve as an appropriate description of R’ Yerachmiel Bratt’s The Light of the Ben Ish Chai.  The wisdom of the exalted Master, zt”l, is presented to the modern reader in a manner that makes Torah accessible to every individual.  More power to the author.

    Rabbi Dovid Cohen
    Rav, Congregation Gvul Yaavetz
    Brooklyn, NY

        To our loss, the erudition of the Ben Ish Chai has been largely unknown in the Ashkenazic community.  Yerachmiel Bratt has now made the wisdom of this outstanding scholar readily accessible to all.  He has succeeded in combining lucidity in translation with fidelity to the original.  This classic text will serve as a source of knowledge and inspiration to scholar and student alike.

    Rabbi J. David Bleich
    Rosh Yeshiva and Rosh Kollel Le’Horaah
    Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary

     

    http://www.thejewishstar.com/stories/the-light-of-the-ben-ish-chai-on-megillas-rus,15514
    Review by Alan Jay Gerber, Kosher Bookworm | The Jewish Star

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  • The Life and Legacy of Rabbi Yosef Hayym

    Compiled and written under the auspices of Rabbi Yaakov Hillel, Rosh Yeshivat Ahavat Shalom

    A fascinating enigma surrounds the name of Rabbi Yosef Hayyim of Baghdad.

    How did a quiet Torah scholar of only twenty-five find himself at the helm of the community that he would lead like a king for the next fifty years, with no official position or salary?

    How did his word go forth from an Arab land to become law in Jewish communities worldwide, including Israel, India, and Shanghai, from his day – an era predating modern transportation and instant communication – to the present, over a century after his death?

    Why do Sephardic communities around the world follow his ruling?

    Why are his songs, especially Va’amartem Ko Lehai, Sung by Jews everywhere?

    How did one human being write hundreds of works on Talmud, Halachah, Scripture, and Kabbalah?

    Why are his writings studied by Sephardim and Ashkenazim, from scholarly rabbis to ordinary laymen?

    How did he continue to study, teach, write, guide, advise, and rule on halachic questions in wealth, in prison, and then in poverty?

    This volume sheds light on the spiritual giant who became known to posterity as the Ban Ish Hai.

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  • Jewish Ideas in Morality and Religion

    Rabbi Dr. Sol Roth

    Rabbi Dr. Sol Roth in his academic career applied the analytic method in his teaching of philosophy at Yeshiva University and in books he wrote. His goal was to bring greater clarification of Jewish concepts to his students and readers by rigorous use of logical methods to assure validity of arguments and by contrasting religious and moral notions with corresponding ideas of other cultures. The use of identical terms to describe fundamental cultural concepts that are radically different in meaning generates confusion even among those intellectually advanced. This work contributes to understanding by delineating critical differences in their meanings and yields arresting insights into the Jewish concepts of freedom, rights, equality, justice, wisdom, faith, belief and other basic ideas in the domains of morality and religion.

    About Rabbi Roth

    Rabbi Dr. Sol Roth was ordained by the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University. He received the Ph. D degree in philosophy from Columbia University, and served as adjunct Professor of Philosophy and the Samson Raphael Hirsch Professor of Torah and Derech Eretz at Yeshiva University. He is the author of several books on Jewish thought.  Among them are: Science and Religion, The Jewish Idea of Community, Halakha and Politics: The Jewish Idea of a State, The Jewish Idea of Culture, The Jewish Idea of Ethics and Morality.

    Rabbi Roth was the Rabbi of Fifth Avenue Synagogue in New York City for eighteen years and is currently its Rabbi Emeritus. 

    https://blogs.yu.edu/news/roth-publishes-book-on-morality-and-religion/

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  • Jewish Law As Rebellion

    Nathan Lopes Cardozo

    In this remarkable, and what promises to be a highly controversial, work, Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo suggests that Jewish Law must be seen as a discipline of resistance and courage. He pleads for the urgent return to authentic religiosity, which by now has been compromised by nearly all who claim to be religious. Rebelling against the rabbinical establishment, Rabbi Cardozo takes it to task for failing to liberate Halacha from its stagnancy and confinement. With ground-breaking suggestions, he shows how to make Jewish Law once again relevant to our modern society and to the State of Israel.

    Out of love for Judaism and all human beings Rabbi Cardozo provokes, challenges, annoys and disturbs his readers, asking them to resist the corrupting effect of the ordinary and often hollow motions of today’s religious life. While focusing on Judaism and Jewish Law, much of what Rabbi Cardozo argues applies equally to other religions as well as to secularism.

    A book that may trigger a new era of genuine introspection, laying the foundations for a better world in which the Divine will stand at the center of humanity. 


    About the Author:
    Nathan Lopes Cardozo (b. 1946), hailing from the Portuguese-Spanish Jewish community in Amsterdam, is a philosopher, New Age halachist, author of 13 books, and lecturer in Jewish communities, yeshivot and universities in Israel and abroad. He studied for 12 years in Ultra Orthodox yeshivot but, after intensive studies in Jewish and general philosophy, carved out his own unprecedented approach to understanding Judaism. He is the founder and dean of the David Cardozo Academy in Jerusalem and its think tank, which focus on finding new halachic and philosophical approaches to dealing with the crisis of religion and identity among Jews and non-Jews, including in the State of Israel. Rabbi Cardozo is known for his originality and fearlessness when presenting his controversial insights into Judaism. His ideas are widely debated internationally via books and social media. 


    Praise for Jewish Law As Rebellion:
    “Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo is a unique intellectual presence in the rabbinical world today. His new book raises profound questions that disturb our complacency and demand the attention of our hearts and minds. To think with him and the challenges he raises is one of the great experiences of modern Jewish thought.”
    – Professor Susannah Heschel

    “Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo is that rare entity, a seeker who is unafraid to challenge accepted ideas and norms. His Jewish Law as Rebellion perfectly embodies his own engagement with tradition. It will inspire any who struggle with Judaism’s most basic principles.”
    – Professor James Kugel

    “Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo has written a challenging, even provocative book, inviting us to restore the iconoclasm with which Judaism was born as a religion of protest against the status quo. Agree or disagree, you will find yourself thinking hard and deep about the current state of Jewish law and life, and that makes it a work well worth reading – a new chapter in one of the great Jewish traditions: the dignity of dissent.”
    – Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

    “Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo is a rebel fighting for a most worthy cause – to reinvigorate Judaism and infuse it with real spiritual context. He inveighs against the over-codification of Halachah, a sort of pietistic OCD syndrome, which stifles the true spirit of Judaism. He calls for a return to the Talmud and its sources, with its openness, its bewildering variety of opinions, its multifaceted character, its liberality, and its halachic flexibility. This book is the powerful plea of a genuinely pious Jew deeply concerned for our Jewish future. The problems and challenges he presents are real and urgent, requiring creative rethinking on the part of our religious authorities. He is to be admired and congratulated for his courage and the clarity of his vision.” 
    – Rabbi Professor Daniel Sperber

    “What this exceptional book offers is a rationale for halakhic practice as a discipline of resistance – resistance to the corrupting effect of the ordinary, to the hollowing-out of human behaviour and human awareness that a fast-paced and feverish culture produces. It is full of insights that will challenge and inspire Jews and non-Jews alike: a reminder that Orthodoxy of whatever kind is empty if it does not arise from the deep, radical awareness of the divine imperative to be amazed and thankful in the face of every thing and every experience. Immensely enriching.”
    – Dr. Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalene College, former Archbishop of Canterbury
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  • Am I My Body's Keeper

    Michael Kaufman

    1 Review(s)

    In this day and age it is nearly impossible to stay 100% healthy and fit. Between long hours sitting in an office chair, balancing a family, and accomplishing everything else on your to-do list, it's no wonder that health has become a relative term. To combat this, Michael Kaufman shows you how to extend your life by living healthy and fit. Am I My Body's Keeper contains no magic life-extending elixir, nor a secret map to help you discover the fountain of youth. Am I My Body's Keeper provides a simple guide to changing your lifestyle, from the sedentary one characterizing most of society to an active one emphasizing physical activity and healthy eating. The simple lifestyle changes advocated by this book will give you vim and vigor, health and fitness during those additional years of life you will be gaining. Based upon the timeless teachings of the Jewish sages as well as scientific research, Am I My Body's Keeper is a guide for good, healthy living. It is for young and old, men and women—for everyone who wishes to be healthy and fit and to live a long life. 


    About the Author: 
    Dr. Michael Kaufman, a distinguished scholar, author, and lecturer, studied at Yeshiva and Mesivta Torah Vodaat, Telshe Yeshiva, Brooklyn College, and the University of Louisville. He has written extensively and has published nine books on Judaism and Jewish art and culture, including A Timeless Judaism for Our Time, Love, Marriage and Family in Jewish Law and Tradition, Feminism and Judaism, The Art of Judaism, Land of My Past, Land of My Future, on the mitzvah of residing in Israel; and a memoir, In One Era, Out the Other. 
    The author lives in Israel, where he does research and writes on the latest developments and scientific studies on health, nutrition, and fitness while standing at his shtender desk. Now in his 86th year, Michael Kaufman maintains an active, energetic schedule which includes time for daily fitness workouts and brisk early morning walks around the hills of Jerusalem. 


    Praise for Am I My Body's Keeper?: 
    "The author is to be congratulated on his gathering of scientific literature and integrating it with Torah so that all can live a better and longer life." 

    - Prof. (Emeritus) Shimon Glick, MD, Ombudsman for Israel's National Health Service

    "A convincing, utterly remarkable, easy-to-use guide, based on Jewish tradition and medical science, to staying free from disease and living a longer, healthier life." 
    - Rabbi Lawrence Kelemen, founder and head of the Center for Kehilla Development, Jerusalem

    "A truly outstanding book! Michael Kaufman has given us an important, extensively researched work on the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. It should be required reading for everyone seeking to live a long, healthy life." 
    - Dr. Jacob Klein, MD, Director, Cardiac Rehabilitation Institute, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem

    "A truly life-changing work - a realistic guide for all of us to eating well, staying fit, and living a long, healthy life into a hearty, disease-free old age." 
    - Dr. Chana Levin, MD, Chief Medical Officer, United Health Plan, Kiryat Yearim Region, Israel

    "Michael Kaufman's superb, timely book is an easy to follow manual to optimize health and enjoy a long, active life. It is truly a masterpiece which can change people's lives forever." 
    - Prof. Petachia Reismann, MD, Chairman Department of Surgery, Shaare-Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem

    "Encompassing the vital principles for good health care and proactive medicine based on the latest medical research studies, this book will hopefully serve as a catalyst to transform many to good spiritual and bodily health." 
    - Rav Professor Avraham Steinberg MD, Senior Neurologist, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem
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  • From Forbidden Fruit to Milk and Honey

    Diana Lipton

    Food is at the heart of Jewish life and culture, the subject of many recent studies - popular and academic - and countless Jewish jokes. From Forbidden Fruit to Milk and Honey: A Commentary on Food in the Torah spotlights food in the Torah, where it’s used to explore such themes as love and compassion, commitment, character, justice, belonging and exclusion, deception, and life and death. Originally created as an online project to support the innovative food rescue charity, Leket Israel, From Forbidden Fruit to Milk and Honey comprises short essays on food and eating in the parasha by 52 internationally acclaimed scholars and Jewish educators, and a commentary by Diana Lipton. 

    Proceeds from sales of this book will go to Leket Israel, Israel’s national food bank.   


    About the Author: 
    Diana Lipton received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Oxford and a PhD in Bible at the University of Cambridge. After almost ten years as Fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge, she moved to King's College London as a Lecturer and then Reader in Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies. She is now an Adjunct Lecturer in Bible at Hebrew University's Rothberg International School. Her published works include Revisions of the Night: Politics and Promises in the Patriarchal Dreams of Genesis, Longing for Egypt and Other Unexpected Biblical Tales, and Lamentations Through the Centuries. Diana has a long history of voluntary work in the Jewish community, and this book emerged from her first project with Leket Israel. Diana has two sons, Jacob and Jonah, and she lives in Jerusalem with her husband, Chaim Milikowsky. 


    Praise for Forbidden Fruit:
    “Diana Lipton’s many insights into biblical texts are well known to contemporary scholars. Her commentary on food in the Torah offers a fresh look at some familiar passages and themes. Definitely eye-opening!” 
    James Kugel, author of How to Read the Bible 

    “Food in the Torah, argues Diana Lipton, is the basis of a rich and subtle language with which God communicates with Israel, Israel addresses God and people speak to each other. This is the theme of a suggestive collection of essays by some great Judaic scholars of our time, yielding delicious fruits of insight and an unusual salad of sustenance and spirituality. A feast to be treasured by all lovers of that full-flavoured mix of food and faith that is Jewish life at its best.” 
    Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks 

    “Every generation approaches the Torah in search of insight. Traditional commentaries and even translations reflect this quest. A central concern of our time is food. In this splendid volume Diana Lipton combines an impressive array of contributors with her own commentary to create a wonderful ‘spread table’ of insights from the Torah on a subject that affects us all.” 
    Professor Naomi Tadmor, author of The Social Universe of the English Bible: Scripture, Society and Culture in Early Modern England
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  • The Speech of the Angels

    Max Stern

    Music is well said to be the Speech of the Angels, in fact
    nothing among the utterances allowed to man is felt to be
    so divine. It brings us near to the infinite…into the eternal
    Sea of Light where song leads and inspires us…it was actually
    so in Greek, in Roman, in Moslem, most of all in old
    Hebrew times...David, king of Judah, a soul inspired by
    divine music…was wont to pour himself in song; he, with a
    seers eye and heart, discerned the godlike amid the human,
    struck tones that were an echo of the sphere harmonies and
    are still felt to be such.
    Thomas Carlyle, from “On Music and Morality”

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