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Jewish Thought

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  • Pikay Avos on Marriage

    Rabbi Reuven P. Bulka

    This book brings together two themes on which the author has previously written. In As a Tree by the Waters, which later became Chapters of the Sages, Rabbi Bulka presented a commentary on Pirkay Avos, showing how each Mishnah was linked to the previous Mishnah and the ensuing Mishnah. It was a thematic and psychological commentary.

    Later, he wrote Jewish Marriage: An Halakhic Ethic, which was a detailed analysis of marriage from an halakhic and psychological perspective.

    This present volume brings these two themes together, as Rabbi Bulka gleans vital messages concerning marriage from each Mishnah in Pirkay Avos. In a distinct manner, this book is itself a marriage of two vital themes in Jewish life.

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  • Student's Companion to The Guide of the Perplexed

    Ben Zion Katz

    Student's Companion to The Guide of the Perplexed by Moses Maimonides lays out, in nontechnical terms, the main ideas contained in Maimonides' famous work so that it can be read by an ambitious beginner or a sharp-witted high school student. It provides a general introduction to Maimonides' life in outline form, the plan and outline of the Guide, the philosophical background needed to follow Maimonides' arguments, and a concise chapter-by-chapter overview and commentary.

    Moses Maimonides was one of the supreme Jewish minds of the Middle Ages. He was a halakhist par excellence and the greatest Jewish philosopher. Dr. Katz's book will be useful to those seeking a bird's eye view of the Guide.
    The book will also be very useful to those who have studied the Guide and seek to refresh their memory as to its contents. Teachers of the Guide will find Katz's work an excellent tool for preparing their lectures.
    Rabbi Moshe Isserles, one of the greatest Jewish scholars of Poland... speaks of the study of the metaphysical as tiyul be-pardes. Ben Zion Katz's Student's Companion to The Guide will serve as a useful handbook to those who desire to walk in the garden. --Rabbi Dr. H. Norman Strickman


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  • Le-Chaber es Ha-Ohel

    Michael Kaiser

    This highly original work consists of essays on an array of topics related to themes in Jewish thought and the Jewish holidays. In Le-Chaber es Ha-Ohel, readers will find a vast collection of ideas from the masters of machshavah, such as Sefas Emes and Shem Mi-Shmuel as well as Rabbi Gedalyah Schorr's Or Gedalyahu and Rabbi Chaim Yaakov Goldvicht's Asufas Ma'arachos, among many others. In addition, Michael Kaiser contributes his own close readings of the sources to reveal the underlying thematic connections between areas of the Torah which, on their face, seem unrelated.

    While this work requires effort on the part of the reader, those efforts are richly rewarded. In his foreword, Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter writes: ''I have consistently been absolutely overwhelmed by [the essays'] profundity, depth, wisdom, creativity and originality. I have learned a great deal from each one of them and been captured by their dazzling brilliance, one by one. They were never an easy read; I had to work at trying to understand them. But they have always been worth the investment of my time and energy Read them all thoughtfully and carefully, and then read them again. You will learn an enormous amount from them.''

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  • Chords of Comfort

    Rabbi Ron Isaacs

    For the past five years Rabbi Ron Isaacs has used his musical skills as a bedside musician for people in hospice.  This book chronicles some of his most memorable experiences with his patients and the lessons learned regarding the healing power of music. The experiences have profoundly inspired him to record his spiritual encounters and share with readers the healing power of music.

    Rabbi Isaacs' personal and touching vignettes on his visits to terminally ill hospice patients is a timely and needed contribution to the post-pandemic world in which we live. As society sets its gaze towards an uncertain future, I can't think of a more vital source for wisdom and guidance than the observations and commentaries of a man who has brought music and surprising joy into the lives of those who are preparing to embark to another shore. Tapping into his forty years of experience as a Rabbi, his life-long love for music, and masterful use of his warm and affable approach to people, Rabbi Isaacs demonstrates over and over how ''listening'' to the lives of others holds the promise of healing, redemption and serendipitous discoveries. Perhaps, we can all take a lesson from him and be more open to the possibilities that await us if we could be fully present to the community and world around us. --Rev. Yeong J. Bae, M.Div.,MSW Executive Director The Martin and Edith Stein Hospice

    About the Author

    Rabbi Ron Isaacs is currently the rabbi of Beth Judah Temple in Wildwood New Jersey. He is also the Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Sholom in Bridgewater New Jersey. In recent years he has used his guitar skills in his role of Chords of Comfort at  The Martin and Edith Stein Hospice, offering therapeutic music.

    A prolific author, his most recent books include Ask the Rabbi,  and Unpacking the Torah: Lessons for Everyday Living. He can be reached directly at rabbiron.com
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  • The Crowns on the Letters

    Rabbi Ari Kahn

    Rabbi Ari Kahn's The Crowns on the Letters represents a major achievement in the study of the lives of our sages, as well as in the study of rabbinic aggada.This work is an immensely learned and deeply creative interpretation of many fundamental aggadot relating both to the intellectual biographies of the tannaim and amoraim Hillel and Shammai, Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, Resh Lakish and Rabbi Yochanan, and many others as well as to major themes in Jewish thought including the nature of the Oral Law, mysticism and its perils, the messianic era, teshuva, and Eretz Yisrael. Rabbi Kahn's work is refreshingly original and he wears his erudition lightly, so that this is not only edifying scholarship but readable as well. Rabbi Menachem Genack

    About the Author

    Ari D. Kahn is a rabbi, author and educator living in Givat Ze'ev, Israel. He received his rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University's Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary where he studied with Rabbi Yosef D. Soloveitchik and Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein. He graduated Yeshiva University with a BA in Psychology and an MS in Talmud. Rabbi Kahn is Director of the Overseas Student Program at Bar-Ilan University, where he is a senior lecturer in Jewish studies. He also serves as rabbi of the Mishkan Etrog community in Givat Ze'ev. Rabbi Kahn has authored more than ten books on Jewish thought, including the highly acclaimed Echoes of Eden series, and has published hundreds of articles on Torah and Jewish thought.
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  • Halakhic Positions of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik Vol. 8

    Volume 8

    Rabbi Aharon Ziegler

    Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, one of the towering figures of twentieth-century Judaism, was not just a Talmudic scholar and philosopher. He was primarily a man of Halakhah, and Rabbi Ziegler has dedicated himself to publicizing the Rav's halakhic rulings and positions. In this series, Halakhic Positions of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Rabbi Ziegler has compiled the Rabbi Soloveitchik's rulings and presented them in an easy-to-read format, with each issue crystallized down to a brief summary.

    Available on Amazon.com HERE

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  • A Single Life

    Daniel Ross Goodman

    To marry, or not to marry? From a philosophical point of view, there is really no good answer to this question. ''Marry, and you will regret it,'' said the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. ''Don t marry, you will also regret it. Marry or don't marry, you will regret it either way.'' From a Jewish point of view, there is really only one appropriate answer to this question: marry.

    Houston native Eli Newman, the most learned of all his classmates at Yeshivas Chelkas Yaakov in Baltimore, would like to get married. No one, however, seems to want to marry him. Having made his peace with the prospect of becoming the first Talmudic scholar to remain a lifelong bachelor since the second-century sage Ben Azzai, Eli leaves his yeshiva community in Baltimore to take a position as a Judaic Studies teacher at a Hebrew high school in West Hartford, Connecticut. Content at last (or so he thinks), Eli meets someone who challenges his every assumption, tests all of his convictions, and who leads him on an emotional and spiritual adventure he could never have imagined in his most spellbinding dreams

    A Single Life blends a literary style and a Talmudic sensibility with the romance tradition. It addresses universal issues--racism and racial identity, religious conflict, and the persistent human quest for love--through the prism of the particular experience of a single Jewish man. Fraught with dramatic tension throughout and sprinkled with generous doses of humor and feeling, it is a timely novel with a timeless story--a story about the joys and sorrows, the pangs and torments, the doubts and dreams of romantic love.

    About the Author

    Daniel Ross Goodman is a writer, rabbi, and scholar from western Massachusetts. He writes on art, film, literature, and sports for the Washington Examiner, and his short stories have been published in over a dozen literary journals. He is also the author of Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Wonder and Religion in American Cinema. He currently lives in New York, where he is a Ph.D. candidate at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.
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  • The Narrow Halakhic Bridge

    Rabbi Ronen Neuwirth

    The role of halakhah is to serve as a bridge between our eternal Torah and the world's changing realities. However, the dizzying pace of developments in postmodern society and the obsession with personal freedom are generating unprecedented gaps between Torah and reality, challenging our obedience to Halakhah, contributing to the erosion of rabbinic authority and causing a growing confusion within our community. The Narrow Halakhic Bridge explores the rigid and flexible elements of the Halakhic system, utilizing close to one thousand texts from rabbis of all generations, and offering a vision for the future of Halakhah in a world of doubt and change.

    Reviews
    "Orthodox Judaism is facing the challenge of a world dominated by moral relativism and postmodernism. At the same time there has been an explosion of Torah knowledge. Rabbi Neuwirth has made a major contribution in bridging these phenomena. Instead of the simplistic response that the Torah and Halakhah are eternal, he has analyzed the complex process of determining halakhic truth and how rabbinic scholars are responding to changes in society. One need not agree with the details of his solution to appreciate this major contribution." --Rabbi Yosef Blau, Rosh Yeshivah and Senior Mashgiach Ruchani at Yeshiva University

    "Rav Ronen in his special style tries to make it accessible for the readers to understand the tools that Poskim of our day have.... I am convinced that this book will contribute a great deal to the halakhic discourse which is so essential in our time." --Rabbi David Stav, Rabbi of Shoham and Head of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization

    "Rabbi Neuwirth is to be commended for taking a courageous leap toward the future. With care, scholarship and erudition, he explores the current and future challenges that confront the Halakhic process. One need not agree with all of the points he makes, or with all of his conclusions, to appreciate the importance of this volume. The questions he raises must be explored, and he makes an important contribution toward their exploration." --Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, Rabbi Emeritus, Congregation Ahavath Torah, Englewood, and Past President, RCA

    About the Author
    Rabbi Ronen Neuwirth served as Rabbi of the Ohel Ari Congregation in Ra'anana and other Modern Orthodox communities in Israel for 15 years, and as the Rabbi of Bnei Akiva of North America. He was the founder and first executive director of Beit Hillel, director of the rabbinic training program of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization and director of its overseas department. He also worked in Israel's hi-tech industry and served as a captain in the Navy Special Forces.

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  • Primeval Evil in Kabbalah

    Moshe Idel

    Primeval Evil analyzes the various versions of a theory maintaining the Kabbalistic visions as to the precedence of evil before good, within the divine realm and in the lower dimensions of reality. It proposes a source for some of the theories of evil in medieval Kabbalah, in the Zurvanic version of Zoroastrism and their reverberations, which is different from the scholarly assumptions as to the influence of Gnosticism on Kabbalah. A series of pre-Kabbalistic, Kabbalistic and Hasidic texts have been addressed, in print and in manuscripts, in order to substantiate the understanding of these theories are related to visions of the divine as all-encompassing, and perfect or perfectible.

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  • The Importance of the Community Rabbi

    Rabbi Daniel Sperber

    Foreword by Rabbi Dov Linzer and Chaim Trachtman MD

    The contemporary rabbi is influenced by the modern rabbinic establishments throughout the world, including the rabbinate in Israel. The rabbinate's monopoly on opinions and interpretations prevents rabbis from expressing their individual positions out of fear of delegitimization. The current structure gives the public a negative impression of the rabbinic establishment. The Importance of the Community Rabbi strives to describe and delineate key requirements for a good rabbi, i.e., one who can provide socially acceptable halachic solutions within the parameters of Orthodox thinking. Rabbi Sperber elucidates the halachic techniques and mechanisms that may be used toward this goal. These are further illustrated with stories from rabbinic literature and examples from various responsa. 

    About the Author:

    Rabbi Professor Daniel Sperber is a leading scholar of Jewish law, customs, and ethics. He taught in the Talmud Department of Bar-Ilan University, where he also served as dean of the Faculty of Jewish Studies and president of the Jesselson Institute for Advanced Torah Studies. In 1992, he was awarded the Israel Prize for Jewish Studies. Prof. Sperber currently serves as rabbi of the Menachem Zion Synagogue in the Old City of Jerusalem. 
    The descendant of a line of distinguished Orthodox rabbis, Prof. Sperber was born in 1940 in a castle in Ruthin, Wales, and studied in the Yeshivot of Kol Torah and Hevron in Jerusalem. He earned a BA in art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art and received a PhD in classics, ancient history, and Hebrew studies from University College, London.
    Prof. Sperber has published more than thirty books and four hundred articles on the subjects of Talmud and Jewish socio-economic history, law and customs, classical philology, and Jewish art. Among his major works is a well-known, eight-volume series, Minhagei Yisrael, on the history of Jewish customs. More recently, he has written books on halachic methodology and rabbinic decision-making in confrontation with modernity, and has established an independent beit din dealing with agunah issues. He is the author of On Changes in Jewish Liturgy: Options and Limitations; On the Relationship of Mitzvot Between Man and His Neighbor and Man and His Maker, and Rabba, Maharat, Rabbanit, Rebbetzin: Women with Leadership Authority According to Halachah.

    Rabbi Dov Linzer is the President and Rosh HaYeshiva of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, and is the primary architect of its groundbreaking curriculum. Rabbi Linzer has been a leading rabbinic voice in the Modern Orthodox community for over 20 years. He hosts a number of highly popular podcasts, including "Joy of Text," "Iggros Moshe A to Z," and his "Daf Yomi" podcast, covering all of shas. Rabbi Linzer has published many Torah articles, writes a widely-read weekly parsha sheet, and authors teshuvot on a wide range of contemporary halachic topics. He teaches regular classes in advanced Talmud, advanced halachah and the thought of Modern Orthodoxy, and serves as a religious guide to the yeshiva's current rabbinical students and over 125 rabbis serving in the field. 

    Chaim Trachtman is chief of pediatric nephrology at NYU Langone Medical Center. He is on the board of Yeshivat Maharat and is editor of the book Women and Men in Communal Prayer: Halakhic Perspectives (KTAV, 2010)

    Review by By Ben Rothke, NJ Jewish Link Here
    Review by Rabbi Ari Enkin, Torah Book Reviews Here
     
    Contents:
    Foreword
    by Rabbi Dov Linzer and Chaim Trachtman MD
    The Ludwig and Erica Jesselson Institute for Advanced Torah Studies at Bar-Ilan University by R. Shimon Altshul
    Preface
    Introduction
    Dynamism in Halachah
    Halachah and Modernity

    I. The "Friendly" Pesak

    Fundamental Values in Halachah
    Applications of These Values: Halachic Adjudication
    Its Ways Are the Ways of Pleasantness
    Sensitivity to Personal Feelings
    Human Dignity
    Care Not to Shame or Embarrass
    Leniency to Prevent Distress and Suffering
    Beyond the Letter of the Law
    Adaptability of Halachah to Changing Circumstances
    Conflict Between Legal Formalism and Morality
    Compassion and Casting a Blind Eye
    Searching aSource for an Ethical Directive
    Encouraging Repentance
    Summary of the "Friendly" Pesak

    II. The "Friendly" Posek

    The Unfriendly Rabbi
    First Story: The Winds of Man
    Second Story: A Stained Reputation
    Third Story: Halachic Morality
    Fourth Story: The Ugly Man
    Fifth Story: The Ignorant Jew
    Sixth Story: Charcoal and Distress

    III. The Friendly Rabbi

    First Story: Hillel
    Second Story: R. Meir
    Power of Leniency
    Not to Prohibit the Permitted and the Sin of Indolence in Adjudication
    Sensitivity to the "Have-Nots"
    Knowing the Needs of Others
    Communal Involvement
    An Independent Stance
    Summary: The Requirements of the Contemporary Rabbi

    Appendices

    Appendix 1: Three Examples of Sensitivity and Compassion in Psak
    Introductory Note
    The Dumb
    The Blind
    The Deaf
    Appendix 2: On Leniency in Halachah
    Appendix 3: On the Legitimacy of Halachic Innovation 
    Appendix 4: On the Necessity of a Rabbi Having an Independent Stance
    Appendix 5: An Example of Compassion without Compromise
    Appendix 6: "Its Ways Are the Ways of Pleasantness" and "Charitable Interpretation"
    Indices
    Subject Index
    Name Index
    Source Index 
    About the Authors
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