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Jewish Thought

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  • Hiding in Plain Sight

    Rabbi David Shabtai MD

    We all know the Purim story, but when was the last time you actually read the Megilah? Not just listened to it on Purim, but read through the story? There’s a lot more there than we were taught back in grade school. 

    What is the point of the Megilah’s opening scene of excessive feasting and partying?

    Why did Achashverosh agree so quickly to Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews? 

    What was Esther’s actual plan to save the Jews? 

    Where is God and why doesn’t the Megilah ever talk about Him?

    While superficially a simple children’s story with fairytale-like qualities, a close reading of Megilat Esther reveals a complicated tapestry of political drama, palace romance, and personal ambition. In peeling back the various layers of the story, Hiding in Plain Sight reveals this hidden world. Far from just a brilliantly crafted saga, Megilat Esther emerges as a foundational text of Emunah with a clear message to the Jews in Exile, as relevant in ancient Persia as it is today.

     

    “If our mission when reading Megillas Esther is to be megaleh the nistar, to reveal that which is hidden, Rabbi Dr. Shabtai provides us with the tools, the vocabulary, the evidence and, most importantly, the inspiration needed to accomplish this task.” — Rabbi Efrem Goldberg, Boca Raton Synagogue

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  • Eclectic Thoughts of Meaning

    Rabbi Shmuel Kaplan

    AVAILABLE ON AMAZON HERE

    ''Rabbi Shmuel Kaplan's knowledge is strikingly varied and far-ranging. He knows his Bible and Talmud, no surprise, but he demonstrates great fluency with science and psychology. His insights are penetrating and if you incorporate them, your life will change dramatically for the better. Plus, his writing style is fresh and always accessible. In short, you will learn a lot and enjoy it.''
    JOSEPH TELUSHKIN
    New York Times bestseller author of Rebbe The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson

    ''Rabbi Kaplan's blogs are a must read. He takes contemporary issues and relates them to Talmudic teachings, making them relevant to Jews and non-Jews alike.''
    JULIA CHANG BLOCH Founder and president of the US-China Education Trust and former U.S. ambassador to Nepal

    ''In this book, Rabbi Shmuel Kaplan shows how an authentic Jewish approach allows us to find meaning in every aspect of our lives and the world in which we live. He brings a sensible Torah perspective to the issues that we all face and demonstrates beautifully how Judaism enables us to uncover the divine presence in so much of our daily lives and be inspired by it. It has valuable lessons for all of us!''
    LAWRENCE H. SCHIFFMAN
    Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University and director of the Global Network for Advanced Research in Jewish Studies

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  • Rabbinic Authority Vol.5

    Volume 5

    A. Yehuda Warburg

    In this fifth volume of his groundbreaking series on rabbinic authority, Rabbi Warburg discusses the case of the modern-day agunah, a wife who is unable to obtain a divorce due to her husband's recalcitrance. For the first time in English, this monograph discusses utilizing the technique of the double halakhic doubt (sefek sefeika de'dina) as a vehicle to void a marriage, in order to address the plight of the agunah. This volume is devoted primarily to demonstrate how a beit din or rabbinical authority(ies) can take care of this complicated issue, especially for those decisors who reject the various other options to void a marriage.

    ''For a number of decades, I have been involved on an ad hoc basis as a dayan, including serving on judicial panels for the Beth Din of America. In this capacity, I have often crossed paths with Rabbi Warburg and served together with him on the same judicial panel. In each panel we served on together, Rabbi Warburg's outstanding Torah scholarship was always in evidence, scholarship motivated by a perfectionist's drive to achieve new vistas in advancing the 'double dimension' of truth that stands as the ideal for the halakhic-judicial process.'' --From the foreword of Rabbi Dr. Aaron Levine, zt''l

    About the Author
    Since 1999, Rabbi A. Yehuda Warburg has served as a dayan on various battei din panels in the Hassidic, Modern Orthodox, Sephardic, and Yeshiva communities in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area. He is a former research fellow at the Institute of Jewish Law at Boston University School of Law. He is a member of the editorial board of the journal Tradition and served on the editorial board of Th­e Jewish Law Annual. For over two decades, Rabbi Warburg delivered classes in Hoshen Mishpat (business law) and Even ha-Ezer (family law) to rabbinical students at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, an affiliate of Yeshiva University. Rabbi Warburg received his rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary and earned his doctorate of jurisprudence at the Hebrew University Faculty of Law. The author resides in Teaneck, New Jersey.

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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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  • Pirkay 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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  • 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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