Coming Soon: Halachic Handbook: The Laws of Purim

Purim is coming up, and ArtScroll has a brand new title to help you get ready:

The Halachic Handbook: The Laws of Purim

What comes to mind when you hear the word Purim? Imaginative costumes? Gorgeous mishloach manos? The wondrous story retold in the Megillah? Purim seudahs filled with great food and lively singing? Halachah?

Halachah?

That’s right. With all the cacophony and excitement of this most fun of holidays, Purim, like every other chag, is governed by halachah – many of which are often overlooked in the Purim frenzy.

That’s where The Halachic Handbook: The Laws of Purim, comes in.

As Rabbi Yitzchak Rosedale, author of the newly released, pocket-size The Halachic Handbook tells us: “Purim is indeed loud on the outside, but on the inside it is replete with meaning and halachah. There is a well-known thought that the day of Yom Kippur is called Yom Kippurim, which can be read Yom K’Purim – a day like Purim — indicating that Purim is even greater in some respects than Yom Kippur itself! All the more reason to ensure that one follows the halachah correctly.”

The format of the newly-released sefer works perfectly for the busy run-up to Purim, as Rabbi Rosedale explains: “The Halachic Handbook is unique in that it is truly a handbook, both in design and in size. In design, it is formatted in small, bite-size halachic topics, so that one does not have to read the whole sefer to enjoy it; however it is short enough to read the entire work quickly. In size, it literally fits inside a jacket pocket and is therefore an easy, on-the-go type of learning experience.”

Topics covered in The Halachic Handbook include the laws of Parashas Zachor, Taanis Esther, mach’tzis hashekel, Megillah reading, matanos l’evyonim, mishloach manos, and many more. Also included are thought provoking essays on the holiday.

“The Halachic Handbook was designed for a wide range of readers,” says Rabbi Rosedale. “Those less familiar with the laws of Purim can enjoy the easy reading and concise style, and those with a deep background can take advantage of the extensive footnotes, which are designed to stimulate even the experienced scholar.”

The Halachic Handbook includes ArtScroll’s Birchas HaMazon, and its compact size makes it a perfect gift for yeshivah dinners, weddings, and other events. And it makes a welcome addition to mishloach manos baskets!

Purim. Yes, it’s fun. But The Halachic Handbook will help us take it to a whole new – and vital – level.

Click here for exclusive online savings on The Halachic Handbook.

NEW Release: My Father, My Mother and Me by Yehudis Samet + Story Excerpt

After learning about the important Mitzvah of Kibud Av V’eim, honoring one’s parents, throughout our school years, we all grow up. As we get older and start our own families, our parents grow older too, and this mitzvah changes drastically from the one we learned about in school.

Many adults struggle with this mitzvah, as life’s changes bring along questions in dealing with elderly parents, parents-in-law and stepparents. Rebbetzin Yehudis Samet, best selling author of The Other Side of the Story, set out to clarify these questions, first in lectures all over the world, and now in this groundbreaking book: My Father, My Mother, and MeThe book features over 200 true stories of devotion, challenges, and success in this important commandment. It also features halacha, practical advice, and other inspiration.

We’ve chosen a sample story to share with you. It’s an inspirational tale of how a woman fully devoted 24 hours to her elderly mother, thus saving her endless pain and suffering – not to mention fear.

Excerpted from My Father, My Mother, and Me:

Dr. Glendall’s expression was impassive. “We’ll just have to open it up again and hope it heals correctly this time.” My mother squeezed my hand as he told a nurse, “Get Mrs. Ellis settled in pre-op.”

“But there are no beds, doctor. We’re full right now. Overfull, in fact. There won’t be an opening till,” she flipped through some papers, “tomorrow afternoon, at two-thirty.”

“Fine. It can wait till then.” The doctor turned back to my mother. “We’ll see you tomorrow afternoon, Mrs. Ellis. Arrive an hour early for admission.” As he swung around to leave the room, I slipped my hand out of my mother’s and raced after him.

“Dr. Glendall, isn’t there anything that can be done to avoid surgery?”

He shook his head as he hurried down the hall. “If a scar heals from the outside in, it must be reopened. Right now, toxic pus is seeping into your mother’s body, filling her with infection. It has to be let out.”

“But is there any way to do that without operating?”

We’d arrived at the elevators. He turned to face me. I guess he was evaluating the type of explanation an 18-year-old required. “Once a scar heals, only surgery can open it,” he said and then added, “Maybe if it was soaked in hot water for twenty-four hours it would open — but that’s, of course, not feasible.”

The elevator arrived and he stepped inside. “Surgery is the only option,” he told me as the doors closed. I quickly turned and raced back to the room where my mother sat waiting.

“What happened?” she asked, her face drawn from pain and fear.

“I just wanted to ask him if there was any other option. And, baruch Hashem, there’s hope,” I told her.

Dr. Glendall may have brushed off the soaking option, but I wasn’t going to let my mother go into another surgery without doing everything I could to prevent it. Not after everything she had been through. And definitely not given how much she feared going under the knife.She has good reason for her fears, I mused as we rode back to the small apartment in Queens she’d moved into after my father’s death. The past decade had been one long trauma of surgical errors and surgeries to fix those errors. Each time my mother entered the hospital, she was paralyzed with fear.

When we arrived home, I set to work. “Come lay on your bed, Mommy, where you’ll be comfortable,” I said, helping her into her room. I raced to the kitchen to prepare some boiling water. Then I gathered towels and set myself up at my mother’s side.The afternoon faded into the night, a long, blurry stretch of constant motion.

Soaking the wound was tedious work. I would take each towel from the pot of hot water, squeeze it out, wait till it had cooled a little before laying it carefully on my mother. Then I would place another towel in the pot so it would be ready when I needed it, and turn back to the current compress, running to the kitchen every now and then to heat more water.

With every compress, I davened that Hashem bless my efforts with success. Dip, squeeze, soak…dip, squeeze, soak, run and make food for Mommy…dip, squeeze, soak, boil more water…dip, squeeze, soak, Mommy’s thirsty, bring a drink of water…dip,squeeze, soak…

Fatigue was not long in coming. My back ached from bending over to hold the compresses in position and keep watch on the temperature, the muscles in my arms screamed in protest as I carried yet another pot heavy with hot water, and my eyelids drooped, begging for sleep. But I pushed myself to keep going.

And I didn’t stop, not when the first pastels of dawn appeared across the sky, not when the sounds of honking cars and city bustle flitted in through the window — I couldn’t stop, I wouldn’t stop, I would do everything I could to spare my mother from this dreaded surgery.

And finally, just as afternoon began, the scar opened. I wept as the wound began to drain.

“It worked, Mommy!” I cried. “It opened!”

My mother struggled to sit up, and we embraced, our tears mingling — tears of relief and gratitude that she would not need another operation, topped by my gratitude to the One Above Who helped me give my mother twenty-four hours of non-stop care, commitment, and love.

Click here for book details, more sample pages, and exclusive online savings.

Click here for all books by Yehudis Samet.

The Mountain Family: Finding the Jewish People in the Appalachian Backwoods

When I first heard her story, I was astonished. By the time I was finished working with her, I was in awe.

I have never met anyone quite like her– and you have certainly never met a family like this one.

I met Tzirel Rus Berger (a pseudonym) and Penina Neiman about two years ago, at a conference for observant women writers held in Jerusalem. They came with a proposal, wanting to know if ArtScroll would be interested.

When I heard the story Tzirel Rus had to tell, I knew – yes, we would be interested.  Totally. What publisher wouldn’t be interested in such an amazing story?

For starters, Tzirel Rus was a giyoress. More – so was her entire family.  Her ten children, all converts.

Wow.

Another fascinating layer. The family of geirim found Yiddishkeit in one of the most unlikely places one could envision: the impoverished backwoods of Appalachia.

Wow, again.

To make the story even more unique – this daughter of a Sabbath-observant Christian pastor ultimately married a chassid who’d gone to cheder with the Boyaner Rebbe, blending her ten children and his seven into a warm and wonderful Jewish family.

So how did it happen? How did this family discover Torah in a tin-roofed shack in Georgia? The Mountain Family tells us the wildly unlikely, incredibly inspiring, and absolutely true story.

It begins in Southern California, where Sheryl Youngs grows up, the searching and thoughtful daughter of deeply religious Christian parents who observe the Sabbath and are well-versed in the Bible. She marries John Massey, a man she’d met in Missionary College, and travels back with him to build a home. Instead of the little farm with the white picket fence that she’d imagined, Sheryl finds herself living in her in-laws wooden shack with no indoor plumbing.  She will spend more than two decades in these Appalachian backwoods, raising and homeschooling her ten children.

It is John who first realizes that the religion of their youth does not contain the truth he and Sheryl seek, sending them on a spiritual roller-coaster ride that culminates in the conversion to Torah Judaism of the entire family.

I’m not going to tell you more – the book, rich in detail and beautifully written, does that. What I will tell you is that The Mountain Family, in addition to being a fascinating read, will leave you with an incomparably heightened appreciation for Torah, and for the Jewish People Tzirel Rus and her family so courageously joined.

Click here for book details and exclusive online savings.