A review by R. Deutsch (originally printed in the Jewish Tribune, June 12th 2019) Miriam Zakon is a familiar name in the world of Jewish literature, both fiction and non-fiction alike; she has been writing articles, stories and books for … Continue reading
Category Archives: Book Reviews
Upwards: Learning Appreciation
If you’re looking for reading material for Pesach, look no further than Upwards, by Shami Reinman – the personal account of a woman’s battle with Parkinson’s that will give you a whole new level of appreciate for everything you have in life.
You would think that reading the personal account of a woman in her 50’s struggle with Parkinson’s disease would be down, depressing, sad. You might be right in most cases, but not so with Upwards.
Upwards is the first-person account of Shami Reinman, a vibrant and energetic woman in her 50’s – a bubby, teacher, wife and mother. She’s fun, funny and full of life – just the kind of person everyone wants as a friend. Then the unthinkable happens, and Mrs. Reinman’s world is turned upside down. As the author takes us through her journey from Diagnosis, to acceptance, to struggling with her own body – the overwhelming feeling is appreciation.
When did I last appreciate my ability to wake up in the morning and get dressed – by myself? When was the last time that I stopped and thought about the gift of being able to speak loudly and clearly, and be understood by those around me? How often to I think about the blessing of being able to drive a car, climb a flight of stairs? Did I ever feel appreciation for my ability to chew, swallow and eat? Who really takes the time to appreciate that their body is not their own worst enemy?
Reading about Shami Reinman and her struggles, reading about how she faces her challenges with optimism, it carries through to the reader. In her words:
“I accept whatever Hashem sends me, and I am grateful for every day that I have. I’ll take each day as it comes.”
-Shami Reinman, Upwards (page 276)
NEW: The Wisdom in the Hebrew Months, Volume 2
“In The Wisdom in the Hebrew Months, Volume 2, R’ Zvi Ryzman takes sometimes esoteric and even mystical teachings and grounds them securely into our own lives.”
I am reading The Wisdom in the Hebrew Months, Volume 2, by R’ Zvi Ryzman, and I am deeply moved and profoundly impressed.
I chose, a bit childishly I admit, to begin with the month of Tammuz – my birthday month. And in these pages I discovered such a richness of Torah thought, so many unexpected connections, hints, and insights, it took my breath away.
Here I discovered the paradox of the month of Tammuz, and the essence of the month as reflected in the unique physical features of its constellation, the Crab. I learned how in Tammuz we journey from the perfection of Gan Eden to our own imperfect world, and back again. Good and evil, failure and renewal, Jewish history and Jewish destiny – so many concepts and ideas, all brilliantly and lucidly explained.
R’ Zvi Ryzman, author of the highly-acclaimed The Wisdom in the Hebrew Months has followed up that brilliant work with this new, highly original volume. The author, like his books, is unique. He is a winner of the coveted Jerusalem Prize for his many volumes of the Hebrew Ratz K’tzvi , which the two volumes of The Wisdom in the Hebrew Months are based upon. He is an authority on rarely explored halachic subjects, and his contagious love of learning sweeps up everyone with whom he comes in contact. He is also a well-known figure in business circles, and a supporter of many Torah institutions; the personification of the concept of “Torah v’gedulah,” Torah and business success.
In both his books, R’ Zvi draws upon a veritable constellation of sources: from Sefer Yetzirah (whose authorship is ascribed to Avrohom Avinu) and the Midrash to contemporary gedolim – and hundreds of sefarim in between. He explores the Hebrew months — and the constellations that both reflect and influence them — as well as the connection between the shevatim and the Jewish calendar. And then he takes these sometimes esoteric and even mystical teachings and grounds them securely into our own lives and actions. Fascinating!
A personal confession: What with the stifling heat of the Tammuz summer, the 17th of Tammuz that begins the Three Weeks, and the rather unpleasant connotations of crabs (!) I never liked my birth month. But now, having seen it through the eyes of Chazal and Torah, through the eyes, yes, of emes, I will not only mark my birthday, but I will celebrate my birth month, with all its complexity and grandeur.
Click here for more details on the book, and a special online discount.
Kleinman Edition Mishkan in new Compact Size + Limited Time Special Price only $39.99!
“With all of the same text and 3D color illustrations as the original version, the smaller and lighter new compact edition of the Kleinman Edition Mishkan is a must have for any home or classroom!”
Five years ago, the Mishkan came alive, to tens of thousands of people with The Kleinman Edition Mishkan/Tabernacle DVD. It was nothing short of revolutionary: Highlighting the details discussed in the pesukim in 3D virtual reality, allowing us to view the keilim from all angles, giving us animations that brought each component to life, and even enabling us to take our own “self-guided tour.” Rarely had Torah scholarship and technological artistry been melded so beautifully.
But that was just the beginning…
The DVD was followed by the stunning, bestselling book: The Kleinman Edition Mishkan/Tabernacle. A large, art-quality, full color 296-page book, it shows us the Mishkan, its vessels, and the bigdei kehunah in spectacular graphics and clear, understandable text. We learn how each vessel or piece of clothing was assembled and the manner of its use. It includes each of the Torah verses that initially describe the construction and assembly of the Mishkan, in both Hebrew and English. Also included is Rashi on those pesukim in the original Hebrew, accompanied by the Sapirstein Edition translation and elucidation.
The Kleinman Edition Mishkan/Tabernacle was hailed as a gorgeous game-changer that put the Mishkan right into our welcoming hands.
Now, at the urging of educators and readers, we welcome The Kleinman Edition Mishkan/Tabernacle in still another format: the convenient compact size edition.
This edition is printed on lighter paper and in a slightly smaller (though still generous) size, and it contains the exact same text and full color 3-d pictures as its larger counterpart, making it perfect for students and for those who didn’t have room for a coffee-table size edition. It’s lighter on the wallet too, particularly for the next few weeks, when ArtScroll is celebrating its launch with a special promotional price.
For full product details, click here. Special introductory price of $39.99 ends on 2/16/14.
Click to view a book trailer.
To See the Torah through the Eyes of Chazal: The Kleinman Edition Midrash Rabbah
I’m reading the first words of ArtScroll’s newly-released volume of the Kleinman Edition Midrash Rabbah — Parashas Shemos through Parashas Beshalach — and I am puzzled. Why would Chazal start the narrative of Klal Yisrael’s agonizing galus in Egypt, and their wondrous salvation, with a discussion of how a person should discipline his child?
I read through the elucidated text, the notes, and the Insights section, and it’s like I’ve been bumping around in a dark room, banging into unknown barriers, and suddenly a light goes on and I can see what everything is, and where everything belongs.
That’s the brilliance of the Midrash. And that’s the wonder of this monumental translation and elucidation, which has enabled me to access that brilliance.
The Midrash is one of the most important sources we have to understand the spiritual essence of the Torah. It also adds detail and information to the Torah’s narrative, and helps us understand the ethical treasures hidden in the Torah’s words. But the Midrash is often not easy to follow, and its messages are sometimes obscure.
If you’ll allow me another metaphor: The Midrash helps us to see the Torah through Chazal’s eyes – and the Kleinman Edition Midrash Rabbah gives us the “glasses” we need to perfect our vision.
The parshiyos in this volume take us through the era when Klal Yisrael became a nation, its identity forged both through suffering and miracles. The Midrash adds so much to our understanding. Why should Pharaoh have been punished, if Hashem hardened his heart? What kind of Torah observance did the Jews do before Har Sinai? Why did the future Sin of the Golden Calf actually hasten the redemption? We turn to the Midrash for the answers.
The Kleinman Edition Midrash follows ArtScroll/Mesorah’s acclaimed phrase-by-phrase translation and elucidation to make the words of Midrash more easily comprehensible. Explanatory footnotes clarify difficult concepts and passages, and the “Insights” section allows us to see the Midrash through the eyes of major medieval and contemporary giants of Torah thought. It also includes the Hebrew text, newly typeset, and many classic Hebrew commentaries, including Rashi, Matnos Kehunah, Eitz Yosef, and Maharzu, plus the out-of-print classic Eshed HaNechalim.
Oh, and the question of why Shemos Rabbah begins with disciplining children? If you want to know the brilliant answer – just open the newest volume of The Kleinman Edition Midrash Rabbah.
Classic Krohn: The Maggid at the Podium
The phone rang. A famous voice was on the line. I was astonished when I heard what it had to say.
In close to three decades of working in Jewish publishing, I’ve been privileged to deal with many, many authors. I’ve found them to be intelligent and well-read, men and women of integrity and yiras Shamayim.
But only one – the one on the other end of the phone line – had ever taken the trouble of finding out who had written the copy that appeared on the cover of his newly-published book, and phoning that anonymous writer (me!) to say thank you.
That was my introduction to Rabbi Paysach Krohn, the man they call the American Maggid.
In that brief but unforgettable phone conversation I could identify all the traits that make Rabbi Krohn’s books unique, beloved bestsellers standing proudly on so many bookshelves: warmth, a finely-tuned sense of humor, and profound insight into how to touch the goodness inherent in all of us. In the space of a few minutes I could see that Rabbi Krohn is a master at showing how to make people — into better people.
He’s also incredibly entertaining.
The Maggid at the Podium is classic Krohn. In addition to being a bestselling author, Rabbi Krohn is a globetrotting speaker who has touched and inspired tens of thousands with his insights, wisdom, and, of course, his stories. In The Maggid at the Podium, we can bring his messages to our homes, to read, reread and share with those we love.
And what are these messages? Advice on how to make ourselves “uppercase people in a lowercase world,”– changing “I want,” “I need,” “I deserve,” to “I care” and “I will help.” A simple thank-you note becomes “Exhibit A” in a lawsuit, and we get the message of this unusual story: show gratitude the next time someone does something nice for us. Rabbi Krohn shares with us messages on how to make our homes secure and comforting havens for our family in these puzzling times. 21st-century life got you tense? Rabbi Krohn offers strategies, advice and his trademark stories to help us deal with the stress and time management challenges that so many of us face. His topics are as contemporary as iPads and ICUs, while his wisdom is as timeless as the Talmud and Tanach.
Truly, the American Maggid has done it again.
Rabbi Dr. Twerski’s Messages from the Mishnah
Speaking of books you’re going to love… let’s begin with one of our most beloved authors, Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski. Rabbi Twerski is the scion of a great Chassidic dynasty, a psychiatrist who has spent a lifetime delving into the secrets of the human psyche, and, of course, one of the Torah world’s bestselling authors. In his newest book, Messages from the Mishnah – his 40th (!) book published with ArtScroll – Rabbi Twerski brings his unique perspective, incisive intellect, and warm understanding of human nature to the timeless words of Mishnah.
In this beautifully-designed, large format coffee table book, the companion volume to Twerski on Chumash, Rabbi Twerski draws upon a wealth of varied Torah sources to examine the Mishnah, finding messages that are startlingly relevant to our personal lives as well as to today’s issues and challenges. The halachos of the Shema can teach us how to avoid the dark side of technology; the laws of charity show us how to interact with others. Rabbi Dr. Twerski, in addition to his many other accomplishments, is a marvelous storyteller, and his tales of Chassidic masters enliven the book.
The roots of Messages from the Mishnah go back decades. As Rabbi Dr. Twerski remembers: “Back in 1945, I met Rabbi Yehuda Leib Ginsburg. [Rabbi Ginsburg was a Rav in Denver, a member of the Vaad Hatzalah, and an author of many important sefarim.] I was impressed by the man and his prolific writings. One of his projects was to show the mussar in the early prophets and in the Mishnah.
“Of course, Pirkei Avos is all mussar. But Rabbi Ginsburg showed that many of the ‘purely halachic’ mishnahs also contained mussar principles. That idea incubated from 1945 to the present, and led to my analyzing ‘halachic’ mishnahs for their mussar content.
“I hope this book will stimulate people to look for mussar insights in halachah.”