New and Noteworthy Books

Tradition Online | May 9, 2022

Yehuda Mirsky, Towards the Mystical Experience of Modernity: The Making of Rav Kook, 1865-1904 (Academic Studies Press)
Little is known about Rav Kook’s intellectual life before he rose to prominence in 1904.
Mirsky’s new work rediscovers Rav Kook’s recently published manuscripts to paint an entire landscape of the great 20th century sage in his early years.

Peter C. Appelbaum, Habsburg Sons: Jews in the Austro-Hungarian Army, 1788-1918 (Cherry Orchard Books)
Appelbaum reimagines the lives of Jewish soldiers fighting on the WWI front, analyzing their religious lives and the Jewish religious culture of the early 20th century. Through examining personal diaries and newspapers, the author describes the Jewish experiences from a multicultural angle. 

Kalman Chameides, On the Edge of Abyss: A Polish Rabbi Speaks to His Community on the Eve of the Shoah, annotated, edited, and translated by Leon Chameides
Rabbi Kalman Chameides, a prominent Polish community leader at the turn of the last century, speaks to us through these translated essays, ably presented by his son. His works give open new perspectives on the period and events leading up to the Holocaust.  

R. Abraham Isaac Kook, The Sabbath of the Land, translation and commentary by Yedidya J. Sinclair (Maggid Books & Hazon)
This translation of Rav Kook’s important work on the Sabbatical year, Shabbat HaAretz, includes many of his insights regarding the interface of halakha and philosophy behind the Shemitta year. 

Eitam Henkin, Studies in Halakhah and Rabbinic History (Maggid Books)
This essay collection provides its readers with a selection of the late R. Eitan Henkin’s thoughts and ideas. A prolific and brilliant writer, tragically murdered in the prime of his life, his studies scoped the stories of the Talmud, Zionism, and modern halakha [preface and sample chapters here]. 

Gidon Rothstein, The Judaism of the Poskim: Responsa and the Nature of Orthodox Judaism (Mosaica Press)
The Judaism of the Poskim combines centuries’ worth of religious responsa with modern-day halakhic issues, pinning the unifying themes and the sources used throughout time to rectify many contemporary religious challenges and address halakhic concerns. 

Abraham Socher, Liberal and Illiberal Arts: Essays (Mostly Jewish) (Paul Dry Books)
As editor of the Jewish Review of Books, Socher serves as one of today’s leading essayists and critics, surveying Jewish life and literature. In this collection of his essays a true reckoning of Jewish ideas and Western thought and culture – both classic and popular – and its discontents, especially as played out on the contemporary university campus. 

Joel Y. Rutman, Moral Brain, Moral Bible (Vallentine Mitchell)
This work utilizes modern psychology and anthropology to understand the morals outlined by the Bible. With his emphasis on familial and cultural influences, Rutman explains the biblical good and evil inclinations we are taught about as children. 

The Revelation at Sinai: What Does “Torah From Heaven” Mean?, edited by Yoram Hazony, Gil Student, and Alex Sztuden (Ktav)
This work holds philosophical import on the questions people have been asking themselves for centuries: What does it mean for the Torah to be divinely inspired? How do we reckon the interaction between the physical and metaphysical realms? The volume presents eleven essays by traditional Orthodox writers to understand the timeless philosophical queries about the Torah’s origin. 

Eugene Korn, To Be a Holy People: Jewish Tradition and Ethical Values (Urim Publications)
As a religion predicated on justice and fairness, the question about Judaism’s role in the current struggle for equality and progressivism is raised. Utilizing rabbinic and biblical sources, Korn analyzes how Jewish ethics relates to Jewish law and egalitarianism in a way pertinent to modern society.

Sharon Zewde Shalom, Dialogues of Love and Fear: A Rabbi’s Daughter, a Kes’s Son, and Hope for the Future (Yeshiva University Press & Maggid Books)
In this fictionalized dialogue, R. Shalom draws on his own fascinating biography to explore the nuances of Jewish life, using his story’s main characters to present different modes of Jewish identity. [Sample opening sections here.] 

Daniel J. Lasker, Karaism: An Introduction to the Oldest Surviving Alternative Judaism (The Littman Library)
This work explores Karaism, from its murky origins, to its theology and modern practices, to provide readers with a thorough understanding of Karaite Judaism over the past 12 centuries up to the surprising present-day revival of the community in the State of Israel.

Pinchas Polonsky, Bible Dynamics: Contemporary Torah Commentary – Genesis (2 vols.), Exodus (I vol.), translated from Russian by Betzalel Shandelman (Orot Yerushalayim)
Following the teachings of R. Yehuda-Leon Ashkenazi (Manitou) and R. Ouri Cherki, Polonsky, a leader of the Jewish underground under the Soviet oppression, presents an original and engaging biblical commentary, aiming to show the evolving personalities and ideas we encounter in the text.

(מורה נבוכים לרבנו משה בן מימון (דפוס חדש עם פיסוק, ביאורי מילים קשות וקצת הערות מאת מרדכי פלויט) (הוצאת פלדהיים

This new edition of the Ibn Tibbon translation of Rambam’s Guide for the Perplexed provides readers with a fresh perspective on reading the classic work of medieval Jewish philosophy. Features a useful glossary of terminology and annotations, making it an accessible and useful resource for students of the Guide. 

Appearance here does not preclude review in our print journal or on Publishers can contact our editor to submit titles. Complied with assistance from Rina Chaya Shamilov.


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