New and Noteworthy Books

Tradition Online | May 30, 2023

Aharon Lichtenstein, Values in Halakha: Six Case Studies (Maggid Books)
Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein’s new, posthumous volume delves into the interactions between law and morality, examining how values are irrevocably connected to the details of halakha. With his typically masterful understanding of both classical Jewish sources and Western scholarship, R. Lichtenstein zt”l explores questions of the relationship between individual and community and to what extent halakha supports or necessitates humanitarianism. He analyzes the rulings of halakhic giants in context, providing a clear presentation of comprehensive halakhic points that together create an extensive picture of basic questions regarding values in halakha. 

LeAvdekha BeEmet: A Compilation of Divrei Torah on the Moadim Delivered by HaRav Menachem Mendel Blachman (Shikey Press)
This edited complitation of divrei Torah by Yeshivat Kerem BeYavneh’s Rabbi Menachem Mendel Blachman offers his insightful teachings on the Jewish holidays. Those unfamiliar with R. Blachman’s teaching will have a chance to encounter his thought-provoking presentation, and widely-admired approach in offering practical guidance on how to apply Torah’s message to everyday life. 

Mitchell First, Words for the Wise: Sixty-Two Insights on Hebrew, Holidays, History and Liturgy (Kodesh Press)
First delivers another collection of erudite and succinct articles covering wide ranging topics such as liturgy, history, Hebrew, and holidays, including incisive essays on topics such as the origins and meaning of traditional songs like Anim Zemirot and Maoz Tzur, the symbolism of words like lulav and atzeret, and a new exploration of an important manuscript of Rambam’s Mishneh Torah. Like First’s earlier books, Words for the Wise is an extensively researched study of a variety of topics in Jewish language and learning. 

Ephraim Chamiel, Between Religion and Reason (Part II): The Position Against Contradiction Between Reason and Revelation in Contemporary Jewish Thought from Eliezer Goldman to Jonathan Sacks (Academic Studies Press)
Ephraim Chamiel analyzes the works of religious Jewish thinkers who dismiss the idea of an irreconcilable conflict between revelation and reason. According to thinkers such as Eliezer Goldman, Norman Lamm, David Hartman, Aharon Lichtenstein, Jonathan Sacks, and Michael Abraham, all contradictions between science and religion, Jewish law and Western ethics, and modern scholarship and traditions can be ultimately resolved. This volume, the final installment in a trilogy, strives to integrate tradition and modernity in a dialectic fashion.

R. Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook, Orot: Bilingual Edition, introduction, translation, and notes by Bezalel Naor (Maggid Modern Classics)
Rav Kook’s landmark Orot is a highly influential work which presents a poetic conception of the grandeur and majesty of the reborn nation of Israel returning to its ancient homeland. This new bilingual edition of Orot includes an English translation by R. Bezalel Naor, the premier translator of Rav Kook’s writing in our day, and is based on the original 1920 version, the only edition published during Rav Kook’s lifetime.

Aviad Tabory, State of Halakha: Israel’s History in Jewish Law (Maggid Books)
Tabory’s book examines significant and impactful halakhic issues that have arisen since the dawn of the State of Israel seventy-five years ago. Through clear and scholarly examination, he analyzes rabbinic attitudes, policies, and piskei halakha concerning an array of historical events such as the peace treaty with Egypt, the arrest and trial of Adolf Eichmann, and the disengagement from Gush Katif. The book honors the great rabbis who have applied classic halakhic concepts to unimagined modern circumstances with extensive knowledge and profound judgment, revealing hidden layers within ancient texts and traditions. State of Halakha highlights the continuing need for halakhic responses which are both thoughtful and faithful in the Jewish homeland.

Elisha Russ-Fishbane, Aging in Medieval Jewish Culture (Littman Library)
This study investigates cultural perceptions of old age among medieval Jews in the Mediterranean and Near Eastern regions. Based on a wide range of sources including marriage contracts, personal letters, and family and communal records, the book is meticulously researched and written in a style accessible to scholars and the general public alike. Utilizing various literary genres and academic disciplines, the book offers a complex portrait of aging as both a societal framework and a lived reality in medieval Jewish society.

The Steinsaltz Tanya: Likkutei Amarim 1-32, commentary and translation by Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz (Steinsaltz Center & Maggid Books)
Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz’s commentary on the Tanya unlocks Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi’s powerful and fiery spirit, and draws on R. Steinsaltz’s own love for the text. Using clear and colorful metaphors from everyday life and classic hasidic stories, he provides thorough explanations of foundational ideas within Kabbalah and Judaism. The Steinsaltz Tanya introduces the first section of the classic work of Hasidism, “The Book of Beinonim.” It includes a Hebrew text and translation and commentary by R. Steinsaltz zt”l.

Alan Mintz, American Hebraist: Essays on Agnon and Modern Hebrew Literature, edited by Beverly Bailis and David Stern (Pennsylvania State University Press)
From Alan Mintz, the prolific figure of American Jewish literature, comes American Hebraist. The book is a compilation of fifteen of the most noteworthy and insightful articles and essays by Mintz z”l, spanning topics such as the life and work of S.Y. Agnon, Jewish and Israeli literature, and the Holocaust. The collection is introduced and contextualized by Mintz’s longtime friend and associate David Stern, and concludes with a personal essay by Beverly Bailis who completed a doctorate under the late and lamented scholar. 

Yitzhak Berdugo, Understanding Hazal: A Translation & Annotation of Rabbenu Avraham ben HaRambam’s Ma’amar al HaDersahot ve-al HaAgadot (Da’at Press)
R. Avraham ben HaRambam’s guide to understanding the words of Hazal is newly accessible in English. This invaluable resource is accompanied by a graceful Hebrew translation, and is enhanced with intriguing and insightful footnotes and sources from spanning the generations. This guide strives to improve one’s Talmudic studies and deepen one’s grasp of the teachings of Hazal.

Marina Zilbergerts, You Were Adam: Poems (Resource Publications)
Marina Zilbergerts debut poetry collection, You Were Adam, explores the glories and downfalls of divine and human creativity with lyrical eloquence. Deeply inspired by both Tanakh and Jewish philosophy, Zilbergerts reimagines creation by examining relationships: metaphysical, erotic, and devotional. Her poems cover a wide range of spiritual and personal landscapes—from her native Ukraine, to the rural farmlands of Wisconsin, Zilbergerts infuses a feeling of oneness and connection into the experiences of everyday life.

Compiled with the assistance of Gabriella Jacobs. Appearance here does not preclude review in our print journal or on Publishers can contact our editor to submit titles.

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