Sefer Ha-Hayim Blog
Friday, October 20, 2006
Guide to Torah Fleshes Out Flat Characters in Stories
Robert Avrech on R. Yitzchak Etshalom's book Between the Lines of the Bible (link):
Besotted with Torah.

That's the phrase that springs to mind when reading Rabbi Yitzchak Etshalom's "Between the Lines of the Bible: A Study From the New School of Orthodox Torah Commentary." The title is somewhat academic, and I have to admit that it does not make the book sound user-friendly. But make no mistake, this lovely and lively volume is a valuable addition to traditional Torah study and to the layman's library...
Continued here.

Thursday, October 19, 2006
The Right and the Good in The Jewish Week
From this week's The Jewish Week (link):
Traffic And The Talmud

Did the Talmud anticipate city traffic? You might think that since there were no cars, no streetlights, and very few SUVs (some Roman chariots were extravagant, after all) that the Talmud may have missed this subject.

But as Daniel Feldman’s book “The Right and the Good” reminds us, the Talmud and later authorities warn us not only against violence, but also against a threatening gesture. As Rabbi Feldman writes, the Talmud is concerned by such displays — “the civic relationship between human beings is disrupted, lowered to an animalistic conflict...”

Much of our civic interaction, sadly, takes place between people looking out of car windows. Still, the tone matters. People who cut in front of another car on one block scream at those who do the same a block later. Mistakes are seen as acts of aggression and frustration leads to rage. Pedestrians are endangered, children unnerved, drivers debased.

The great chess player Aron Nimzovitch used to say, “The threat is stronger than its execution.” Sometimes the gesture, in a home or in the street, is more powerful and lasting even than a blow. So if we may reformulate the wisdom of our Rabbis in modern terms, it would go like this: Be kind, be forgiving, and drive carefully.

David Wolpe

Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Moment Magazine on The Challenge of Creation
Moment Magazine reviews The Challenge of Creation: link

Sunday, October 15, 2006
Doing the Right Thing
The Jewish Press on R. Aaron Levine's new book Moral Issues of the Marketplace in Jewish Law.

Thursday, October 12, 2006
Times Bias
R. David M. Feldman, author of Where There's Life, There's Life, has a letter published in this week's issue of The Jewish Week (link):
Times Bias

I write to support the position of Rabbi Haskel Lookstein in his opinion article, “No More Time For ‘The Times’” (Sept. 15).

His examples of bias by The New York Times, as reflected in its selection of photographs and headlines, can be buttressed by the fact of the admitted prejudice of its main writer on news from Israel. Steven Erlanger, the Jerusalem bureau chief of The Times, revealed this prejudice in his June 25 review of a book called “Hamas,” by Matthew Levitt, in which he wrote: “Most damaging of all, Levitt does not discuss (and never even seems to entertain) the premise that Palestinians have a right to resist a 40-year Israeli occupation and partial annexation of their land. … The Jewish settlements on the West Bank, the separation barrier the government is constructing, restrictions on movement by Palestinians, the failure of the Israelis to support those in Fatah committed to nonviolence, like President Mahmoud Abbas — these do not enter Levitt’s analytical universe.”

Those of us uninfluenced by the prevailing propaganda happen to remember the UN Partition decision of 1947 and how the “occupation” came about because of Arab failure to accept the partition, and remains because of their continued, militant failure to do so. We don’t even need so long a memory to be aware that the separation barrier was built to deter suicide bombing attempts and has demonstrably succeeded in doing so. Restrictions on movement by Palestinians have a similar rationale. And one would have to be willfully blind to a lot of history to charge Israel with a “failure to support” those committed to nonviolence.

The point is that any writer in the field who can compose a paragraph with such a roster of one-sided allegations has surely forfeited his claim of objectivity.
Rabbi David M. Feldman
Emeritus, Teaneck Jewish Center
Teaneck, N.J.

Doing the Right Thing
Also in this week's The Jewish Press (p. 15), although not yet on its website, is an interview with R. Aaron Levine about his book Moral Issues of the Marketplace in Jewish Law. The article is titled "Doing the Right Thing".

A Giant In Faith And Intellect
R. Natan Slifkin's moving eulogy for R. Aryeh Carmell appeared in this week's The Jewish Press under the title "A Giant In Faith And Intellect" (link).

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