web analytics
September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



For The Love Of Man

Winter-112213-Relationship

On the Relationship of Mitzvot Between Man and his Neighbor and Man and his Maker; By Daniel Sperber; Urim Publications

              Rabbi Dr. Sperber has just added another outstanding volume to his always-interesting and thought-provoking collection of books. In stating the purpose and thesis of this newest book, On the Relationship of Mitzvot Between Man and his Neighbor and Man and his Maker, Rabbi Sperber attempts to show the superiority in Judaism of man to man mitzvot over man to G-d mitzvot.

The dichotomy of these two categories of commandments is as old as the Ten Commandments themselves, which were given on two separate tablets (they could have been given on one long tablet), in order to demonstrate these two distinct types of commandments within Judaism (commandment number 5, honoring one’s parents, is a bit problematic within this framework, but serves as a bridge commandment with elements of both categories). Saadia Gaon further elaborates on these two classes of mitzvot, and many other great rabbis throughout Jewish history have gone even further in explaining and differentiating these categories. Rabbi Sperber reveals, through many halachik sources and Torah logic that the man to man category is clearly the morally superior one in Judaism. Whenever there is a clash between two commandments, the man to man mitzvot almost always takes precedence.

An additional reason that this sefer is unique and enjoyable is that it operates on three different levels, almost simultaneously. In the main section, the author takes 15-20 examples of clashes between the obligation to perform commandments and shows through Jewish law that the man to man mitzvot are preferred or are to be performed first. At the same time, literally “below the line” of these explanations, Rabbi Sperber goes into much greater detail and depth in his explanations of these sources. This section is of particular interest to any Jewish scholar.

Finally, rather than leave the volume as a purely halachik sefer, which some might find too esoteric or dry, the author, in the final section of the book, shows how these concepts were put into practice by great rabbis, with many stories and practical examples, which are not only very interesting but also emotionally satisfying. Thus, there is something in this book for everyone.

Alas, no book is perfect, and this reviewer has a few suggestions that might have improved this volume. First, Rabbi Sperber is wont to often write in first person. I believe that the use of the style of “I suggest” or “I cannot refrain myself from relating” a particular story is a bit out of place in a book of halachik analysis and of such magnitude. Some might find the pictures he inserted to be extraneous at best, or in the way, although this reviewer found them quite interesting. One or two of Rabbi Sperber’s proofs seem a bit forced, where the sources could have been interpreted in more than one manner. Because there are so many clear-cut examples to conclusively prove his thesis, Rabbi Sperber could have omitted these debatable examples. On the other hand, some famous sources proving the thesis of the book were not included.

For example, in Parshat Noach, Rashi asks why it is that the generation of the Tower of Babel, who sinned against G-d and were guilty of idol worship, were not killed, while the generation of Noach, who were guilty of man to man crimes, such as stealing, were destroyed totally. Rashi answers that the people who built the Tower had the redeeming value of working together, showing some positive man to man activity. This is an example, omitted from the volume, showing that man to man positive activity is held in higher esteem by G-d, which saved the Tower-builders from death.

All of these minor critiques are relatively inconsequential when the magnitude and importance of this book is viewed in its entirety. The concepts, ideas and halachot are especially significant in an era today when many observant Jews sometimes trample upon some of the man to man commandments, while strictly observing man to G-d mitzvot. Rabbi Sperber’s ability to find, explain and use important but obscure sources that would be almost impossible for the average reader to obtain, is yet another reason to read this important work.

About the Author: Rabbi Dr. Nachum Amsel is the educational director of the Destiny Foundation, founded by Rabbi Berel Wein, whose goal is to make Jewish History come to life and be learned in an innovative way, enhancing Jewish identity.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “For The Love Of Man”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Candy-laden bulletin board greets children on their first day of school in the lobby of an Efrat apartment building. Sept. 1, 2014.
The message reads:
"To our dear children ... may it be a year of fun and happiness in your studies." 
Did You Know September 1 is an Israeli National Holiday?
Latest Sections Stories
LBJ-082914

What better proof do we need than the recent war with Hamas in Gaza, dubbed “Operation Protective Edge,” that transformed the pain and suffering of three families into a sense of unparalleled unity and outpouring of love of the entire nation of Israel?

Katzman-082914

So many families are mourning, and all along we mourned with them.

Astaire-082914

In addition to his great erudition, Rabi Akiva was known for his optimism.

Kupfer-082914-Chuppah

She told me that she was busy and that he could sit in his wet clothes for the rest of the day. It would teach him to be more careful.

What can we do to help him stop feeling so sad all the time?

Children with dyslexia or dysgraphia frequently have problems in social relationships.

Israel’s neighbors engaged in hostilities from the onset. The War of Independence was a hard-won battle. Aggression and enmity has followed for 66 years.

The contest will include student-created sculpture, computer graphic design, collage, videography, PowerPoint and painting.

David, an 8-year-old boy on the autism spectrum, recently attended a Friendship Circle event. As he entered he told his Dad, “I love coming to the FC programs ‘cause everyone loves each other.”

Goldsmith himself went on his own “voyage of discovery” to the places where his grandfather and uncle landed and were sent.

Frank proclaimed himself Zvi’s successor and the reincarnation of King David.

You’re probably wondering why the greatest advocate of fast and easy preps in the kitchen is talking about layer cakes, right?

Almost immediately the audience began singing and clapping and continued almost without stop throughout the rest of the concert.

As of late, vintage has definitely been in vogue in the Orthodox community.

More Articles from Rabbi Dr. Nachum Amsel
Winter-112213-Relationship

Rabbi Dr. Sperber has just added another outstanding volume to his always-interesting and thought-provoking collection of books. In stating the purpose and thesis of this newest book, On the Relationship of Mitzvot Between Man and his Neighbor and Man and his Maker, Rabbi Sperber attempts to show the superiority in Judaism of man to man mitzvot over man to G-d mitzvot.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/book-reviews/for-the-love-of-man/2013/11/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: