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All Of His Wonders

A while back I inducted a new rabbi into office. It’s something I do often, and there is a certain predictability to the proceedings. I give the new rabbi my blessings and encouragement. He in reply thanks those who have helped him through the years, and sets out his aspirations as a spiritual leader and his vision for the future of the congregation.

Continuing An Oratorical Tradition

Rabbi Paysach Krohn, the noted speaker, mohel, and author who has delighted hundreds of thousands of people as “The American Maggid,” has produced The Maggid at the Podium, a collection of speeches originally delivered to live audiences and subsequently published in Zman Magazine. Covering a wide spectrum of topics, the articles touch on such subjects as the proper ways to do bikur cholim, nichum aveilim, and kiruv, to name just a few. Rabbi Krohn also discusses human relationships as well as timely topics connected to the Jewish calendar.

The Appalachian Family Berger

Tzirel Rus Berger is a woman who is in love with her Judaism. But she wasn’t always Tzirel Rus Berger and she wasn’t always a Jew. In fact she began life as Sheryl Youngs, the daughter of a devout Christian pastor in Southern California, before marrying John Massey and following him to the Appalachian backwoods. There she raised their ten children, living a life so impoverished that she didn’t even have indoor plumbing.

Getting Little Help In The Kitchen

Cooking and kids – there’s a very special connection between the two. For busy parents and their even-busier children, working together in the kitchen to prepare a Shabbos meal or a weekday dinner can be a terrific bonding time.

For The Love Of Man

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.

Let The Sunshine In

The world can sometimes seem like a very dark and cold place. If you ever feel that way, or are looking for a good dose of inspiration, you must read Stories That Light Up Your Heart. When you read stories of people around the globe who had their prayers answered, who saw that indeed Hashem was with them every step of the way, or who experienced a moment when heaven touched earth, it will light up your heart as well.

Rachmana Latzlan

Once you pick up To Mourn a Child, you will not be able to put it down, but not for the usual reasons. There is no suspense here, as we know from the outset the sad end of each story. It is rather the searing emotional intensity of this book that will grab you and compel you to keep reading.

From The Rebbe’s Pen

A unique multivolume collection of English letters by the Lubavitcher Rebbe has just been released, shedding new light on one of the greatest Jewish leaders of modern times.

Briefs And Gift Guide

All the books reviewed in this supplement can serve as great gifts; the books reviewed briefly below do as well.

Titles for Children

Admit it; when Chanukah comes we all become kids again. But still, the actual kids get pride of place on this holiday, as they do for all holidays. Anyway, they’ll certainly be the ones clamoring for gifts. Whether it’s for your children, or relatives’ or friends’, why not treat them to the gift of a good book?

Great Men; Great Writers

While we know a lot about our greatest forebears from the Chumash and later biblical generations, even if there are often gaps in their life stories, we know considerably less about the Sages of the Mishnah (the Tennaim) and of the Gemara (the Amora’im), collectively known as Chazal – our Sages, of blessed memory.

Title: From Day To Day: Young Scholar’s Daily Calendar & Encyclopedia

This rediscovered treasure was the project of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, which he compiled in 1943 as a calendar and in 1944 as an encyclopedia, as instructed by his father-in-law, Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneerson, the sixth Chabad Rebbe, whom he later succeeded as Rebbe in 1950.

Title: Dating Smart: Navigating the Path to Marriage

The dating world is a daunting place. Working with shadchanim, deciding about potential dating partners, and navigating through the dating process can leave even the most put-together person feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.

Title: To Mourn a Child: Jewish Responses to Neonatal and Childhood Death

Once you pick up To Mourn a Child, you will not be able to put it down, but not for the usual reasons. There is no suspense here, as we know from the outset the sad end of each story.

Title: The Return of Israel and the Hope of the World

Abraham Livni’s book is a masterpiece of historical insight which encompasses the entire history of mankind, from the time of creation until today. It is based on the philosophy of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook as taught by his son Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda. The thesis of this book is that the redemption of the Jews as it is manifested in the creation of the modern State of Israel is the culmination of meta-historical processes, which will lead to the healing of the moral state of the world. The completion of this process is the ultimate goal of creation.

In The Absence Of Proof

For hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years, Jewish thinkers have tried to prove God’s existence and the veracity of the Torah. That endeavor is no longer in vogue. Indeed, many educated Jews today believe the attempt an exercise in futility.

Title: The Jerusalem Formula

This is a remarkable book to assist those of us – and that means everyone – who are trying to find our way in life, with all its setbacks and pain, as well as for people who want to help people.

Think About It

When Yankie Schwartz e-mailed me an advance copy of his new book Contemplations: Wisdom for Living (published by Menucha Publishers) for review, I decided to print out 50 pages to read over Shabbos. After all, I reasoned, 50 pages of mussar and hashkafah essays would be enough for me to form a first impression. Boy, was I wrong.

The Ups and Downs of Life in Israel (Book Review)

Choosing Life in Israel evinces what it means to be emotionally, spiritually, and viscerally drawn, as a Jew, to the siren song emitted by Israel.

Title: Jewish Identity: Who is a Jew?: Modern responses and opinions on the registration...

Published originally in 1965, this reissue of a classic is now more relevant than ever. Jewish law legislates that a child is Jewish if the mother is Jewish, or one who had converted to Judaism according to specific halachic requirements. Jewish identity is thus not merely sociological and demographic (if Jews live in the land of Israel) nor ethnic (differences in customs, folkways, and liturgy and practice of Ashkenazi Jews vs. Sephardic Jews), but rather determined by a maternal hereditary religious blood covenant.

Title: Movers & Shakers

You’ll never get anything you need or want if you don’t ask. You have to ask the questions. Treasure this advice, because it’s one of the best you’ll get in life. At times it’s thorny and complicated to ask another for something – what if he says no and your request is rebuffed. Rejection is hard to take. And what if you’re imposing or the requestee has a hard time saying no? But you’ll also never get a “yes” without first asking.

Book Reviews

It might still be two weeks to Pesach, but is never too early to start thinking about Afikomen presents.

A Chassidic Classic For Readers Of All Backgrounds

Reading Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein’s Essays On the Weekly Parsha Based on Nesivos Shalom I could not help thinking of the old warning that “a young man who wishes to remain an unbeliever cannot be too careful of his reading.”

Title: Without Red Strings Or Holy Water: Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah

Rabbi Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) was a halachist par excellence, philosopher, physician, and a political leader of the Jewish community at the ibn Ezra Synagogue of Egypt. Born in Cordovero, Spain and caused to flee a fanatical Muslim sect, the Rambam travelled to Morocco, Eretz Yisrael, Alexandria, and then served as a physician in the court of the Sultan in Cairo Fostat.

Title: In One Era, Out the Other A Memoir of 20th-21st Century Jewish Life

Each one of us finds ourselves at the center of six generations of history. We hear the echoes of our grandparents’ era and see the beginnings of that of our grandchildren and we hope and endeavor to be the fulfillment of the hopes of one and the inspiration of the other.

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