Title: Torah Tapestries: Shemos
Author: Shira Smiles
“Deep down in the heart of the bush, even as the fire of our enemies is raging around, is the spark of emunah. It was true of the Jews in Egypt, and it will always be true of Am Yisrael. The emunah is what is behind our power to renew ourselves.”
This fiery sentence on page six of Shira Smiles’s newest sefer, Torah Tapestries: Shemos, brought tears to this reviewer’s eyes. The clear, authoritative thinking that produced this line is a hallmark of the author’s teaching style. It neatly summarizes the evidence she presents to explain exactly why Moshe Rabbeinu seemed perplexed that the sneh was not consumed by the fire within it. It illustrates and resolves the puzzling “ra’oh ra’iti” response by Hashem to Moshe’s “Madua lo yivar hasneh?”: The Creator used a physical anomaly alluding to an eternal “V’hasneh einenu ukval” quality of the newly forging Jewish nation: As a people, we cannot be destroyed.
The text soon segues into an insightful explanation of why some Jews did not leave Egypt. The classic, timeless lesson leads to examinations of the issues of teshuva, blessings, the imperative to speak and teach only truth, to live balanced, lives and more. Discerning readers will reflect on today’s headlines and find within the text the resolution to many doubts about making aliyah in our times.
Smiles’s analysis of Sefer Shemot is supported with classic Jewish commentaries, including Rabbis Chaim Friedlander, Eliyahu Dessler, and Joseph B. Soloveitchik, the Rambam, Rashi, and other important figures of Jewish thought and philosophy. The comments are clarifying, uplifting, and typical of the author’s live shiurim for her students and community groups. Her conclusions are soundly based.
Anyone interested in meticulously researched writings important to the future of Am Yisrael should add 190-page hardcover Torah Tapestries: Shemos to public and private libraries. Feldheim would do well to 1) improve the fonts in subsequent editions, for easier reading by weaker eyes and 2) to use tapestry cover art consistent with the message of the Torah Tapestries book series. The book’s only other fault is that it ends with suggestions on how “to internalize the blessing of Moshe Rabeinu” while remaining aware that Hashem is “the only source of blessing.” Readers will be hungry for more mind- and soul-building information from the author.