What a surprise it was when I began to think about writing a review of the book One Special Prayer – the third of a series of four books – to find out that my son, David, had recently purchased the four-volume series in Hebrew, called B’Chatzrot Beit Hashem, for his children.
Several years ago, Feldheim Publishers heard about the series and asked permission to translate it into English. The series is called Naftali in the Beis HaMikdash. One Special Prayer is the third book in the series.
Each book in the series is written as an adventure story about Naftali, a boy who lived in the time of the Second Beis HaMikdash. The narrative is interspersed with halachic material and the source of every mitzvah, Halachah and minhag is listed at the bottom of each page. This enables parents to both answer their children’s questions and to use the book as a reference. Some adults have commented that the books helped them to better understand the Gemara.
One Special Prayer tells the story of how Naftali and his friends experience the Days of Awe in the time of the Second Temple. Four traitors had come to Caesar in Rome to falsely accuse the Kohen Gadol in Jerusalem of praying on Yom Kippur for the destruction of the Roman Empire. Caesar sends two assimilated Jewish spies to authenticate the story. One spy, in order not to arouse suspicion, brings his 10-year-old son, Dimitrius (who eventually calls himself Dovid), along with him.
The book was hard to put down as the adventure unfolded. As each action of the Kohen Gadol and of the people prior to Yom Kippur is thoughtfully explained to Dovid and to the two halachically ignorant spies, they internalize the lessons and are emotionally affected by the events occurring in the Beis HaMikdash.
Both children and adults will find the book fascinating and well written.
For many years, Rabbi Yaakov Meir Strauss, was bothered by the fact that people do not really mourn for the Beis HaMikdash because they do not fully understand what they are missing. In his 20 years of teaching, Rabbi Yaakov has taught his classes about the Beis HaMikdash and his principal in the Bnei Brak Vishnitz school, HaRav Yitzchak Roth,shlita, suggested that he write a book.
The first two volumes in the series, Three Special Days (a young boy and his family celebrate Pesach during the time of the Second Temple) and Seven Special Weeks (a young boy and his classmates in the period of the Second Temple, experience the daily sacrifices and solve a mystery) are available in English, and the fourth volume is being prepared. All four volumes are available in Hebrew.
The series bears the approbation of HaRav HaGaon Rabbi Chayim Kanievsky, shlita, which is reprinted in the English edition. The series also has approbations from HaRav Shmuel Eliezer Stern, shlita, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat Chug Chatam Sofer, in Bnei Brak; Rabbi Shlomo HaLevi Itzkovitz, shlita, the rabbi of the Hagefen community in Betar Elite; and HaRav Avraham Yisroel Gumbo, shlita, rosh yeshiva of the Karlin Stolin Yeshiva in Bnei Brak.
Dov Gilor is a Jewish Press columnist. His column is called “Focus On Israel.”