Title: Dalet Amot
Author: Rabbi Ari Enkin
A breezy refresher course in some basics about Judaism, Dalet Amot is a necessary addition to bookshelves in Jewish homes, libraries and schools.
Rabbi Ari Enkin’s choice of topics and his lighthearted yet serious approach to concepts and practices often forgotten in the rush of daily life makes suitable reading material for new ba’alei teshuva and life-long Orthodox Jews. The book’s clearly printed text is easy to understand, and the frequent humor on its pages facilitates a pleasant reading experience. The serious nature of providing correct information to uninformed or misinformed readers is paramount, and the author makes his points tactfully from cover to cover.
Decent behavior is what Judaism is all about, and Rabbi Enkin’s book endorses it in a forthright, not-preachy manner. From pages 36-41, the author succinctly lists halachic sources that dictate proper eating habits, respectful food disposal, Grace After Meals priorities and required table manners. Sloppiness, waste and other boorish behavior are simply not “Jewish.”
Geniza and the proper disposal of holy writings are enduring concerns in Jewish communities. The author notes his halachic sources when he specifies how Jewish written materials should be discarded after they become tattered and useless. Enkin presents the case for disposing of writings that lack Hashem’s name (e.g., Torah Tidbits, synagogue and school notices) by wrapping them in bags and putting them in garbage cans. He states that he is “opposed to the practice of taking every HaModia, Yated, etc. to a geniza. It horribly wastes mammon hekdesh and cemetery space. This is an issue that rabbis should bring to an end.”
Menschlichkeit, decent behavior, extends to intellectual propriety and excess. The author addresses this troublesome area when he examines the topic of “celebrating” the death of the wicked, the deaths of haters of Israel and anti-Semites. Enkin presents “celebration” as an emotional response rather than as a party or ritual practice. It is a concise look at Jewish hashkafa, philosophy. A multifaceted insight into correct Jewish thought processes, it can properly arm Jewish readers for a correct Jewish response to the future deaths of additional enemies. The irony of Enkin’s closing comment on this chapter is a clue to how much we Jews must maintain proper perspective.
Other chapters in Dalet Amot examine the proper observance of Shabbat and holidays, avoiding cruelty to animals, interpersonal issues and a female’s rights and roles and contributions in halachically directed Jewish life. Mystical and supernatural issues are touched upon, as well as other topics of wide-ranging interest.
Readers might be puzzled regarding the spelling of the book’s title. Instead of the word “daled” with two “d’s,” in his title, the author used a “t” at the end. He addressed the issue by saying ” The letter dalet is spelled dalet-lamed-tav. The ‘d’ sound in the last letter of the name ‘Yocheved,’ for instance, emerges from the letter. There is a difference. After much research it was concluded that the fourth letter of the alef-beit is truly ‘dalet‘ and is etymologically related to the Hebrew word for ‘door.’ The entire book was prepared with Sephardic pronunciation to allow for clarity and easier reading.
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