Title: Real Questions, Real Answers
By Avi Ciment
Available on amazon.com
In Real Questions, Real Answers, Avi Ciment seamlessly tackles fundamental questions pertaining to Judaism. His inspiring answers provide clear and tangible examples that are easy to relate to for anyone looking for answers. Ciment artistically paints complex concepts in terms that everyone can understand.
This is an important book for anyone starting their journey back to their Jewish roots, but can also bring an already religious person to the next level of their observance. Furthermore, teens and adults alike can all glean important lessons from the book. Ciment is notably brave in his vulnerability, as he is willing to share personal stories that serve to inspire others.
Each chapter answers a vital question. For example:
What’s the point of depression?
Why can’t I see G-d?
Why do we age, and what happens next?
Issues such as the afterlife, hardship, proof of the divinity of the Torah, the reason for seemingly irrelevant mitzvot and more are discussed thoughtfully.
Ciment addresses another question that has bothered many people:
“How are we supposed to trust Orthodox people when so many have committed crimes and disappointed us with their ‘unorthodox behavior’ and actions?”
He explains, “If you went to a burger place and the food was terrible, you wouldn’t make the decision to never eat a burger again. You would simply avoid burgers from that restaurant…I endured many rabbis and teachers who definitely made religion unappealing. But they only represent a very small percentage of Jews.”
I particularly liked how Ciment addresses hardships. He explains that “setbacks are actually set ups for something way better.” He then provides the reader with several examples of how in hindsight, everything that G-d did made sense and was for our benefit.
Later, he explains, “The amount of light G-d shares with us in the next world is in direct correlation to the amount of G-d’s light we brought into this world. The next life is called olam haemes, the world of truth, where the veil of this world is finally lifted.”
The book discusses a moment of greatness regarding a choice Moshe Rabbeinu made. Moshe grew up in a palace, living a life of luxury. One day, he saw an Egyptian beating a Jewish slave. The Torah writes that Moshe turned this way and that, and when he saw there was no man looking on, he struck the Egyptian. That was the moment that Moses became Moshe Rabbeinu. Rashi explains that when Moshe looked both ways, he wasn’t making sure no one was coming. Rather, he was looking at two decisions within himself. Would he ignore what he saw and continue his luxurious life, or would he strive for something greater?
Moshe chose greatness. With access to this insightful book, we too can choose to continue on our path to greatness through self-introspection, gleaning the perspective that Ciment offers his readers.
Gentle humor draws readers in, and as you find yourself laughing out loud, you soon realize that Ciment has slipped in a golden nugget of Torah amidst the humor. You will laugh, you will cry, you will find yourself, and you will solidify your steadfast commitment to G-d. With Real Questions, Real Answers, Avi Ciment takes you on an unforgettable journey.