Title: The Foundation of Judaism
A recent book, The Revelation at Sinai: What Does “Torah from Heaven” Mean?, by Yoram Hazony, Gil Student & Alex Sztuden, spends nearly 400 pages analyzing what the term Torah from Heaven means. And the authors and various scholars who contributed to the book have done a remarkable job of explaining what exactly the term suggests, along with the myriad interpretations.
If someone were to ask the average person how long a book on the foundations of Judaism would be, one would be hard-pressed to think that even the most concise writer could do the topic justice in a thousand pages.
But coming in at under 200 pages, The Foundation of Judaism (Feldheim Publishing) by author Akiva Aaronson attempts to explain more than just a three-word term. Instead, he tries to cover our religion’s entire set of foundations in the same way that Rabbi Eli Stefansky has his 8 Minute Daf. Like Rabbi Stefansky, Aronson covers the high-level concepts and Foundation of Judaism like a crash course in Judaism.
In an era of TL; DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read), Aaronson has written an engaging book that provides a very high-level overview of the core areas of Judaism. This includes Jewish history, basic principles of Judaism, prayer, the Torah, and more. This benefits the person who just wants to know Judaism’s most basic facts and details without getting caught up in the details.
While books like this are great introductory texts, the cursory overview of the topics, many of them which warrant numerous volumes on their own, can give the reader too far a superficial view of the topic. And that takes away from the depth and grandeur of the topics at hand and the majesty of Judaism. But in an era where people’s attention spans are limited to the duration of a TikTok video, high-level books like this may be a sign of the times.
The book is a good starting point for the reader who wants to know just the basics. And it is hoped that these short tidbits of information will lead them to read books of great depth on the topics. And this is a quick and easy read for the reader that wants to know the 3,500 years of Jewish history and wisdom in about 3,500 seconds.