Photo Credit: Urim Publications

Was Joseph on the Spectrum? Understanding Joseph Through Torah, Midrash, and Classical Jewish Sources
Author: Samuel J. Levine
Publishers: Urim Publications




When I first saw the title of the book, I admit I did a double-take. What could be the connection between the biblical character about whom the Torah gives us so much personal information and a developmental condition that is currently on the rise? As a pediatrician, I certainly have heard a lot about “the spectrum” and at no point, before reading this book, did the idea cross my mind.

However, that is exactly the beauty of this book. It takes a story that we have heard/read/taught multiple times and makes one look at it in a new light. Chapter by chapter the author analyses the interactions of Yosef through the prism of autistic spectrum disorder. Some of the examples are rather convincing. The author’s argument helps understand why Yosef often seems so incredibly self-centered and why much of his family found him annoying. Others are somewhat less so, but nevertheless give one pause to think through the story again.

Some readers might feel uncomfortable assigning one of our great leaders a diagnosis that would render him less than perfect. However, throughout the book the author weaves in information about high functioning autism that shows that people with this diagnosis can achieve great heights. This is yet another important contribution of this book.

In summary, I found the book interesting and thought provoking and I would recommend it to all.