Photo Credit: Mosaica Press

Title: To Seek His Presence
By Joseph Haddad
Mosaica Press




It is said that when we go to shamayim, beit din shel maila will ask us six questions. One of the six will be, “did you long for the geulah?” (Shabbat 31a). That’s a scary question to think about in our day and age, a time when longing for the geulah is so difficult. Some of the concepts involved, especially those having to do with the Beit HaMikdash, are so foreign to us and hard to conceptualize. In order to make these ideas more tangible, Joseph Haddad presents eleven essays relating our daily prayer service to the Beit HaMikdash in his new book, To Seek His Presence.

Through reading this book, you can gain a deeper understanding of the beauty and function of the Temple, which will allow you to truly long for its speedy return. Each chapter focuses on a unique aspect of temple service and how it relates to a unique aspect of our daily prayers. The idea of how tefillah can lead to longing for the Beit HaMikdash is beautifully illustrated in the stunning cover, which depicts a siddur opening directly into the old city. Connecting the Beit HaMikdash to your daily prayers provides the ability for the ideas to be easily incorporated into your daily life so that they can be reflected on regularly.

It is clear from his writing that Mr. Haddad is very learned, and each idea is very well sourced. The book is filled with many excerpts from classic texts which Mr. Haddad then expounds on to support his point. He makes use of formatting in order to emphasize his points, including charts, bold font, and italics to enhance ideas as needed. Each chapter is independent – you do not need to read one to understand the next. In this way, you are free to jump around and use the table of contents to focus on what interests you. Examples of the topics in this book include the purpose of an altar, the mitzvah of the red heifer, and my personal favorite, the why behind korbanot. Mr. Haddad truly helped me to understand why the ancient practice of animal sacrifices could help us connect to Hashem in a much deeper way.

To Seek His Presence is a very informative and intellectual read, and those that are advanced in their learning would have a lot to gain from picking up this short yet enlightening work. In his review, Rabbi Sam Kassin says that “for the full effect of To Seek His Presence, it has to be read more than once,” a statement that I definitely agree with. This is not a light Shabbos read, but rather something you must spend time with and focus on to understand the concepts. In that way, you will truly benefit from the incredible work Mr. Haddad put together, and have a more complete understanding of the beauty of the Beit HaMikdash and the importance of the rituals involved.

Enjoy this book and happy reading!

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Nessa Moussadji lives in Toronto. She has a passion for books that she loves to share with others. She started ruchnius reads where she reviews books that can help to increase your ruchnius. She can be found on instagram @ruchniusreads.