Unlocking the Torah Text -- Devarim: An In-Depth Journey into the Weekly Parsha

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9789652295262: Unlocking the Torah Text -- Devarim: An In-Depth Journey into the Weekly Parsha
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" clear and straightforward answers also lead to engaging tangents and digressions, which further instruct and enlighten the reader."

" a significant contribution toward understanding a number of questions raised by literal readings"

" Unlocking the Torah d104 is appropriate for lay readers and is a valuable source of material and thought starters for religious leaders of all stripes."

--Dr. Fred Reiss"San Diego Jewish World" (01/21/2015)

..".a very interesting innovative educational approach to Torah study."

"perceptive and thought provoking"

This is the fifth volume in which Rabbi Shmuel Goldin offers readers a very interesting "innovative educational approach to Torah study." Rabbi Goldin has served as a rabbi in Englewood, New Jersey since 1984 and is a former president of the Rabbinical Council of America, the largest organization of Orthodox rabbis.

Rabbi Goldin divides his volume according to the weekly synagogue Torah readings and has as many as six essays on each biblical portion. He starts each section with a summary of the most significant parts of the portion, and then raises questions which prompt insights into the biblical portion even before the questions are answered. This is followed by a host of suggested solutions to the questions, generally from traditional Jewish sources. Many of the sections are followed by "Points to Ponder," ideas that should be given special attention.

Rabbi Goldin's approach is that God is the author of the Torah, but humans are encouraged to question and challenge the text. Everything in the Torah is true; events occurred exactly as the Bible depicts them, but we need to explore the events to understand them. He makes a distinction between the literal meaning of the Torah texts and Midrashic explanations, which frequently contains parables that should not be taken literally. He states he will give answers that fit the plain meaning of the text. He quotes Midrash frequently but never writes that the Midrash should be understood as a fact.

Rabbi Goldin's questions and answers are perceptive and thought provoking. For instance, he asks: Why is the style of the book of Devarim very different than the style of the former books? Is Devarim also from God or Moses view? Did Moses change God's laws? Why are there two versions of the Ten Commandments (He identifies the many differences)? Are the laws of the female captive and disobedient son rational and moral? Why doesn't God end the Torah with a message instead of telling readers about Moses' death?

One of the answers to why Devarim is different than the previous books is: "Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, for example, maintains that Moshe [Moses] tailored the dibrot [Ten Commandments] in Devarim in order to address the unique challenges faced by a generation about to enter the Promised Land."

This may imply that the Torah continues to be developed by humans. After discussing the changes Moses made in many laws contained in the first four books of the Bible, Rabbi Goldin writes: "We receive tradition from the past generation, that tradition courses through us, and we then pass that tradition to the future. Inexorably, as the corpus of Jewish life courses through each individual, family and community in each generation, it is altered by a myriad of variables, the personal experiences, challenges, perceptions, aspirations and dreams of parents, teachers, grandparents, rabbis, communal leaders and whole communities all shape the continually developing character of our people's legacy.... Human beings all, the rabbis naturally bring to bear their own perceptions and personalities as they apply their experience to the delineation of our nation's legal path."

Rabbi Goldin ends his book by stating: "The Torah starts with God and ends with man to teach us that God's Book is just the starting line from which man's real journey begins."

--Israel Drazin"Amazon" (10/05/2014)

"a unique user-friendly commentary on the weekly parsha"

Learning by example and anecdote is a surefire way to get a lesson's message through. In his just-completed series of commentary on the Chumash, "Unlocking The Torah d104: An In-Depth Journey Into The Weekly Parsha" (Gefen Publishing / OU Press), Rabbi Shmuel Goldin of Congregation Ahavat Torah of Englewood, NJ, has written a unique user-friendly commentary on the weekly parsha.
Rabbi Goldin, a graduate of Yeshiva University and former president of the Rabbinical Council of America, uses personal experiences and recent Jewish history to enhance his commentary, thus giving ancient events and personalities a contemporary relevance.
An example that caught my attention comes from the commentary to this week's parsha, Vayetzei, in the book of Genesis. Rabbi Goldin sets up this lesson with the follow contextual element:
"In the course of his journey from Be'er Sheva to Charan, Yaakov arrives at a location where he is forced to bed down for the night. There he dreams his famous dream of a ladder stretching from the earth heavenward."

Into this context, Rabbi Goldin relates to us an absolutely fascinating episode that he shared with members of his congregation some years ago that involves a verse form the parasha in a way that teaches a lesson of relevance to the recent events in Eretz Yisrael. The balance of this week's essay will be in Rabbi Goldin's words and emotions.
"A number of years ago I traveled with members of my congregation to Eastern Europe prior to our annual mission to Israel. Among our experiences was a visit to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, a way station for countless of our brethren on the journey to their final destination.
"At one particular location in the camp, our guide took us behind a bakery and down some steps to a hidden underground room. Suddenly we found ourselves, to our astonishment, in a small synagogue which had been built by a group of Danish Jews, secretly, under the very eyes of their Nazi tormentors. We were speechless, struck by the courage and devotion of these individuals who, at the risk of their lives, had continued to worship their Creator, even at a time when G-d's very face was hidden from them.
"As we walked around that small shul, we noticed that passages from the Torah and liturgy had been painted on the walls in a fashion common to European synagogues of that time. One such passage read, 'And in spite of all, we have not forgotten, [Dear Lord] do not forget us.'
"But, then, as I continued to read, I was suddenly struck completely dumb. For on the wall before me appeared the following passage, painted through who knows how many tears: 'How awesome is this place! This is none other than the House of G-d and this is the gate to heaven!'
"I was astounded. ... Here in Theresienstadt, the 'House of G-d'? In the depths of hell, the 'gate to heaven'?
"I gazed at the words spoken by the patriarch, Yaakov, in the darkness of the night outside the town of Luz, painstakingly painted centuries later on the walls of a secret synagogue in Theresienstadt ... and I felt a fleeting sense of sanctity which had existed in that room decades earlier. A sanctity created by a courageous group of nameless Jews who understood that even in the darkness of hell, even in the presence of their tormentors, even in the depths of pain and sorrow, holiness could somehow be achieved and G-d could somehow be found."
Rabbi Shmuel Goldin concludes this heartfelt teaching with the following observation:
"Their courage and devotion will remain forever."
My dear readers, that courage and devotion still lives with us today, in a synagogue, too. This time in Har Nof in the most holy of cities, Jerusalem. Now, consider the following related observation by one of Israel's leading educators, Rabbi Reuven Spolter:
"For thousands of years, Jews have risen each and every morning to pray to G-d, 'return us to Jerusalem, Your city, in compassion; May our eyes witness Your return to Zion with compassion.' After so many centuries of heartfelt prayer, someone, armed with the divine blessing of G-d, decided that it was time to transform those prayers into reality. G-d returned, and so did we. It was that persistence that brought us here, and it's that very same persistence that will keep us here.
"So, the morning after the murders, Jews across Jerusalem, and around the world, rose early in the morning once again for their daily prayers. We were all ... heartbroken, a loss for words. But we went to shul because that's what we do. ... We didn't do it to send a message. But, in our daily acts of devotion, we do indeed broadcast to the world in a loud, clear voice: We aren't going anywhere."

--Alan Jay Gerber"The Jewish Bookworm" (11/26/2014)

"People are always telling me about his great Torah insights, the depth of his knowledge and the ease of understanding he brings to the text." - Lee Lasher, president Ahavath Torah

"on the model of Nechama Leibowitz, but in a more accessible way"

Englewood-Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood will hold a Simchat Beit Hashoeva on October 12 at 7:00 pm, with music, dancing and refreshments, to dedicate its new sukkah and honor Rabbi Shmuel Goldin for completing his five-book series, "Unlocking the Torah d104." The last book, "Devarim," has just been published.

"There are not enough words to describe our appreciation for Rabbi Goldin," said Lee Lasher, president of Ahavath Torah. "People are always telling me about his great Torah insights, the depth of his knowledge and the ease of understanding he brings to the text. They'll say they needed a D'var Torah and got one from the books. Or, someone told me he had a question about the parsha and picked up one of the books and the answer was there.

Rabbi Goldin has held a class on Friday night for parents and kids for years. He can speak to a 10-year-old and a 50-year-old." Marcy Cohen, chair of the event, said Rabbi Goldin "is the anchor of the Englewood Jewish Community" and deeply appreciates that "he has taken the time to get to know my entire family, despite the tremendous size of the community."

Lasher said they expect a large crowd, probably around 200 people, and have invited many special guests including Rabbi Goldin's colleagues, community rabbis, officers of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), the mayor of Englewood and officials of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey. Lasher said that Geffin, the publisher of "Unlocking the Torah d104 is a partial sponsor of the program and told him the books are selling even better than expected. They will be available for sale that night. Lasher suggests that people can purchase sets to give as a donation to the shul or schools, or buy for bar/bat mitzvah presents.

Rabbi Goldin told JLBC that writing "Unlocking the Torah d104" series was a wonderful experience. "I picked up new friends and communicated with people who run study groups with the books, educators using the books in the classroom, rabbis using them for sermons and families who are using them for shared study." But he also has some bittersweet memories. "The project spanned 9 eventful years of my life," he mused. "Three of my children got married and my mother passed away. She reviewed my manuscripts before I gave them to a professional editor. She reviewed the first three and part of the fourth."

Rabbi Goldin began the first book, Bereishit, in 2003 when he was on sabbatical, not knowing if it would even be published. He contacted one publisher who would only commit if all books were completed at once. He then found two more who agreed to publish as they were written with the understanding there would be five in the series. He chose Geffen. The next four books were written while he carried out his responsibilities as a communal rabbi and teacher. He learned a lot about time management. "You are able to be more productive than you thought, and use down time you don't know you have," he said. "I would carry around pages with me and edit at weddings."

Each book in the "Unlocking the Torah d104" series has a similar structure, Rabbi Goldin said. He broke down each parsha into studies, on the model of Nechama Leibowitz, but in a more accessible way. He went through each study, raising questions about the topic. He would start with a specific text and then give context to the phenomenon he was looking at. He would explore classical and modern commentaries and add his own insights. The last section includes "points to ponder," reviewing what was discussed and suggesting issues for further thought, analysis and discussion.

Devarim was the hardest book for him to write, Rabbi Goldin said, since he had the least experience with it. It is read over the summer, when he is often away, so he has not taught it much, either to the Englewood community or to students at Yeshiva University where he also taught. "It gave me a chance to do some new learning," he said. He also noted that the format makes it a very different book. It is not a story narrative; it is written in the first person and tells of the last 5 weeks of Moshe's life. "There are debates as to how the text originates. Are these God's words that Moshe personalizes? Are they Moshe's words that God accepts and incorporates into the Divine Torah text? Are they a product of combined effort ultimately accepted by God? There are also numerous questions that can be asked about the content of the text. Why are some commandments given for the first time in this volume? Why are some repeated from previous volumes of the Torah while others are not? The book is fundamentally comprised of Moshe's farewell addresses to the nation. How does he choose which lessons to share at this dramatic time?"

Rabbi Goldin said his paternal grandfather, Rabbi Hyman E. Goldin, was a prolific author of over 50 books. "I always wanted to see my name on the rows of books by Goldin." And now he can. "If someone had told me 10 years ago, that I would have done this, I wouldn't have believed him," Rabbi Goldin said, thinking about the scope of his accomplishment. "It's hard to let go. But I'm already thinking about the next project."

--Bracha Schwartz"Jewish Link of Bergen County" (10/02/2014)

Reseña del editor:

UNLOCKING THE TORAH TEXT provides an in-depth journey into the Torah portion through a series of studies on each parsha. Each study opens with a brief summary of the narrative and then presents probing questions designed to strike to the core of the text. These questions are addressed through a review of traditional commentaries spanning the ages, combined with original approaches. Deep philosophical issues and perplexing textual questions are carefully examined and discussed in clear and incisive fashion. The actions and motivations of the patriarchs, matriarchs and other biblical figures are probed with an eye towards determining the lessons to be learned from the lives of these great personalities. Clear distinction is made between pshat (straightforward literal meaning) and Midrash (rabbinical exegesis) as both of these approaches to biblical text are carefully defined and applied. Finally, thought-provoking connections are raised between the eternal Torah narrative and critical issues of our time. Each study is thus constructed to encourage continued discussion and study of the Torah narrative. With the publication of this final volume, Devarim (Deuteronomy), the five-volume series is complete.

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Buchbeschreibung Gefen Publishing House, Israel, 2014. Hardback. Zustand: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. UNLOCKING THE TORAH TEXT provides an in-depth journey into the Torah portion through a series of studies on each parsha. Each study opens with a brief summary of the narrative and then presents probing questions designed to strike to the core of the text. These questions are addressed through a review of traditional commentaries spanning the ages, combined with original approaches. Deep philosophical issues and perplexing textual questions are carefully examined and discussed in clear and incisive fashion. The actions and motivations of the patriarchs, matriarchs and other biblical figures are probed with an eye towards determining the lessons to be learned from the lives of these great personalities. Clear distinction is made between pshat (straightforward literal meaning) and Midrash (rabbinical exegesis) as both of these approaches to biblical text are carefully defined and applied. Finally, thought-provoking connections are raised between the eternal Torah narrative and critical issues of our time. Each study is thus constructed to encourage continued discussion and study of the Torah narrative. With the publication of this final volume, Devarim (Deuteronomy), the five-volume series is complete. Bestandsnummer des Verkäufers AAG9789652295262

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Buchbeschreibung Gefen Publishing House, Israel, 2014. Hardback. Zustand: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. UNLOCKING THE TORAH TEXT provides an in-depth journey into the Torah portion through a series of studies on each parsha. Each study opens with a brief summary of the narrative and then presents probing questions designed to strike to the core of the text. These questions are addressed through a review of traditional commentaries spanning the ages, combined with original approaches. Deep philosophical issues and perplexing textual questions are carefully examined and discussed in clear and incisive fashion. The actions and motivations of the patriarchs, matriarchs and other biblical figures are probed with an eye towards determining the lessons to be learned from the lives of these great personalities. Clear distinction is made between pshat (straightforward literal meaning) and Midrash (rabbinical exegesis) as both of these approaches to biblical text are carefully defined and applied. Finally, thought-provoking connections are raised between the eternal Torah narrative and critical issues of our time. Each study is thus constructed to encourage continued discussion and study of the Torah narrative. With the publication of this final volume, Devarim (Deuteronomy), the five-volume series is complete. Bestandsnummer des Verkäufers AAG9789652295262

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Buchbeschreibung Gefen Publishing House. Hardback. Zustand: new. BRAND NEW, Unlocking the Torah Text -- Devarim: An in-Depth Journey into the Weekly Parsha, Shmuel Goldin, This book provides an in-depth journey into the Torah portion through a series of studies on each parsha. Each study opens with a brief summary of the narrative and then presents probing questions designed to strike to the core of the text. These questions are addressed through a review of traditional commentaries spanning the ages, combined with original approaches. Deep philosophical issues and perplexing textual questions are carefully examined and discussed in clear and incisive fashion. The actions and motivations of the patriarchs, matriarchs and other biblical figures are probed with an eye towards determining the lessons to be learned from the lives of these great personalities. Clear distinction is made between pshat (straightforward literal meaning) and Midrash (rabbinical exegesis) as both of these approaches to biblical text are carefully defined and applied. Finally, thought-provoking connections are raised between the eternal Torah narrative and critical issues of our time. Each study is thus constructed to encourage continued discussion and study of the Torah narrative. With the publication of this final volume, Devarim (Deuteronomy), the five-volume series is complete. Bestandsnummer des Verkäufers B9789652295262

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