Three Brief Reviews

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by R. Gil Student

In the recently published Winter 2021 issue of Jewish Action, I review the following three books:

  • Places in the Parasha: Biblical Geography and Its Meaning by Prof. Yoel Elitzur
  • The Making of a Mentsch: The Laws and Parameters of Interpersonal Mitzvos by R. Moshe Walter
  • Torah IQ: The Great Torah Riddle Book by David Woolf

Places in the Parasha: Biblical Geography and Its Meaning

The geography of the Bible is an obviously important area of study. However, the layperson would be forgiven for finding the subject overly technical, since it focuses greatly on linguistics and obscure aspects of the sacred text. The existence of competing theories among scholars makes these ideas difficult for even the motivated amateur to follow. All of this makes Professor Yoel Elitzur’s work in this area so important.

In relatively brief essays, Professor Elitzur, an expert in the fields of Biblical and historical geography as well as in Hebrew and Semitic languages, takes a topic related to the weekly Torah portion and guides readers through that subject. Taking readers on a tour of Israel, he tells stories of the search for Biblical places and connects these places to classical texts and religious ideas. Additionally, he includes a select bibliography for each essay so interested readers can conduct further investigation. The book is full of maps, pictures and diagrams so the reader can “see” the stories, not just read about them. In this way, an obscure but important aspect of the Bible comes alive. The Land of Israel is a reality we can visit today. Professor Elitzur makes the Bible likewise a reality we can “visit.”

Continued here: link

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Editor of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student has served two terms on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and currently serves as the Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

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