Three Brief Reviews

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by R. Gil Student

In the Summer 2024 issue of Jewish Action, I review the following three books:

  • The Jewish State: From Opposition to Opportunity by Rabbi Doron Perez
  • HaAretz Asher Areka: Mitzvat Yishuv Eretz Yisrael (Hebrew) by Rabbi Shnayor Burton
  • Famous Gemaras: The Gemara’s incredible stories come to life by Rabbi Gershon Schwartz

The Jewish State: From Opposition to Opportunity 

October 7 changed the lives of every Israeli and every Jew throughout the world. While enduring the immense tragedy of both an injured son and a missing son (who was later declared dead), Rabbi Doron Perez, executive chairman of the World Mizrachi movement, inspired the world with his faith and leadership. Remarkably, a few months before the attack, Rabbi Perez had published The Jewish State: From Opposition to Opportunity—intended to mark Israel’s seventy-fifth anniversary—which examines the growing phenomenon of virulent, irrational anti-Zionism and offers practical and spiritual solutions.

In the first half of The Jewish State, Rabbi Perez cites the Vilna Gaon’s insight on antisemitism. In a comment on Chavakuk (3:14), the Gaon notes that Moab, Edom and the Philistines represent three types of antisemitism: spiritual, physical and political. Moab exhibits spiritual antisemitism, an antagonism to Jewish belief and practice; Edom attempts to physically destroy the Jewish people; and the Philistines attempt to prevent Jewish sovereignty. While the first two types of antisemitism are familiar throughout history (e.g., Chanukah and Purim, respectively), political antisemitism is something we are not used to considering. 

Rabbi Perez quotes Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, who compares antisemitism to a virus. It is essentially one hatred that changes and adapts to fit the circumstances. A virus deceives the body in order to infiltrate it and multiply. Historically, antisemitism has spread by deceptively adopting the morality of its time. In the Middle Ages, it based itself on Christianity; in post-Enlightenment Europe, on (pseudo)-science; and today, on human rights. That is why the only fully functioning democracy in the Middle East, with a free press and robust minority rights, is the constant target for human rights accusations. Today, when religious bigotry and physical oppression are not much of an option, antisemites adopt the political approach, namely anti-Zionism.

Rabbi Perez’s solution is twofold…

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 currently is serving his third term on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and also serves as the Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He serves on the Editorial Board of Jewish Action magazineand the Board of OU Press. He has published four 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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