Pirkei Avos with a Twist of Humor
By Joe Bobker
Gefen Publishing House: Jerusalem and New York, (2008 / 5768) www.israelbooks.com
Reviewed by Simone Bonim - December 12, 2008
Filled with wit and not a few jokes, Joe Bobker's Pirkei Avos with a Twist of Humor is one of the funniest and informative books that I've read in a long time! In this toothsome book, Bobker provides a brief introduction to Pirkei Avos (a book that is devoted to Jewish ethics and commonly refereed to as the Sayings of the Fathers, in English.). Bobker also provides insights in the Jewish law and lore most often associated with the Pirkei Avos.
Bobker follows a consistent methodology throughout this book. The information in this book is, firstly, organized into thematic chapters covering a range of topics such as:
Age and Youth
Authority and Community
Friends and Greetings; Love and Anger
Law and Order
Life and Death
Humility, Speech, and Respect
Peace and Prayer and Miracles
Reward and Punishment
Time and Wisdom
Torah and Mitzvos
The Forty-Eight Ways
Secondly, each of these chapters begins with a brief overview of the general topic to be covered. Then, thirdly, within each chapter you will find a number of short discourses. Each discourse begins with a short excerpt from the Mishna (of which the Pirkei Avos is part of), and it is upon this excerpt that the discourse is devoted. In addition, each discourse ends with a joke that will tickle your funny bone and which will provide a unique commentary upon the topic under discussion. Within these brief discourses, Bobker examines the historical and religious significance of the excerpt in question, and he provides examples relevant to the topic, drawn from historic, religious, and contemporary sources. Combined, Bobker's analysis, the jokes, and the excerpts themselves, all combine to give the reader an in-depth and painless introduction to the Pirkei Avos.
Bobker is also the author of many other books such as Torah News U Can Use, Torah with a Twist of Humor, the BIG BOOK of Chassidic Wit and Wisdom, Can I Play Chess on Shabbas?, and many more. Boker, who studied at the Mercaz HaRav Kook Yeshiva in Kiryat Moshe (Jerusalem) is also a popular speaker and the author of numerous articles and columns on Jewish subjects. Throughout, his writing is vibrant, captivating, and authoritative. I highly recommend this book to readers of all ages.
Can I Play Chess on Shabbas?, by Joe Bobker.
The Do's and Don'ts of Shabbas, Made Simple! Written in a question and answer format, this book provides an edifying and fun-to-read overview of the law and lore of Shabbas.