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Lehovin Ulehaskil: A Guide to Torah Hashkofoh

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Lehovin Ulehaskil: A Guide to Torah Hashkofoh

Lehovin Ulehaskil: A Guide to Torah Hashkofoh
(L'hovin Ul'haskil)
Questions and Answers on Judaism
By Rabbi Eliezer Gevirtz
Feldheim Paperback Library, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59826-786-0

Reviewed by Boris Segel - November 18, 2011

Lehovin Ulehaskil ('to understand and to comprehend'), by Rabbi Eliezer Gevirtz consists of thirty-six questions about Judaism, along with a selection of answers to each. This book was a project of the Jewish Education Program (JEP), and it is perfect for teachers, Kiruv workers, students, those looking for information to add to a talk, and anyone desirous of learning about the fundamental beliefs of Judaism.

The questions and answers in this book are organized into six thematic sections. They are:
  1. Considering G-d
    Questions answered in this section include "How do we know that G-d created the world?" and "Why is there pain and suffering?"

  2. The Realm of Judaism
    Here you'll find questions such as "What is a Jew and what is Judaism?" and "Have Jews benefitted from being G-d's Chosen People?"

  3. Jewish Laws
    This section covers the source of Jewish laws, why there are various branches of Judaism, and how to be an observant Jew who follows the Torah laws, yet still 'fit' into the modern world.

  4. Part four explores specific Jewish laws such as the rational behind Shabbos and Kashrus, the role of women in Judaism, and Jewish burial rites.

  5. Relations with the Gentile World
    This section focus on several sometime difficult to answer questions such as why assimilation and intermarriage is wrong.

  6. The final section is entitled simply, Self-Improvement and it answers the question, "How can one go about becoming a better Jew?"
The book concludes with a bibliography of English language texts that are well suited for those seeking to study these questions and answers in more detail. This book also provides readers with a solid foundation upon which to increase their knowledge and understanding of Judaism.

What I liked most about Lehovin Ulehaskil is that Rabbi Gevirtz does not talk down to the reader. Rather the answer to these questions are approached on an intellectual level, with clear and detailed answers that are well suited for adults, both those unfamiliar with the basic tenets of Judaism, and for those well versed in the subject. In addition, Rabbi Gevirtz does not shy away from 'touchy' subjects such as why Jews reject the Xtian messiah.

In addition, throughout he does not give one simple, pat answer to each question. Rather he delves into the variety of opinions that exist within Judaism, and explains where each answer was derived, how it was developed, and what the totality of the answers mean in regard to Judaism as a whole. With tact and sincerity, Rabbi Gevirtz has answered a host of questions. His answers provide both spiritual guidance and insights into what it means to be Jewish, and along the way he shows that a Torah-observant lifestyle is as relevant today and it has always been!

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