The Jewish Eye
A Guide to Basic Principles of Jewish Law and Their Applications in Theory and in Practice
By Rabbi Mordechai Katz
Feldheim Paperback Library, 2011
Reviewed by Boris Segel - November 18, 2011
Lishmor V'Laasos ('to observe and to do [the laws]') was written by Rabbi Mordechai Katz, the founder of the Jewish Education Program (JEP). This book is intended to give the reader a general overview of the basic principles of Jewish dinim (laws) and mitzvos (commandments) and how these laws are implemented in a day to day basis. The book is designed for use by students, teachers, Kiruv workers, and those simply interested in learning about the fundamental of Judaism and Jewish law.
The organization of this book is unique. If you are familiar with most Jewish versions of the Chumush (Five Books of Moses), you find that the top half of the page is devoted to the text of the Bible, and the bottom portion of each page is given over to commentaries on the text. Lishmor V'Laasos takes a similar tact. However, instead of commentaries on the bottom portion of this page, in this book you will find inspirational stories and 'quotations from the sages' that illustrate the information presented in the text at the top of each page. The informational part of this text is primarily concerned with daily and commonly performed mitzvos such as those concerned with Tefillah (prayers), Tzitzis, Tefillin, Brochos (blessings) Kashus (keeping kosher), Tzedakah (charity) Bris Milah (circumcision), Mezuzah, and more.
Throughout, Rabbi Katz clearly explains what the basic laws are, how they are performed, and the mental attitude that you should have when performing these mitzvos. Lishmor V'Laasos will instill in you a basic understanding of the most common mitzvos, but this is not a comprehensive text - nor is it meant to be. Rather it is designed to exemplify the practical application of Jewish law and how adhering to these laws will strengthen a person's faith. This book is also designed to provide the reader with a solid foundation for further study, inquiry, and practice of the mitzvos and dinim.
I found Lishmor V'Laasos to be an informative and inspirational book. The stories were especially moving and fun to read, and they enhanced the material being studied. Also included is a glossary of non-English words and terms found in the book. This book is also ideal for use as a teaching aid, for those educating both high school aged students, and adults.
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- Gateway to Judaism, by Rabbi Mordechai Becher.
The What, How, and Why of Jewish Life - A concise, and readable introduction to Judaism that covers all facets of Jewish life from keeping the Sabbath to studying Torah.
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