The Jewish Eye
Birkas Hachaim: The Wonders of Our Body
The Wonders of Our Body
By Michal Stein and Devorah Kroizer
Illustrated by Motti Heller
Feldheim Publishers, (2009)
Reviewed by Anna Dogole - February 2, 2010
The human body is, without a doubt, a marvel. In Birkas Hachaim: The Wonders of Our Body, by Michal Stein and Devorah Kroizer, children and adults alike can discover what makes the human body such a miraculous machine, and the truly marvelous gift that the bodies that HaShem has given us really are. This book is also designed to teach readers the segulah of saying the bracha (blessing) Asher Yatzar, which thanks HaShem for creating our bodies, in order to help maintain the health of the body and to help the body recover from illness or injury. According to the Chofetz Chaim ztz'l, for this segulah to work as a curative, the bracha of Asher Yatzar needs to be said on a regular basis and with the right Kavanah (devotion), and said slowly and with concentration. To that end, the complete text of the Birkas Asher Yatzar, in Hebrew and in English translation, are included in the book.
The book itself is part story book, part religious text, and partly a textbook on the human body - all designed with young readers in mind. As the book opens, we meet Dudi, who quickly learns that having something special, such as a bag of candy, is not always the blessing it appears to be at first glance! Soon after, Dudi faints and is quickly rushed to the hospital. When he awakens his friend Shuki teaches him about the segulah (an action that shows our treasured relationship with HaShem) of saying the bracha Asher Yatzar. From there, Dudi and Shuki embark upon a thrilling adventure where they learn all about the human body and how it works.
In a kid-friendly manner, the book starts with the bare basics, such as what cells, genes, and chromosomes are, before moving on to more complex topics such as what dreams are and why we have them. The information in this book is organized by topics such as the ear and hearing, vocal cords, muscles, blood platelets and white blood cells, the heart and blood, etc.
Throughout this book includes fascinating and colorful illustrations by Motti Heller which will provide hours of edifying entertainment in their own right. As well, the illustrations expand upon the information provided in the text, giving readers the opportunity to visualize various concepts such as how the tongue senses various tastes, and which areas of the tongue are able to identify the various tastes like salty, sweet, sour, and bitter. In addition, scattered throughout the text, the authors have included activities for the children that will help them to better understand and appreciate the wonders of the human body. As well, brief stories and excerpts from the sages, religious texts, and similar sources have been included that help to expand upon our understanding of just what a wonderful gift HaShem has given to us in the form of our bodies, and how we can use our bodies to thank him for this gift through the performance of mitzvot, prayers, and deeds.
Birkas Hachaim: The Wonders of Our Body is a fascinating book to read, even from an adult's viewpoint. It is even more momentous from the viewpoint of children just learning about their bodies and what makes them work. In addition to being an outstanding science text, this is a book that is filled with Yiddishkeit and which will help to instill in readers a greater appreciation for HaShem's wisdom and what he does for us every day! As well, this book does readers a great service by teaching them about the segulah of saying the bracha of Asher Yatzar, for health or when recovering from an illness.
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