The Jewish Eye
Torah News U Can Use
Torah News U Can Use:
I Didn't Know That!
By Joe Bobker
Gefen Publishing House: Jerusalem and New York, (2007 / 5767)
Reviewed by Anna Dogole - July 6, 2007
Torah News U Can Use: I Didn't Know That! is an outstanding collection of questions and answers that you'll not only find edifying, but entertaining as well. This book was written by Joe Bobker, who studied at the Mercaz haRav Kook Yeshiva in Jerusalem and who served as the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the Los Angeles Jewish Times. Torah News U Can Use serves as an introduction to Yiddishkeit (Jewishness) and as a reference guide that provides keen insights on a wealth of subjects from Torah and Talmud to Jewish History, Halacha (Law), and culture.
The text is written in a basic question and answer format, with the questions followed directly by their corresponding answers. Some of the questions are comical, others are more serious, and all are edifying. Bobker's answers are Torah-based, informative, and they will encourage you to study these subjects in greater depth. A sampling of the eclectic range of questions, to which your find answers in this book, include:
These Q & A's are organized alphabetically, primarily by the main topic in each question. For example, the question "How do we know a minyan requires ten Jews?" is alphabetized under the term Minyan. In other cases, the questions (along with their corresponding answers) are alphabetized by a critical term or aspect found in the answer. For example, "We're expecting our first child. What obligations do we, as parents, have?" can be found under the term Growing Pains.
- Is it ok to be rich?
- Does the Talmud advocate killing idolaters?
- How many Temples have there been?
- Will I go mad if I study kabbala?
- Are Jews allowed to extradite Jews from the Land of Israel?
- How often should I check my mezuza?
- When was the Talmud (Shas) Printed in America for the first time?
- Are there any Jewish laws that impede giving up parts of Israel?
- Are ostriches kosher?
- Can I lie for a worthy cause?
"Wait a minute, isn't that a confusing way to organizing this book?" In a way yes, but that is one of the joys of this book. Torah News U Can Use is not a book that is meant to be read from cover to cover. Rather it is a book to skim through, to jump around, and to flip through until something catches your eye and draws you in - to explore, to learn, and to widen your knowledge of all things Jewish! However, if you are looking for a specific topic, and don't want to explore the text to find your answer, just consult the book's index. It will help guide you directly to the Q & A you are looking for.
Bobker's answers are witty and his explanations are informative without being the least bit academic or condescending. This book will fascinate and educate readers of all ages who are just discovering their own Jewishness or who are seeking to learn something new, as well as those that already thought they knew it all!
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- 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.
- From Fasting to Feasting: A Unique Journey Through the Jewish Holidays, by Joe Bobker.
A vibrant, educational, and humourous overview of the Jewish holidays, with insights into how they are celebrated, as well as associated customs, history, and religious significance.
- Pirkei Avos with a Twist of Humor, by Joe Bobker.
This book takes readers on an insightful and humor-filled journey through the Pirkei Avos (Sayings of Our Sages) that is filled with lots of information about Jewish history, culture, ethics, and law - as well as with a wide assortment of jokes and whimsical musings on Jewish ethics.
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