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Wisdom by the Week

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Wisdom by the Week

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Wisdom by the Week
The Weekly Torah Portion as an Inspiration for Thought and Creativity
Edited by Naftali Rothenberg
Distributed by KTAV Publishing House
The Michael Scharf Publication Trust of the Yeshiva University Press, New York & The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-6028-0199-8

Reviewed by Boris Segel - May 14, 2012

There have been countless books published that provided interpretations or overviews of the weekly Torah portion. Some are geared toward specific religious or political philosophies, other server to just provide a general overview of the subject along with some generic insights into the portion. One of the most unique books dealing with the weekly Torah portion is Wisdom by the Week: The Weekly Torah Portion as an Inspiration for Thought and Creativity. As the subtitle suggests, this collection of discourses on the Parshot is geared toward looking at the various Torah portions as a source of creative inspiration. It is also designed to illustrated how individuals in such diverse fields as philosophy and music have garnered inspiration from the pages of the Torah in years past.

Edited by Rabbi Professor Naftali Rothenberg, this volume includes one essay for each of the weekly Torah portions. Most of these essays strive to show how others found inspiration from the Torah text, while also examining the content and meaning of the various portions. For example, in Vayeshev (And Jacob Dwelt), Shimon Gershon Rosenberg (Shagar) essay is entitled, "Joseph the Dreamer: The Imagination According to Rabbi Nahman of Breslov." In this essay he not only looks at the Parsha itself, and at Rabbi Nahman of Breslov's interpretation of the Torah portion, but he also looks at the meaning, function, and power of imagination from the viewpoint of other notable figures such as Rabbi Judah Halevi and Maimonides.

Other contributors to this unique volume include Hagai Dagan, Michael Rosenak, Yehoyada Amir, Benzi Schreiber, Jacob J. Schacter, Tsvia Walden, Gili Zivan, Yossi Turner, Hannah Kasher, Chaniel Farber, to name just a few. Throughout the numerous essays contained in this essential volume, you will find highlights of the creative inspiration derived from the Torah by such famed individuals as Franz Rosenzweig, Professor Judith Plaskow, Emmanual Levinas, Levi ben Gershom, Samson Raphael Hirsch, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Martin Buber, Yitzhak Meir Alter, Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook, Nehama Leibowitz, Moses Ben Nahman (Nahmanides), Moses Mendlssohn, and many more.

Wisdom by the Week is a wonderful addition to the body of works that provide interpretations of the weekly Torah portion. It is a must-have addition to both public and private libraries, and should be read by Jews of every ilk and age.

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