The Jewish Eye
The Torah Revolution
The Torah Revolution
Fourteen Truths That Changed the World
By Rabbi Reuven Hammer, PhD
Jewish Lights Publishing, 2011, 219 pages
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - October 31, 2011
Rabbi Dr. Reuven Hammer is the author of many scholarly books written in a popular, easy to read, and informative style. In this volume, he discusses fourteen truths that underlie many teachings, laws, and stories contained in the Hebrew Bible, truths that have been accepted by many cultures and changed the thinking and behaviors of many societies. He quotes the Bible sections that inspired the truths and cites many authorities that confirm what he is saying. "My intent, then, in writing this book" he tells us, "was to discover and explore those core concepts on which the original religion of Israel was based, as expressed in the Torah."
He writes that it is true that the Torah's new concepts were not fully implemented in the past: "Sometimes that took generations, and sometimes there were retreats from the purity of these ideas. Some have yet to fully realized." But the concepts are there in the Torah, and little by little, societies are coming to recognize these truths and implementing them. What are they?
- Only one God exists. God is eternal, without physical needs, just, and merciful.
- There is no supernatural evil force in the world.
- God expects people to act properly. Ritual is secondary to right conduct.
- God does not need sacrifices. Worship helps people, not God.
- Human life is sacred.
- All people are equal.
- Men and women are equal.
- Humans have free will and can choose their actions.
- Human leaders are subordinate to the laws of God.
- Priests and Levites have no special powers and no secret knowledge.
- Land and wealth should be distributed equitably.
- Slavery of all kinds should be mitigated.
- The needy must be cared for.
- There should be a day of rest for everyone, including animals.
Hammer discusses each of these truths in detail, compares them to the way other societies handled them, tells some of the history of how these ideas developed, and suggests further improvements. Readers will learn much from this book and have a better and deeper appreciation of the Hebrew Bible.
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of seventeen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides. The Orthodox Union (OU) and Yeshiva University publish weekly chapters of Drazin and Wagner's book Let's Study Onkelos on www.ou.org/torah and on firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is http://booksnthoughts.com.
The views expressed in this review/article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Jewish Eye.
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- Entering Torah: Prefaces to the Weekly Torah Portion, by Reuven Hammer.
For the believing Jew today, no less than for those in the past, the study of the weekly Torah portion is a religious experience. Enter into the Torah text with this insightful companion and experience the full impact of the age-old and totally new weekly portion.
- Great Torah Lights from Great Torah Minds, by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman.
In this five-volume set, Rabbi Goodman has incorporated the teachings and wisdom of some of the greatest Torah scholars of all times, including HaRav Pinchas Friedman of Belz, in this innovative and highly accessible commentary on the Chumash.
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