Rav Kook was also a prolific writer and complex thinker who developed a system of understanding the events that were happening to the Jewish people. It was a time of change, HerzI convened the Zionist Congress in Basel, irreligious Zionists were moving to Israel and establishing settlements and kibbutzim. There was a negative reaction from many religious leaders to the young men and women. Darwin's theory and Freud I s new science were gaining popularity and many Jews were drawn further away from a traditional lifestyle. Rav Kook was able to perceive the inner yearnings that accompanied these revolutionary changes. They represented a deep yearning within these young Jews for morality, equality, and justice. They realized that the world was not static but evolved and moved in a positive direction. Rav Kook embraced both Zionism and the young irreligious Zionists. He developed a philosophy that was based on the kabbalistic concept of fusion. The world appears divided; there is a break between heaven and earth, physical and spiritual, politics and religion. But at the heart of it all, everything is fused into a cohesive unit. This is true for the individual, the nation, and all of existence. Rav Kook set about publicizing his theories and spreading his teachings to young thinkers, both religious and secular. This represents the bulk of his voluminous writings. Rav Kook never wrote a book of commentary on the Torah, but he did create a lens through which we can perceive and better understand the Torah. That is the basis for this book.
The Seder (the ceremony of the Passover night) is one of the most universally celebrated rituals among Jewish families, for what it commemorates–Jewish freedom from bondage–is the glue that bonds all Jews together, traditional and modern, Ashkenazic and Sephardic alike. In the Book of Exodus the Jewish people are instructed to tell their children of how God brought the Israelites out of slavery from Egypt, and thousands of years later this timeless tradition remains an immutable factor in Jewish homes on Passover night.
While many commentaries have been written on the Haggadah during the last one thousand years–most delineating the spiritual meaning or the ritual details of the Passover ceremonies–few historical investigations have dealt with texts that are not wholly Ashkenazic. Available for the first time to the reader is a Haggadah that includes the customs and ceremonies of not only Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jewry, but of Yemenite Jews as well. Additionally, the author provides a commentary that not only offers a key to the roots of the Passover ceremonies and an introduction to the thought and practice of talmudic-rabbinic Judaism, but also presents a history of the development of text and practice of the Seder celebration.
While Yemenite Jewry still follows texts and prescriptions of Maimonides practically in their original form, unchanged for at least 800 years, European Ashkenazic and Sephardic practices have undergone many changes. While the history of Yemenite Jews is riddled with oppression and migration, the Moslem rulers of their country never extended their persecutions to Jewish books. On the other hand, the history of European Jews is dominated by
Tales of Elijah the Prophet is a brilliant collection of thirty-seven stories selected by the gifted storyteller, Peninnah Schram. In these intriguing tales, we see Elijah as the master of miracles. His chameleon-like disguises are marvelously clever and numerous, using such diverse poses as an old man, a traveler, a matchmaker, a magician, a slave, and even a handsome horseman. He uses these disguises to heighten suspense and fantasy, to test people's behavior, to restore faith, and to bring about a happy resolution to the problems in the story.
The tales in this wonder-filled volume cover a range of themes and types of Elijah tales. All are miracle stories, but they vary greatly in mood, character, plot, locale, time, and theme. There are religious stories focusing on restoring faith in God and humorous tales that emphasize resourcefulness. Other stories involve Passover, love, and riddle themes.
Peninnah Schram chose thirty-six of these stories, using the Jewish symbolic number of twice eighteen (chai), which is the Hebrew equivalent to "life." And since it is the Jewish custom to add one to a number, perhaps to ensure good luck, she included her favorite story, Elijah and the Three Wishes, in the Introduction.
In addition to the stories in Tales of Elijah the Prophet, this volume includes an informative introduction to the character of Elijah the Prophet that explores his various roles in Jewish life and literature. There are also extensive notes to each story, indicating sources a
Mishkan Moeid, newly revised and updated from the CCAR classic, Gates of the Seasons, this survey of the sacred days of the Jewish yearly cycle provides detailed guidance on observing Shabbat and the Jewish holidays, including historical background, essays, and extensive notes. Mishkan Moeid is perfect for Introduction to Judaism classes and conversion candidates, as well as personal study for those wishing to reconnect or deepen their relationship to Judaism.