The Boy on the Door on the Ox: An Unusu­al Spir­i­tu­al Jour­ney Through the Strangest Jew­ish Texts

Mar­tin Samuel Cohen
  • Review
By – January 11, 2012
The sub-title of the book, An Unusu­al Spir­i­tu­al Jour­ney Through the Strangest Jew­ish Texts is appro­pri­ate, but doesn’t ful­ly define the rich­ness of this work. The author, a rab­bi and schol­ar, intro­duces us in a remark­ably unique way, to Mish­na­ic texts. Of all things, he par­tic­u­lar­ly focus­es on the vol­ume of Toharot, which for most of us are archa­ic texts that teach tech­ni­cal­i­ties of puri­ty laws per­tain­ing to ancient Tem­ple times. To most stu­dents of Mish­nah, the char­ac­ters that appear are the­o­ret­i­cal char­ac­ters, there only to rep­re­sent what case law might look like. Rab­bi Cohen, how­ev­er, is able to imag­ine the char­ac­ters as real peo­ple, visu­al­iz­ing the his­tor­i­cal con­texts in which they lived, and invit­ing us to see far more than archa­ic laws. Through his eyes, we are able to dig through detailed laws to rec­og­nize deep philo­soph­i­cal teach­ings that the Mish­nah mere­ly hints at. Includes exten­sive bib­li­o­graph­ic notes.
Rab­bi Arnold D. Sam­lan is a Jew­ish edu­ca­tor and rab­bi liv­ing in Mia­mi, Flori­da. He serves as exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Orloff Cen­tral Agency for Jew­ish Edu­ca­tion of Broward County.

Discussion Questions