The Every­day Torah

Rab­bi Bradley Shav­it Arson
  • Review
By – January 11, 2012
The audi­ence for The Every­day Torah is the layper­son — Jew­ish and non-Jew­ish— who wish­es to gain insights, pri­mar­i­ly psy­cho­log­i­cal in nature, from each of our week­ly Torah read­ings. Rab­bi Art­son pro­vides three astute and spir­i­tu­al essays for each week­ly read­ing. I imag­ine that the num­ber three was cho­sen so that a con­gre­gant could read one essay per parasha per year, thus mak­ing The Every­day Torah com­pat­i­ble with a tri­en­ni­al Torah read­ing cycle and eas­i­ly acces­si­ble to mod­ern atten­tion spans. The ques­tions and pos­si­ble actions that we are left with at the con­clu­sion of each essay are stim­u­lus for extend­ed thought. They are always Torah-based with com­men­tary usu­al­ly from Rab­binic sources. Art­son mas­ter­ful­ly explains and inter­prets these often sub­tle and obscure texts so that the wis­dom of the clas­sic rab­bis becomes intel­li­gi­ble to the mod­ern read­er. I was curi­ous as to why Rab­bi Art­son chose not to write essays for the last parasha. Two pos­si­bil­i­ties came to mind: since the last parasha is read only on Sim­chat Torah, most rab­bis do not deliv­er a drash on that day. Or is this indica­tive of our reluc­tance to deal with issues of death (the death of Moses in this chap­ter is the locus clas­si­cus for our death rit­u­als). That aside, the fact that a major pub­lish­ing house, McGraw Hill, chose to issue this book speaks for its poten­tial impor­tance and relevance.
Stu­art Kel­man is the Found­ing Rab­bi of Con­gre­ga­tion Netiv­ot Shalom in Berke­ley, CA and the Dean of the Gam­liel Institute.

Discussion Questions