Seforimchatter Blog

These Two Books will Make You Go Pro with Your Shofar

by Mordechai Djavaheri Teka b’Shofar There are lots of videos and guides out there about how to blow shofar. I know, because I was tasked with teaching a course on practical Halacha last Elul zeman and had just the summer to learn how. I watched and read practically everything available in English and Hebrew on the internet, but I didn’t get anywhere until I discovered Rav Avrohom Reit’s videos on All Daf and his books Teka BeShofar, Mastering Shofar Blowing and EZ Shofar: Everyone’s How-to Guide. Rav Reit runs Camp Yoreh Deah, where many practical topics like shofar, shechitah, safrut, and matzah baking are taught, and he has been teaching and perfecting shofar blowing for many years, among his other skills. His books offer clear descriptions and directions that bring the mitzvot in your hand to life. Teka BeShofar has everything you need to become a professional shofar blower, from the basics to the pro tips and tricks, FAQ’s, and troubleshooting. He has great charts that apply the complicated rules of when to go back for mistakes in blowing, describes the various styles of each sound, and gives solid purchasing advice. His second book on the topic, EZ Shofar is the quick starter, condensed version of the former, with more pictures and basics. It’s all about posture, breathing, and blowing. I read both cover to cover, got my hands on a few different shofarot (I went shopping a couple times), practiced in yeshiva late at night for a month, and

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Practical Sephardic Hilchot Niddah Books, a Survey

Reviewed by Mordechai Djavaheri In honor of the publishing of the new volume of Yalkut Yosef – Yalkut Taharah, it’s worthwhile review the practical Niddah sefarim options to ensure we have the right books for the right reader. Rabbis and students also reach out to me periodically seeking recommendations and guidance for which Hilchot Niddah book to use for Sephardic Chattanim and Kallot. Here are some contemporary Hilchot Niddah Seforim for Sepharadim: Important factors to keep in mind are: If any readers would like to offer further information, please do so below in the comments section! 1.   Taharat HaBayit Hacham Ovadia Yosef Taharat HaBayit is Hacham Ovadia’s classic three-volume compendium covering much of Hilchot Niddah with extensive footnotes in his usual style. His general style is to determine and juggle the view of Shulchan Aruch, any conflicting Minhagim, and the stance of the majority of Poskim. Stringencies are left to the individual to adopt privately: the public needs to be informed of the actual, basic halacha, and avenues for further leniency must be established for when they are warranted. The halachot on top are called “Taharat HaBayit,” and the footnotes are called “Mishmeret Taharah.” This is not comprehensive in that it does not cover every or even most cases but rather, only a selection of major halachot in detail. Every Avrech in Kollel must own this sefer, but not people who are not going to be learning the sugyot of Niddah inside. The newest edition has shoulder notes for the footnotes and a new

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Reviewed by Rabbi Moshe Maimon and The SeforimChatter Podcast Blog staff The Kabbalistic Tree is a groundbreaking work that opens to the general public the hitherto unexplored genre of the Ilan, a roll containing diagrams of the intra-divine process, a sort of road map to the kabbalistic universe. The book travels through the various periods in the development of the Ilan: from the classical period in the Middle Ages, with its relatively simple, uncluttered picture of the Ten Sefirot, through the later Lurianic period, when the discovery of the holographic Parzufim (Personae) produced a proliferation of graphics, a virtual explosion. The author, the Sir Isaac Wolfson Professor of Jewish Thought at the University of Haifa, brings to the table his own extensive background in both theoretical Kabbalah (what he calls the “mathematics” of the Ilan) and art history, and his skill in both fields is on full display as he deftly guides the reader through the labyrinth of exhibits that make up this fantastical museum of kabbalistic history and art.  The volume is particularly rich in high quality color facsimiles of many of the vast array of manuscripts that contributed to this groundbreaking study, and a good number of them are produced to size in full-length foldouts which are of great help in appreciating the fine detail in these manuscript drawings. Of further bio-bibliographical interest; interspersed in the narrative are biographical sketches of kabbalists who contributed to the development of the Ilan in one way or another. The history of the Ilan is in many ways the history of Kabbalistic development

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Book Review: Kahal Hashem, Petzua Daka Im Biurei Refua קהל ה’, פצוע דכא עם ביאורי רפואה

Reviewed by Mordechai Djavaheri  The Torah prohibits a man with mutilated reproductive organs from marrying into the Jewish community, a Mitzvah called Petzua Daka and Chrut Shofchah. Rabbi Dr. Ernest Agatstein, MD FACS and Rabbi Mordechai Lebhar recently put out a sefer on the practical applications of Petzua Daka called Kahal Hashem.  Rabbi Dr. Agatstein is an experienced urologist and founder of West Coast Urology, a division of Genesis Health, with many cycles of giving the Daf Yomi shiur under his white coat, and Rabbi Mordechai Lebhar is the Rosh Kollel of LINK Kollel in LA and head of Magen Avot publishing house. The sefer is a great introduction to the field of urology as it pertains to halachic issues of Petzua Daka, including helpful charts and diagrams, medical terms and explanations, and the application of halacha to various common situations, disorders, illnesses, surgeries, etc. Shitot of Rishonim and Acharonim take on new light, as one begins to understand where all these tangled wires in our bodies are going. For example: My impression is that even the experienced posek does not face these shaylahs on a regular or even annual basis, and, when he does, he needs a go to reference that can explain the various halachot and relevant medicine. Understanding the status change incurred or not incurred by performing certain surgeries, preference in halachic medical decision making, and guidance for families is invaluable. Understanding the science of testicular torsion, prostate surgeries, sperm extraction, varicocele, vasectomy, vasovasostomy, and more is

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Book Review: Words For The Wise by Mitchell First (Kodesh Press, 2022)

Reviewed by Rabbi Moshe Maimon, Jackson, NJ I have never had the pleasure of meeting Mitchell First personally but after spending a good few hours with his new volume, Words for the Wise, it almost seems like I have known him for years. Mitchell writes openly and candidly, often including personal anecdotes and observations. Tellingly, he concludes his articles with his signature flourish; always a whimsical self-observation that somehow ties in humorously with the theme of the article. Mitchell, clearly a knowledgeable and well-read individual, has a wide variety of interests and appears to be at home in an equally wide spectrum of Jewish disciplines. Significantly, his witty and informal writing style lays bare the workings of his active mind in an inviting and comfortable way. The book meanders leisurely through lessons in Jewish history, from the ancient to the recent, weaving observations on minhag and halachah with insights into Hebrew language and liturgy. Indeed, as the title of this volume would indicate, a main focus of First’s is the Hebrew language, and the other courses as well are typically offered with a side of linguistic appetizer. The reader need not fear getting bogged down in overly technical etymological discussions, however, as our author has a keen practical sense and engaging style, and he is endowed with that uncommon knack for presenting even arcane topics clearly, cogently, and compellingly. The following summary of an article (pp. 83-86) dealing with the battle between the Israelites and the Amalekites, recounted at the

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Review of Makkabim Aleph מקבים א

By Shimmy Davis In this post, I would like to review a Chanukah-related work, which was published several years ago by Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Charitan of Jerusalem. Makkabim Aleph and Makkabim Beis Makkabim Aleph, also known as Sefer Chashmonaim or the book of Maccabees, was originally written in Hebrew around the beginning of the reign of the Hasmonean ruler John Hyrcanus (Yochanan Kohen Gadol), approximately 129 BCE (3631), and was translated into Greek shortly afterwards.[1] Although the Hebrew original is lost to us today, we know that it was originally written in Hebrew based on the fact that it’s written in the style of the biblical books, as well as the fact that the early Christian historians Origen and Eusibius describe a Hebrew original. The Greek translation was preserved in the Septuagint (Targum Hashivim), and later translated into Latin and Syriac together with the other books of the Septuagint. Although there is a Maccabees 1 and a Maccabees 2, these are not two volumes of one book, rather they are two separate accountings of the events of the same period. Maccabees 1 was originally written in Hebrew in the land of Israel, and relates the history of the Jews living in Israel from 175 BCE until 134 BCE. Maccabees 2 was originally written in Greek in Egypt, and it is an abridgment of an earlier 5-part historical work written by a certain Jason of Cyrene (Libya), and relates the history of the Jews living in Israel from 176 BCE until

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