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Pearls of Wisdom from Rabbi Yehonatan Eybeshitz: Torah Giant, Preacher & Kabbalist
Yehonatan Eybeshitz, trans. from the Polish by Yacov Barber. Gerber’s Miracle, $24.95 trade paper (286p) ISBN 978-0-578-85367-3
These selected biblical commentaries by Polish rabbi Eybeshitz (1696–1764), “one of the greatest Torah scholars of the last 300 years” according to Barber, provide intriguing insights into 18th-century Judaism. The excerpts include brief thoughts on the weekly Torah portions, sections covering Shabbat and Jewish holidays, and the kind of deep analysis beloved by scholars who believe each letter in the Jewish Scriptures has significance. His discussion of the first chapter of Genesis, for instance, focuses on the reason why the word “luminaries,” which appears twice in that chapter, is spelled differently; Eybeshitz concludes the omission of one letter in the first use of the word is intended to signify that the moon (one of the luminaries referenced) is not itself luminous, but only provides reflections of the sun’s light. Also of note are Eybeshitz’s thoughts on a Jewish return to Israel and the influence of Jewish culture in Spain and Portugal. Disappointingly, the rabbi’s views on challenging passages, such as the akedah, or the murderous attack on Moses in Exodus, aren’t included. Those seeking to better understand traditional biblical interpretations will have plenty to chew on. (Self-published)

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on 06/25/2021

Release date 02/01/2021