10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2004
I've been using this book for years and have always found it readable, scholarly, impartial (as among the different branches of Judaism), and comprehensive. Although that remains my opinion, I was recently shocked to discover a significant error--the article on Rabbi Eliezer (p. 143) tells the famous and philosophically fascinating Talmudic story of Rabbi Eliezer's dispute with an authoritative group of colleagues over a point of law. Jacobs says that "Rabbi Eliezer held fast to his opinion even against ... a voice that came from heaven." In fact, the original Talmudic story (found at Bava Metzia 59b) recounts that the heaveny voice (G-d) was invoked by Rabbi Eliezer and said to the other rabbis (from the Steinsaltz translation) 'Why are you [disputing] with Rabbi Eliezer, for the [law] is in accordance with him everywhere?" Notwithstanding this error, the only one I have come across in many hours with this book, I heartily recommend it.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Rabbi Louis Jacobs was a man of immense Jewish learning and understanding. This volume is rich in information about Jewish religious concepts, practices, sources of learning and even historical phenomena. At one time I carried this dictionary with me everywhere and whenever I had an opportunity would read or two entries and felt I had truly learned something.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2007
I have had this alphabetically ordered compendium of ideas and names for some years now and am grateful for it every time I dip into it. It is definitely one of the several books I would take were I to have to live on a desert island. Rabbi Jacobs was obviously a profound scholar and a very fair judge. He includes matter that a less open mind would shun, but does so circumspectly and in a way that opens windows to new vistas to explore should one see fit. It is very easy to use and read and will be a great personal resource.