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This is the second volume of Shira Smiles' commentaries on the five Books of Moses, the Torah; the first, on Genesis, was published in 2010. This book of eleven chapters focuses on the eleven Exodus portions read weekly in synagogues. She spices her writings with delightful stories. She offers her readers one approach to the interpretation of Torah, that of the ultra-Orthodox. However, even readers who might disagree with her worldview, will find her well-written and well-researched presentations interesting, informative, and thought provoking.
For example, as I wrote in my review of her book on Genesis, "there are two different ways to interpret the Torah, the ways of Maimonides (1138-1204) and Nachmanides (1194-1270). The former was convinced that God created the world, did so well, and that no corrective measures are necessary. God left the world to function according to the laws of nature. This does not mean, Maimonides wrote, that God could not change nature; it means that God chose not to do so. Nachmanides disagreed. Nachmanides felt that one of the greatest Torah secrets is that God is involved in earthly matters daily, there are constant miracles every second, no leaf or snowflake falls unless God makes it move."
Shira Smiles, a well-respected teacher and lecturer in Israel, takes the Nachmanidean approach; she is convinced that God interferes daily in human activity. She writes: We "yearn for Hashem (God) to liberate our minds, bodies and souls from this chaotic world." She is convinced, for example, that God interfered and forced the Israelites to worship the golden calf while Moses was on the mountain obtaining the two tablets of the Decalogue from God.Read more ›
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