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Understanding Judaism: The Basics of Deed and Creed Paperback – September 1, 1992


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 374 pages
  • Publisher: Jason Aronson, Inc. (September 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0876682913
  • ISBN-13: 978-0876682913
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #535,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Rabbi Blech's book is one that every Jew should read. Even Jews who are very knowledgeable with regard to their ancestral faith will find in it new insights that deal with aspects of the tradition of which one might have thought that nothing new could besaid. Only a rabbi who is at one and the same time an inspiring spiritual leader of an active congregation of committed Jews, and a master teacher of college students searching for their spiritual roots, could so skillfully combine in his presentation ofJudaism so much that can open the eyes of the latter and deepen the delight of the learned in that which they fathomed only superficially... (Rabbi Emanuel Rackman)

For more than a generation, Yeshiva University's James Striar School has been an acknowledged pioneer in Ba'al Teshuvah (return to Judaism) education. Rabbi Benjamin Blech has been a mainstay of that program and has done yeoman work in illuminating the basic principles and creed of Judaism. This volume, a compilation of his thoughts and teachings, brings his erudition, sensitivity, and insights to those seeking to grow in their appreciation of the truths of the Torah. (Dr. Norman Lamm)

Rabbi Blech's book is one that every Jew should read. Even Jews who are very knowledgeable with regard to their ancestral faith will find in it new insights that deal with aspects of the tradition of which one might have thought that nothing new could be said. Only a rabbi who is at one and the same time an inspiring spiritual leader of an active congregation of committed Jews, and a master teacher of college students searching for their spiritual roots, could so skillfully combine in his presentation of Judaism so much that can open the eyes of the latter and deepen the delight of the learned in that which they fathomed only superficially. (Rabbi Emanuel Rackman)

About the Author

Rabbi Benjamin Blech holds a masters degree in psychology from Columbia University, and has written nine books on Judaism, including three as part of the highly popular Idiot's Guide series (one of which was cited by Larry King as "a piece of art"). He has taught at Yeshiva University since 1966, and has received the American Educator of the Year award. A tenth-generation rabbi, Blech is a frequent lecturer in Jewish communities around the world. He has appeared on national television (including The Oprah Winfrey Show), and writes regularly for major newspapers and journals. He was recently ranked #16 in a listing of the 50 most influential Jews in America. Born in Zurich, Rabbi Blech lives in Manhattan with his wife Elaine.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Len on August 31, 2005
Format: Paperback
It's subtitle, "The Basics of Deed and Creed" indicates one of its purposes; to compare/contrast Judaism, in a non-pejorative way, with Christianity. Judaism is more about what someone DOES rather than about what he believes; not that belief is unimportant. The sense is that belief is important mainly as an impulse to righteous behavior rather than in and of itself.

Understanding Judaism is, along with Rabbi Irving Greenberg's "The Jewish Way," and Moshe Chayim Luzatto's "The Way of God," one the best introductions to Jewish theology available for the general reader.

One of the best ways to illustrate is content is to list some of its provocative chapter titles: If You Had to Choose Only One Mitzvah, There Are No Ten Commandments, Why Were the Ten Given?, Why Did God Give Us Two Tablets?, Who Comes First, Man or God?, Why is God First on the Tablets?, Enjoy Life on this Earth, Does God Care About Non-Jews?, The Source of the Seven Universal Laws, The Thirteen Fundamentals of Belief, Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?, Can we "Prove" God's Existence?, Who is Satan?, Do We Really Have Free Will?, Does God Speak to Man?, Are We Close to the Time of the Messianic Era?

With all the existing controversy about posting the Ten Commandments in a public place, few people can even name them. Rabbi Blech not only lucidly explains their meaning and inherant structure, put points out that there are three different versions -- Roman Catholic, Protestant and Jewish -- and compares the versions in his chapter, "Why Did God Give Us Two Tablets?" This chapter contains the best such comprehensive discussion of the Ten Commandments that I know of.

I am confident that everyone who reads this book will thank me for recommending it.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By J. F. de Wolff on February 17, 1998
Format: Paperback
Starting from the Ten Commandements and the Thirteen Principles of Faith rabbi Blech gives a very clear and inspiring overview of Jewish "theology" and view of life. A must read for people who want to know more about Judaism. Enjoyed every moment of it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By People of the Book on June 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
Any person interested in Judaism, spirituality or reiligion in general should read this book. This book is filled pearls of wisdom. Not too much, yet not too little. Rabbi Blech has made difficult concepts easy to understand. I give it *****

If need something that is even easier. You can read Rabbi Blech's "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Judaism" which is based on this book and as an "idiot's guide" is very well layed out.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Paul Medus on March 13, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rabbi Benjamin Blech's Understanding Judaism is a clear yet highly readable approach to understanding the principles of Judaism. Using concrete examples to illustrate the meaning behind abstract ideas, Understanding Judaism becomes a living document filled with common sense wisdom that everyone, not just Jews, can appreciate. If you are a wayward Jew, this is an excellent book to lead you back. If you are a Christian seeking to know the difference between Judaism and Christianity, there can be no clearer presentation, void of negative criticism. This is not a spiritual document, but rather an intellectual discourse on the reasoning behind Jewish actions. Deeds--what you do with your life--is the measure with which Jews are evaluated. This book should certainly be in every Jewish home library.

Thought Passion Action
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Harris on August 30, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent study text. Author does not assume you know everything already, but does not patronize, either. Easy to read and understand without glossing over the difficult concepts. Insightful--and occasional--comparison and contrast with Christianity aids comprehension. The scriptures were written to people of the time who understood the idiomatic expressions and cultural references; westerners often don't, and Christians rarely do. This book helps fill in some of that missing information, and the reader may anticipate frequent "ah ha!!" moments.The author writes with an unfortunate and inaccurate bias that assumes the Catholic Church is the best example of all Christianity. Once past that, this book is to be highly recommended for those who wish to better understand their own ethnic and/or spiritual roots whether Jewish or Christian.
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