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WorldPerfect: The Jewish Impact on Civilization Paperback – September 3, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Simcha Press (September 3, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0757300561
  • ISBN-13: 978-0757300561
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #702,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Ken Spiro is a rabbi and dynamic lecturer. He holds a Master of Arts degree in history and a bachelor of arts degree in Russian language and literature. He developed the acclaimed seminar "WorldPerfect: The Jewish Impact on Civilization," which brings Jewish history alive for thousands of people each year.

More About the Author

Ken Spiro is a Senior Lecturer and Researcher for Aish HaTorah's Discovery Seminar. In addition, he is a licensed tour guide from the Israel Ministry of Tourism. Ken Spiro graduated from Vassar College with a BA in Russian Language and Literature and did graduate studies at the Pushkin Institute in Moscow. He has an MA in History from The Vermont College of Norwich University and Rabbinic Ordination from Yeshiva Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television programs such as B.B.C. Radio and TV., The National Geographic Channel, The History Channel, Discovery Channel, 4 England and Arutz Sheva-Israel National Radio. He is the author of WorldPerfect - The Jewish Impact on Civilization published by HCI books and Crash Course in Jewish History published by Targum Press. His writings and seminars can be accessed on www.aish.com.

Born and raised in the U.S. Rabbi Spiro has lived in Israel since 1982. He served in a combat infantry unit in the IDF and currently lives in Givat Zeev with his wife and five children.

For more information visit: www.kenspiro.com

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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This page turner is much more than just a plain history book.
A Reader
A readable, flowing, coherent collection of history with observations which form what can only be described as a compelling and logical conclusion.
Maurie Rosenberg
Rabbi Ken Spiro's book is packed with world history, yet it reads very smoothly and easily.
Andrew Gold

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Gary Selikow on January 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
In this remarkable work, Ken Spiro takes us through four thousand years of history to show how the ethical and moral values that are held dear in the West, such as respect for human life, social responsibility, political pluralism, peaceful co-existence, tradition, family etc, all originate from the Jewish civilization, which grew up in Israel, and gave the world the Bible. The Torah says the Jews need to be ' A Light Among The Nations'.
He begins by taking us through a tour of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, which are often credited with being the predecessors of Western civilization, and shows us a rather horrific picture of how a lot of what they believed and practiced was quite antithetical to Judeo-Christian values.
Hence we learn about the nastier side these ancient civilizations and the wide scale acceptance and practice, defended by Plato, Aristotle and company of such things as infanticide, sexual abuse of children woman abuse, and extreme sexual depravity, as well as the total disregard for welfare of the poor or equal justice.
He then shows us how the Torah and the teachings of Ancient Israel enshrined respect for life, peace, justice, education, family and social welfare.
Through a history of the Jewish people, and religion, as well as the values enshrined therein.
What follows is an account of the Christian and Islamic faiths, which Judaism gave birth to, and their histories and attitudes to humanity etc.
Finally as we journey through time, we learn of the impact of Judaism on modern democracy.
He also shows how secular philosophies such as Communism and Humanism; leave much to be desired, because there morality is subjective, unlike the absolute truth given to us by our creator, enshrined in religious morality.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Gold on November 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
Rabbi Ken Spiro's book is packed with world history, yet it reads very smoothly and easily. Ken has a real gift for cutting to the core and presenting a few key ideas with utmost precision. He is funny, engaging, and always clear.
Make no mistake about it, this book is a real breakthrough. I found the book so inspiring that I purchased a copy (luckily signed by Ken) for a Chanukah present for everyone in my family. As we approach Chanukah and the celebration of the victory of Jewish values over Greek hedonism, WorldPerfect helps fill in big gaps in our knowledge of Jewish history and the Jewish impact on the world.
Ken came to San Francisco to give a video presentation based on WorldPerfect. I told him that his book and lecture were so good that they had inspired me to quit my high tech job in San Francisco and go study with Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAME on December 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
Although modern Western society inherited most of its culture from the Greco-Roman civilization, the same cannot be said about its values, ethics and principles. In this book Spiro explores the Jewish contribution to Western civilization with regard to Respect for human life, Peace and harmony, Justice and equality, Education, Family and Social responsibility. This is done by investigating the four millennia of the economic and political evolution of the West.

In part one, the author acknowledges the debt we owe to Greece and Rome in the fields of art, philosophy, science, law and government. Then he shows the ugly underside of those civilizations, which involved widespread infanticide, murder as entertainment, inequality, misogyny, contempt for the poor, illiteracy amongst the masses and the glorification of war. Even Aristotle (in his Politics) and Seneca (in Controversiae) condoned and justified infanticide.

In part two Spiro presents the Jewish view of the above. The Torah teaches the value of the individual, the sanctity of life, justice for all, decent treatment of slaves, emphasis on charity and social responsibility. Judaism also encouraged literacy and throughout the Old Testament a longing for peace is expressed.

The next chapter addresses the question of how these Jewish ideas came to exert such a powerful influence, since Israel was a tiny nation and not an empire like Greece or Rome. The author discusses Abraham and the Law that is based on an absolute standard, not on human reason alone. The exodus, the Babylonian exile, the Persian period and Hellenism are also covered here. The clash of Greco-Roman values with Judaism is discussed in detail. This ultimately led to the destruction of the temple and the Diaspora.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By David Oldacre on December 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
I ordered this book after reading Rabbi Spiro's "Crash Course on Jewish History" on the AISH.com site as well two other books recommended by him. I decided to read it before the others because I thought it might be better to get a good overview on the contribution of the Jewish people to modern society before moving on to a more detailed book on Jewish History. I am happy to have done so, because it certainly prepared me for reading Paul Johnson's "History of the Jews", and it's a book which is easy on the eyes to read. It was useful to read again after I had finished Johnson's book. I think that the two books complement one another quite well.

Parts I to III, which comprise roughly two thirds of the book, compare and contrast the laws and ethics of the societies of the Ancient World with those of the Jewish state
Part IV which is much briefer, deals with the 1200 years from acceptance of Christianity by the Roman Emperor Constantine, the rise of Islam in Asia and North Africa, to the Reformation.
Part V, the final section on the impact of Judaism on the modern democracies is, of course, the most important part of the book.
Rabbi Spiro's thesis is that it was the Puritans and their descendants with their strong belief in the word of the Bible, and particularly the Old Testament, who laid the foundation for ensuring that the ethics of the Mosaic law would be so strongly embedded in the laws of modern democracies.
Although I was certainly aware of the Puritan's belief in the word of the Bible, it simply had not occurred to me that the Old Testament was perhaps of more significance to them than the New Testament, or that the influence of Mosaic Law was so strongly embedded in the American Constitution.
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