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The Secrets of the Stars: The significance of the night sky to the Jewish people and the world Hardcover – December 9, 2011
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The main barrier for a general reader is that the book is written from a strictly orthodox viewpoint. The ashkenazi transliterations are confusing in places ( e.g.. Rus instead of Ruth), but, in most cases, substituting a "t" or "th" for "s" will make the meaning clear. Furthermore, the author pre-supposes that all knowledge stems from Revelation, not from scientific observation and interpretation. Ideas that do not stem directly from the biblical text are explained as the teachings of Adam to all of his descendants ( ie. mankind).
It is unfortunate that this book has been reviewed by a deeply anti-semitic writer who states that this book clearly demonstrates the "pagan origins" of rabbinic ( and hence, modern) judaism. He appears to feel that this is important because his stated agenda is to show that Judaism does not stem from purely God-given revelation, and consequently, Jews should acknowledge Christianity as the true pathway to God. In his other writings he demonstrates an antipathy towards Judaism so extreme, that I am led to wonder about the psychological sources of his preoccupation. Max Dimont convincingly argues in "Jews, God and History", that jews have always strived to absorb the best of the surrounding cultures in which they have lived, while maintaining a core loyalty to biblical ideas. Rabbi Storch's book shows how Babylonian astronomical science was mastered by the rabbis so that they could have a better understanding of the workings of God's Creation. In the same way, some modern rabbis have shown how descriptions of creation in the Zohar anticipate the "Big Bang" Theory. The Talmudic Rabbis and medieval commentators like Ibn Ezra and Maimonides were integrating the science of their day with biblical revelation.
If you buy this book, insist on the first edition. Any subsequent printings may moderate the main thesis since, as it now stands, "The Secrets of the Stars" seriously undermines Orthodox Judaism's carefully cultivated p.r. front as pious adherents of the Old Testament.
In point of fact, the God of Israel execrates astrology, but Orthodox rabbis engage in it anyway. In their hubris, they think they know better than Yahweh.
(Hoffman is the author of "Judaism's Strange Gods: Revised and Expanded")