Saturday, December 17, 2011

Book Review: "Truths Desired by God" by Meir Tamari

While the last few decades have seen a wonderful outpouring of excellent English works on the Torah itself, there is very little available on the weekly Haftarah reading. Dr. Meir Tamari's new book, Truths Desired by God, does an excellent job filling this gap. On each Haftara reading, Dr. Tamari has prepared a stimulating essay summarizing the major themes of the reading, how it relates to the Torah reading of the week, and presenting a wide range of commentaries taken from the full range of Jewish tradition. He cites major medieval authorities, such as Maimonides and Abarbanel, as well as more recent works, including chassidic commentaries, R' Samson Raphael Hirsch, and R' Kook. Dr. Tamari does not just compile sources for us; he also introduces us to the geographic, political, and economic realities of the periods in which the prophets functioned and helps us understand the broader implications of their words.

My only complaints on the book are the lack of an index (an index of verses and sources cited would be especially useful) and the fact that the table of contents does not inform us of the Scriptural source of each haftara. This means that if you are looking for his discussion of a particular Scriptural passage, you will need to consult another reference to find out which haftara it is in.

However, these are very minor complaints. Overall, Truths Desired by God is an excellent work that will be read with interest by any serious student or teacher of Scripture. Even experienced scholars will find these essays to be useful.

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