In recent years, many books have been published on the weekly Torah readings; the unique feature of this book is its consistent attention to the simple meaning (peshat) of the text, and the breadth of its knowledge (comprehensive exposition with abundant details and multiple opinions), its ability to pick a side in the convoluted web of commentaries, and its honesty (bravely confronting questions and difficulties). Students of Torah who are seeking intellectual, ethical or spiritual challenges will find them in this book.
– Prof. Uriel Simon
A fascinating attempt, in clear and direct language to deal with the question of the Torah’s simple meaning, in the spirit of the teachings of Samuel David Luzzatto, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, and the schools of interpretation and knowledge that surrounded them and ourselves. This is significant, refreshing contribution to the library of books dealing with the weekly Torah readings.
– Prof. Avigdor Shinan
Someone who asks himself what new can possibly be written about weekly Torah portion, will find that this book shows that the paths of interpretation have not been sealed, and it is indeed possible to offer interesting, in-depth readings that integrate old and new, seeking the golden mean between tradition and modernity, between the simple meaning and its meaning. Perhaps the reader will listen most attentively to the moral voice of Torah, the voice of the good character traits we have been commanded to cultivate, the voice that turns Scripture into teaching that gives life.
– Justice Elyakim Rubinstein
To Know Torah is an enlightening encounter between a contemporary interpreter and the glorious tradition of interpretation throughout the ages. This book is a unique combination of the broad, rare riches of traditional Torah commentary with the author’s own deep understandings.
– Prof. Moshe Halbertal
Dr. Chamiel’s book is a brave attempt to interpret weekly Torah portions from the perspective of a modern scholar who believes in the holiness of the Torah and observes the commandments. The tension between the original, primal meaning of the Torah as it emerges from scholarship, its religious meaning that is faithful to Jewish law, and the simple meaning of the text emerges from Chamiel’s commentary. He summarizes the positions of many classical and modern commentators, making them accessible to the reader, and enriches him with extensive knowledge, and mature, wise interpretive understandings.
The author’s expertise is in fields other than biblical scholarship, but he does not ignore it. Although educated in Jewish philosophy, his writing lacks the apologetic tendency that characterizes so much writing in that field. The author makes an effort to look directly at the texts, and understand them in a personal way, with loyalty to “Truth and Faith.”
– Prof. Benjamin Ish-Shalom
In an exceptional intellectual achievement, Chamiel opens a new window through which to view the familiar, weekly Torah portions, and encounter their less routine aspects. The book brings readers into the depths of Torah, and with common sense, healthy logic, and philosophical intuition creates a renewed and refreshing encounter with the ancient biblical text.
– Dr. Micah Goodman
Dr. Ephraim (Effi) Chamiel is an economist and banker by profession. Upon his early retirement from banking, he redirected his energies to academic research and modern Jewish philosophy. In 2014, his doctoral dissertation on Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Chajes, Samuel David Luzzatto, and Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch was published by Academic Studies Press, as The Middle Way: The Emergence of Modern-Religious Thought.