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Volume 9, No.1 Fall1990 107 are the same." With a little allowance for poetic license, evil spirits become less farfetched than they appear at first glance. Since Rabbi Bulka is a psychologist as well as a practicing rabbi, his views on such topics deserve careful consideration. Although the book is not intended as a reference work, there is an extensive index. Not only will it help the reader recall the location of something already read, but on occasion it will permit him to answer a specific question as well. The format of the book makes it suitable for browsing as well as serious reading. Everyone should find it enjoyable. Those who know will feel confirmed in their knowledge; those who don't will be pleased to learn. A fine gift for the barlbat mitzvah child and hislher family! Edward Simon Dept. of Biological Sciences Purdue University The Great Torah Commentators, by Avraham Yaakov Finkel. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1990. 264 pp. $40.00. This interesting book contains mini-biographies of 80 great rabbis cov~ ering the last 1800 years. There are nearly 100 other "micro-biographies" as well. The mini-biographies include brief excerpts from each rabbi's writings that give a feel for his style and his interests. The book has been divided into seven main areas of rabbinic literature -Torah, Talmud, Halachah, Mussar, Chasidism, Philosophy, and Kabbalah . This permits the reader to obtain a feel for what these familiar terms really mean and to compare one to the other in a convenient, accessible format . But I must ask, for whom was this book written? A scholar knows this material already. These are indeed "great" commentators, and it is the rare yeshiva student who is not familiar with their names and their works. For the brief details of their lives any Jewish encyclopedia-even the smallest-:-would suffice. The selections from their writings are too brief to get the measure of the man. For one who is not interested in learning or who is interested but unknowledgeable , this would hardly serve as an introduction to Yiddishkeit. It is too brief and too fragmented. The book is "interesting" but hardly gripping . But it does have its niche. And that is for the beginning day school or yeshiva student who can now look up each of these great commentators 108 SHOFAR when he (or she) first encounters him. This would add a new and valuable dimension to their studies since putting people in an historical and intellectual context greatly aids in appreciating their work. For this reason I would highly recommend its purchase for school and congregational libraries, as well as for budding scholars. Edward Simon Purdue University A Letter for the Ages: Iggeres Haramban, edited by Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer. ArtScroll Series. Brooklyn, NY: Mesorah Publications, 1989. 122 pp. $11.95 (c); $8.95 (p). . A publishing enterprise as broad as that of the ArtScroll series has to be somewhat uneven. This is one of the lower points. It is not that this work is in any sense bad, only that considering how many other books there are covering similar material, it is somewhat superfluous. The letter itself (in translation) does not exceed 1,000 words. It was written by the Ramban from Israel to his son Nachman in Spain in the year 1267. At the time, Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman was 72, and he died a few years later. The letter is one of mussar, ethical instruction, and begins, "Heed, my son, the discipline ofyour father, and do riot forsake the guidance of your mother. Accustom yourself to speak gently to all people at all times." Words no less valid now than they were 700 years ago. There are three or four pages of anthologized commentary by classic and contemporary expositors on each of the 32 sentences in the letter. On the opening passage Rabbi Feuer notes that midos (character traits) are inherited from one's parents no less than their genes. He then quotes a story from the famous"Alter ofSlabodka": A child from a good family was caught stealing apples. But it did not just happen. The grandfather, who was very pious , nevertheless pretended to be...


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