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VoLume 9, No.1 FaLL 1990 113 commentary in "Rashi script." In addition there is a literal translation into English and a combination translation and commentary which converts the terse original into a free-flowing and understandable narrative. This is accompanied by notes which explain the text and put it into a larger context, and a separate halakhah section which explains the practical conclusions which are drawn from the talmudic discussion. Finally, there are occasional marginal notes dealing with details of language and terminology, lives of the relevant talmudic sages, and miscellaneous explanatory material. The net result of all this is to expand each blat (two sides of a page) into about 20 folio-sized pages. This implies that the complete Steinsaltz Talmud will run to about 100 volumes with publication continuing well into the 21st century. The companion reference guide is meant to stand alone, but I don't think it can. It would seem to be most useful-indeed, almost indispensable -for the student who has already started to learn Talmud but is not yet fully conversant with its terminology or inner structure. The first third of the volume deals with the essential nature of the Talmud , its historical background, some clues for the understanding ofkamaic, and guidelines for 'its study. The main body defines a large number of talmudic and halachic terms. This is best used for reference, as the terms are encountered in the course of one's studies. Finally, there are several short but very valuable sections on talmudic weights and measures, the rules governing halakhic decision-making, and other topics. The student will refer to them constantly. . There should be no fear that these volumes and the ·ones that hopefully will follow will put any yeshivot out of business. Detailed as they are, they are but a cupful from the sea of information available. Rather, by making a taste of the Talmud available to the millions who never had access to it before, they cannot help but increase the desire for learning, and encourage those who are already doing so to press on with their studies with even greater intensity and determination. And that is exactly the goal of Rabbi Steinsaltz. Edward Simon Purdue University Baruch or Benedict: On Some Jewisll Aspects of Spinoza's Philosophy, by Ze'ev Levy. New York: Peter Lang, 1989. 224 pp. $39.50. Barnch or Benedict is a book of considerable interest, but whose value is significantly diminished by serious flaws. The format of the book is difficult to describe. It is not, as the subtitle suggests, an examination of Jewish as- 114 SHOFAR pects of Spinoza's philosophy. Rather, it appears to be a partial collection of the thoughts of Jews (although a few are not Jews) that can be taken to have some relation to Spinoza's philosophy, although this relation may be of no consequence to, or may even contradict, Spinoza's philosophy. The term "Jewish" in the phrase of the title "Jewish aspects" is itself quite vague. For invariably, the thoughts of Jews that can be said to have any resemblance to Spinoza's philosophy consist of concepts whose origins are fundamentally found in general Western Philosophy and particularly in those concepts that trace back to classical Greek metaphysics. No relations exists between Spinoza's philosophy and that which is ordinarily taken to be native Jewish thought, that of the Bible, Talmud, and Midrash. In all fairness, one must say that the author does attempt to define "Jewish" and "Judaism" (lOf.). The definitions themselves, unfortunately, have no clearer meaning than the terms they attempt to define. There are a variety of errors in this work. Even in a brief review, two require comment. Of necessity, although the work is not primarily an exposition of Spinoza's philosophy, Professor Levy must on occasion provide brief characterizations of Spinoza's basic concepts. No concept in Spinoza's philosophy is more basic than his view of God, a view Professor Levy characterizes repeatedly by both the terms "pantheism" and "pan-entheism." The following is an illustration. Therefore, Spinoza's conception of God-Deus sive Natura [God or Nature ]-constitute(s) ultimate reality.... For Spinoza natura naturans and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 113-115
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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