Maggid Books has published a new five volume series of books by the recently deceased scholar Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz that inform readers in easy to read English of the fundamentals of Judaism. The series focuses on five main topics of Jewish tradition (1) Torah, in a volume called “A Concise Guide to the Torah,” (2) the Sages, called Hazal in Hebrew, in a book called “The Concise Guide to the Sages,” (3) Jewish Law, called Halakha in Hebrew, in “A concise Guide to Halakha,” (4) Jewish thought, philosophy and mysticism, called Mahshava (thought) in Hebrew, in “The Concise Guide to Mahshava,” and (5) the Talmud in “Reference Guide to the Talmud.” All five multi-page books are filled with eye-opening and thought-provoking information that will even inform people of all religions who are already well-trained in Judaism.
“A Concise Guide to the Torah” contains a new more colloquial translation of the Five books of Moses than many former volumes together with much that makes the Bible more understandable and interesting for Rabbi Steinsaltz supplements the Torah text with a wealth of explanatory material. There are a Foreword to the 552 page volume that gives an overall view of the book as a whole, an Introduction by the editors, an introduction to each of the over 50 biblical portions (parasha in Hebrew) with explanations such as the woman being created from Adam’s tzela could mean rib or side – the latter Steinsaltz prefers, a breakdown of every few sentences by subject with a title of the subject and a brief introduction explaining it, words frequently inserted into the biblical verse in a different type-set to clarify what is said, such as in Genesis 1:2, “The earth was initially unformed and empty. And darkness was upon the face of the deep, referring to deep waters, or to the unstructured universe.”
There are also a detailed table of contents, a 15-page glossary, 6 pages of maps, 6 pages of illustrations such as of the priests’ garments and the placement of the tabernacle items.
In short, Rabbi Steinsaltz has made a significant contribution by giving us an easy to read and understand Torah.