Q: Books on Judaism
A few months back I downloaded the Kindle sample of a book called Jewish Literacy by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin. It had good reviews and a couple of people here I asked about it said it was a decent overview. That being said, it’s 800 pages long and I’ve decided that there’s no way I’ll ever find the time to slog through the whole thing.
The other day I came across another book called Living Judaism by Rabbi Wayne Dosick. Again, I downloaded the Kindle sample and found myself immediately enchanted by the first few paragraphs of the introduction, called “In the Beginning”, which describes an “old Jewish legend” about God filling the universe with His light and then breathing some of it back in to make room for creation as we know it. This light that was breathed back in was then placed in (heavenly) glass jars that eventually burst because they were unable to contain the splendor of the light, and the resulting myriad shards of splintered light became human souls. I can’t begin to tell you how much I love stories like that.
Anyway, now I want to read that book instead. Not only because it “speaks” to me on a level that the other does not, but also because it is is much shorter (400 pages). I Googled the rabbi and he seems like a pretty neat guy, if a little new age-y, so I just wanted to ask if any of you know of him and would recommend the book. The reviews are mostly very positive except for one that takes issue with his description of the afterlife—that one concerned me a little bit. Any thoughts and/or constructive advice from Jewish lizards would be helpful.
I also purchased the Tanach and The Jewish State by Herzl. If anyone is aware of either of those editions being less than decent translations, I’d appreciate being informed of such and why they should be regarded so.
Keep in mind that I am more than well aware that reading a couple of books is not going to answer all my questions or give me a deep understanding of Judaism. I know this because of my experience being Muslim and seeing how things are misunderstood or misrepresented by being taken out of context (sometimes through ignorance, and sometimes with the intent to disinform), so I’m trying to be extra cautious here.
I’m also aware that understanding something like the Tanach is not a simple matter—for example, the most recent Qur’anic tafsir (commentary) I obtained is no less than 9 volumes long. I assume the same (or something similar) exists for the Tanach.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.