August 7, 2018

Aggadah: Sages, stories & secrets

There are very few books that I wish to re-read the moment I finish them, but Rabbi Immanuel Bernstein’s ‘Aggadah: Sages, Stories & Secrets’, published by Mosaica Press,  is one of them. Like Aggadah itself, this beautifully designed book is multileveled; yet in contrast to the cryptic style of Aggadah, Rabbi Bernstein explains some of the deepest insights hidden in the Aggadah with the utmost clarity.
In his introduction to ‘Aggadah: Sages, Stories & Secrets’, Rabbi Bernstein speaks about the nature and purpose of Aggadah and also offers a very useful classification of the different types of Aggadot found throughout Jewish literature.
In the subsequent eighteen chapters, Rabbi Bernstein addresses fundamental topics such as ‘Emunah’, ‘Bitachon’, ‘The Individual and the Environment’ & ‘The Art of Gratitude’ by unravelling Aggadic passages and through presenting nuanced readings of numerous well-known Biblical stories.
The vast array of sources cited by Rabbi Bernstein serve as an introduction to numerous works which many readers may not (yet) be familiar with, and in addition to this, each chapter contains a number of side notes in which Rabbi Bernstein offers his own reflections on challenges in the modern world. ‘Aggadah: Sages, Stories & Secrets’ is a serious yet elegant book which I look forward to re-reading.
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