Page 18 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 5 (1946-1947)

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
6
provocative and substantial; they offer better information about
Jews and Judaism than the volumes which appeared before their
day; and they are more easily available.
Looking over the Jewish books of recent years, one notices
several points of interest. For one thing there are some fine
popular presentations of Jewish teachings. By popular, one means
combining correctness with ready comprehensibility by the or-
dinary reader. Nothing of exactitude is sacrificed but the mode of
presentation and the style are such as to appeal to, and enlighten,
the typical layman. They are, as a rule, written in facile, idiomatic
English, and do not read like a brain-torturing, jaw-breaking
unsuccessful translation from a foreign tongue. Thus the vast
Jewish literary treasures are brought within the reach of the lay-
man who is no scholar or linguist. Again, the teachings of Judaism
which bear on the central and most consequential problems of the
day are strikingly set forth and concretely applied for the guidance
of the reader. The war, its aftermath and the issues they created
have made it unmistakably clear tha t the crisis of this age is a
moral crisis. There is need for good-will as there is need for
knowledge and understanding. More and more Jewish books
supply this knowledge and not in vague generalities. They
examine the various aspects of all social and economic questions;
they enunciate principles and use these as yardsticks and signposts
and they do not hesitate to reprove Jews for their failure in their
duty to the community and to their fellow-men.
CLASSICS IN JEWISH LITERATURE
The
Guidefor the perplexed
by Moses Maimonides and the
Book
of Kuzari
by Judah Halevi are classics in Jewish literature. So
also are the writings of two other mediaeval Jewish philosophers,
Bahya ibn Pakudah and Levi ben Gershon, whose works in English
translation are introduced by American scholars and American
publishers. The Rev. Dr. Moses Hyamson made available another
section of his fine English version together with the Hebrew text
of the
Duties of the heart
by Bahya ben Joseph ibn Pakudah
(New York, Bloch, 1945). I t comprises the sixth treatise on
humility, the seventh on repentance and the eighth on spiritual
accounting. The Rev. Dr. Abraham L. Lassen offers the first
English translation of
The Commentary of Levi ben Gershon
(
Ger-
sonides) on the Book of Job
(New York, Bloch, 1946), a classic
in exegetical works on the Hebrew Bible. Students of the Kab-
balah find considerable delight in reading
The way of the faithful
,
an anthology of Jewish mysticism, translated from the Hebrew