As synagogues around the world prepare to begin the Book of Numbers, Sefer Bamidbar,OU Press in conjunction with Maggid Books and Yeshiva University Press, has released a new volume in Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm’s series of sermons on the weekly Torah reading, Derashot LeDorot: Numbers. Fourth in the series of Derashot LeDorot, this new book treats central themes raised by the biblical text of Sefer Bamidbar that are relevant to everyday Jewish life – themes such as addressing religious apathy, balancing integration into society with the need for separateness, and the importance of confidently and unapologetically standing for Jewish values.
In these sermons, we encounter events of historic significance – such as in Rabbi Lamm’s sermon on June 10, 1967, the day the Six Day War ended – that bring us into contact with the past, yet retain their valuable message today. We also encounter a lighter side of the Jewish tradition, such as Rabbi Lamm’s explication of the distinction between the schlemiel and the schlimazel: “The usual example is given of the man who walks along a ledge and inadvertently kicks over a can of paint which falls on the head of a second man. The first one is the schlemiel, the second the schlimazel.” Rabbi Lamm, former Chancellor and President of Yeshiva University, treats these subjects with his characteristic nuance and appreciation for complexity (and, where appropriate, humor), without sacrificing the distinct Jewish perspective.
Over the past year, OU Press, in conjunction with Gefen Publishing, has also released two additional volumes on Sefer Bamidbar: Rabbi Ari Kahn’s Echoes of Eden: Sefer B’midbar—Spies, Subversives and Other Scoundrels; as well as Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s Unlocking the Torah Text: An In-Depth Journey into the Weekly Parsha—Bamidbar. These books each contain detailed expositions of the biblical texts, providing a range of interpretations from sources ancient and modern, while also drawing out the philosophical and practical implications of the narrative.
In his book, Rabbi Goldin systematically presents context, questions, approaches and points to ponder for each subject he discusses, creating a structured survey of the issue and a framework for reflection. Rabbi Kahn’s book focuses on the midrashic and esoteric dimensions of scripture, uncovering hidden allusions and parallels that add texture and depth to the biblical narrative.
Sefer Bamidbar records the challenges that confronted the Jewish people in the desert as they traveled away from Sinai, and moved further from the moment of revelation. Rabbis Lamm, Goldin and Kahn demonstrate, each in his own way, how the Jewish people, as they continue their travels through history, never cease to receive and find the meaning of the millennia-old message that God delivered to Moses in the desert.
OU Press stands at the forefront of sophisticated Torah commentaries. In addition to the volumes in these three series of books, OU Press has also begun publication of Chumash Mesoras HaRav,an ambitiousproject that creates a running commentary on the Torah compiled from the teachings of the late Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. The first volume on Bereishis has already appeared, and a second volume on Shemos is anticipated in the coming months.