Staff Picks – Rabbi Aaron Katchen

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Every month a different member of our team tells us about some of their favorite titles or gives their recommendations for books that you may have missed, but certainly deserve your attention. Meet the people who make the books you love and find out which are their favorites.

This month’s selections come from our director of sales for Canada and the Mid-West, Rabbi Aaron Katchen.

The Koren Aviv/NCSY Siddurim

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Part of our Magerman Educational Series, all of these provide tools and inroads into the siddur that are designed not just to make a person comfortable with the words of tefilla, but also someone who internalizes the messages of the tefilla. I love how the Koren Aviv/NCSY Siddurim transition to a full siddur that students not only want to use, but many adults as well. I find the insights and stories engaging and useful for my own development and when I share them with my children, they can relate to them as well. Most importantly, the graphic usage is not distracting, rather, it elevates my tefilla experience.

The Koren Israel Humash

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When I teach Humash, whether to beginners or lifelong learners, I want to focus on the literal meaning (pshat) and Rashi first. The clean layout of the Koren Israel humash allows the majesty of the Torah to come through in a large font, Rashi is vocalized, and for the first time that I have ever seen, the Targum Onkelos (Aramaic translation) is differentiated between his translation and his commentary. The icing on the cake of this Humash are the color pictures and maps at the back of each volume that make the Torah come alive and relatable to anyone studying it.

Joshua by Rabbi Michael Hattin

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The book of Joshua is a narrative rich book of Tanakh with many challenging texts and theological transition points of a people who came of age in the wilderness, returning and conquering their homeland. Rabbi Hattin’s sensitive reading and accessible writing style help explore each of these challenges from both a traditional and contemporary vantage.

The Holy Brothers by Simcha Raz

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I have long been aware of a smattering of stories of Reb Zusha and periodically a visiting rabbi will quote the Noam Elimelekh in a drasha, but not being a student of hassidut, I have not spent much time delving into the early masters. The Holy Brothers opened a world to me about the teachings, struggles, and lessons of Reb Zusha and Reb Elimelekh of Lizhensk, both individually and their interplay as brothers.

Hilkhot Avelut by Rabbi David Brofsky

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When my mother passed away, I found all of my knowledge of mourning had been theoretical and hard to access. Nor did I ever have to use it in my role as a campus Rabbi At that time I found many of the “concise” books in Hebrew or English lacking and now, having to face making decisions in the immediate, I do not have the luxury of sitting down and contemplating the classic sources. Mourning is a hard topic to get excited about but I have been so appreciative of the work of Rabbi Brofsky in Hilkhot Avelut. The clear elucidation of the competing issues, showing the breadth of opinions, while not shying away from his own, together with the concise charts have made it my go to resource both for myself as well as what I recommend for mourners in my community.

Up to 30% off Rabbi Katchen’s list until December 3rd.

 

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