Monday, July 28, 2014

48 - Stories of the Ways People Acquired Torah Wisdom

I was very excited for another Nachman Seltzer book, as they are generally full of great, well-written stories. 48, however, is not the typical book of hashgacha pratis episodes. It is more of a learning book to use when going through the omer or the Mishna in Perkei Avos (6:6) which lists the 48 (hence the title) ways of acquiring Torah.

Judging the Book by its Cover -  a first glance review:

It is a clean cover, focusing on the number 48, rather than what it signifies, which are the attributes themselves portrayed through a story for each one. 

Also, the actual hard cover of the book does not have the gold, so it is difficult to see what book it is without the slip cover.

Some Details I Liked:

I liked the fact that the author tried to find a story for each step in acquiring Torah. Not only was there a story, but generally, there was a detailed explanation of what that step is. After finishing the book, I had a much better understanding of the Mishna and a greater appreciation for the various methods in which a person can become great.

Who This Book is For:

This is a good book for teaching or to use in camp. It can be read as a chapter a day. It might also be a good springboard for discussion on other stories that may pertain to the topic.

Who This Book Isn’t For:  

This is not for young children. Some stories were graphic and quite scary. Its also not for someone looking for a cover-to-cover pleasure read, as it is more serious.

What I Didn’t Like/Would Have Made it Better:

A few stories started off with "I had a hard time finding a story for this, so I asked...". I agree that it was probably challenging to find a good story appropriate for the step, but as a reader, I felt that it took away from the flow of the book to be told about the struggle.

In Conclusion:  

The stories are well-written as expected from a seasoned author. The concept of having stories align to a Mishna adds value to the book, but also takes it away from the general audience.

I received this book for the purpose of reviewing it, but that it no way changed the way I read it and reviewed it.