Cover image for The complete idiot's guide to understanding Judaism
Title:
The complete idiot's guide to understanding Judaism
Author:
Blech, Benjamin.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Alpha Books, [1999]

©1999
Physical Description:
xxvii, 379 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Subject Term:
ISBN:
9780028631912
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Eggertsville-Snyder Library BM45 .B53 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Summary

Summary

From the teachings of the Torah to the meaning of the holidays, this work offers an introduction to Judaism. It offers an account of Judaic history from the time of the Pharoahs through painful events like the Holocaust and triumphant ones like the creation of modern-day Israel.


Author Notes

Rabbi Benjamin Blech, a tenth generation rabbi, is a nationally recognized educator, religious leader, author, and lecturer. He is associate professor of Talmud at Yeshiva University in New York City and Rabbi Emeritus of Young Israel of Oceanside Congregation in Oceanside, New York. Rabbi Blech lives in New York City.


Table of Contents

Part 1 The World According to Godp. 1
1 Oh, My Godp. 3
In the Beginningp. 4
Somebody Had To Do Itp. 5
Just Onep. 6
False Godsp. 7
Not Twop. 7
Not Threep. 8
The King and Ip. 9
God Is Goodp. 11
Two Names: Tough Lovep. 13
Different Names for Different Strokesp. 13
Father and Motherp. 14
How Do We Know It's True?p. 14
2 Man and Womanp. 17
One God--One Manp. 18
What Is a Human Being?p. 19
Take Care of Your Bodyp. 21
Healthy in Bodyp. 21
Do Not Desecratep. 22
Watch Out For Your Soulp. 22
In His Imagep. 23
Does God Look Like Us?p. 23
Are We Just Like God?p. 23
Hasidim versus Mitnagdinp. 24
One God--Two Sexesp. 25
Vive La Differencep. 26
Bone Is Stronger than Dustp. 27
Separate, but Not Always Equalp. 27
You Have a Choicep. 28
Gotta Have Free Willp. 28
"You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown"p. 29
A Partner with Godp. 29
A World Left Unfinishedp. 30
"Tikun Olam"p. 30
3 Friendsp. 33
Take Two Tabletsp. 34
Two Kinds of Commandmentsp. 34
Why Noah Wasn't the First Jewp. 36
A "Pious Fool"p. 37
Judaism on One Footp. 37
Two Temples Destroyedp. 38
It's More than Charityp. 38
It's Not Just Moneyp. 41
We're All in One Boatp. 42
The Jew and the Worldp. 42
A Kingdom of Priestsp. 43
The Messianic Visionp. 43
4 Law and Orderp. 45
The Final Examp. 46
Deed over Creedp. 47
You Can Do It!p. 48
Do We Need God to Be Good?p. 49
We Need Help!p. 49
Lighting Our Wayp. 50
Laws That Don't Make Sensep. 51
Does God Really Care?p. 52
The Mitzvah and the Golden Meanp. 53
5 It's a Wonderful Worldp. 55
"And Behold It Was Good"p. 56
Enjoy Yourselfp. 56
Christian Ideals-Jewish Sinsp. 57
The Sin of Celibacyp. 57
The Sin of Povertyp. 58
The Sin of Solitudep. 58
Life Above Allp. 59
Please Break the Lawp. 60
The Sin of Suicidep. 60
After the Final Curtainp. 61
Part 2 Read All About Itp. 63
6 The World's Best-Sellerp. 65
A Pentateuch, Not a Pentiump. 66
Take a Good Shotp. 67
"Give Me Five"p. 67
Seek and You Shall Findp. 68
The Fox and the Fishp. 68
Some of My Best Friends Are Jewishp. 69
The Biblical Heroesp. 69
Abrahamp. 69
Sarahp. 70
Isaac and Rebeccap. 70
Jacobp. 72
Rachelp. 72
The Twelve Tribesp. 73
Mosesp. 73
Aaronp. 74
Stories with a Messagep. 74
Ideas Worth Rememberingp. 76
"It's the Law"p. 77
The Beginning and the Endp. 78
7 There's More to the Biblep. 81
Bring Down the Curtainp. 82
The Three Levelsp. 82
We're Not a "Non-Prophet" Organizationp. 85
Nathanp. 85
Isaiahp. 86
Jeremiahp. 87
Elijahp. 87
Ezekielp. 88
"Psalm" of These Daysp. 88
Too Sexy for the Bible?p. 92
The Most Sacred of Allp. 92
Sex Is Beautifulp. 92
Why Do Good People Suffer?p. 93
The Trial of Jobp. 93
We Can't Know It Allp. 94
You Heard It Here Firstp. 94
Have a "Nosh" of Wise Sayingsp. 95
8 The Laws and the Legendsp. 97
The Mission of the Mishnap. 98
Six Parts of the Mishnap. 98
It's the Doing that Countsp. 98
What's Oral Law?p. 99
Don't Write It Down!p. 100
The Ethics of the Fathersp. 100
The Wisdom of the Talmudp. 101
And Then There Was the Gemarap. 102
Talk about Dedicationp. 102
Such a Catch!p. 102
A Page a Dayp. 103
What's So Interesting??p. 103
Question Everythingp. 104
But Why Is That the Law?p. 104
Two Men in the Desertp. 105
The Concentration Camp Questionp. 106
The Insights of the Midrashp. 107
9 The Later Voices of Judaismp. 111
Explaining the Textsp. 112
Rashi's Wisdomp. 112
His Commentary Everywherep. 112
From Rashi to Einsteinp. 113
Exploring the Secretsp. 115
Mysticism and the Kabbalahp. 116
"My Little Monster"p. 117
The Bible Codesp. 117
Challenging Faithp. 118
The 13 Principlesp. 119
Applying the Lawsp. 121
"The Strong Hand"p. 122
"The Prepared Table"p. 122
Personal Questionsp. 124
"Dear R-abby"p. 124
Can I Do It By Phone?p. 124
Can I Buy Insurance?p. 125
Must He Atone For His Sin?p. 125
Modern-Day Problemsp. 127
Part 3 The Time of Your Lifep. 129
10 The Jewish Calendarp. 131
Less Than 6,000 Yearsp. 132
Jews Begin with Adamp. 133
But What About All Those Billions of Years?p. 133
Planet of the Apesp. 133
A Monthly Honeymoonp. 134
Life Isn't Always "Sunny"p. 135
Twelve Months--But Sometimes Thriteenp. 136
A Holiday Every Month (Almost)p. 136
Hooray: Two New Yearsp. 137
T.G.I.S.: Thank God It's Shabbatp. 137
Why the Days Don't Have Namesp. 138
Take a Restp. 138
Light My Firep. 139
Tell Me You Love Mep. 140
A Jug of Wine, A Loaf of Challahp. 140
Revive Me When It's Overp. 142
11 The High Holy Daysp. 145
Man, They Are Awesomep. 146
The Top Ten--Jewish Stylep. 146
Judgment Dayp. 146
"I'll Give You One More Chance"p. 147
Come Blow Your Hornp. 148
"They're Playing Our Song"p. 149
Sweet Dreamsp. 150
Down by the Riversidep. 151
Love Is Having To Say You're Sorryp. 151
Confession Isn't Enoughp. 151
What God Can't Forgivep. 153
The Day of "At-One-Ment"p. 153
Why We're Optimisticp. 153
No Fast Foodp. 154
All My Promisesp. 155
A Fishy Storyp. 156
The Essence of Yom Kippurp. 156
The Coffin in the Synagoguep. 157
12 It's Historical: The Three Feetp. 159
Don't Pass Over Passoverp. 160
The Five Names of the Holidayp. 161
The Jewish Last Supperp. 162
"Can I Please Have Your Order?"p. 162
Get That Bread Out of Here!p. 165
Shavuot: Seven Times Sevenp. 165
The Middle Manp. 166
The Annual All-Nighterp. 167
Let's Decoratep. 167
Sukkot: Live in a Boothp. 167
A House Is Not a Homep. 168
Four Kinds of Jewsp. 170
Simchat Torah: Make a Circlep. 171
History and Agriculturep. 172
13 Feasting and Fastingp. 175
Purim--Winning The Lotteryp. 176
There's No Such Thing as Coincidencep. 177
The Holiday That Keeps on Happeningp. 177
I'll Drink to Thatp. 178
Hiss the Villainp. 178
Hanukkah: It's Not That "Other" Holidayp. 180
It's Greek to Mep. 180
If I Had a Hammerp. 180
The First Oil Shortagep. 181
"Come on Baby Light My Fire"p. 184
Put a Good Spin on Itp. 184
Remember the Sad Timesp. 185
Spring Has Sprungp. 186
The Twentieth Century Holidaysp. 187
Part 4 From the Cradle to the Gravep. 191
14 "Mazel Tov": It's a Boy/Girlp. 193
You Gotta Have 'Emp. 193
"Mazel Tov"p. 194
Choose a Namep. 195
Your Name Is Your Soulp. 195
Circumcision Is a Covenantp. 196
Come Join the Partyp. 197
"Redeem" Your Firstbornp. 197
"Today I Am A Man"p. 198
Girls Mature Fasterp. 198
15 Members of the Weddingp. 201
So When Are You Getting Married?p. 202
"Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me A Match"p. 202
Finding Your Soul Matep. 203
What a Beautiful Ceremonyp. 203
No See, No Eatp. 204
The Tallit and the Veilp. 205
Down the Aislep. 205
Under the Chuppahp. 207
Round and Roundp. 207
The Marriage Contractp. 207
The Ringp. 208
Wine and Blessingsp. 209
Let's Break a Glassp. 209
Just the Two of Usp. 209
Advice for the Couplep. 210
Ten Rules for a Successful Marriagep. 211
But If It Doesn't Work Outp. 213
16 Death Be Not Proudp. 215
Leaving This Worldp. 216
Is This All There Is?p. 216
But How Could There Be Life After Death?p. 217
Saying Goodbyep. 218
Mourning the Deadp. 220
Sitting Shivap. 220
The Next Stages of Mourningp. 220
The Mourner's Kaddishp. 221
Why Eleven Months?p. 222
The Grave and the Stonep. 222
Reincarnation?p. 223
Part 5 All in the Family: The Homep. 225
17 Welcome to My Humble Abodep. 227
Watch the Door, Pleasep. 228
The Purpose of the Mezuzzahp. 228
What's Inside the Box?p. 231
Every Door Needs Onep. 232
Put the Right Slant on Itp. 232
Hanukkah for a House?p. 232
Why Didn't You Finish It?p. 233
Which Way Is East?p. 233
And the Very Best Way to Tell a Jewish Homep. 234
18 The Kitchenp. 235
Kosher Is More than Cleanp. 236
It's Not Health Food--It's Holy Foodp. 236
You Are What You Eatp. 237
What's In and What's Outp. 238
Be Kind to Animalsp. 239
Merciful Killingp. 240
Do Unto Othersp. 240
Please Salt It Firstp. 240
Blood Libel? No Wayp. 241
A Cheeseburger--Yecchhh!p. 241
Adam and Eve Were Vegetariansp. 242
Not Healthy, Not Kosherp. 243
19 The Dining Roomp. 245
Wait--Don't Start Eating Yet!p. 246
Don't Take Miracles for Grantedp. 246
Jewish Penicillinp. 247
Homemade Chicken Soupp. 248
Matzah Ballsp. 248
Special Foods for All Seasonsp. 249
Shabbatp. 249
The Holidaysp. 250
Graceland--For Jewsp. 253
20 The Bedroomp. 255
Sex Is Kosherp. 255
Sex--You Can't Do Without Itp. 256
How Often?p. 257
Travel for Business?p. 257
Always on Shabbatp. 258
Getting to Know Youp. 258
Have an Affair with Your Wifep. 259
With Love and Mutual Consentp. 260
But Sometimes It's a No-Nop. 260
The Jewish Bathhousep. 262
Place of Purificationp. 262
21 The Child's Roomp. 265
Bringing Up Babyp. 266
When Do You Start?p. 266
Learn the Letters with Honeyp. 267
How To Be a Good Parentp. 267
God Never Said It'd Be Easyp. 269
Honor Mom and Dadp. 270
Love First, Money Secondp. 270
You'll Get Your Rewardp. 271
Part 6 The Synagoguep. 273
22 Let's Take a Tourp. 275
What's the Name on the Door?p. 276
The House of Gatheringp. 277
The House Of Prayerp. 277
The House of Studyp. 278
So Which One Do You Belong to?p. 279
Is That the Lost Ark?p. 279
East Is East and West Is Westp. 280
Look at the "Furniture"p. 281
Who Are These People?p. 282
Meet the Rabbip. 283
Listen to the Cantorp. 283
What's a Sexton?p. 284
The Lay Leadersp. 284
Why Is Everybody Talking?p. 285
23 Let Us Prayp. 287
But Why Should I Pray?p. 288
The Three Kinds of Prayerp. 289
Praising Godp. 289
Prayers of Requestp. 290
Prayers of Thanksp. 290
God, Am I Bothering You Too Much?p. 290
Take It Three Times a Day with Mealsp. 291
But Why Not Only When I Feel Like It?p. 292
Take a Prayer Book, Pleasep. 292
Some Favorite Prayer Book Passagesp. 294
The Sh'map. 295
Stand Up and Be Heardp. 295
And in Closingp. 296
Stop the Servicesp. 296
"Feelings..."p. 297
24 Synagogue Fashionp. 301
Fringe Benefitsp. 301
But We Don't Wear Ponchosp. 303
The Long Formp. 303
The Short Formp. 304
Put a Box on Your Head and Your Handp. 304
What Are the Tefillin?p. 305
The Other Hand, Pleasep. 305
What If You're Ambidextrous?p. 306
Getting Married to Godp. 306
Jews Really Don't Have Hornsp. 306
Take It Offp. 307
Take Off Your Hat--Not!p. 307
Showing Respectp. 308
Part 7 The Crucial Questionsp. 309
25 What Kind of Judaism?p. 311
Orthodox Judaismp. 312
The Past Is Holyp. 312
The Future of Grandchildrenp. 313
But Even Orthodox Jews Can Disagreep. 313
Reform Judaismp. 315
A Modern Code of Beliefp. 315
A New Breed Emerging?p. 316
But Still Miles Apartp. 316
Conversionp. 317
By Mother...or Father?p. 318
Conservative Judaismp. 318
Let's Compromisep. 318
Reconstructionist Judaismp. 320
Culture Is Holyp. 320
Hasidic Judaismp. 320
My "Rebbe" Is Holyp. 321
Secular Judaismp. 322
Is "Secular Judaism" An Oxymoron?p. 322
26 What's Most Important?p. 325
Be Holyp. 326
Holy Moses--I'm Not Mosesp. 326
Be a Blessingp. 329
The Donkey and the Diamondp. 329
"Sanctify God's Name"p. 330
Bring Them Backp. 330
Be an Israelip. 331
"If You Will It, It Is No Dream"p. 332
The Prisoner's Problemp. 333
The Sentence that Says It Allp. 334
27 Any Questions from the Floor?p. 337
Is Heaven Only for Jews?p. 338
Waiting for Messiahp. 338
Does Adoption Make It My Child?p. 339
The Chosen People?p. 340
An Eye for an Eye--Ouch!p. 341
Kill the Bum?p. 341
Can I Lie Just a Little?p. 342
My Son, the Astronaut?p. 343
Life On Mars?p. 344
Is Star Trek's Mr. Spock Jewish?p. 344
Are Bacteria Kosher?p. 344
Now You See It, Now You Don'tp. 345
A Six-Pointed Questionp. 346
"I Changed My Name"p. 346
"Love Your Eyes--Can I Have Them, Please?"p. 346
Two to Onep. 347
Just Like the Amishp. 347
Mirror, Mirror on the Wallp. 348
Bet I Can Go to Vegasp. 348
Don't "Take It Easy"p. 348
Glossaryp. 351
Appendices
A The 24 Books of the Jewish Biblep. 363
B The Months of the Year in the Jewish Calendarp. 365
C More Good Books to Help You Become a Genius on Judaismp. 367
Indexp. 369

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