From the foreword” Studying the weekly Torah portion-Parashat hashavua- is an ancient Jewish practice that is in enshrined in codes of Jewish Law”. Whether you are a devote follower of the Jewish faith or someone like me who is not Jewish but wishes to learn more about the faith and the Torah Entering Torah is a truly remarkable book.
Three years ago I took a college class that was supposed to be a survey of world religion but ended up being a personal quest to learn more about Judaism. The history of the people, culture and religion appeals to me on a deeply spiritual level. I have read several books on Judaism and the Torah but this is the first book that explains what the Torah meant to those who wrote it and what it means to those who follow its laws today. Entering Torah is meant to be a study guide for the Torah and oh what a guide it is! Rabbi Hammer takes the reader on a journey through the Torah explaining in easy to understand terms the meaning behind the stories.
I had always wondered why G-d had to rest on the seventh day so imagine my delight when I read Rabbi Hammer’s explanation as to why this was written. G-d does not need to rest he explains but we do. For the workaholic this story illustrates the point that if G-d could take a day of rest so should man. I thought I understood the story of Cain and Abel as a lesson on anger and envy, yet Rabbi Hammer shows us there is much more to the story. “Every murder, says the Torah, is the murder of a brother. Every victim is an Abel, every killer a Cain. And the answer to the famous question ‘Am I brother’s keeper’? Is an emphatic yes” (Hammer, pg. 9). The book is 310 pages of lessons on the words of the Torah. The book brings the stories of the Torah to life and had me opening my copy of the Torah to re- read the stories with a better understanding and appreciation for them. This is the highest compliment I can give Rabbi Hammer, through his book I have learned to appreciate the Torah and what it teaches more than I had before I read his book.
This is a must have book for those who want to seek a better appreciation for the lessons found in the Torah. I would even encourage those Christians who understand the origins of what they call the Old Testament to read this book. I started the book one evening thinking it might take me a while to read, but found myself so lost in it that I finished it in three days. Rabbi Hammer is an excellent writer, his voice jumps from the pages. I felt as if he was sitting next to me engaged in a weekly lesson.
At the end of the book Rabbi Hammer says “Reading the Torah is a lifelong task, on that never ends. We no sooner finish the last book than on the very same day we begin the first one again, over and over”. I have to add that the same can be said of Entering Torah, I will read this book again and again finding new meaning in the Rabbi’s words.