Collectively, Rabbi Shai Held’s Torah essays—2 essays for each weekly portion— in The Heart of Torah, Volume 1 (Genesis and Exodus) and Volume II (Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) open new horizons in the world of Jewish biblical commentary. A renowned rabbi, lecturer and educator, Held brings creative theological exploration, penetrating psychological observation, keen attentiveness to literary detail, deep learning in Jewish philosophy and theology, and compassionate attention to the stirrings of the human heart.
He mines Talmud and midrashim, great writers of world literature, and even astute commentators of other religious backgrounds. He lets small textual anomalies slowly open up into fundamental questions about God, human nature, and what it truly means to be a religious person in the modern world. Along the way, he illuminates the centrality of empathy in Jewish ethics, the predominance of divine love in Jewish theology, the primacy of gratitude and generosity, and God’s summoning of each of us—with all our limitations—into the dignity of covenantal relationship.