Rabbi Yitzchak Blau shows how the wisdom of the Talmud is relevant to our personal dilemmas in his new book, Fresh Fruit & Vintage Wine: Ethics and Wisdom of the Aggada. Jewish tradition includes a great deal of commentary on the psychologically astute stories and insightful ethical maxims of the Talmud, known as the Aggadah. Rabbi Blau opens a window into the world of Jewish wisdom by providing access to this commentary culled from the broad range of Jewish literature: Talmudic commentaries, works of Jewish philosophy, Chassidic homilies, Biblical commentaries and ethical tracts. Insights adapted from the finest examples of Western literature also aid the interpretative process. Rabbi Blau takes the enduring wisdom of ancient texts and expresses it with freshness and vitality, applying these lessons to the world in which we live today. The volume speaks directly to personal religious issues: freedom, sensitivity, responsibility, balance, goals, education and modernity. The writing is lively, engaging the mind and elevating the soul, and the unfolding meaning is a profound and original experience of studying Torah.
This article was featured in Jewish Action Spring 2010.