Essentially an anthology of commentary on the Pentateuch (the Five Books of Moses), The Call of the Torah is a major achievement by a noted member of a distinguished rabbinic family of Western Europe. Deriving from the later years of a spiritual leadership that has spanned almost five decades, this collection of interpretative passages has been chosen not at random but through long study, reflection and inspired teaching. It thus forms an integrated whole, that gives richness and perspective to the immortal but so often enigmatic words of our Written Torah..
Primarily, Rabbi Munk pays attention to peshat, the direct, rational meaning of the Writ, drawing on the full range of classical commentaries, from Rashi to those closer to our time, such as the Maharal of Prague and the Malbim. Yet he does not lose sight of the non-rational (or rather, super-rational) dimension, and often he cites the Zohar and the mystical commentaries, to reveal unsuspected aspects of illumination in the words of Scripture. The mature presentation of rational commentary juxtaposed with the super- rational, done with care, provides a superb commentary on the Written Torah that nourishes both mind and heart, as it shows how the truths of the Torah apply both to the individual (microcosm) and the universe (macrocosm). Highly popular and widely acclaimed in the original French, the work has now begun to appear in a fine English translation, with a new English rendering of the Scriptural text, based on Rashi the whole of Genesis/ Bereshith in two compact volumes. They mark the beginning of a set that is certain to become a classic of our time.
Rabbi Elie Munk is known in world Jewry for his long, fruitful career as spiritual leader and author. Born in 1900 into a distinguished rabbinic family, he was ordained in 1925 at the Berlin Rabbinical (Hildesheimer) Seminary, and received his Ph.D. in 1926 at the University of Berlin. In 1927 he became district rabbi of Ansbach, Bavaria. In his ten years there in an active, dynamic rabbinate, in the face of worsening Nazi atrocities, he wrote The World of Prayer in German, a fine explanatory commentary on the Jewish prayer book an instant success when issued in 1938. The English edition published years later by Feldheim has been equally successful. In Ansbach he also wrote Das Licht der Ewigheit (The Light of Eternity), on .Jewish mysticism and the cosmos published 1935. In 1937 Dr Munk became the rabbi of Congregation Adath Yereim in Paris and from 1938 on he headed Keren Hatorah there. In Switzerland for safety during the war years, he wrote La justice sociale en Israel, on social legislation in the Torah. At the war’s end he returned to Paris, reorganized the community, and devoted himself to aiding survivors and refugees. In 1947 he was appointed delegate of the World Organization of Agudath Israel to UNESCO. In 1954 his Vers I’harmonie appeared, on kabbalah and its relation to history. From 1961 to 1973 he produced the five treasure-filled volumes of La voix de la Thora, the French original of this work. Illness has since forced him to retire to the USA, after almost five decades of dedicated service and gifted writing to guide, instruct and inspire the Jewish people.
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