Ben Rothke

Book review: A Concise Guide to the Sages

At over 500 pages, perhaps the title A Concise Guide to the Sages may need to be reworked. Notwithstanding the title, this is a phenomenal reference guide by the late, great Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.

But in fact, the term concise in the title refers to the short and succinct entries from myriad sources on the Chumash and various aspects of life. Steinsaltz quotes from the entire Talmud and Midrashim in what can be called a comprehensive reference of the collected wisdom of the Talmudic Sages.

This is the second volume in a four-part concise series. With the other volumes of A Concise Guide to the Torah,  A Concise Guide to Mahshava, and A Concise Guide to Halakha. While I have not read the other three volumes (yet), this Guide provides a broad range of sources and references to a wide variety of topics. This is an anthology of rabbinic wisdom that details not just the entire Torah but the cycle of the Jewish year and numerous other topics.

While the Talmud explains many, but far from all, Biblical verses, the beauty of the Guide is that they are organized by each parashah. Moreover, this provides a more uniform set of explanations.

With a subtitle of An Overview of Jewish Wisdom, Steinsaltz explores and shows the vastness and brilliance of Chazal. This is a beautiful reference guide that is not just an overview of Jewish wisdom but also an overview of the brilliant scholar that Rabbi Steinsaltz was.

About the Author
I’m a senior information security and risk management professional, based in New York City. I speak at industry conferences, and write on information security, social media, privacy and technology. My book reviews are on information security, privacy, technology, and risk management. My reviews for the Times of Israel focus on Judaism, Talmud, religion and philosophy.
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