Eliezer Barany
Eliezer Barany

Review of “In the Company of Prophets”

Few people produce a work that requires one to run to obtain it.  Dr. Moshe Sokolow, expert in Tanach, is such an individual.  His book, “In the Company of Prophets” is a commentary on the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings.  As a consummate educator, Sokolow does not just provide insights to these individual books, rather, he also shares learning methodologies for the understanding of Tanach.  He spends time culling out the eternal lessons meant for the generations.  This is accompanied with short reviews sporadically found in the book, along with summaries and reflections at the end.  However, while it is possible for one to gain a great deal from this book as a standalone, reading each book of Navi will enhance your understanding of the Navi, and this book.  It can serve as somewhat of a summary but shines as a commentary.

Dr. Sokolow weaves themes found in the Torah and prophets, mimicking the format of the Haftorahs.  This allows for a deeper understanding of both the Torah and the Navi.  He does so with legions of Rabbinic commentary including the Talmud, Midrash, Rashi, Radak, Ralbag, and Abravanel.  He spends a formidable time focusing on linguistic usage. As Dr. Sokolow himself writes, “The Rabbis were as meticulous in their investigation of the text of Kings as Solomon himself was in his design and construction of the Temple.”  By focusing on the roots of names, he deepens our understanding of the text and the hints it alludes to.  By sharing the study of ‘onomastica,” the study of proper nouns, we become better equipped to understand what is written.  By highlighting repetitious events, we are enlightened to lessons not seen at first.

Dr. Sokolow’s wry, witty sense of humor is present throughout the pages, along with a window into his keen thinking process.  One likewise benefits from the treasure chest of knowledge of obscure facts which surround each area, the sum of which is very likely exclusively known to Dr. Sokolow.  This includes what occupied the current location of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, speech patterns of seventh century Muslims, a message from the dean of the Vienna Rabbinical Seminary, and a spun tale of Mark Twain.

This book provides the reader the opportunity to not put the book down. Previously submitted online as an insight a day, if the author decides to continue with this series, the reader will be both excited to glean more insights and disappointed in needing to wait each day.  This book truly allows the reader to be present in the company of the prophets.

About the Author
Rabbi Eliezer Barany earned rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva B'nei Torah of Far Rockaway, NY and a MS from Azrieli, MA from Revel, and rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University. He currently resides in Boca Raton, Florida and serves as a High School Rebbi in Posnack Jewish Day School and a co-Youth Director at Boca Jewish Center.
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