June 19, 2024
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Shemot: The Transition Story of the Jewish People

Reviewing: “Ideas: Shemot,” by Sina Kahen. ISBN-13: 979-8588441575, Independently published, 2020. Paperback, 174 pages.

In the October 15, 2020, issue of The Jewish Link, I reviewed “Ideas: Bereshit” by Sina Kahen. In that most stimulating book, Kahen offers short, refreshing chapters, which provide the reader with a sophisticated and intellectually compelling approach to the parashah.

Kahen is back with his latest in “Ideas: Shemot,” in which he uses the same approach to the Book of Exodus. He opens with the idea that Shemot represents one of the first significant transitions in the story of the Jewish people.

In Bereshit, the earth’s fate was very much a divine responsibility, and the narratives were focused on particular individuals and their immediate families. In Shemot, the lens of the Torah has zoomed out. Moreover, the stories now depict a nation in evolution, demonstrating the powers and responsibilities of human freedom.

Kahen does a great job of finding meaningful insights into the stories in sefer Shemot. When writing of Moshe’s meeting God at the burning bush, Kahen notes that we have burning bushes for inspiration all around us. We just need to notice them.

Kahen is a student of and quotes substantially from Rabbi Joseph Dweck (of the S&P Sephardi community of the United Kingdom), a person of deep thought and meaningful ideas, a man who takes his religion very seriously. Dweck’s influence on the author is evident in every chapter. Hopefully, this book from the student will inspire his teachers to take up the pen and write something. A book of insights from Rabbi Dweck is something long overdue.

Like in “Ideas: Bereshit,” Sina Kahen offers the reader an original and stimulating approach to the Book of Shemot. And I am looking forward to reading his writings on the final three books of the Torah when they come out.


Ben Rothke lives in New Jersey and works in the information security field. He reviews books on religion, technology and science. @benrothke

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