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Book Review: Orchard of Delights

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Orchard of Delights: The Ohr Chadash Torah Commentary

Rabbi Avraham Arieh Trugman

Awesome. That is a key word when describing the latest book by Rabbi Avraham Arieh Trugman. “Orchard of Delights” is a breathtaking walk through the Chumash, parsha by parsha, piece by piece.

The work, which is quite long (667 pages, including a glossary and three appendixes) and does take time to complete, is an excellent addition to the Shabbos-table discussion, which in small bursts, even one’s children can enjoy. The book takes the common stories of the Torah and demonstrates that they are not but historical incidents but alive today, representing today’s realities, personalities, truths, triumphs and struggles.

Rabbi Trugman does a superb job in translating the language of the Torah into our contemporary voice. He pulls together Torah truths with secular understandings and his messages are thought-provoking, and somehow both simple and profound at the same time. It eloquently combines the mystical and the mundane. Rabbi Trugman accomplishes this by interpreting the Torah’s stories through four lenses: pshat (plain meaning), drash (homiletical meaning), remez (allegorical meaning) and sod (mystical meaning).

Take this passage, “The mind/body connection is receiving more and more attention and credence … these contemporary discoveries regarding the intrinsic connection between the spiritual and the physical were already alluded to thousands of years ago in the Torah’s depiction of tzara’at” (pg. 359).

He teaches this lesson when examining the story of Moshe passing the torch to Yehoshua:

“Although a teacher’s natural tendency may be to always outshine his or her students, a true teacher longs for them to surpass him. … This is similar to a parents’ pride at their children’s accomplishments exceeding their own” (pg. 519).

The book is magical – down to the elegant design elements on the corners of each page and at the top of the chapters. Learning for the sake of learning is always important. However, Orchard of Delights allows us to learn for the sake of enjoyment. I hope other readers will appreciate this work as much as I did.

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