There have been many books that have attempted to uncover the secrets of the Torah through deciphering codes however, Simcha Friedman offers the reader something different, with thought-provoking novella and practical exercises, revealing the secrets to 'making Torah yours.' Friedman has created a unique learning tool that empowers the reader to interpret and unlock the hidden meanings within the Torah and to develop personal insights through 17 Torah techniques, including:
AaT-BaSH: Systematic substitution of letters
Gematria: Numerical value of Hebrew letters
The changing of the order of letters in the words of the Torah
The shape and form of the Hebrew letters
The changing of past to future tense and vice-versa
Making Torah Yours is a unique learning tool that will benefit the beginner as well as those more advanced. When the reader is determined to understand a particular sentence or word within the Torah's text, this book can serve as a reference for interpreting passages in a whole new light. Stimulate the intellect and enliven the soul; soon, you too will be able to uncover Torah insights that you will want to share with family and friends.
Critic Reviews: “Simcha reveals the underlying meanings and secrets hidden within the text of the Torah in his book.”
In his introduction, Simcha Friedman tells a touching story of himself as a four-year-old, crying on Simchas Torah, because he thought that his brother was carrying “his” Torah. He makes the point that, though, as his mother answered him then, “It’s everybody’s Torah!” each of us must also make it uniquely our own Torah seeking out lessons from which we can learn. The author refers to this sefer as “a how-to guide for uncovering your new insight into the Torah.”
In Part I, he presents Seventeen Techniques for delving into the chamishah chumshei Torah. These range from overall interpretation of a text and interpretation of verses and words to consulting Onkelos’ translation to gematria, and even studying the shape of the letters or the cantillation to see what insights these, took, will reveal.
Part II brings examples gleaned from the use of these techniques, parshah by parshah, some from classic sources, some his own.
The style is lively, clear and direct, highly readable. This is an interactive book, in which the reader is invited to be a participant, with questions to ponder and riddles to solve on virtually every page. (Answers are at the back of the book.) Each verse cited appears first in lashon kodesh, followed by its transliteration and English translation. The sefer is thoroughly annotated, and includes a glossary, and pages of reference books for further exploration, and is especially useful for new “returnees” to Judaism.
Some sha’ashuim, delightful tidbits. The promised reward of the mitzvah of honoring parents, for kibud av va’eim, is “length of days,” and the gematria of kibud + av + eim = 120, considered the ideal number of years to live. Or: the dishes we are to eat on Shabbos all have a gematria of seven: wine, yayin, is 10 + 10 + 50 = 70; 7 + 0 = 7; challah is 8 + 30 + 5 = 43; 4 + 3 = 7; fish, dag, is 4 + 3 = 7; meat, basar, is 2 + 200 + 300 = 502; 5 + 0 + 2 = 7. Or: the Aat BaSH (another form of gematria) spelling of tzedakah is hakadetz, the same four letters, spelling tzedakah in reverse, hinting that whenever we give, we really receive.
Everyone will have hisr own favorites. I like the Chassidic vort on the words, Lech lecha: Go to yourself, look inward and access your real self, your spiritual self. Or the discussion of why seven represent the spiritual dimension: “The six directions surround each person (north, south, east, west, up, down) wherever he is… The seventh factor is ‘the placid center of it all – the inner man who is the object of all the forces, but is not part of them. How well he can shape and maintain his identity… is the challenge and purpose of life.’” Or his description of the rare cantillation of the word vayismamehah, “and he tarried.” As S’dom was about to be destroyed, Lot lingered. This is the same word that the Rambam uses in the twelfth of the Thirteen Principles of Faith, about Mashiach: ‘…though he tarry, I will wait for him.” The connection being that Lot carried within him the genes that would eventually result in Rus, Dovid HaMelech, and Mashiach. Or the interpretation of Nadav and Avihu as longing to cling to Hashem, and return to Him, but mistaken about man’s task, which is to serve Him in this world. “We are to ‘go’ to Hashem, and then return to our earthly pursuits here: ratzah v’shav. Ratzah…running to be connected to G-d. Shav…retreating back to physical existence.” Many people are proficient at one or the other of these skills, but we have to learn them both well, when to apply each, and in what measure, in order to have the proper balance in our lives. In a way, even more valuable than the techniques that this sefer teaches and the lessons it conveys is the simchas Torah, the enthusiasm and love of Torah, that bubbles forth and overflows from every page, and is definitely contagious. The author ends each section of Part II with the traditional blessing of Chazak! Chazak! V’Nischazeik! Be strong! Be strong! And may we be strengthened! May he and his readers indeed gain renewed strength from these words of Torah, which are m’samchei leiv.
- Mishpacha Magazine, May, 2005
When you read this book, you are learning how to learn.
Dina Orron -N'shei Chabad Newsletter, September 2005
Reader Reviews: 'I am a trained linguist, but Friedman's ingenuity and delight with language far exceeds my own. His 17 techniques (in 'Making Torah Yours') for uncovering hidden meanings have lent themselves to many a d'var Torah in my household, and the examples alone make the book worth reading.'
- Jane Falk, P.h.D, Berkeley, CA
'...shows them the tools that will enable them to draw forth the waters of the Torah...'
- Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen, Chief Rabbi of Haifa
'...a source of Torah insights, presented in a light, informative and entertaining manner.'
- Rabbi Zev Leff, Rabbi of Moshav Matityahu and Rosh Hayeshiva Yeshiva Gedola
'...a veritable treasure of Torah insights that enliven the spirit, challenge the mind and warm the heart.'
- Uri Kaploun, Translator and Editor
'...I found the book interesting and valuable, and people should buy it.'
- Rabbi Berel Wein, Historian, Speaker & Educator
'Making Torah Yours will benefit the beginner as well as those more advanced. This book can help the reader to interpret passages of the Torah in a whole new light. It will stimulate the intellect and enliven the soul.'