Friday, July 13, 2018

Ceremony & Celebration: Introduction to the Holidays Hardcover – August 7, 2017 by Jonathan Sacks (Maggid)

The brilliance and eloquence that Rabbi Sacks is famous for is found throughout these essays on the holidays. These essays were originally published separately as the introduction to the Machzorim (Prayer Books) for each of the 5 holidays that are discussed (Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Pesach, Shavuos, Sukkos) and are compiled into 1 volume here (without the text of the prayers). Rabbi Sacks discusses each holiday and expounds on the most central ideas of the holiday. Note that it is an "introduction" in this sense, and is not meant as a practical introduction or "how-to" guide. It seems from the comments that this may be misunderstood from the subtitle. Note also that because of the source of these essays, they are only focused on the holidays that warrant their own special Prayer Book. Due to this, holidays such as Purim and Chanukah (and other days such as Tisha B'Av and Asara B'Teves) are not covered.

If you own the Machzorim already, this volume will be redundant (I do not believe anything in this volume is exclusively printed here). If you are looking for a How-to guide, this is not the right book. But if you are looking for an introduction to the meaning and message of the holiday, and a perspective on why the holiday is relevant for us today, how we can use the holiday to lift ourselves up and grow from the experience, Rabbi Sacks does that as well as anyone I have come across.

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