by Yacov Barber ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 20, 2022
A well-researched, accessible guide to an important but often overlooked Jewish thinker.
Awards & Accolades
The teachings of an 18th-century rabbi are explored in this hybrid translation, commentary, and reference book.
Born in Pintshov, Poland, in 1696, Rabbi Yehonatan Eybeshitz delivered teachings that have influenced generations of Jewish scholars, but they have been obscured in the public eye due to a lack of translations from the Hebrew and his esoteric writing style. After a serendipitous encounter with Barber, an internationally acclaimed rabbi and motivational speaker, Eybeshitz’s descendant Julie Gerber was inspired to produce an English translation of her ancestor’s rich body of work. This collaboration between Barber and Gerber resulted in the 2021 book Pearls of Wisdom, which offered English readers an unfiltered translation of the rabbi’s oeuvre. Recognizing the difficulties that many lay readers may have in grasping Eybeshitz’s writings, Barber offers this sequel to the general public, which is a more accessible translation of the rabbi’s works accompanied by a wealth of contextual and religious commentary. The book begins with a brief look at the life and legacy of “a charismatic rabbi, an expert on Jewish law, a master Kabbalist, a prolific writer, a peacemaker, and so much more.” The bulk of the volume focuses on the “Torah Giant’s” thoughts on topics that span from angels and divine communication to fish and tefillin. On wealth, for instance, Eybeshitz cautions: “Money doesn’t just go into a person’s pocket or bank account; it also goes to a person’s head.” On the Exodus story where God sends manna for sustenance, the rabbi reminds readers that although “we no longer have food falling from heaven…that shouldn’t stop us from marveling at the tremendous acts of kindness that God bestowed on our forebearers.”The 112 concise chapters follow a similar pattern, interspersing translations of Eybeshitz’s writings with Barber’s commentary. Eschewing precision for accessibility, the author’s translation focuses “more on the spirit and ideas” of Eybeshitz than “on a more literal” approach. Each section ends with a modern-day application of the writings. At almost 350 pages, this work is not designed to be read in a single sitting but ideally a chapter at a time, as readers are encouraged to meditate on the teachings and their implications for contemporary life. The author of multiple books on Jewish history and spirituality who has received both Rabbinic Ordination and Judiciary Ordination, Barber is an ideal translator and commentator, merging an expertise on complex spiritual teachings with a keen eye toward their applicability. For rabbis and academics, this is a sound reference tool backed by more than 300 footnotes that demonstrate a full command of the relevant literature. Alternately, Barber’s writing style excels at making the esoteric accessible, and he crafts a practical work that will appeal to lay readers, who are eased into complicated topics with ample context and commentary. This user-friendly approach extends to a glossary, the volume’s topical organization, and brief introductory chapters that provide important contextualization. Despite the book’s emphasis on contemporary relevance, there are some subjects left unaddressed, including LGBTQ+ issues, reproductive rights, and systemic racism. There is still much of value in this inspirational volume, particularly its reminder to look beyond people’s “superficial faults to the core of their beautiful soul.” A well-researched, accessible guide to an important but often overlooked Jewish thinker.
Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2022
Page Count: 360
Publisher: Gerber's Miracle Publishers LLC
Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2022
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Matthew McConaughey ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 20, 2020
A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.
“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.
Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020
Page Count: 304
Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020
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Dillard’s story reflects maturity and understanding from someone who was forced to mature and understand too much too soon.
A measured memoir from a daughter of the famous family.
Growing up in the Institute of Basic Life Principles community, which she came to realize was “a cult, thriving on a culture of fear and manipulation,” Duggar and her 18 siblings were raised never to question parental authority. As the author recalls, she felt no need to, describing the loving home of her girlhood. When a documentary crew approached her father, Jim Bob, and proposed first a series of TV specials that would be called 17 Kids and Counting (later 18 and 19 Kids and Counting), he agreed, telling his family that this was a chance to share their conservative Christian faith. It was also a chance to become wealthy, but Jill, who was dedicated to following the rules, didn’t question where the money went. A key to her falling out with her family was orchestrated by Jim Bob, who introduced her to missionary Derick Dillard. Their wedding was one of the most-watched episodes of the series. Even though she was an adult, Jill’s parents and the show continued to expect more of the young couple. When they attempted to say no to filming some aspects of their lives, Jill discovered that a sheet of paper her father asked her to sign the day before her wedding was part of a contract in which she had unwittingly agreed to full cooperation. Writing about her sex offender brother, Josh, and the legal action she and Derick had to take to get their questions answered, Jill describes how she was finally able—through therapy, prayer, and the establishment of boundaries—to reconcile love for her parents with Jim Bob’s deception and reframe her faith outside the IBLP.Dillard’s story reflects maturity and understanding from someone who was forced to mature and understand too much too soon.
Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023
Page Count: 288
Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023
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