A Year with the Sages

About the Book


The second volume in the JPS Daily Inspiration series, A Year With The Sages invites readers to spend a year with the words, ideas, and inspiration of the Sages, as seen through meditations on each of the 54 weekly Torah portions as well as on the Jewish holidays.

The masterful teachings of the Sages, the great rabbinic leaders from the time of Ezra until the conclusion of the Babylonian Talmud, are recorded in the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds, the Mishnah, the Tosefta, and the Tannaitic Midrashim. Their astute and judicious sayings and stories have profoundly transformed Judaism.

Here, Rabbi Reuven Hammer illuminates them by connecting them to the week’s Torah portion, offering reflective commentary on both the Torah and the Sages’ quotations, and sharing a personal story—all helping us to integrate the Sages’ great spiritual insights into our lives.

“Reuven Hammer examines a portion of each week’s Torah and Holiday readings in a unique tri-partite fashion—Explanation, Exposition of Sages, and Personal Reflections—offering us his in-depth knowledge of Torah, erudite mastery of Rabbinic sources, and enlightening reflections, respectively. The end result—A Year With the Sages—is a truly valuable contribution to us all.”Shalom M. Paul, professor emeritus of Bible studies, Hebrew University in Jerusalem

“A Year with the Sages offers a learned, relevant and eloquent reaction to each among the entire year of weekly Torah portions. These essays are insightful in preparing for Bible Study classes, for sermonic presentations, and for an on-going rhythm of engagement with sacred texts. Rabbi Hammer’s breadth of knowledge combines scholarship with current-day life wisdom. This is a worthy addition to both personal and communal Jewish libraries.”Rabbi Alan Silverstein, president of Mercaz Olami, past president of the International Rabbinical Assembly and of Masorti Olami

“Hammer sheds insightful light on the meaning of Torah for both the rabbinic period and our time.”Rabbi Steven Reuben, senior rabbi emeritus of Kehillat Israel Reconstructionist Congregation in Pacific Palisades, California

“Hammer has chosen his rabbinic texts wisely; his comments are both scholarly and contemporary, and offer us meaningful life lessons.”Rabbi Vernon Kurtz, North Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park, Illinois, and author of Encountering Torah: Reflections on the Weekly Portion

“Any publication by Rabbi Reuven Hammer is cause for celebration. His wisdom, warmth, and depth are treasures. A Year With the Sages is exceptional—the contemporary sage, Rabbi Hammer, guides us in walking the path of the ancient sages.”—Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, American Jewish University

Rabbi Reuven Hammer

Rabbi Reuven Hammer is the former director and dean of the Jerusalem branch of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS), 1974–92, where he served as a professor of Rabbinic literature. He holds a Doctor of Humane Letters from JTS and a PhD from Northwestern University. He was also the founding director of the Seminary of Jewish Studies (1987–90). He is the author or editor of many books, including Entering the High Holy Days: A Complete Guide to the History, Prayers, and Themes (JPS, 2005) and Sifre: A Taanaitic Commentary on Deuteronomy, both National Jewish Book Award winners.

Read author’s article in The Jerusalem Post.


Two excerpts: Fear of Killing, Be Killed; Land of Milk and Honey

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