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Roots and Rituals

Insights Into Hebrew, Holidays, and History



Mitchell First’s 62 short articles address interesting questions about the Hebrew language, liturgy, Jewish history, and the calendar and holidays.

For example:

On Jewish Liturgy: the origin of the Haftarah, the origin of the blessing “Who Has Not Made Me A Woman,” and the origin of our prayer for the government.

On Jewish Holidays and Calendar: the origin of the count from creation, the meaning of Yom Teruah, the meaning of “Maccabee,” identifying Achashverosh and Esther in secular sources, and the original three questions in the Mah Nishtannah.

On Hebrew Language: the origin of the words brit, boker, hefker, chalom, chatan, kesef, midbar, navi, olam, she’ol, and seraphim. Also, is there a connection between זכר meaning “male” and זכר meaning “memory”? Is there a connection between לחם and מלחמה?

He also has articles on words that appear only once in Tanakh, biblical words of Egyptian origin, wordplay in Tanakh, and interesting words in the daily Amidah.This book also includes two longer articles: “The Meaning of the Word Hitpallel (התפלל)” and “The Root of the Word מבול: A Flood of Possibilities.”

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“a fascinating window into the origins of Hebrew words, practices and customs”

Entertaining, erudite, and enjoyable, Roots and Rituals: Insights into Hebrew, Holidays, and History, by Mitchell First, an attorney and scholar of Jewish history and Hebrew, consists of 62 brief articles on the Hebrew language, Jewish holidays and Jewish history. Roots and Rituals includes eight selections on Jewish liturgy, 10 articles on Jewish history, 32 pieces […]

“as fun to read as it is important” – Rabbi Ari Enkin

Reviewed by Rabbi Ari Enkin, torahbookreviews.blogspot.com, February 8, 2019 Even more than in his previous book (“Esther Unmasked”) Mitchell First, a lawyer, once again treats us to lots of cool facts and bits of information that most people don’t often come across. In this volume he focuses on “Hebrew, Holidays, and History”. In addition to the Hebrew […]

“chock-full of insights on history, liturgy, and Hebrew” – Jewish Press

I must say that, once again, First comes in first place. Every chapter in Mitchel First’s new book is chock-full of insights on history, liturgy, and Hebrew. Mr. First’s book appeals to the scholar and layman alike. The section on liturgy delves into things we take for granted and explains their origins. For example, Mr. […]

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Hardcover, Paperback

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