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The Ethics of Numbers

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Keeping to a brief, readable format, Engelberg manages to summarize an array of learned opinions – from more than 80 scholars, each described briefly in the back of the book – to provide perspective and food for thought regarding thorny ethical questions. – Abigail Klein Leichman, Jerusalem Post

Using a plethora of sources, this work often attempts to connect the ideas not only to timeless ethical lessons as its title would suggest, but also to contemporary dilemmas. – Yonatan Horovitz, Jewish Bible Quarterly

Engelberg doesn’t just pose a question and then answer it with the position of one mefaresh [commentator]. Rather, he presents multiple perspectives from both historical and modern authorities, resulting in a well-rounded examination of each subject. – Rabbi Jack Abramowitz, OU.org

The questions are those which a thoughtful adult may wonder about while reading the weekly portion, yet are generally not addressed by those classical commentaries who focus on a localized, verse by verse explanation of the text. – Simcha Rosenberg, Jewish Bible Quarterly

The book of Numbers raises ethical questions central to the Jewish faith. Too often, we learn these Biblical stories as children and never revisit them—or their ethical implications—as adults. The Ethics of Numbers, the fourth in the Ethics series, provides further elucidation of these narratives and concepts.

Rabbi Dr. Abba Engelberg presents traditional answers, explained in depth, as well as original interpretations, to difficult quandaries, such as:

  • What is the Jewish view of asceticism, worldly pleasure, and self-deprivation for religious purposes?
  • What is the role of the Korban Pesach and Pesach Sheni in fostering Jewish faith?
  • Did Miriam deserve to be punished with tzara’at for defending the honor of Zipporah?
  • Was the punishment of the spies too severe?
  • What exactly was wrong with Korach’s plea?
  • Does Judaism countenance the act of Pinchas and can religion tolerate vigilante justice?
  • What lesson can we learn from Zelophehad’s daughters courage in speaking up?

Abba Engelberg graduated from Telshe Yeshiva (valedictorian) and Yeshiva University (cum laude), where he received rabbinical ordination. He received a Ph. D. from NYU in operations research, and has served as professor at Jerusalem College of Technology for 45 years, where he founded and headed the women’s division. He served as a reserve chaplain in the United States Air Force where he achieved the rank of colonel. He is the father of four sons and lives in Jerusalem with his wife.

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Keeping to a brief, readable format, Engelberg manages to summarize an array of learned opinions – from more than 80 scholars, each described briefly in the back of the book – to provide perspective and food for thought regarding thorny ethical questions. – Abigail Klein Leichman, Jerusalem Post

Using a plethora of sources, this work often attempts to connect the ideas not only to timeless ethical lessons as its title would suggest, but also to contemporary dilemmas. – Yonatan Horovitz, Jewish Bible Quarterly

Engelberg doesn’t just pose a question and then answer it with the position of one mefaresh [commentator]. Rather, he presents multiple perspectives from both historical and modern authorities, resulting in a well-rounded examination of each subject. – Rabbi Jack Abramowitz, OU.org

The questions are those which a thoughtful adult may wonder about while reading the weekly portion, yet are generally not addressed by those classical commentaries who focus on a localized, verse by verse explanation of the text. – Simcha Rosenberg, Jewish Bible Quarterly

The book of Numbers raises ethical questions central to the Jewish faith. Too often, we learn these Biblical stories as children and never revisit them—or their ethical implications—as adults. The Ethics of Numbers, the fourth in the Ethics series, provides further elucidation of these narratives and concepts. Rabbi Dr. Abba Engelberg presents traditional answers, explained in depth, as well as original interpretations, to difficult quandaries, such as:
  • What is the Jewish view of asceticism, worldly pleasure, and self-deprivation for religious purposes?
  • What is the role of the Korban Pesach and Pesach Sheni in fostering Jewish faith?
  • Did Miriam deserve to be punished with tzara’at for defending the honor of Zipporah?
  • Was the punishment of the spies too severe?
  • What exactly was wrong with Korach’s plea?
  • Does Judaism countenance the act of Pinchas and can religion tolerate vigilante justice?
  • What lesson can we learn from Zelophehad’s daughters courage in speaking up?
Abba Engelberg graduated from Telshe Yeshiva (valedictorian) and Yeshiva University (cum laude), where he received rabbinical ordination. He received a Ph. D. from NYU in operations research, and has served as professor at Jerusalem College of Technology for 45 years, where he founded and headed the women’s division. He served as a reserve chaplain in the United States Air Force where he achieved the rank of colonel. He is the father of four sons and lives in Jerusalem with his wife.
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