IDEAS: THE SERIES
The Torah is Judaism's crown. The ideas gleaned from it have improved and advanced human civilisation. Sina Kahen weaves together ideas from ancient to modern times, in an effort to provide an intellectually honest and spiritually fulfilling representation of the Torah's weekly portions. Drawing from science, philosophy, psychology, and history, this series offers the reader a vision of Torah based on intellect and integration, rather than superstition and isolation.
Reviews and approbations
In his ‘Ideas’, Sina Kahen skilfully reminds us through a consistent and prolific display that Torah is meant to be for us a lens through which we see, interpret, and understand the entire world. There is no aspect of this world or the human condition that Torah does not discuss in deep, relevant, and meaningful ways. In this pertinent work, Sina shows us examples in brief but detailed snapshots the nature of this system. He points out that this system is not exclusive to, but it is central and predominant in, Western Sephardi Torah scholarship. It is with much pride and joy that I recommend this book to all who wish to have a sense of how Torah has been applied and can be applied to even the most current and cutting-edge issues and questions. To read his pages is to take first steps into seeing the Torah’s broad embrace of all aspects of God’s creation.
RABBI JOSEPH DWECK
Senior Rabbi, The S&P Sephardi Community, United Kingdom
Sina Kahen, like so many other Sepharadic Jews who relate to this rational, intellectual approach to Judaism, has taken up this mantle of his heritage. Through a lens of both medieval and modern authors from this school of thought, he provides innovative approaches to various ideas, mitzvot, and narratives found in the weekly Torah portion. His insights are profound, but also terse and straightforward enough to discuss at your Shabbat table with friends and family. His writing is a valuable contribution to the catalog of Jewish literature of this genre. May you glean much wisdom from his book.
RABBI DANIEL KOROBKIN
President, The Rabbinical Council of America
In these essays, Sina beautifully weaves quotations from all sorts of Jewish sources, ancient and modern, which join in forming a mosaic of ideas and lessons very relevant to modern society and the challenges we face. Sina's book demonstrates yet again how our Torah serves as fountain of knowledge, guidance, and morality for every generation. I am sure this book will find favour in the eyes of all its readers, and hope that Sina will continue to write and publish further books bringing to light the profound ideas of the Torah and our Sages.
DAYAN OFER LIVNAT
The Sephardi Bet Din, United Kingdom
In his new work, Sina Kahen offers us profound insights on the weekly Torah portion. The authors he cites span the globe and eras of Jewish history. On account of certain historical reasons, many today are unaware of how these great Torah scholars, each in his own way, created a synthesis of what has often been called “Torah and intellect”. Kahen takes his place in this great tradition and we can look forward to future instalments of his work on the other books of the Torah.
RABBI DR MARC SHAPIRO
Professor & Author, 'Studies in Maimonides', 'Changing the Immutable'
Sina Kahen hasn't just written a book; he has curated a conversation, punctuated with choice quotes from a diverse cast of sages and thinkers. Readers are invited to take part in that conversation, to agree, or to disagree; to meditate on the many themes and ideas, and to see what new insights they can generate on their own. A fine example in the long tradition, too often neglected, of enlightened, open-minded, fearless, faithful, and distinctively Sepharadi Torah.
RABBI DR SAMUEL LEBENS
Philosophy Department, University of Haifa
As Honorary Principal of the Judith Lady Montefiore College, I welcome this short but meaningful book which reflects so well the ethos of our numerous projects. I look forward to the future volumes of this series.
RABBI DR ABRAHAM LEVY
Emeritus Senior Rabbi, The Spanish & Portuguese Jews, London
Whilst the Torah is the Jewish people’s bedrock, Judaism recognises that there is much wisdom to be derived from outside the walls of the Bet Hamidrash. By beautifully weaving together passages from both Jewish and non-Jewish sources in his masterful work, Ideas, Sina Kahen gives us a cogent and well-rounded understanding of the book of Bereshit and Shemot. His ‘ideas’ relate to the core of our human existence: love, speech, creativity, self-discovery, identity and transcendence. Despite their depth and profundity, Kahen’s essays are shareable and relatable. One who needs any proof of the relevance of the Torah in the 21st century, need look no further than this wonderful book. I hope the author will continue to write and inspire thinking Jews.
DAYAN DANIEL KADA
The Sephardi Bet Din, United Kingdom
It is an immense honor for me to write these brief words sharing my impressions of “Ideas” on Bereshit, the handiwork of my dear friend R’ Sina Kahen, may HaKadosh Baruch Hu bless him with a long and healthy life. In these pages, R’ Sina shares with us refreshing and relevant insights on the weekly Torah portion, weaving together extremely varied sources to create convincing Jewish ideas which engage and give reasons to the educated, intelligent Jew. Among the diverse rabbis and scholars presented within this book, it is especially exciting for me to see the names of the greatest of the Sages of Sepharad, exposing English-speaking Torah learners to their life-changing words of wisdom, full of clarity and truth. R’ Sina has not only single-handedly restored their honor and dignity so that these giants shall not be forgotten by the apathy shown towards them by the Judaism of today, he has also faithfully followed in their footsteps and continued to expound on the Torah in ways which would make them proud, especially our Master and Teacher the Rambam, peace be upon him, who taught us to “accept the truth from whomever says it”. I am left only to bless him that he may continue to publish more works in the likeness of this one, b’ezrat HaBoreh Yitbarach.
RABBI YONATAN HALEVY
Spiritual Leader, Kehillat Shaar HaShamayim
This is certainly an unusual and eclectic work. The author believes in a Judaism of the mind as well as the heart. He confidently weaves together ideas from scholars both within and beyond the Jewish tradition, but is especially enamoured of his own Sephardic tradition whose richness and profundity has so much to contribute to our understanding of the Torah today. If you want to go on an intellectual adventure, read this book.
RABBI DR RAPHAEL ZARUM
Dean, London School of Jewish Studies
Sina Kahen has provided us with a set of clear and concise core principles of rationalist Jewish thought built on an impressive array of earlier sources. A valuable contribution to Torah literature.
RABBI SHMULI PHILLIPS
Author, 'Judaism Reclaimed'
I have looked over the work for Sina Kahen, in his book Ideas on Sefer Bereshit. While I regret to only have had the time for a cursory review of what he has written, he has done an impressive job of taking from the wisdom of our sages throughout the ages, and fusing them together to create a complete whole. To all this he adds, of course, his own personal flavor. I hope that many will find the short, clear ideas in this book inspiring and thought-provoking, and wish the author the strength and wisdom to continue to produce such and other works in the future.
RABBI YONATAN ROSENSWEIG
Rabbi, Netzah Menashe Community, Beit Shemesh
Sina Kahen has done something remarkable. He has drawn on clear thinking, modern insight, and a wealth of sources to provide insights into the Torah portions of Bereshit This work will challenge readers not only to study the text more carefully...but to think more carefully on basic issues of religion and life.
RABBI DR MARC ANGEL
Director, Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals