Ask Now of the Days that are Past

Ask Now of the Days that are Past

By Eliezer Segal
Book Description

Written for a general audience, the essays collected here present refreshing and often humorous glimpses of various topics in Jewish history and traditional religious literature. Inspired by the diversity of Jewish thought, author and scholar Eliezer Segal sheds light on the social and political forces that have brought the Jewish community together in the past and still speak with familiarity to a modern western culture. Enlightening and entertaining, Professor Segal's writing is a rare blend of scholarship and wit, highlighting contemporary experiences that bring the rich heritage of Jewish civilization to life for the everyday reader. With an extensive and broad knowledge of ancient and medieval Jewish social and religious traditions, Segal deftly crafts anecdotes and explanations that address the tribulations of contemporary life. From topics as diverse as panhandling, tennis, vampires, and the history of the tomato to themes as universal as weddings, charity, and taxation, the essays presented here, some for the first time in English, all include detailed notes on sources for further reading. Equally suited to those after a light-hearted romp or those on a serious quest for knowledge, Ask Now of the Days that Are Past is sure to satisfy anyone who has ever wondered how the past still influences us today.

Table of Contents
  • Cover
  • Title page
  • Contents
  • Introduction
  • Scribes and Scholarship
  • 1. People of the Book
  • 2. How to Start a Jewish newspaper
  • 3. The European Genizah
  • 4. The Crown of Aleppo
  • Holiness and Heresy
  • 5. Where Seldom is Heard a Mystical Word
  • 6. A Dubious Blessing
  • 7. Hiwi the Heretic
  • Encounters and Enlightenings
  • 8. Rabbi in the Abbey
  • 9. Thou Shall Not Kill
  • 10. On the Other Hand
  • Babies, Brides and Burials
  • 11. Birth Rites
  • 12. May the Best Man Win
  • 13. Beauty Versus Virtue: An Age-Old Argument
  • 14. Who Was Rembrandt's Jewish Bride?
  • 15. Beneath the Stars
  • 16. All Cows Go To Heaven
  • Congregation and Community
  • 17. Trimming the Guest List
  • 18. Service Interruption
  • 19. Buddy Can You Spare a Dime?
  • Policy and Piety
  • 20. Taking Leave of Our Census
  • 21. The Wagers of Sin
  • 22. Affairs of the State
  • 23. Prophets, Protests, and Pepper Spray
  • 24. The Vice-President of Grenada
  • 25. Majority Rules
  • 26. Baldness, Bears, and Bottled Water
  • Economics and Ethics
  • 27. Minimizing Your Assets
  • 28. Not All that Glisters
  • 29. You Can Bank On It
  • 30. Ransom Note
  • 31. The Price Is Right
  • Buildings and Blessings
  • 32. Rabbi, Watch Out For That Beam
  • 33. Beam Me Up
  • 34. The Walls Have Ears
  • 35. Preparing For A Prophet
  • Life and Leisure
  • 36. Healthy Advice From The Top Authorities
  • 37. Tennis, Anyone?
  • 38. Keeping The Ball In Play
  • 39. Push Torah
  • Creatures and Curiosities
  • 40. The Siren's Song
  • 41. The Power of the Human Voice
  • 42. The Love Apple
  • 43. Horse Sense
  • 44. The Right Vampire
  • 45. Going to the Ants
  • Glossary
  • Index
  • Back Cover
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