Some of you may have noticed that there have been a lot of new book releases in the past few weeks, and you can expect a couple more as Yomtov starts appearing around the corner. One book that I was very excited for and that I have begun reading is R' Yechiel Speros new book from Artscroll, "A Touch of Purity." I only jumped onto the "Touched by a Story" bandwagon a year ago but I've already become an enthusiastic fan of the stories. R' Speros latest book is about Elul and Tishrei and all the messages associated with those times (i.e. Teshuva, davening, etc.) As someone who learns better through stories then pure mussar seforim I really appreciate Rabbi Speros books, especially those that are about certain times of year or other themes, like his book on Tisha B'av which has given me something meaningful to relate to on that day the past two years, as well as his books of Tefillah. I haven't gotten all the way through "A Touch of Purity" yet since I want it to last me through Yom Kippur, but I have finished the section of Elul and if the rest of the book is as powerful as the first section I would recommend this as inspirational and timely reading for those of you looking for a good book/sefer on the Yomim Noraim. Each story is followed by a short vort of d'var Torah that gives the story an extra boost to help make its point. I'll admit that sometimes I skip the d'var Torah and go straight to the next story, but everything written in this book is worth reading.
The second book that I've been reading, which I picked up yesterday, is a book from Feldheim on Jewish medical ethics titled "The Value of Human Life." It is based on a series of lectures that were delivered at the first ever Jewish medical ethics conference that took place two years ago in Switzerland. I actually took a class on Jewish medical ethics a year ago which drew me to this book but its relevance is for all of us as it is fascinating and pertinent to the times we live in. In todays world we are constantly hearing about issues like stem cell research, organ donations, prolonging the life of people who are brain dead, and many other health related issues. "The Value of Human Life" has articles written by some of the biggest names in Jewish medical ethics, including Rabbi J. David Bleich, Professor Avraham Steinberg and Professor Abraham S. Abraham. I think that understanding the issues discussed in this book will help us to be more educated on these relevant issues and will give us a Torah perspective to maintain when reading about them in the newspapers. This book is reader friendly and truly fascinating for anyone interested in reading it.
Wishing you all a K'siva V'chasimah Tovah!