Aryeh Kaplan, KTAV/AJOS, 1993
Kaplan, the celebrated author of some 50 books, as also a physicist of some renown, which is evident in this posthumously-published collection of his essays. As the title suggests, the subjects are hardly light reading, but Kaplan’s outstanding ability to make complex subjects accessible to the layman prevails, and the work is a pleasure to read. The essays deal with: the age of the universe, longevity and immortality in Judaic sources, the concept of resurrection, astrology and what he calls ‘male and female’. The first is of special interest (it’s material that I’ve used on many occasions) as it tackles a difficult subject head-on, using a candid and (at least in some circles) unpopular stance and quoting some vital and little-known sources to support his theory. The second half of the book is a translation of the ‘derush ohr hachayim’, written some 166 years ago. It addresses the discovery of fossils, other scientific developments of the time and a Jewish approach to these and other key matters. It was intensely controversial at the time of its publication and after, and a worthy text with which to conclude a remarkable book.