ArtScroll’s “Blueprints: Torah Views of the World and Events Around Us,” by Rabbi Yaakov Feitman, posits that everything in the world can be understood through the Torah. The title hails from a line in the Zohar (Parshas Terumah) that “G-d looked into the Torah and created the world,” meaning that the Torah is the blueprint for the universe.
In this recently published volume, Rabbi Feitman, Rov of Kehillas Bais Yehuda Tzvi in Cedarhurst, chose about 70 subjects to illustrate this concept. The topics range from elections for president, near death experiences, the World Series, winning the Lottery and the United Nations, as well as such personal events as planning a vacation, Mother’s Day, the joys of old age, and turning adversity into opportunity.
Many of these essays were published in such venues as Yated Ne’eman and Mishpacha Magazine, but all have been updated. Each section begins with a quote from a Torah source and an “application” — a short pithy and practical bit of wisdom which is both timely and eternal.
In one example, Rabbi Feitman recalls watching the Apollo moon landing on July 20, 1969, with his Holocaust survivor parents. To them the event “represented hope for mankind and the opportunity to lift itself above pettiness.” Upon the occasion of the 50th anniversary of this milestone in, the rabbi reflected upon the Torah view of astronauts and our monthly Kiddush Levanah prayers.
A number of essays deal with the intricate relationship between man and beast. Rabbi Feitman tackles the thorny subject of evolution and the Torah belief that man is unique in creation. He recalls the tragic death of a child who was drowned in Orlando in 2016 by an alligator and the opposite case of a gorilla that was shot to death in the Cincinnati Zoo to save the life of a child. Mustering Torah sources, he offers a perspective which demonstrates reverence for all life on earth, while celebrating the primacy of human beings above all else.
These chapters are easily read and digested in one sitting, but will remain in the mind and heart for much longer, providing endless food for thought and productive conversation and further study.
Rabbi Feitman was the founding Menahel of a number of yeshivos, including Yeshiva Rabbi Yaakov Yosef in Staten Island. He has been involved in Chinuch Habonim V’habanos for over four decades. A prolific author, he has written widely on hashkafah, Churban Europa, halacha, and biographies of Gedolim.