Jews with Views – Yom Yerushalayim – Shavuot Edition 5784

If you could take only one Sefer with you to a desert island, what would it be?


As difficult as it is to answer this question, after some thought, I felt there was only one answer for me: The commentary of Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch on the Chumash.

This is a true treasure trove of sharp and eloquent insights. Whether I am looking for a nice idea to share at the Shabbat table, preparing a source sheet for an in-depth analysis of a topic, or I simply have my own question on the parsha that I am looking to answer – when I open up this book, I am never disappointed. 

The Hebrew translation is clear and accessible; his explanations are always rooted in the text, and yet deep and profound; and his ideas both novel and a true reflection of our tradition.

I would love the time afforded to me on a desert island to properly learn through this sefer cover to cover!

Elad Eshel together with his wife Lani and their 3 children are the Shlichim for Bnei Akiva UK and Mizrachi UK in Manchester.


How can one begin to choose “the” book from our immense and rich array of Jewish learning and literature? It’s a nearly impossible task. But as I reflected I decided that I would take a siddur with me to the island – one that includes Pirkei Avot and Tehillim. 

The siddur is the Jewish centerpiece – our prayers, our hopes, our remembrances, our aspirations, our wisdom all under one cover. We turn to it three times a day, and more. It moves us to song and gives us the words to praise. It connects us to G-d and to each other. 

The siddur is our lifetime companion and would be my perfect and needed companion always and wherever I am.

Chaya Bina-Katz is Matan’s CEO. She joined the Matan staff 15 years ago after practicing law. Her current role as CEO combines her skills, knowledge and passion for Matan and women’s Torah learning.


If I could only take one book, I would take the set of “Shirat HaYam”, as they are a summary of the halachic opinions from the Gemara to today’s poskim

They were written to help people prepare for the Rabbanut tests of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, and they summarize the halachic sugyas from the Gemara, Rishonim, Beit Yosef, all the way to today. 

Today, many men and women use these sefarim, as they both give the bottom line of the psak, as well as understanding the development and chain of Torah she’ba’al peh

I have used these sefarim to prepare shiurim in my community, and also now during this war as the rabbi of a brigade, these sefarim have everything I need to prepare shiurim, when we learn together during some rest time. 

Rabbi Hillel Merzbach is the rabbi of Yad Binyamin.


The series of sefarim that I would take with me would be The Three Pillars by Rabbi David Milston. Shiur klali at Midreshet HaRova, which this series is partly inspired by, was one of my absolute favorite parts of my week when I was a student and staff member there. I remember feeling like the Torah Rav Milston gave over was somehow exactly what I needed to hear every single week. 

This series gives over profound, thought-provoking ideas on the weekly parsha based on the foundation of Am Yisrael, Torat Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael. What I appreciate a lot about this series is that as one changes with time and hopefully grows and develops, seemingly new messages emerge. The person who you used to be would relate to one of the paragraphs or sections and by the next time that parsha came back around you would find yourself drawn to something else entirely, something which you previously may not have given much thought to. A book that seemingly grows with a person, to me, is the ideal book to keep with you long-term, desert island or not.

Jacqui Austen made Aliyah from Baltimore, Maryland in 2016. She completed her Masters in International Development at Hebrew University and is currently the Assistant Programs Director at World Mizrachi.


I would bring with me the Tanach with the Concordance. The Concordance lists all the words in Tanach and arranges them by their Hebrew root letters. It shows where each word appears and, as such, makes it easier to search for themes and also singular uses of words. 

I love Tanach, language and order, and the Concordance gives a new depth and understanding to seeing the Tanach as a whole – a story can be illuminated by seeing which words are used, and where else in the Tanach those words are used. It would keep me busy for a long time on the desert island!

Hashem’s first interaction with the world was through words: “וַיֹּאמֶר אֱ-לֹקִים יְהִי אוֹר”. To understand the world and connect to G-d, we need to try and better understand His words transmitted to us through the words of the Tanach.

Rabbi Benjy Myers is the Educational Director of the Beren-Amiel and Straus-Amiel Emissary Training and Placement Institutes. (Photo: Oliver Marsden)

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