YUTOPIA’s Favorite Books – 2021

In what has become an annual tradition, every December I review the books I read in the past year and pick out my favorites to share with other avid readers.

This is not a comprehensive list of all the books I read, nor is this a ranking of these books as the “best” of anything. Instead, I prefer to share the books I enjoyed reading the most in the hopes that maybe someone will find and enjoy something they otherwise might not have encountered. Enjoyment does not imply agreement with or an endorsement of their arguments, only that I found their contents stimulating and engaging.

According to Goodreads, I read 63 books in 2021. Here are the ones I enjoyed the most.




Miketz 2021 – Hidden Ways

In which Bereishit Rabbah 91:10 may provide an insight for how to respond to distressing situations




Vayeshev 2021 – Speak from the Heart

In which Genesis Rabbah 84:9 teaches the importance of speaking from the heart. Bonus: A disagreement with Rashi




Vayishlach 2021 – Pick Your Battles

We take a look at Bereishit Rabbah 75:3 to consider the benefits of picking our battles.




Vayeitzei 2021 – Hey Jealousy

In which we use Genesis Rabbah 71:6 (with a little help from The Simpsons) to learn about the nuances of jealousy.




Toledot 2021 – On Notice

In Genesis Rabbah 65:4 we learn why simply noticing our surroundings can be so important




Chayei Sarah 2021 – Blessed with Everything

In which we compare opinions in Bereishit Rabbah 59:8 and Bava Batra 16b regarding what it means to be blessed with “everything”




Rabbi Moshe Tendler – Memories from a Shtender Boy

Introduction

On September 28, 2021, over the holiday of Shemini Atzeret, my teacher R. Moses Tendler passed away. Due to shock and the timing of the Jewish holidays, it took some time for me to formulate coherent thoughts. I will leave it to others to discuss R. Tendler’s indelible legacy in the Jewish world and instead I would like to share some personal experiences.1




Vayeira 2021 – The Evils of Sodom




Lech Lecha 2021 – How to Make a Life

In Genesis Rabba 38:14 we learn the difference between giving birth and making a person