Is the Good Book Bad?

Dear Friends,

In contemporary society there is a great tendency for a great number of people to consider the Tanach a source of outdated ethics at best and misogynistic, racist, and blood thirsty tribalism at worst. This wide spread misconception inspired me to set out and respond to the moral indictments leveled at the Tanach in a through and systematic fashion.

I am excited to let you know of a great opportunity. It is a great opportunity for me in that Mosaica Press has expressed enthusiastic interest in publishing my manuscript, "Is the Good Book Bad?" It is an opportunity for you in that I need to raise $18, 500 to see this process through and I am looking for donors interested in sponsoring dedications as well as obtaining the merit of supporting a project that will have a major impact on Jewish education and the spreading and defense of Torah values.

A nuanced, in-depth look at violence and controversial issues in the Tanach – “Is the Good Book Bad?” - provides a defense of the Tanach from a Jewish Orthodox perspective addressing contemporary moral criticisms of the text. Chapters explore the death penalty, slavery, war, animal sacrifices and other textual concerns present in the Tanach. These discussions dispel misunderstandings, clarify instances of human error not meant to be revered but abhorred, and show select incidents where violence was moral and defensible.

My work is unique in the sense that in Jewish literature, this topic has not been covered in depth at all (in one comprehensive treatment), and I feel that the three books that I am aware of addressing it by Christian authors do so insufficiently. HaRav Zev Leff (shlit'a) wrote of the book, "I found this work enlightening, informative, and interesting, and recommended to all who are aware of the attacks on the Torah and need strengthening, as well as those who come into contact and are in a position to influence those who seek answers to these challenges, that sometimes serve as an impediment for them to embrace the Torah lifestyle."

Rabbi Ahron Lopiansky (shlit'a) said of the book, "This work fills a great vacuum, and iy"H will prove to be an invaluable aid in making the word of Hashem accessible to all." Rabbi Dr. Dovid Gottlieb (shlit'a) comments: "’Is the Good Book Bad’ by Michoel Stern responds to the charge that the Bible is replete with moral failures. The response is comprehensive, encyclopedic, and very insightful. It will surely convince any unprejudiced reader that the usual attacks are foolish to the point of childishness." Anyone interested in Biblical, Jewish, or contemporary studies on ethics would benefit from this work. Humor and evidence throughout allow this to be an authoritative and helpful guide to any person who wants to understand the Orthodox Jewish perspective and how it plays a part in the current conversation on religion and morality for the world as a whole.

The book is accessible and understandable for the general public but is also written with academic rigor. Dr. David Novak, the well known Jewish theologian from the University of Toronto says of the manuscript: "Michoel Stern's ‘Is the Good Book Bad’ is a very well researched and very well reasoned response to those who not only reject the Bible as being archaic and primitive, but who also reject the Bible as being the source of much immoral violence in Western Civilization. Stern makes a compelling case against such prejudice by meticulously exploring Scripture on the very points its enemies uncritically reject - its moral teachings."

The well known Christian theologian, Dr. Paul Copan (Author of "Is God a moral monster" and co-author of "Did God really command genocide?) wrote of the manuscript: “Michoel Stern has written a fascinating and worthwhile book that addresses a number of the troubling texts in the Hebrew Scriptures. Taking a traditional Jewish perspective, he brings together numerous reflections and insights from within the oral rabbinical tradition. While readers may not necessarily agree with certain interpretations presented, they can be grateful for Stern’s unique work that both enriches their reading of these texts and affords an important, often-unexplored glimpse into the history of biblical interpretation.”

This project will, iy"H, be an essential contribution to kiruv rechokim and kiruv kerovim. I will be very excited when you become part of this project via your financial support of it. Thank you in advance for your support!


Michoel Stern.

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Michoel Stern 
Cincinnati, OH