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הפרדס של עקיבא

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  390 ratings  ·  66 reviews
הפרדס של עקיבא, ספרה החדש של יוכי ברנדס, הוא רומן פוקח עיניים, מהנה ומענג לאין שיעור. רבי עקיבא הוא מהדמויות הנערצות אך גם החידתיות והשנויות במחלוקת ביותר בפנתיאון האישים של העם היהודי. פרשנים רבים שברו קולמוסים בניסיון לפענח את מסתורי הדמות הזאת, שהכרעותיה עיצבו את זהותו של העם היהודי וגזרו את גורלו למשך דורות. בספרה השאפתני ביותר, ומבחינות רבות גם האקטואלי ביותר, משרטטת ...more
Paperback, 365 pages
Published 2012 by Kinneret, Zmora-Bitan
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Judy
Mar 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an ambitious historical novel, translated from the Hebrew, about the life of one of the most monumental figures in Jewish history. Rabbi Akiva lived in a tumultuous time, during the Second Century CE, when the Jews were under harsh Roman rule. In fact, Rabbi Akiva was brutally murdered by the Romans as part of their "payback" to the Jews during the Bar Kochba rebellion, a rebellion that Rabbi Akiva seemed to support.

This will be a challenging book for anyone unfamiliar with the famous Je
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Mimi
I've read another Brandes book (The Secret Book of Kings ) and enjoyed thoroughly. This one was also very good and I really appreciated the story of how the Jewish and early Christian communities interacted and what the Jewish community thought.
Having said that, there's a lot about the writing of the Midrash and the personalities therein that I do not know and this book assumed knowledge without really explaining. I have the feeling that I missed a lot, but what I did get was well told.
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Chava
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Barbara C. Pollak
Historical fiction at its best! I usually read Yochi Brandes in the original Hebrew and her Melachim Gimmel (Secret Book of Kings) is one of the best books I ever read, life changing in a way similar to The Red Tent. This book did not disappoint! Brandes does her research and her novels are totally beiievable, especially if you are familiar with the material - or think you are! I highly recommend The Orchard!
Cindy H.
Read this for bookclub. Far from perfect. Writing was pretty simple but not sure if that was due to translation. Slow start but story picked up towards the end. A story based on the ancient Jewish Rabbis and leaders of the early century after Christ. My biggest takeaway was that these figures from childhood lure are still men who have the same desires and traits as the “common” man and for all their holiness they mess up like the rest of us. I’m not sure how much of the story was fictionalized b ...more
Perlie
Apr 05, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brandes writes with passion and conviction, bringing to life the times of Rabbi Akiva. People are hungry for knowledge of our past and how that impacts on our present. And yet, I have strong reservations about this book. You have never seen an Akiva as cold stone-like and unfeeling as this. You have never met a Rachel as grudge-bearing and brimful of fury as this. She alternately rages, shouts, courses with anger, and the like. Given all the traditional sources we have about Rabbi Akiva and Rach ...more
Jane
Thanks to LibraryThing and Gefen publishing for this book.

I really try to enjoy different types of books, especially Jewish related ones, but this one was too Biblical and historical for me and didn't get past page 25.
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Rachel
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What do we really know about the ancient rabbis? Most scholars say that the legends of the Talmud are not biographical works as we currently think of biography. Rather, the stories teach us as much about the compilers of the Talmud as the rabbis themselves. In Rabbi Reuben Hammer’s biography of Rabbi Akiva (see The Reporter’s review at www.thereportergroup.org/Article.aspx...), the author suggested that it would be easier to write a novel about his subject because so many of the stories about hi ...more
Plonys
Jun 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow - fascinating to think about how Chazal (collective of Sages) may have behaved as individuals and interacted with each other. The author weaves together numerous aggadot (Talmudic stories) and teachings - many of which are cryptic one-line comments or side points - into a cohesive narrative. She builds plausible context for well known stories such as the oven of ben Achnai and the seder in Bnei Brak, then layers in commentary on the aftermath of these events that even if unrooted in sources ...more
Stephen Feingold
Amazing, Engaging, and Insightful

This book - told from the perspective of Rabbi Alina’s wife— covers the period from about 85 ce to 135 ce. The author weaves together midrash, Josephus , the Haggadah, and Jewish secular scholarship to bring together the multiple themes and complex personalities of the period that provides insight into the formulation of rabbinic Judaism. The significance of the struggle between the House of Shammai and the House of Hillel is explored and explained more effective
...more
JMH
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, jewish
Wow. This is a gripping and deeply moving book. To create a cohesive narrative with compelling personalities out of fragmented episodic source material is quite an achievement. Reading this requires both an interest in tradition and a very open mind to dramatic license and new perspectives. The general setting and story arc is more or less accurate. Some of the details are based in history and/or tradition, some are not, and some are contradicted by them. But the reader who's looking for emotion ...more
Melissa
Oof, how to rate this book. I thought it was powerfully written, with a voice somewhere between myth and fiction. It was compelling; I couldn't stop reading, and the characters were memorable.

Nevertheless, what I mostly can't stop thinking about are the things I disliked- or at least, the things that made it an unpleasant reading experience overall. A book can be both good and unpleasant, and maybe this one is. But still.

The world of this book is cruel and so are the people. Few or none of them
...more
Penny Goodstein
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent story about some of the founding rabbis after the Romans destroyed the Temple. These are the people who developed modern Judaism. Their creativity (that some people seem to overlook), their love of the people and the worship of God, and their personality traits all come through in his book.
Having studied Talmud for 10 years, reading a more personal rendition of their lives and personalities was instructive. It IS a novel, but the writer is a Jewish scholar. Her descriptions follow t
...more
José
Nov 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is, by far, the best fiction book ive read in 2020. Not only is the book sublimely written and well translated, but it moves at a decent pace (the beginning is kinda slow though). The book revolves around Rabbi Akiva and his wife Rachel. Switching between first and third person in a seamless way. It starts with the fateful meeting of the two, and ends a bit after Rabbi Akivas martyrdom (which is probably the best scene in the book). Covering all the craziness that happens in between.

This b
...more
Sarah M
Jul 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In spare, Biblical prose (translated from the original Hebrew), Yochi Brandes retells the story of Rabbi Akiva -- one of the great Jewish sages of the Talmud -- his wife Rachel, and the politics and upheavals of his lifetime, bringing to life the origins of both modern Judaism and Christianity. To anyone familiar with this period of Jewish history and famous stories from the Talmud (as I was), many of the events of the text will be familiar. But that doesn't lessen the novel's emotional impact.

R
...more
Sunie Levin
Apr 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Orchard
by Yochi Brandes
A compelling journey seen through the eyes of biblical Rachel about her husband Rabbi
Akiva. You are drawn in to their lives and personalities when the ancient sages come
alive as they argue how to interpret the teachings of Jewish law by old methods or new
inquiry. Rachel argues “We have free will. We choose our own ways. The course of our
lives is determined by what we do, not by what is forseen.” Rabbi Akiva answers,
“everything is forseen, yet free will is given.” Yochi
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Valeri Drach
Brandes’ first person narrative reminds me of the Biblical interpretations I read as a child and adolescent. It is somewhat compelling but very simplistic. Her interpretation is interesting, don’t want to give to much away, but I wonder how close to facts her historical fiction narrative takes us. The popular Israeli fiction writer does cover quite a few sages, Rabbis and their wives and children. We are also introduced to The study of Torah and all the terms associated with it. And also the way ...more
Jess
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Without some context and understanding of Judaism, The Orchard can feel like stepping into an unfamiliar world.

It is, however, is a captivating retelling of well known stories and characters of Jewish faith and lore. The story, as told through a women, Rachel, highlights the beauty and tragedy of religious life. The Orchard humanizes a time, place and the people whose lives became legend.

As an agnostic, I enjoyed The Orchard as a look into how tribes of communities solidify their values and tr
...more
Aryeh
Feb 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eeeh. What to say about this. It's the most secular take on Talmudic midrash/aggadah that I've read in a while. I was somewhat impressed (not really in a good way) by the entire ability of the author to erase Rabbi Akiva's yearning for GD in all but a few places. On the plus side, the author has a solid grasp of canonical Talmudic literature and a wide variey of midrash. Brandes did a seamless job of stitching together multiple stories into a coherent whole. I did feel like the book took a bit o ...more
Ben Pashkoff
I have read a few in this genre and usually get frustrate3d with the attempts to weave a tale and a story from the aphorisms in the Talmud. This was better than most, NEVERTHELESS there are some glaring anachronisms (wooden coffins being buried?? , hired carriages as regular conveyance from Bnei Brak t Caesaria or Yavne??) and some discourses that simply could not be. To the best of my knowlege, Pek'in is in the North and not in the SOuth (maybE there was another town of Pek'in in the South ??). ...more
Yehudit Reishtein
Jul 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting interpretation of the late first century to 2nd century in the land of Israel during the Roman period, during the development of Rabbinic Judaism. She tells the stories of the important Rabbis, as narrated by Rabbi Akiva's wife Rachel. The stories were all familiar to me, due to studies of Jewish history and the Mishna, but it was interesting to see how Brandes was able to weave them all together into a coherent narrative, that makes chronological sense of all the separate incidents. ...more
Jonni Jones
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
“The Orchard” takes place in Judea in the first century after the death of Jesus. It is told from the perspective of Rachel, the wife of Rabbi Akiva, arguably Israel’s greatest sage.

To have such a beautifully rendered description of the Torah’s teachings, and how the rabbis and sages thought, interpreted, taught, and argued left me breathless with admiration for her story-telling ability. The rabbis, the sages, and the people of Israel are all brought alive in this beautiful story of prophesy a
...more
Michele Kaplan-Green
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Yochi Brandes is an excellent teacher and writer. The book highlights the discussions, challenges and personalities of the great rabbis, the Sanhedrin and the different schools of thought. It is interesting to read how laws and customs were established. The book also offers a great explanation of the discussions and personalities in the Passover Haggadah. It also touches upon how the Jews lived under Roman rule. Before, during and after reading the book, I question how great leaders can be rever ...more
Liora Sophie
May 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: retellings
This is one of Yochi's better books. She really brings the characters to life, putting a scatter of Talmudic personnel into a clear order so you know who's who. She's harsh as always, so if you were expecting Rabbi Akiva to be the conquering hero - think again. She borrows from the traditional scriptural language, which I love. An excellent retelling of many traditional tales woven into an emotional novel.
Be prepared for the a few violent deaths. I knew they were coming because they are famous
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Meryll Levine Page
Brilliant! Brandes's historical novel set in the 2nd century CE focuses on the life of Rabbi Akiva from his wife's point of view. Brandes weaves together historical information with passages from the Talmud and other early sources creating a saga that highlights both personal struggles and the Jewish struggle under Roman rule. The book may be set in the 2nd century but the themes are timeless. A great read for those studying Daf Yomi--you'll recognize some of the passages quoted from Brachot. ...more
Linda
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful book. I will remember this one forever. It includes Kabbalah with the most famous stories written against its study. How dangerous it is. It's main character is a 1st century woman married to one of the Jewish peoples most revered sage, Akiva. And he and all the sages of the time come to life so as I read bits of Talmud I feel like I know them. Loved it! Historical fiction based on tidbits of what is known about them, masterfully researched. ...more
Robin
Jul 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
This beautiful heartbreaking historical fiction takes us back to the first century and the great rabbis of the Talmud. We get to know them and their stories, along with their families and their work trying to ensure the future of the Jewish people. The story of Akiva and Rachel isn't exactly as I knew it from the midrash, but is probably more true. The author portrays our great rabbis, like a great patriarchs, as flawed human beings trying to understand God and other flawed human beings. ...more
Linda
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How fortunate I am to read this in English

Thank you Gefen for this gift. Some of the laws, I would feel lost, other times, I wanted to cry for the heartache they suffered. I couldn't wait to continue reading, these people lived and loved. I feel as though I am still with them. Thank you Yochi. Please translate more of your writings.
...more
Lizz Goldstein
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had trouble warming up to Brandes's characterization of the rabbis, and as with the Secret Book of Kings I thought some of her choices were problematic. But in the end, I felt bittersweet about finishing it and I felt the warm and fuzzies of a satisfying ending to a good book so I begrudgingly concede that I liked the book. ...more
Marklutherlawoffice
This a book I read for our synagogue book club. It's about the Sages in Israel in the first century AD-when the Romans ruled. It is good historical fiction plus informative about Rabbi Akiva, the first Yeshivas, why the Torah started to become written down in that period of time-a worthwhile (sometimes confusing with all the Rabbi names) read. ...more
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Yochi Brandes was born in Israel in 1959 to a family of Hassidic rabbis. With degrees in both Biblical Studies and Judaic Studies, she has been a prominent and sought-after lecturer on the Bible and on Jewish cultural topics for many years.

One of Israel's bestselling writers, she is the author of seven historical novels and two non-fiction books, all centered on Jewish ideas, history, and culture.
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“interpretations speak to the mind, while stories penetrate directly to the heart.” 0 likes
“I believed that only constant surrender would ensure our survival, but Rabbi Akiva and Bar Kokhba proved to me with a string of brilliant victories that if the nation of Israel believes in itself and unifies in a common goal, no power in the world can stand against it, just as it was in the days of the Maccabees.” 0 likes
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