LIer publishes guide to ‘Essential Torah Words’


A few years after publishing “Ten Times Chai: 180 Orthodox Synagogues of New York City,” featuring 613 photos of the interiors of existing Orthodox synagogues in the five boroughs, Michael J. Weinstein received a note from a friend with the words “mitzvah goreret mitzvah,” and had to Google the meaning, “one mitzvah leads to the next.”

Sixty-year-old Weinstein, a baal teshuva from Long Island, started keeping a list with that phrase being the first. As he stepped up his learning from Torah related books, he expanded his list to create an A to Z glossary of words, names and phrases from the Torah.

During the same time, he researched his family tree and discovered that his great-great-grandfather, Mordechai Weiss, was a melamed, a teacher of Hebrew language and traditions, in a cheder in Pidvolochys’k, a shtetl in Galicia (in today’s western Ukraine).

The list of words, names, and phrases expanded exponentially, and Weinstein created a “glossary of glossaries” for himself to learn as he worked as a financial adviser and investments director at Oppenheimer & Co.

Using only Torah-related books, he compiled an extensive list, and recently published “Essential Torah Words, Names, and Phrases.”

In the introduction Weinstein writes, “My list is obviously incomplete and entirely subjective for what I considered ‘essential.’ For some readers my list might be considered ‘voluminous’ and for others, just a mere drop of water in the vast ocean of Torah literature. However, if it can help one or more Jews connect to Torah, then G-d willing, I will have completed my task.”

The book is intended for anyone, at any age and level of observance. The 88 books in the bibliography as well as the 88 Torah-related websites in the book can be used as a springboard for further learning.

He included the 23 haskamahs, letters of approbation, he received from rabbis, many of them who serve as rosh yeshivas. (Weinstein feels there is no coincidence that he received 23 letters, because 23 was the number of Holocaust Survivors to whom he dedicated his first book.)

Rabbi Eytan Feiner of the White Shul in Far Rockaway wrote that “Michael’s remarkable journey continues, and we are now the beneficiaries of his admirable diligence and incessant dedication.”

The book is dedicated to Weinstein’s great-great-grandfather who the author believes is looking down from Shamayim and saying “yasher koach.”

Photos of Jerusalem, used to separate one letter of the alphabet from the next, were taken by Weinstein during a trip to Israel in 2022.

This 556-page book is available on and at Jewish bookstores including Judaica Plus in Cedarhurst and West Side Judaica on the Upper West Side.