Book cover image for: Ask Now of the Days that are Past

Ask Now of the Days that are Past

Eliezer Segal

$24.95 CAD / $24.95 USD (S)

323 pages

5 x 7.5 inches

978-1-55238-131-1 (Paperback)

978-1-55238-287-5 (Institutional PDF)

March 2005

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About the Book

A highly entertaining romp through Jewish thought and tradition that blends scholarship and wit to address the tribulations of contemporary life.

Written for a general audience, the essays collected here present refreshing and often humorous glimpses of various topics in Jewish history and traditional religious literature. Inspired by the diversity of Jewish thought, author and scholar Eliezer Segal sheds light on the social and political forces that have brought the Jewish community together in the past and still speak with familiarity to a modern western culture.

Enlightening and entertaining, Professor Segal’s writing is a rare blend of scholarship and wit, highlighting contemporary experiences that bring the rich heritage of Jewish civilization to life for the everyday reader. With an extensive and broad knowledge of ancient and medieval Jewish social and religious traditions, Segal deftly crafts anecdotes and explanations that address the tribulations of contemporary life.

From topics as diverse as panhandling, tennis, vampires, and the history of the tomato to themes as universal as weddings, charity, and taxation, the essays presented here, some for the first time in English, all include detailed notes on sources for further reading.

Equally suited to those after a light-hearted romp or those on a serious quest for knowledge, Ask Now of the Days that Are Past is sure to satisfy anyone who has ever wondered how the past still influences us today.

About the Author:

Eliezer Segal was born in Montreal in 1950 and has published numerous articles and books on Jewish subjects. He is a professor at the University of Calgary in the Religious Studies department, where he has been teaching since 1986.

Table of Contents


Scribes and Scholarship
People of the Book
How to Start a Jewish Newspaper
The European Genizah
The Crown of Aleppo

Holiness and Heresy
Where Seldom is Heard a Mystical Word
A Dubious Blessing
Hiwi the Heretic

Encounters and Enlightenings
Rabbi in the Abby
Though Shall Not Kill
On the Other Hand

Babies, Brides, and Burials
Birth Rites
May the Best Man Win
Beauty versus Virtue: an Age–Old Argument
Who was Rembrandt’s Jewish Bride?
Beneath the Stars
All Cows go to Heaven

Congregation and Community
Trimming the Guest List
Service interruption
Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?

Policy and Piety
Taking Leave of our Census
The Wagers of Sin
Affairs of State
Prophets, Protests, and Pepper Spray
The Vice–President of Grenada
Majority Rules
Baldness, Bears, and Bottled Water

Economics and Ethics
Minimizing Your Assets

Not All That Glisters
You Can Bank on It
Ransom Note
The Price is Right

Buildings and Blessings
Rabbi, Watch Out for That Beam
Beam Me Up
The Walls have Ears
Preparing for a Prophet

Life and Leisure
Healthy Advice from the Top Authorities
Tennis, Anyone?
Keeping the Ball in Play
Pushing Torah

Creatures and Curiosities
The Sirin’s Song
The Power of the Human Voice

The Love Apple
Horse Sense
The Right Vampire
Going to the Ants