By Kol Menachem:
The first printing of Rabbi Chaim Miller‘s new biography of the Rebbe, “Turning Judaism Outward,” has sold out in just two weeks. The success of the book has been attributed to the author’s riveting and engaging style, and the full, year-by-year coverage of the Rebbe’s entire life.
Rabbi Meyer Gutnick, director of Kol Menachem which is publishing the book, was delighted with the news. “This is the best selling release we’ve ever had,” he commented, “even more than the Gutnick Chumash. 4000 copies in a week would get you in the New York Times list, so at 3000 in two weeks I think we are not doing badly.”
Early critical reviews of the book have been positive. In the Jewish Star newspaper, Alan Gerber pointed to the benefit of the author’s deep familiarity with Chabad teachings. “Rabbi Miller wrote this after many years of translating and publishing the Rebbe’s commentaries on the Chumash in the famed Gutnick Edition, an experience that shows in the content and flavor of this work.”
Other reviewers have praised the author’s objectivity and breathtaking range of sources. “Chaim Miller has painted as broad and as honest a picture of the Rebbe as is possible,” wrote critic Jeremy Rosen, who described the book as, “a well-researched inside picture that gives one a deeper insight into the ideology, background, and achievements of the Rebbe.”
But most enthusiastic have been the Shluchim, who immediately recognized the power of the book to reach those currently distant from, or skeptical about, Chabad.
“More than an informative read,” wrote Rabbi Ruvi New of Chabad of East Boca Raton, “this book is a journey. From the very first page it draws you into the world, life and times of the Rebbe. The author’s exhaustive research and deft pen, makes for the most comprehensive and compelling biography of the Rebbe to date. It is both deeply moving and more importantly as the Rebbe would want: highly motivating, inspiring the reader to find one’s own latent and inner resources and turn them outward.”
Rabbi Yossi Lew of Chabad of Peachtree City, marveled at how the book chronicles the Rebbe’s deep Chassidic attachments throughout his early years, showing “how the Rebbe’s life was always focused and geared towards sanctity and purity.It guides you along the path the Rebbe was on until the incredible gift the Almighty bequeathed to this world became a reality, which is the Rebbe becoming the Rebbe.”
Chabad scholar Rabbi Michoel Seligson, who had the merit of compiling the Rebbe’s biographical details in Hayom Yom, was astounded by the comprehensiveness of the book. “The total immersion into the Rebbe’s life that this book provides,” he wrote, “offers food for thought and leaves the reader inspired to reflect on what one can to enhance self and the world beyond”
As well as its power of outreach, the book has also shown formidable potential for “inreach.” One reader, who grew up in Chabad but left the movement, commented that “reading it has brought back nostalgic emotions and tears.”
Rabbi Miller now begins his author tour, beginning in New York (Chabad of Five Towns) on Tuesday, followed by Chabad centers in Canada, San Francisco and Los Angeles the following week. “The book provides a wonderful opportunity for a Shliach to run a high profile event at very minimal cost, as the sales of the book help to defray the expenses,” Miller explained. “I have never really fathomed why, but people love meeting authors.”
Amid the struggling Judaica industry, Meyer Gutnick encouraged consumers to patronize Jewish stores.
“We did made the book available to a wider audience on Amazon.com, but I can’t stress how important it is to support Jewish outlets upon which many families rely for parnassa. This book was written by a Lubavitcher yungerman, produced at a Lubavitcher printing press, and published by a Lubavitch organization, and we need to support our own.”
The second printing of the book, will include both hard and soft-cover editions. Turning Judaism Outward is available from Jewish booksellers everywhere and at www.kolmenachem.com, at Hamafitz or at judaica.com.