WAS YOSEF ON THE SPECTRUM? Understanding Joseph Through Torah, Midrash, and Classical Jewish Sources

WAS YOSEF ON THE SPECTRUM? Understanding Joseph Through Torah, Midrash, and Classical Jewish Sources
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    WAS YOSEF ON THE SPECTRUM? Understanding Joseph Through Torah, Midrash, and Classical Jewish Sources

    by Samuel J. Levine

    Hardcover, 141 pages
    Urim Publications, 2018
    ISBN: 978-160-280-322-0

    Yosef's behaviors, interpersonal relationships, and personal development are often difficult to understand, and at times seem to defy explanation. This book offers a coherent and cohesive reading of the well-known Bible story, presenting a portrait of Yosef as an individual on the autism spectrum. Viewed through this lens, Yosef emerges as a more familiar and less enigmatic individual, exhibiting both strengths and weaknesses commonly associated with autism spectrum disorder.


    About the Author:
    Samuel J. Levine is a Professor of Law and Director of the Jewish Law Institute at Touro Law Center. He has served as the Beznos Distinguished Professor at Michigan State University College of Law, and he has taught at the law schools of Bar-Ilan, Fordham, Pepperdine, and St. John's Universities.


    Praise for Was Yosef on the Spectrum?:
    "Prof. Levine is both a ben Torah and an accomplished scholar. His work is an act of both courage and love of Yosef. Courage - because some will criticize him for trying to diminish the stature of one of the shivah ro'im, when his intention was the very opposite. Love - because in order to address the difficulties many have raised with aspects of Yosef's behavior, he worked thoroughly and painstakingly with traditional sources to advance his theory, rather than ignore them as so many others do. Whether the reader accepts Prof. Levine's thesis or remains skeptical (as I do), we must imagine Yosef smiling at someone who labored so hard to defend him."
    -Rabbi Yitzchok Alderstein, author of Nesivos Shalom

    "Levine's interpretation of Yosef's life through the lens of contemporary psychology is innovative and provides a way for readers to find personal and practical insights for how to approach neurodiversity in the Jewish community today. While the topic is potentially controversial, Levine treats it with scholarship and respect and comes up with a very strong reading of the narrative. It is an interesting take and a worthwhile read."
    -Rabbi Dr. Ira Bedzow, Director of Biomedical Ethics and Humanities, NY Medical College

    "Sam Levine was my student in yeshiva, and I have known him for decades....I enjoyed his book on Yosef, which presents a thoughtful and creative literary analysis of the story, based on a close reading of the Chumash, midrashim, and classical meforshim."
    -Rav Menachem Mendel Blachman, Senior Ra"m at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh

    "Sam Levine has created a fresh, thoughtful and new perspective on a classic story.... He sensitizes us to what it means to live and lead on the spectrum...for Joseph and for all those who...struggle yet succeed."
    -Dr. Erica Brown, author of Jonah: The Reluctant Prophet

    "Samuel Levine has written a richly suggestive interpretation of the Joseph narrative. All of our biblical interpretation proceeds by appeal to some allied discipline through which we read, for example, history, sociology, or rhetoric. Levine makes appeal to our understanding of autism as a psychological deviation about which a great deal is known. By this appeal Levine makes fresh, credible sense of the narrative.  This daring book merits attention, both for what we learn of the biblical text, and for what we learn of fresh ventures in interpretative method. Levine offers a compelling read."
    -Walter BrueggemannColumbia Theological Seminary

    "Professor Samuel J. Levine’s book, Was Yosef on the Spectrum?, is a magnificent scholarly work and most interesting.  Levine sets out the diagnostic issue very clearly and very carefully, and his analysis of the character of Joseph is very persuasive.  Overall, I came to the conclusion that the book’s thesis stands up to scrutiny, and that the title is probably correct."

    -Professor Michael Fitzgerald, M.D., FRC Psych, M. Inst. Psychoanal. 


    "As he lays out his extraordinarily bold, profoundly thought-provoking hypothesis, Levine's deep love for and highly nuanced understanding of his subject leaps from every page."
    -George Rohr, Noted Philanthropist

    "Levine presents a compelling portrait of Yosef.... A sensitive reader will never look at Yosef, or individuals with autism, in the same way again.... This book will spark conversation and awareness, and hopefully change attitudes toward individuals with disabilities...."
    -Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation

    “Levine has provided a rich reading of the Joseph story drawing from the classical Jewish sources. His is a rather novel claim within the scholarly discussion of religion and disability that Joseph was on the autistic spectrum but it is well backed up with close considerations of ancient Jewish texts. Good books prompt thinking, and I kept wondering while working through this one if there are other Hebrew Bible characters - maybe one or more of the prophets - who may also be understood in similar albeit differentiated terms. I have added this book to my religion and disability course syllabus, and have recommended it to a few friends and colleagues.”
    -Amos Yong, Professor at Fuller Seminary and Co-Editor of The Bible and Disability

    "This work represents a deeply researched close reading of the story of Yosef. Readers will experience a thought provoking analysis of Yosef's personality and a window into the lives of those on the highly functioning end of the autistic spectrum and their families. Recommended reading!"
    -Dr. Deena Zimmerman, author of A Lifetime Companion to the Laws of Jewish Family Life