The Orchard mines ancient Jewish sources to tell the story of a singular period in the history of our people through the all-too-rare female point of view.
- Reuven Rivlin, President of the State of Israel
This spellbinding historical novel by celebrated Israeli author Yochi Brandes tells the story of the venerated yet enigmatic Rabbi Akiva, placing him in the context of his contemporaries, the Sages of Jewish tradition and of early Christianity. Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Ishmael, Rabban Gamaliel, Paul of Tarsus, and many others become flesh and blood in this stunning interweaving of biblical and Talmudic lore into a page-turning read.
At the heart of the novel is Rabbi Akiva and his complicated relationship with his wife Rachel, who meets him as a forty-year-old illiterate shepherd, marries him against her father's wishes, and compels him to study until he becomes the nation of Israel's greatest sage. Rabbi Akiva's innovative method of interpreting Scripture provides his people with a life-giving elixir after Rome's destruction of the Second Temple, but also fuels the lethal Bar Kokhba Revolt, with disastrous consequences. The Orchard offers a brilliant narrative solution to the fascinating story of four sages who entered a metaphysical orchard: one died, one lost his mind, one became a hater of God, and one - Rabbi Akiva - made it out unscathed. Or did he?
Key Points about The Orchard
- Bestselling Israeli novel available in English for the first time
- Brings the sages of Israel and the history of early Christianity to life in a page-turning novel
- Rich with biblical and Talmudic quotes in a comprehensive narrative that contextualizes the Jewish and Christian spiritual traditions
About the Author
Yochi Brandes was born in Israel to a family of Hassidic rabbis. With degrees in both biblical and Judaic studies, she has been a prominent and sought-after lecturer on the Bible and on Jewish cultural topics for many years. She has been awarded the Israel Book Publishers Association's Platinum Prize for all eight of her novels, including The Orchard.
Daniel Libenson is president of the Institute for the Next Jewish Future and co-host of the popular Judaism Unbound podcast.
Gefen Books, 9789652299307, 392pp.
Publication Date: February 1, 2018