“God’s message to His people was never meant to remain solely with the Jews.” So writes Gila Manolson, author of Hands Off! This May Be Love.
Jerusalem-based Manolson has written a number of popular books about Jewish wisdom and human relationships. Hands Off! This May Be Love is her first book written explicitly for a faith-based, non-Jewish audience.
“This book was born out of a desire to share what I’ve learned with all individuals, Jewish and non-Jewish, who are seeking wisdom on relationships,” she writes in the book’s introduction.
“This book is addressed to Christians, Buddhists, agnostics and anyone else who is interested. God created every person on this earth with emotional and spiritual needs that don’t dissipate in the face of new social mores. ‘It is not good for man to be alone,’ the Torah tells us, and that is as true for all of us today as it was for Adam,” she writes.
Hashem said, “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a fitting helper for him.” Genesis 2:18
Since it represents a relatively new category of literature – Jewish wisdom for non-Jews – it took Manolson time to find the right publisher for Hands Off! She told Breaking Israel News, “I had wanted to write a book, tentatively titled Holding Off, for the secular world, promoting the idea of refraining from all physical contact for the first month of a new relationship. I didn’t find an agent who was interested.”
After serendipitously hosting his son for a Shabbat (Sabbath) meal in Jerusalem, Manolson connected with Rabbi Daniel Lapin, publisher at Lifecodex, a publishing company whose mission is “making ancient Jewish wisdom in the areas of family, faith, finance and friendship accessible to everyone.” Lapin agreed to publish Manolson’s book, which was written to share timeless Jewish wisdom about relationships with Christian readers.
Lapin and his wife Susan work extensively with American Christians. In addition to the Lifecodex Publishing Company, they also run The American Alliance of Jews and Christians, a non-profit organization “dedicated to encouraging and facilitating Jews and Christians working together to promote Judeo-Christian values in an increasingly secular society.” In addition, their daily television show is carried on Christian cable channels.
“We are intimately familiar with the challenges faced by churches and church-related families in many areas, including male-female relationships,” Lapin told Breaking Israel News.
“We had been widely teaching the messages of both negiah (literally touch, referring to the Torah idea of restricting physical contact between individuals from opposite sexes) and yichud (literally seclusion, referring to the Torah idea that a man and a woman not married to each other should not be alone together) for over ten years when we decided that a book would be helpful.”
Manolson shares ancient Jewish wisdom in crafting her argument for refraining from becoming intimate during the dating phase of a relationship. “Sexuality is one of God’s greatest gifts to us. Anything this powerful and potentially beautiful must be handled carefully,” she notes in the book.
In Hands Off!, she writes about how “Jewish mystical tradition teaches that Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, were created as one connected being and only later separated. Deep down, in the recesses of our minds, we ‘remember’ once having been one with another. Now that we’re separate and alone, we yearn to regain that original oneness.”
Hands Off! has been well-received by Christian leaders and readers. Pastors Mark and Vicki Biltz of El Shaddai Ministries wrote a powerful testimonial for the book. “Gila Manolson’s book, Hands Off! This May Be Love, is one of the best and most needed books we’ve read in a long time. It should be required reading in high schools! She eloquently describes the importance of not only honoring and respecting the opposite sex but also honoring and respecting yourself enough to wait before you build those powerful connections brought through touch. These truths can be utilized in every relationship including the workplace. We highly recommend this book for youth leaders in churches.”
Pastors Mike and Kathy Hayes of Covenant Church in Dallas Texas wrote, “This book is important, bold, and to some, even controversial. The principles presented are sound and hold the potential to turn the cultural tide. They address one of the greatest needs in our time and present a worthy challenge to the current generation. The future is literally in the balance teetering between moral depravity and purity. Read this book and share it with someone who needs to hear its truth.”
Hands Off! represents a new kind of literature – books grounded in Torah wisdom and intended for people from the Nations. Moving forward, Manolson has a goal of writing a book about tzniut (modesty), which refers to behaviors that emphasize how a person projects what Manolson calls “a spiritual self-image.” Until that book is written, she recommends Outside/Inside, the book on this topic she wrote for a Jewish audience. “Non-Jews who are connected to Torah will certainly enjoy it and find it highly relevant,” she told Breaking Israel News.
Rabbi Lapin confirmed that he plans to keep publishing Torah wisdom for the Nations. Lifecodex already has, or will be publishing soon, products that advocate for classic Jewish values such as family purity, avoiding gossip and evil speech, fasting and not being secluded with members of the opposite sex.
Both Lapin and Manolson understand their work as part of being a Light to the Nations.
I Hashem, in My grace, have summoned you, And I have grasped you by the hand. I created you, and appointed you A covenant people, a light of nations Isaiah 42:6
Speaking of God’s intentions, Lapin concluded, “He clearly intended for Torah’s timeless truths to shape western civilization to which the rest of the world aspires and for which they vote with their feet.”