Our friend Cindy asked the following question:
I realize you are busy with all the fall festivals, and hope you are greatly blessed during this holy time. I would love to be there in Jerusalem on Sukkot to celebrate with all of you.
My reason for contacting you is to ask a question. What are your thoughts and views on the Apocrypha. I have never read it and have heard there are stories of the Maccabees as well as a book of Enoch. What is Jewish thought on these books? Are they historical and true?
Hi Cindy, thanks for writing!
For things that I don’t know much about, first thing I do is look at Wikipedia.
And in fact, this overview
seems to point to what I felt: that the Jews have the 24 books of the Tanach, excluding any apocryphal books, and the oral torah, mostly comprised of the mishna and talmud. Some small handful of quotes from some of the Apocrypha, Ben Sira comes to mind, made their way into the Talmud, but all of those books have horrible luck in my opinion: they were that close to being in the Bible, and just because they didn’t make the cut, they are all but completely unknown! I think they got that bad rap because the term used for these books “sfarim hitzoniim” (external books) is also used for forbidden books, like Greek philosophy. Nowadays, I think that most Torah scholars would not feel that the prohibition against any books still stand, but traditionally there is so much to study that not too many people get to anything else…