Guide to Torah Study: The People Who Explain Jewish Texts

From: My Jewish Learning <community>
Date: Sat, Aug 3, 2019 at 4:20 AM
Subject: Guide to Torah Study: The People Who Explain Jewish Texts
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The answers to the biggest questions you have about Jewish texts.
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Guide to Torah Study

Welcome to Part 4 of My Jewish Learning’s introduction to Jewish text study.

The People Who Help You Understand the Text

The Torah can be difficult to understand, even for those well versed in Hebrew. The text is often vague and even contradictory, with passages that confound (or even offend) our modern understanding. The Talmud can raise as many questions as it answers.

For these reasons and more, commentary has long been integral to the study of Torah. Virtually every published version of the Bible and the Talmud surrounds the source text with several running commentaries. And there are countless other commentaries published separately over the centuries, the corpus of which continues to grow each year.

This email will guide you through some of the most important Torah commentators.

Nechama Leibowitz

Creating a Love of Torah Study

Among the most widely read of contemporary Torah commentators is Nechama Leibowitz, a professor at Tel Aviv University who published a series of books on the weekly Torah portion in the 1950s that became wildly popular. Her biographer Stanley Peerless describes her impact:

Leibowitz was perhaps best known for her use of comparative textual study to uncover deeper meanings in the text.

For example, her comparison of Jonah’s description of God at the end of the Book of Jonah (4:2) with Moses’ description after the incident of the golden calf in the Book of Exodus (34:6-7) led her to a much different explanation of Jonah’s actions than the classical rabbinic interpretation.

In comparing the two, Leibowitz draws out the radically different view these prophets had of repentance and forgiveness. Moses had a positive view of a God who was kind enough to forgive iniquity, while Jonah viewed it as a negative. Through this textual comparison, Leibowitz not only arrived at an innovative understanding of Jonah, but also suggested that although Moses’ perspective has become the traditional Jewish view of repentance, it should not be taken for granted.

DISCOVER MORE ABOUT LEIBOWITZ
Among the legions of Torah commentators, a few other individuals and groups stand out for either their widespread influence or uniqueness of approach.

Rashi

Rabbi Solomon ben Isaac (known by his acronym Rashi) is the most influential of all biblical commentators. Born in Troyes, France, in 1040, Rashi is known for his clarity of style and his concision. His commentary is included in most published versions of the Torah and Talmud.

LEARN MORE ABOUT RASHI
Tosafot

Literally “additions,” the Tosafot is a commentary produced by a group of European scholars in the 12th and 13th centuries. The commentary is the only one (besides Rashi) that is included in most standard publications of the Torah and Talmud.

GET TO KNOW THE TOSAFOT
Ramban

Also known as Nachmanides, Ramban was a 13th-century talmudist and kabbalist from Girona, Spain, whose biblical commentary focuses on the plain meaning of the text while also hinting at its mystical foundations.

DISCOVER MORE ABOUT THE RAMBAN
In addition, all of the major American Jewish denominations have published their own translations and commentaries on the Torah, as have several of the largest Jewish publishing houses. In recent years, there have been a number of efforts to publish more female-centric commentaries to offset a perceived male bias in extrapolating the biblical text.

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Why Was Trumponomics a Flop? Neither tax cuts nor tariffs are working. Paul Krugman By Paul Krugman Opinion Colu mnist Aug. 1, 2019 857 ImageThe Marriner S. Eccles Building, which houses the Federal Reserve, in Washington. The Marrin er S. Eccles Building, which houses the Federal Reserve, in Washington.CreditCreditChristopher Lee for The New York Time s Donald Trump has pursued two main economic policies. On taxes, he has been an orthodox Republican, pushing through big tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, which his administration promised would lead to a huge surge in business inv estment. On trade, he has broken with his party’s free(ish) trade policies, imposing large tariffs that he promised wo uld lead to a revival of U.S. manufacturing. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates, even though the unemp loyment rate is low and overall economic growth remains decent, though not great. According to Jay Powell, the Fed’s c hairman, the goal was to take out some in

Why Was Trumponomics a Flop?

Neither tax cuts nor tariffs are working.

Paul Krugman

By Paul Krugman

Opinion Columnist

  • Aug. 1, 2019
    • 857

ImageThe Marriner S. Eccles Building, which houses the Federal Reserve, in Washington.
The Marriner S. Eccles Building, which houses the Federal Reserve, in Washington.CreditCreditChristopher Lee for The New York Times

Donald Trump has pursued two main economic policies. On taxes, he has been an orthodox Republican, pushing through big tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, which his administration promised would lead to a huge surge in business investment. On trade, he has broken with his party’s free(ish) trade policies, imposing large tariffs that he promised would lead to a revival of U.S. manufacturing.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates, even though the unemployment rate is low and overall economic growth remains decent, though not great. According to Jay Powell, the Fed’s chairman, the goal was to take out some insurance against worrying hints of a future slowdown — in particular, weakness in business investment, which fell in the most recent quarter, and manufacturing, which has been declining since the beginning of the year.

Obviously Powell couldn’t say in so many words that Trumponomics has been a big flop, but that was the subtext of his remarks. And Trump’s frantic efforts to bully the Fed into bigger cuts are an implicit admission of the same thing.

To be fair, the economy remains pretty strong, which isn’t really a surprise given the G.O.P.’s willingness to run huge budget deficits as long as Democrats don’t hold the White House. As I wrote three days after the 2016 election — after the shock had worn off — “It’s at least possible that bigger budget deficits will, if anything, strengthen the economy briefly.” And that’s pretty much what happened: There was a bit of a bump in 2018, but at this point we’ve basically returned to pre-Trump rates of growth.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/01/opinion/trump-economy.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

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Someone just viewed your email with the subject: SO DONALD BLAMED OBAMA FOR BAD AC IN WHITE HOUSE – AND YESTERDAY THE DEMOCRATS BLAMED OBAMA FOR BAD POLICIES ON THE GROUND.. NOW I AM WAITING TO SEE THE POLL NUMBERS, HOW LONG WILL IT BE BEFORE WE GET TO SEE AND HEAR WHAT POLLS HAVE TO SAY AS TO OTHER THAN TULISI’S WOS STOCK WENT UP AND WHO WENT WENT DOWN – JUST SAYING – AS AN ASIAN MAN WHO LIKES TO KNOW SOME MATHS

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