Friday, February 08, 2008

The Torah: A Women's Commentary



My teaching assistant and friend, Elizabeth (aka Robin) has given me the gift of Tamara C. Eskenazi and Andrea L. Weiss, eds., The Torah: A Women's Commentary (New York: URJ Press and Women of Reform Judaism, 2008). Thank You Elizabeth!


A project of the Women of Reform Judaism, this commentary has been 15 years in the making. Elizabeth has been waiting a long time for its appearance! She describes it not so much as a "feminist" commentary but as a commentary filled with fresh and distinctive ideas and scholarship of women. The work includes close interpretation and contemporary reflections on the text. In the "central commentary" pages for each Torah portion, we get the Hebrew text in the upper right of the page and English translation in the upper left. The lower half of a typical page contains introductions and running commentary on the plain sense organized by verses. The translation (with some modifications) is from the URJ volume edited by W. Gunther Plaut, The Torah: A Modern Commentary. There are five elements for each Torah portion: Beyond the "Central Commentary" there is a short essay called "Another View"; a section discussing classic rabbinic teachings called "Post-biblical Interpretations"; a section "Contemporary Reflection" that deals with application; and a section of poetry and other creative responses termed "Voices." Elizabeth is particular excited about the inclusion of the "Voices" section among the others.

I look forward to using this book in my teaching and research. If any readers have impressions or reactions to this new volume, please leave a comment.

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