web analytics
August 27, 2014 / 1 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



A Chumash For All Times

The Rav  (Photos courtesy of Yeshiva University)

The Rav (Photos courtesy of Yeshiva University)

Chumash Mesoras HaRav: Sefer Bereishis: With commentary based upon the teachings of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik; Compiled and edited by Dr. Arnold Lustiger; OU Press

 

It is hard to think of Torah in America without picturing the face of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (“the Rav”). He was not just a titan of Torah scholarship but a sensitive soul overflowing with creativity. As a rosh yeshiva, his brilliant mind developed new insights in Talmudic law. And as a teacher of laymen in synagogues in New York and Boston, he revealed new depths in parashah and aggadah (weekly Torah portions and Talmudic stories). His lectures combined a mastery of midrash with a profound understanding of the human psyche, yielding interpretations that speak to man’s innermost feelings, that dig deep into human aspirations to create a binding link with Torah. The Rav was able to touch someone’s soul with Torah, creating a permanent connection between man and God.

I am from the generation that never saw or heard the Rav but lived in his shadow, feeling his recently departed presence in his students’ lectures. My poverty in this sense pales in comparison to that of the next generation, who have only a distant notion of who this great man was and his sprawling impact. They cannot comprehend how he maintained an audience’s attention for hours on hours, with an overflowing room of listeners captivated by his Torah lecture. The very idea seems ludicrous to those who never knew the Rav. Yet it is true. His profound ideas, his challenging questions and brilliant answers, his eloquent and dramatic presentations delighted and inspired thousands, from novices to experienced Torah scholars.

Much of that material was almost lost. An infrequent writer and a rare publisher, the Rav left a largely oral legacy. However, his students have taken on the holy task of faithfully disseminating his teachings in writing. My first encounter with the Rav was in high school. We were learning the Talmudic tractate of Sukkah at the same time that Rav Hershel Reichman published his first volume of notes from the Rav’s lectures – conveniently, on Sukkah. Day after day we excitedly drank from the Rav’s well of insights, learning Sukkah with him as our study partner. I was hooked on the Talmudic genius of the Rav.

Over the nearly 25 years since, dozens of books have been published containing the Rav’s Torah on a variety of subjects, in Hebrew and in English. The Toras Horav Foundation has published the few English manuscripts the Rav left as well as a number of other books based on recorded lectures. Others have published transcripts, notes and reconstructed lectures in the Rav’s voice. The ever-growing library is more than any one person can master. Well, almost anyone.

Dr. Arnold Lustiger, a research scientist and expert in the Rav’s teaching, is the Rav’s super-editor. Building in part on the work of others, he has accomplished the intimidating feat of turning the Rav’s teachings into running commentaries of classic texts. With an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the Rav’s entire oeuvre, Dr. Lustiger is able to identify what original insight the Rav said on any given passage. By collecting these disparate teachings from other books, unpublished notes and recorded lectures, Dr. Lustiger has created the Rav’s widely acclaimed commentaries to the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur machzorim and the siddur, all within the Mesoras HaRav series and published in conjunction with OU Press. And now he has turned his attention to the Chumash, with the first volume of the Chumash Mesoras HaRav.

The Rav’s commentary on Bereishis is eclectic by design. Because the Rav was the master of so many Torah genres, his various teachings reflect these different modes of study. The Chumash Mesoras HaRav presents readers with commentaries that range from halachic to midrashic to peshat to philosophical to psychological. The unifying features are the Rav’s brilliance and his soaring language, his magnificent ability to frame his insights in inspiring words. Some people are challenged by the Rav’s complex language but the reader with the courage to persevere leaves the page not only understanding the underlying text better but loving it and treasuring its message.

Most remarkable about the Rav’s commentaries is how they are both timely and timeless. On the one hand, you can clearly see an echo of the concerns of his time, the issues facing Orthodox Jews in mid-twentieth century America. There is no way to miss how rooted these explanations are in the Rav’s experiences with his students and laymen. Indeed, a great teacher would have it no other way. The Rav reached out to his audience, guided them in their religious struggles through, among other tools, Bible commentary. However, the Rav’s genius spoke on another level as well. Torah is eternal, its message applies to all times and places. The Rav’s emphasis was on his time but his teachings resonate throughout the ages, forever speaking to man’s religious challenges.

About the Author: Rabbi Gil Student writes frequently on Jewish issues and serves as editor-in-chief of TorahMusings.com. Rabbi Student previously served as managing editor of OU Press and still maintains a connection to the publisher but did not work on this book in any way.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “A Chumash For All Times”

  1. Uws IH says:

    I followed 3 Parshiyot before giving up on the book. I recommend a read of the commentary on ויתרוצצו הבנים בקרבה on p. 187 to see if it is your cup of tea.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Strike on Golan Yekev
Israeli Wounded from Syrian Shelling on Golan
Latest Sections Stories
Itzhak Perlman and Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot together in concert.

Almost immediately the audience began singing and clapping and continued almost without stop throughout the rest of the concert.

Mordechai-082214-Armoire

As of late, vintage has definitely been in vogue in the Orthodox community.

Einhorn-082214-Water

Stroll through formal gardens, ride mountain bikes, or go rock climbing.

As they fall upon us we go
To the WALL.

One minute you’re shaving shwarma off a pit, then the shwarma guy tells you he read a (fake) WhatsApp that the boys are dead.

I probe a little deeper and Shula takes me into the world of phantom pains and prosthetic limbs.

This went on until she had immersed eighty times, and then Hashem at last took pity upon her.

Because Menachem lives in Israel, he can feel the ruach in the air.

Perhaps you can reach a compromise during this news frenzy, whereby you will feel more comfortable while he can still follow the latest events.

Leon experienced the War of Independence from a soldier’s perspective, while remaining true to his Jewish ideals and beliefs.

Chabad of Arizona centers recently hosted an evening of remembrance to mark the 20th yahrzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

More Articles from Rabbi Gil Student
We are always in His presence

If we can learn to fear the surveillance of the Internet, we can learn to fear God’s constant watching.

Rabbi Gil Student

Traditional Jewish texts clearly discuss men and women as categories – as distinct groups – even though individual men and women vary.

There must be an Orthodox presence and an Orthodox refusal to attend Limmud NY.

I am from the generation that never saw or heard the Rav but lived in his shadow, feeling his recently departed presence in his students’ lectures. My poverty in this sense pales in comparison to that of the next generation, who have only a distant notion of who this great man was and his sprawling impact.

The Internet is a medium that has made its way in its short existence all the way to the center of contemporary life. Many of our daily tasks are now tied to it, and will be more so in the future.

In light of all the attention that the recent Internet Asifa garnered, we thought it wise to offer this analysis on the subject by Rabbi Gil Student, founder of TorahMusings.com and former managing editor of OU Publications.

Israel is a Jewish country – but can it continue to be so when Judaism threatens to destroy the state?

The unfair longstanding attacks on Israel’s legitimacy are a permanent stain on the international community. For over 60 years, Israel has valiantly grown under hostile conditions while fighting lies and half-truths in the international arena. Israel suffers doubly, however, when its very essence, its Jewish character, supports its opponents’ narrative.

There are two types of people in the world – those who are inspired by Mussar and those who are turned off by it.

Mussar is a school of study that teaches religious self-improvement. Traditional Mussar, as practiced in many yeshivas to this day, has a rabbi exhorting his listeners, often yelling at them, to be more careful in their actions and attitudes. This is frequently accompanied with a Torah insight and maybe even a good parable. But it can be scary: fire, brimstone, judgment day – all the horrible implications of religious failure, in graphic detail.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/book-reviews/a-chumash-for-all-times/2013/11/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: