Photo Credit: Maggid Books

Textual Tapestries: Explorations of the Five Megillot
Author: Dr. Gabriel Cohn
Publisher: Maggid Books

 

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For many people, their only exposure to the five megillot (Esther, Ruth, Song of Songs, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes) are during the times they are read in the synagogue.

In Textual Tapestries: Explorations of the Five Megillot, Dr. Gabriel Cohn of Bar Ilan University has written a work that that provides deep insights into these books. In this remarkable work, he looks at these books from a conceptual perspective, with an attempt to understand the many deep underlying messages and themes in each of them.

As a student of Nehama Leibowitz, Cohen looks to extract deep meaning from the text. He also focuses on the overall themes, and what the overall goal of each book is. In Songs of Songs, he notes that the central theme of the book is strongly reinforced by the repetition, precisely though very small changes, all small but significant, between the first and second series of songs. The astute reader that he is, Cohen teases lots of insights into these nuanced differences.

He also writes that it is impossible understand Songs of Songs without a close familiarity with the flora and fauna of the Land of Israel. His explanation of those key points are a fascinating element of his book, and an area not detailed by most traditional commentators.

As to the book of Ruth, he writes that it is a book of poetry. In addition, he focuses on guide works, word play and parallelism in the book of Ruth. While such textual analysis is a concept pioneered by the Gush Etzion school of thought; Cohen’s book brings this fascinating approach to the English reader.

Each of these five books is bursting with meaning, capably extracted chapter after chapter for the reader by Cohn. Cohn’s broad knowledge of the Hebrew language, history, and an emphasis on symbolism makes this a fascinating work. In Textual Tapestries, Cohn’s exploration of the five megillot is a most mesmerizing journey.

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