Found 34 Search results

  1. Teruma: Carrying the Aron

    Rabbi David Silverberg | 39 minutes

    Parashat Teruma includes details of various items for the Mishkan.  Some ambiguity in verses about the Ark of the Covenant (the Aron) prompts us to examine the topic of the Ark and its accoutrements in greater detail. This shiur makes use of classic commentary to analyze linguistic features of the text, and relates to passages in the Talmud which help us appreciate physical and symbolic elements of the Ark.

  2. There is no Earlier and Later in the Torah - Is This True?

    Rabbi Dr. Avraham Walfish

    תאריך פרסום: תשס"ט | |

    It is well established that biblical narrative frequently departs from the chronological order of the events it is describing. This principle was first enunciated by Talmudic sages in the well-known, "there is no earlier and later in the Torah". However, classic commentators such as Rashi, Ibn Ezra, and Ramban sharply debated the proper application of this principle and the textual conditions which warrant its utilization. In this lecture we will survey many of the better-known and some of the lesser-known instances in which this principle has been employed, and in each case we will examine its legitimacy, its necessity, and its ramifications.

  3. Rashi‘s Educational Innovations in his Bible Commentary

    A Peek into his Pedagogical Toolbox

    Dr. Lisa Fredman

    תאריך פרסום: תשע"ה | | Hour

    We will investigate the many diverse educational techniques and tools utilized by Rashi in his Bible Commentary. Some of these techniques will only be detected through the examination of Rashi manuscripts. Uncovering these tools will enhance our appreciation and admiration for the commentary and its composer.

  4. Why are There Stories in the Torah?

    Dr. Baruch Alster

    תאריך פרסום: תשע"ה | |

    Rashi's first comment on the Torah famously asks why the Torah begins with creation and not with the mitzvot. In essence, he is dealing with the question of the Torah's genre - is it a history book or a legal text? This question is dealt with by other parshanim as well. In this lesson, we will compare three approaches - those of Rashi, Rashbam, and Ramban. We will see that each of the later parshanim saw the question as a dichotomy - the Torah is either law or narrative, while Rashi's view is more complex.

  5. Rashi on the Tower of Babel: Limits of Human Capabilities

    Rabbi David Silverberg

  6. Peshat and Derash – Midrash Aggada

    Part 2 - Peshat Commentators in France - Rashi and Rav Yosef Kara

    Rabbi Amnon Bazak

    Rashi often incorporates midrashim in his biblical commentary. He was the first commentator to draw a clear distinction between commentary on the level of peshat, and teachings on the level of derash. Rashi represented a turning point: he awarded extensive attention to the plain meaning of the text in his commentaries on Tanakh. However, Rashi himself was aware that his exegesis was not the "last word" in the realm of peshat; he acknowledged that if he had time he should indeed compose new commentaries


  7. Rashi's Bible Commentary- Does it Really Reflect his Inner World of Values?

    Dr. Lisa Fredman |

    Despite the fact that Rashi's Bible Commentary is primarily culled from Midrashic and Talmudic literature, we will seek to detect Rashi's own values and ideals. We will implement certain principles through which we will search for the man behind the commentary.

  8. Rashi encounters the Christian World in his commentary to Mishlei

    Dr. Lisa Fredman | Hour

    A glance at Rashi's commentary reveals that Rashi was very aware of the world around him. Some of his comments relate to the world around him in different ways, be it Old French, situations of the time, or anti-Christian polemics. What motivated Rashi to write acomment? For years it was accepted that he wrote exegetical comments in response to a difficulty in the text. Recent scholarship has added that occasionally he comments because there is a very important idea he seeks to convey, even if there is no difficulty in the text. We see how the polemics come to the forefront in his commentary on Mishlei, especially as it relates to the symbolic "foreign woman" in Mishlei. 

  9. Additions to Rashi's Bible Commentary

    Dr. Lisa Fredman

    תאריך פרסום: תשעד | | Hour

    How do I know when a peirush or comment is authentic? How do I know when it is an interpolation or later additon? In most cases, we check the manuscript, but when it comes to Rashi, we can't- we don't have his original manuscript, and nobody knows what happened to it. It seems that we should try to locate the oldest manuscript- but that still dates to 130 years after Rashi's death. A lot can happen in 100 years. In this shiur, we focus on the additions or interpolations added to Rashi's text. We ask -how can one identify an interpolation? Who added them? What type of additions are there - were they pshat or drash? We touch upon these issues and experience this fascinating phenomenon together.

  10. Rashi on the Healthy Cows

    Rabbi David Silverberg

  11. Parashat HaShavua Teruma - Rashi and Ramban

    Rabbi David Silverberg | 33 minutes

    This shiur examines the famous mahloket (debate) between Rashi and Ramban regarding the chronology of Parashat Teruma.
    Is the command to construct the Mishkan given before or after Het Ha-Egel (the Sin of the Golden Calf) takes place? Rashi views the Mishkan as part of the atonement process for the sin, while Ramban sees the Mishkan as perpetuating the experience of Ma'amad Har Sinai.


  12. Ramses or Ra'amses - Rashi and Ibn Ezra

    Rabbi David Silverberg

  13. Toldot: Yaakov's Deceptive Words to Yitzhak

    Rabbi Jonathan Snowbell | 20 minutes

    We look at the episode of Yaakov impersonating Esav, and focus on the issue of Yaakov lying.  How could Yaakov lie to his father? We grapple with the problematic nature of a type of comment by Rashi.

    Rashi comments that Yaakov’s words were technically possibly not lying, though he still misled his father. This type of comment is troubling, though. Yaakov is still deceiving his father – and still essentially lying. One could argue that lying is justified in this context, but is the idea of formulating words in a clever manner really better? The problem of lying is about communication with deception. 

  14. Mishpatim: Laws Placed Before Them - Like a Set Table

    Rabbi Jonathan Snowbell | 17 minutes

    Rashi, in a comment on the first verse of Parashat Mishpatim, explains the curious phrasing of the pasuk as a lesson from God: God sends Moshe a message that Moshe shouldn't let the thought even cross his mind that he is merely to  teach Bnei Yisrael what to do and then walk away without explaining the reasoning behind it. Rather,  he is to "place [the mitzvot] before them” like a set table.  Bnei Yisrael also have to know the reasons behind the laws. As in Parashat Yitro, there is an emphasis on empowering the people to deal with issues on their own, without having to run to Moshe each and every time something comes up.

  15. Rashi

    Part 1

    Dr. Avigail Rock

    It is impossible to exaggerate Rashi’s importance in shaping the worldview of the Jewish People; it may be said that after Tanakh and Talmud, Rashi’s commentaries are next in line in terms of their influence. Rashi’s commentary on the Torah is the point of departure and the foundation of many of the biblical commentators who come after him.

    While the character of Rashi’s parshanut on Tanakh was oriented towards peshat, the simple meaning of the text, it was also influenced by the need to contend with Christian claims, at a time when Christian scholars of that faith were attempting to wrestle with biblical passages on the basis of peshat. We may also find polemical content in Rashi’s commentary as he contends with Christian biblical exegesis.

    Rashi sees himself, above all, as a champion of peshat, However, Rashi adds that in his commentary he will integrate certain midrashim which are harmonious with the syntactic structure of the verse, only if the additional details which are found in the midrashim dovetail with the context and sequence of the verses.

  16. Rashi

    Part 2

    Dr. Avigail Rock

    Rashi’s commentary is composed, for the most part, of adapted midrashim. What motivates Rashi to turn to midrashim that apparently do not explicate the peshat?

    • A difficulty in the verses that has no reconciliation with the peshat.
    • The Torah does not speak in the human vernacular. Rashi adopts R. Akiva’s approach, according to which every word has meaning and significance. Therefore, one should be precise with biblical language, and even when the reader has no difficulty understanding the verses, one may derive information from some extraneous element in the text.
    • Maintaining the internal logic and sequence of the text by filling in lacunae.
    • When the verse and its midrash constitute excellent opportunities to transmit a spiritual or ethical message, Rashi cites the midrash even though there is no exegetical need for it.

  17. Rashi

    Part 3 - The Moral and Educational Philosophy of Rashi (I)

    Dr. Avigail Rock

    Does Rashi explicate the verses only when he finds some difficulty in them, with the sole motive of clarifying the text, or does Rashi see himself as obligated not only to explain the verses, but even to educate the community and to transmit messages by way of parshanut when these opportunities arise?

    Regardless of the position we maintain regarding Rashi’s motivations, there is no doubt that Rashi — whether intentionally or unintentionally — has becomes one of the great developers of Jewish education throughout all generations.

    Rashi is directly responsible for shaping a significant part of the ethical and educational tradition of the Jewish nation, in a myriad of well know topics. Specifically, Rashi took a special interest in discussing the sin of Lashon Hara.

  18. Rashi

    Part 4 - The Moral and Educational Philosophy of Rashi (II)

    Dr. Avigail Rock

    In his commentaries, Rashi displays great sensitivity towards the people in society who are indigent or powerless, who have no defenders.  This compassion for the disadvantaged is expressed in numerous ways.

    Rashi expresses great affection for the forebears of Israel, the Patriarchs, the Matriarchs, and the Twelve Tribes. This regard is expressed in two areas.  The first is an attempt to minimize — to the level of obscuring the very progression of the biblical text — the negative traits or acts which are attributed in Scripture to Israel’s forebears and its role models. The second is the glorification of acts that seem to be insignificant.

  19. Rashi

    Part 5 - The Moral and Educational Philosophy of Rashi (III - Conclusion)

    Dr. Avigail Rock

    Rashi has a great affection not only for the ancestors of the Jewish people, but for Israel as a nation as well, and he succeeds in finding points in their favor even when their sins are spelled out in the verse.

    Rashi attributes many great qualities to the Land of Israel, whether physical or spiritual, and he believes that the Land of Israel has higher spiritual standards than other lands.

    A number of expressions and maxims have become a treasured part of the Hebrew language because of Rashi’s commentary. Rashi did not compose these expressions, but the fact that Rashi uses these aphorisms has made them extremely popular.

  20. Rashi - Part 6 - Rashi and Christianity (I)

    Dr. Avigail Rock

    The comments and midrashim that Rashi brings not because of any interpretative need, nor because of their educational or moral significance, but rather because of their exigency for his generation, a generation living beneath the shield and the sword of the Christian faith are examined.

    Rashi sometimes strays from the peshat of the verses because of the need to contend with Christian claims against the Jews, out of his desire to strengthen the spirit of his nation.

    There is no doubt that Rashi, in his commentary to Shir Ha-shirim, is responding to the First Crusade. Similarly, in his commentaries to a number of psalms and the Book of Yeshayahu, Rashi relates to the cruelty of the Christians, their claims against the nation of Israel, and the punishment that God is destined to bring upon them.

    Also in the Torah itself, we find anti-Christian trends in Rashi's commentary.

  21. Rashi

    Part 7 - Rashi and Christianity (II)

    Dr. Avigail Rock

    In the Torah itself, we find the following pro-Israel and anti-Christian trends in Rashi's commentary that appear to be a response to Christianity:

    • The Eternal Selection of Jewish Nation
    • The Jewish Nation as a Moral People
    • The demonization of Esav as a symbol of Christianity
    • The defense of Yaakov and his entitlement to the birthrite and the blessings

    These interpretations of Rashi cannot be seen only as encouraging the Jewish community at a time of persecution; it appears that Rashi’s aim is to teach his generation how to answer theological challenges.

  22. Rav Yosef Kara

    Dr. Avigail Rock

    Mahari Kara, an apparent student of Rashi, maintained both a loyalty to and at the same time a strong independence of Rashi.

    Mahari Kara’s exegetical principals include:

    • Loyalty to the peshat, much more so than Rashi, feeling no obligation to cite any derash at all. In this, his commentary may be considered trailblazing. 
    • A great sensitivity to literary technique and style including lashon nofel al lashon, alliteration, paronomasia, rhythm and meter, literary structure, and connective associations.
    • He delineates exegetical principles that may be applied elsewhere in Tanakh including pre-emption and parallelism.  


    Mahari Kara makes two basic assumptions about peshat and derash:

    • Even the Sages, who wrote the midrashim, believed that peshat is the essence.  The aim of derash is only for ethical purposes, and not to provide an explanation missing in Tanakh.
    • Tanakh does not require external facts in order to explain it; it cannot be that the verse speaks ambiguously and relies on Midrashic material in order to be understood.

  23. Rashbam

    Part 1

    Dr. Avigail Rock

    Rashbam displays a great deal of respect towards his grandfather, Rashi, having learnt a great deal from him, but this does not prevent him from arguing on his views. The Rashbam’s commentaries are original and creative; his avoidance of Midrashic material allows him to look at the verse in an innovative, direct way.

    The nature of Rashbam’s commentary makes the following assumptions:

    • The commentaries prior to him, including his grandfather Rashi, might have thought that they were explaining the verses in accordance with the peshat, their commentaries do not express the simple meaning of the verse.
    • The “enlightened” are those who study Tanakh without relying on any Midrashic material.
    • The Rashbam’s pursuit of pure peshat does not take away from his regard for the Sages’ traditions, which are reliable and valid. The data derived from the derash is more important than the data derived from peshat.
    • Nonetheless, the peshat maintains an independent significance.
    • Both the Peshat and the Derash are true readings of the Torah.

    The principles of Peshat according to Rashbam include:

    • Taking into account common sense, logic and nature.
    • A verse must be understood as part of the general context in which it is placed and as being integrated in the sequence of verses in which it is found.
    • The peshat of Tanakh should be understood on its own, without consulting any external information; all data must be either explicit in the text or implicit in human logic or accepted practice.

    Rashbam’s Rules for Understanding the Biblical Lexicon include:

    • Synonyms are used in juxtaposition to each other without alluding to a different meaning to each word.
    • When the Torah introduces a passage with “And it was at that time,” it is an expression which comes to tell us that this event is closely tied to the previous event.

  24. R. Yosef Bekhor Shor

    Dr. Avigail Rock

    R. Yosef of Orléans, (northern France) was a 12th-century exegete who has become known through the generation as Ri Bekhor Shor. He was a Tosafist, a student of Rabbeinu Tam, and he was influenced mainly by Rashi’s commentary and the commentaries of Mahari Kara and the Rashbam. Like his predecessors Mahari Kara and Rashbam, he was a member of the peshat school.  It appears that Ri Bekhor Shor forges a path that is a middle way between Rashi and the pursuers of the peshat. These are his major exegetical principles:

    • Ri Bekhor Shor aims to explain the verses without non-biblical information; however, when the derash is appropriate for explaining the peshat and for the general context of verses, or when one may explain it as being in keeping with biblical reality, he will not hesitate to bring a midrash.
    • The Torah does not provide superfluous information. All information provided is in fact essential.
    • Verses should be explained within their specific context, a reverse method to the foreshadowing principle of Rashbam.
    • Verses should be explained based on understanding the state of mind of the human actors.
    • Verses should be explained according to the reality of the biblical era.
    • God directs the world in a natural way as much as possible, and the use made of miracles is the absolute minimum.
    • An expansive and consistent approach to the question of the reasons of mitzvot.
    • In the Peshat vs. Halakha discussion, Ri Bekhor Shor is closer to Rashi’s approach with exception in which he explains the verses according to a Peshat that differs from Halakha.
    • A tendency to counteract Christian interpretations of the Torah.

  25. Summary of Exegesis of Northern France and Introduction to Spanish Exegesis

    Dr. Avigail Rock

    The peshat school of Northern France was founded by Rashi, who wrote his commentary according to the way of peshat alongside the Sages’ interpretations. Those who followed in his footsteps — R. Yosef (Mahari) Kara, the Rashbam, and R. Yosef Bekhor Shor of Orléans took this idea of peshat to an extreme, shunning use of the Sages’ words for purposes of biblical interpretation.

    The distinctions between the biblical exegesis of northern France and the biblical exegesis of Spain is that the Jewish exegetes of northern France based their approaches, for the most part, on sources and ideas from Jewish tradition, which we may describe as internal concepts. These are not based at all on the ideas and outlooks of the Christian culture amidst which the exegetes resided. In contrast, the Jewish exegetes of Muslim Spain drew their tools from internal sources as well as external sources. The many domains to which the scholars of Spain had been exposed left their mark on the character of the Spanish commentaries.

  26. R. Avraham ibn Ezra

    Part 3

    Dr. Avigail Rock

    Ibn Ezra believes that it is inconceivable for the Sages’ halakhic tradition to contradict the peshat of the verses. On this point, he argues with the Rashbam, who goes as far as to explain the halakhic verses against the tradition of the Sages. As we have explained in the previous lessons, Ibn Ezra supports the view of philological pashtanut and exerts great effort to explain the verses in accordance with the rules of grammar and topical logic. However, when there is a contradiction between the peshat and the Sages’ tradition in Halakha, ibn Ezra pushes the simple meaning of the words so that it will fit with the Sages’ view, while striving to have it dovetail with the rules of grammar and language.

    Despite these words of Ibn Ezra expressing the unquestionable authority of the Sages in Halakha, many times ibn Ezra veers in his interpretation from the interpretation of the halakhic ruling.

    ·       It may be that ignorance of the halakhic ruling – due to poverty and wandering - is what causes him to interpret verses differently than the Sages.

    ·       Alternatively, while the ibn Ezra sees himself as bound by the Sages’ legal authority, the Sages themselves do not believe that this is the verse’s intent, but they tie the law to the verse.

    While ibn Ezra had a profoundly negative view of the Karaites, it is important to note that he does not hesitate to cite their interpretations if he believes they are correct. According to his view, the truth of the Oral Torah may be established not only by finding its laws in the verses of Written Torah, but by confronting the reality of the absence of many laws in the Written Torah. These exigent rules are only found in the Oral Torah, and without their existence there is no significance at all to the laws of the Written Torah.

    Ibn Ezra was aware of Rashi’s status in France. Therefore, in his commentary to the Torah, ibn Ezra keeps his silence despite the fact that he disagreed with him.

    Ibn Ezra conceals issue in his commentary; he embraces the phenomenon of "sod" with regard to deep concepts, issues regarding the authorship of Torah and sins of great Biblical figures.

  27. Radak - Rav David Kimchi

    Dr. Avigail Rock

    The Radak — R. David Kimchi — was born and active in Provence, in southern France, near Spain. The Radak was a member of a family of Spanish grammarians and exegetes. Like R. Avraham ibn Ezra, the Kimchi family brought the fundamentals of linguistics and grammar from Spain to France.

    Despite the fact that Radak sees himself as a pashtan, he does not hesitate to cite derash. However, when the Radak quotes these sources, it is obvious that he has a distinction between peshat and derash.

    Two principles guide the Radak in citing Midrashic sources:

    • When it is difficult to resolve the peshat without the derash.
    • For the lovers of derash - in order to explain the text and engage his readers.

    The view of the Radak is that the Torah is not a historical tome. Those stories of the Patriarchs which have been selected to put into the Torah with all of its details must fulfill one criterion: teaching a moral lesson.

    Just as one may learn from the positive acts of the forefathers, so one may learn from their negative acts. The Radak does not engage in apologetics; instead, he writes explicitly that the narratives which describe the negative acts of the Patriarchs have been written in order to help us avoid this sort of behavior.

    The Radak points out consistently that the Torah often uses repetitious language, not because each word introduces new meaning, but because the verse seeks to stress the significance of a given issue. This view stands in stark contrast to that of Rashi, who argues that generally speaking, one must assign meaning to every word, as there cannot be any redundancy in the biblical text.

  28. The Chizkuni — R. Chizkiya ben Manoach

    Dr. Avigail Rock

    The Chizkuni wrote a comprehensive commentary on the Torah, and his style is very clear and accessible.

    It appears that the Chizkuni had three aims in composing his commentary on the Torah:

    ·       To collect all the explanations in keeping with the peshat from the works of the commentators who preceded him.

    ·       To explain Rashi’s’ commentary by adding or changing to Rashi's words, by resolving difficulties in Rashi, and by pointing out inconsistencies in Rashi’s commentary.

    ·       To write an independent commentary on the Torah. Despite the fact that the Chizkuni utilizes many commentaries for the purposes of writing his work, there are more than a few original commentaries to be found in its lines, characterized mainly by his attempt to understand reality and the psychological motivations of the characters in each narrative.

  29. Guide to the Perplexed - Perplexing Questions Regarding Rashi's Bible Commentary - A Search for Answers

    Dr. Lisa Fredman

    תאריך פרסום: 5777 | | Hour

    There are many manuscripts for Rashi's commentary - a commentary that has become a basic staple in Torah study. There are many perplexing questions about Rashi's commentary, ranging from to potential nusach (biblical manuscript) discrepancies, to Rashi's philosophical views on the subject of evil and free will - to the question of what of "Rashi's" commentary that we have - especially on the books of Neviim and Ketuvim - was written by him, and what was written by students or supercommentaries?  

    We look at examples from throughout Tanakh relating to different questions we have in order to appreciate these questions. We take heart in the continuing research being done on the supercommentaries and newly digitzed manuscripts, which can aid us in our quest for answers.

  30. Chayei Sarah: What Makes For A Successful Life?

    Rabbi David Fohrman |

    The Torah eulogizes Sarah by dividing up her age into 100 years, 20 years, and 7 years. In this video, Rabbi Fohrman delves into Rashi's famous explanation, and shows us that Sarah's integrated of experiences into her later life, we are given a model for how to best embrace life.


    If you enjoyed this video, please visit AlephBeta.org to watch more.

  31. Rashi on Isaiah 53: Peshat or Theology?

    Professor David Berger | Hour and 5 minutes

    The “suffering servant” chapter in Isaiah was the most theologically sensitive biblical passage for Jews in Christian Europe. Rashi strikingly understands the servant as the Jewish people whose suffering atones for the sins of the nations of the world. A common understanding of his motive is his search for an explanation of Jewish tribulations during the First Crusade. Such an explanation, however, would be psychologically unsatisfying, and the possibility that Rashi was motivated primarily by considerations of pshat is greatly enhanced by indirect but compelling evidence that other medieval Jews who disagreed with him provided interpretations that reveal--against their will--that their own deepest instinct pointed to his understanding as the straightforward meaning of the passage. 

  32. Rashi’s Peshat Revolution – Was it an innovation “ex nihilo”?

    Dr. Lisa Fredman | Hour and 7 minutes

    Rashi was the first commentator in Northern France/Ashkenaz to write a ongoing Bible commentary that addressed the Peshat. Was this innovative breakthrough original to Rashi or did he cull from earlier sources? If so, which sources? What are the building blocks of his Peshat commentary and why did he feel the need to introduce this new style of Biblical interpretation?

  33. Between Rashi's Torah and Nakh Commentaries: Similarities, Differences and Rationale

    Dr. Lisa Fredman

    תאריך פרסום: 2022 | | Hour and 3 minutes

    Thousands of studies have been dedicated to Rashi's Torah Commentary, much fewer have been written about his commentary on the rest of the Tanakh, and little attention has been paid to comparing the two. Using Esav as a case study, we will compare Rashi's treatment of this biblical personality in both commentaries, uncover significant differences, and posit important reasons for this discrepancy.

  34. Rashi and Rav Yosef Kara

    Rabbi Amnon Bazak