This first of five volumes of Studies on the Torah (the Pentateuch) focuses on the creative approach to Biblical commentary of 19th-century commentator, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch.
Rabbi Hirsch’s ideas are based on analyses of the written text, allowing the words to speak for themselves through the use of language and imagery. His clearly developed philosophy of Judaism pervades the commentary and evokes eternal concepts and values reflecting the Torah’s contribution to contemporary Jewish and general society.
The first 11 chapters of the Bible are presented in these Studies in the form of six teaching stories that offer a universal message to all humankind, prior to the introduction of Abraham. Beginning with Chapter 12, four to five Studies explore meaningful themes within each weekly Torah reading.
Jews, who choose to guide their lives by the teachings of the Torah, observe the rituals of Shabbat, High Holy Days and Festivals, as well as Jewish dietary laws. Men (and some women) don the ritual objects of tzitzit (fringes) and tefillin (phylacteries). Some will say they do these things “because that’s what identified Jews do,” but others, seeking continual meaningful spiritual experiences in their personal practices, search for some fundamental, Divinely legislated purpose behind these symbolic behaviors.
These two books are written for those who wish to study the Biblical texts that legislate these practices in order to “hear the Biblical Voice” speak to them, giving contemporary meaning to their observances.
With the relevant source texts in both Hebrew and English, the reader is guided by a series of questions arising from the text; questions which, through analysis, ultimately provide the key to understanding the teachings that underlie these symbolic rituals. The central ideas and concepts behind these observances are illuminated and integrated, giving us a coherent, inspiring explanation of their meaningfulness.
Presented in a clear, orderly fashion, and designed for individuals interested in the Bible at all levels of education, this volume allows the serious reader -- layman or scholar -- to gain a fresh appreciation for the purpose, meaning and contemporary relevance of the Sabbath, High Holy Days and Festivals in one book, and Kashrut, Tzitzit and Tefillin in a second book, that characterize traditional Jewish practice