These five volumes of Studies in the Weekly Torah (Pentateuch) Reading focus on the creative approach to Biblical commentary of 19th-century commentator, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch.
In contrast to the traditional homiletic style, this collection of studies helps the reader “hear the Biblical voice” of the text as the communication of the Divine Author. Rabbi Hirsch’s approach to interpretation is primarily peshat: the contextual meaning of the text, understood in the wider context of the rest of the literary work, as well as in its historical setting.
A key ingredient in Rabbi Hirsch’s literary approach to language is the analytic school that considers Biblical language as poetry expressing conceptual images, allusions, symbols, metaphors, similes, and idiomatic expressions familiar to the Biblical audience at the time, to convey — and preserve — its enduring message.
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