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The Book of Ecclesiastes is part of the "wisdom literature" of the Bible. It concerns itself with universal philosophical questions, rather than events in the history of Israel and in the Hebrews' covenant with God. Koheleth, the speaker in this book, ruminates on what -- if anything -- has lasting value, and how -- if at all -- God interacts with humankind. Koheleth expresses bewilderment and frustration at life's absurdities and injustices. He grapples with the inequities that pervade the world and the frailty and limitations of human wisdom and righteousness. His awareness of these discomfiting facts coexists with a firm believe in God's rule and God's fundamental justice, and he looks for ways to define a meaningful life in a world where so much is senseless. Ecclesiastes is traditionally read on the Jewish holiday Sukkot, the harvest festival.
The haftarot are an ancient part of Hebrew liturgy. These supplemental readings are excerpted from the Prophets (Nevi'im) and accompany each weekly Sabbath reading from the Torah as well as readings for special Sabbaths and festivals. Noted Bible scholar Michael Fishbane introduces each haftarah with an outline and discussion of how that passage conveys its meaning, and he follows it with observations on how it relates to the Torah portion or special occasion. Individual comments, citing classical rabbinic as well as modern commentators, highlight ambiguities and difficulties in the Hebrew text, which appears in concert with the JPS translation. The haftarot are also put into biblical context by a separate overview of all prophetic books (except Jonah) that are excerpted in the haftarah cycle.
Historical Introduction, Translation, and Commentary
The Passover haggadah enjoys an unrivaled place in Jewish culture, both religious and secular. And of all the classic Jewish books, the haggadah is the one most "alive" today. Jews continue to rewrite, revise, and add to its text, recasting it so that it remains relevant to their lives. In this new volume in the JPS Commentary collection, Joseph Tabory, one of the world's leading authorities on the history of the haggadah, traces the development of the seder and the haggadah through the ages. The book features an extended introduction by Tabory, the classic Hebrew haggadah text side by side with its English translation, and Tabory's clear and insightful critical-historical commentary.
600 B.C.E.to 1900 C.E.
This is an indispensable resource about the role of Jewish women from post-biblical times to the twentieth century. Unique in its approach, it is structured so that each chapter, which is divided into three parts, covers a specific period and geographical area. The first section of the book contains an overview, explaining how historical events affected Jews in general and Jewish women in particular. This is followed by a section of biographical entries of women of the period whose lives are set in their economic, familial, and cultural backgrounds. The third and last part of each chapter, "The World of Jewish Women," is organized by topic and covers women's activities and interests and how Jewish laws concerning women developed and changed. This comprehensive work is an easy-to-use sourcebook, synopsizing rich and diverse resources. By examining history and analyzing the dynamics of Jewish law and custom, it illuminates the circumstances of Jewish women's lives and traces the changes that have occurred throughout the centuries. It casts a new and clear light on Jewish women as individuals and sets women firmly within the context of their own cultural and historical periods. The book contains illustrations, boxed text, extensive endnotes, and indices that list each woman by name. It is ideal for women's groups and study groups as well as students and scholars.
Toward a Reconstruction of American-Jewish Life
Judaism as a Civilization is widely considered the genesis of the Reconstructionist Movement, representing a watershed moment in modern Judaism. In this classic book, Mordecai Kaplan introduced a new way of looking at Judaism: as an evolving religious civilization. His approach required innovation in liturgy and ritual, elimination of obsolete customs, and adjustment in light of prevailing social, political, and cultural conditions. Kaplan felt that all Jews—traditional and liberal, religious and secular—could play a part in this “reconstruction.” Judaism as a Civilization, first published in 1934, remains one of the most original and thought-provoking contributions to modern Jewish thought.
The Origins of the Jewish Nation
We all know about King David and King Solomon, but what about the kings Omri and Uzziah? Of the more than fifty monarchs who sat on the throne of the Jews for over 1000 years, most of us can recall only a few. What we do remember about them has been colored by legend and embellishment. In Kings of the Jews, Norman Gelb tells us the real stories of them all. And in doing so, he reveals how a remarkably resilient people survived divisions, discord, and conquest to forge a vibrant identity that has lasted to the present day. Kings of the Jews explores some of the most dramatic periods in Jewish history: those of the united Israelite kingdom under David and Solomon, the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah, the Babylonian exile, and the destruction of the Second Temple and the Roman conquest of Jerusalem. With illustrations, maps, chronologies, and index.
To this day Legends of the Jews remains a most remarkable and comprehensive compilation of stories connected to the Hebrew Bible. It is an indispensable reference on that body of literature known as Midrash, the imaginative retelling and elaboration on Bible stories in which mythological tales about demons and magic co-exist with moralistic stories about the piety of the patriarchs. Legends is the first book to which one turns to learn about the postbiblical understanding of a biblical episode, or to discover the source for biblical legends that cannot be traced directly to the Bible. It is also the first place to find the answers to such questions as: on what day was Abraham born; what was Moses' physical appearance, or what was the name of Potiphar's wife. Launched in 1901 by The Jewish Publication Society, the original project began as a single volume of 1,000 pages but grew much larger by 1938, when the seventh volume containing the indexes was finally published. Louis Ginzberg was 28 years old when Henrietta Szold, secretary of the Society, prepared the contract for what was conceived as a small, popular volume on Jewish legends. As the scion of two distinguished rabbinical families, Ginzberg studied in the great Lithuanian yeshivot of Telz and Slobodka. Later he received his secular education at Strassburg and Heidelberg universities. This combination of religious and secular learning enabled him to pursue with great passion the wide-ranging roots of Jewish legend. Ginzberg believed that Jewish legend was both earlier and greater than what was represented in the Talmud and midrashic collections--the primary Rabbinic sources. And so he scoured Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and Oriental sources to rediscover the fine threads of Jewish legend. The result was a masterpiece: a single, coherent collection of legends that follows the biblical narrative, accompanied by detailed notes that reveal a complex subtext of often intersecting and multi-layered levels of influence, borrowed notions, and interpretive commentaries. Four new indexes and a new introduction by David Stern, Professor of Postbiblical and Medieval Hebrew Literature, and Director of the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania, complete the reissue of one of the greatest classics of modern Jewish literature.
Glückel of Hameln’s memoir is widely viewed as one of the earliest major works written by a Jewish woman and has become a classic. Glückel’s aim, she writes at the beginning of her memoir, was to while away the long and melancholy nights that tormented her after her husband’s death, and to inform her 12 children about their family and its history. But her book is not just an account of her life; it is also a fascinating depiction of 17th century Germany and its Jewish community. The Life of Glückel of Hameln is the only English translation of Glückel’s story from the original Yiddish and is widely considered the most accurate and complete translation available. It was out of print for many years until this JPS edition. The volume also includes an introduction by Beth-Zion Abrahams that fills in the background of Glückel’s life and tells how she came to write her memoir. With this reissue, JPS invites a wide audience to read this important record of Jewish, European, and women’s history.
Finding Leah in the Bible and Midrash
The Lost Matriarch offers a unique response to the sparse and puzzling biblical treatment of the matriarch Leah. Although Leah is a major figure in the book of Genesis, the biblical text allows her only a single word of physical description and two lines of direct dialogue. The Bible tells us little about the effects of her lifelong struggles in an apparently loveless marriage to Jacob, the husband she shares with three other wives, including her beautiful younger sister, Rachel. Fortunately, two thousand years of traditional and modern commentators have produced many fascinating interpretations (midrash) that reveal the far richer story of Leah hidden within the text.
Through Jerry Rabow’s weaving of biblical text and midrash, readers learn the lessons of the remarkable Leah, who triumphed over adversity and hardship by living a life of moral heroism. The Lost Matriarch reveals Leah’s full story and invites readers into the delightful, provocative world of creative rabbinic and literary commentary. By experiencing these midrashic insights and techniques for reading “between the lines,” readers are introduced to what for many will be an exciting new method of personal Bible interpretation.