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The Mekhilta de-Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai is a collection of classical midrashic interpretation of the biblical Book of Exodus. Lost for centuries, the text was reconstructed and recovered in the 19th and 20th centuries by both German and Israeli scholars from a variety of source materials, including medieval manuscripts of the text and midrashic anthologies. As one of the first collections of rabbinic biblical interpretation, the Mekhilta de-Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai is an indispensable source for understanding the history, beliefs, and practices of the earliest rabbis. This edition, translated and explicated for the first time in English by W. David Nelson, is The Jewish Publication Society's latest contribution to making ancient Jewish literature accessible to modern readers. A critical introduction provides the reader with a firm grounding in the historical setting of the text, as well as its source material, reconstruction, subject matter, and significance for understanding the history of Judaism. Set in a modern, readable typeface, the Hebrew text faces the English translation with the author's annotation beneath. Indexes include scriptural verse citations and rabbinic sages named in the text.
A Manual of Wisdom and Piety for Jewish Women (Edward E. Elson Classic)
The first-known Yiddish book to be written by a woman, Meneket Rivkah (Rivkah's Nurse) reveals a great deal about 16th-century Jewish women's lives and religious practices. It includes Rivkah bat Meir's sermons, her interpretations of the Bible, and other religious instructions on various topics to guide women in their familial relationships. First published posthumously in Prague, in 1609, Meneket Rivkah pre-dates the work of Glueckel of Hamelin and makes a new contribution to the fields of Yiddish literature and Jewish women's literature. Von Rohden's critical introduction and commentary serve to place the work within biblical and rabbinical literature, and within other Yiddish ethical works of Rivkah bat Meir's time. This is the first book to include the original Yiddish text in English translation, as well as the original Yiddish manuscript of Rivkah bat Meir's unpublished Simhes Toyre Lid. The book also includes the original Yiddish text of Meneket Rivkah.
The Path of the Upright
Mesillat Yesharim is a classic of Jewish ethical literature. Written by one of the leading kabbalists of the late Middle Ages, it is also a window into the kabbalist’s understanding of the connection between ethics and mystical vision. Luzzatto, one of the great Hebrew stylists of his time, is acknowledged by some as the first writer of modern Hebrew; thus Mesillat Yesharim is also important for its place in Hebrew literature. This translation, published originally in 1936 by JPS, is a landmark in Jewish publishing. It made this Hebrew text finally available to English readers, and it gave us insights into the groundbreaking work that Kaplan did in orienting American Jews to the deep connection between ethical living and religious belief. It is no wonder that this book has become the centerpiece of the modern-day Mussar Movement, which inspires so many on their spiritual path. Rabbi Ira Stone, consummate teacher and stirring speaker, is a major force in the resurgence of the Mussar Movement. In his introduction, he presents Luzzatto and Mesillat Yesharim in their historical context, and gives us new insights into Kaplan’s emerging theology. Stone also explains the principles of reading that he uses in his commentary and teaching to make this medieval text so inspiring to readers today. This volume contains the original Kaplan translation, as well as those sections of the text that Kaplan omitted, along with Stone’s new commentary. The original Hebrew text is in the back of the book.
Classic Selections from the Tanakh (Third Edition)
JPS first published Pathways Through the Bible in 1946, selling over 250,000 copies. It featured selections from the 1917 translation of the JPS Tanakh, "bridged" by narrative summaries written by Rabbi Cohen. Rabbi Stein replaced the 1917 JPS translation with the 1985 translation and has updated the prose and made the language gender-sensitive. This new edition shares the same essential features as the original, especially the core principle that Pathways Through the Bible, in Cohen's words, "is not intended to replace The Holy Scriptures...it is rather to be regarded as preparatory to the reading of the Bible itself.... Its purpose is to open for you pathways into the magic realm of the greatest literature ever written." 24 gold-framed sepia illustrations
Timeless Wisdom for Modern Life
In Pirke Avot: Timeless Wisdom for Modern Life, William Berkson provides a fresh, insightful, and exciting approach to this central and compelling classical Jewish ethical text. He, with the assistance of Menachem Fisch, provides a clear and comprehensible translation of the tractate, and his historical commentary draws insightfully on the sources of Jewish tradition for its explication of its sayings. Most significantly, Berkson brings the ideas found in Avot into conversation with a wide variety of philosophical, psychological, and religious perspectives so that the reader can drink deeply from the wellsprings of wisdom that Avot offers for contemporary persons – Jews and non-Jews alike. This book is a most important contribution to Jewish conversation in our time! "-- Rabbi David Ellenson, President Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religon
Conversations with Biblical Women
This rich collection celebrates 23 biblical women, from the familiar Sarah, Miriam, Ruth, and Esther, to the more mysterious Hatzlelponi mother of Samson) and the unnamed "Wife of Ovadiah." Based on the 13th-century Yemenite Midrash ha-Gadol (literally, the Great Midrash) -- a work only partially translated into English and, until now, virtually unknown to American Jews -- this new volume presents stories, commentaries, original monologues, and discussion topics touching upon the lives of Jewish women today. Penina Adelman became captivated by Midrash ha-Gadol while seeking a new ritual to perform before her daughter's bat mitzvah. She eventually enlisted a group of writers to join her in studying the midrash. These women agreed to step inside the Bible and "become" some of their ancestors. The resulting book is an unusual encounter among remarkable biblical women -- from different time periods and walks of life -- who are able to converse directly with one another and the reader. As the writers probe the hearts and minds of the biblical characters, they provide an insightful, behind-the-scenes look into the relationships of women whose feelings and actions have inspired readers throughout the ages. This book is a beautiful example of the way today's scholars are using midrash to weave together Jewish tradition and modern society. In the original Yemenite midrash, each of the women is linked to a line from the poem in Proverbs, "Eishet Chayil" (Women of Valor) -- the poem often sung at Jewish weddings by the groom to the bride and at the traditional Shabbat table by a husband to his wife, and recited at a Jewish woman's funeral. In this new book, the reader is invited to experience the blending of the familiar poem with the previously unexplored treasure trove of Midrash ha-Gadol and the new voices for each character. This extraordinary combination makes it ideal for Jewish educators, teen and adult study groups, readers of midrash, and scholars in the fields of women's studies and contemporary spirituality. It also makes a lovely gift for brides, mothers, and grandmothers.
R. Kahana's Compilation of Discourses for Sabbaths and Festal Days (JPS Classic Reissues)
Long known only to scholars and specialists, Pesikta de-Rab Kahana is a masterpiece of midrashic literature. A collection of discourses for special Sabbaths and festival days compiled and organized during the fifth century, it was well known and studied from the end of that century until it disappeared sometime in the sixteenth century. From manuscripts discovered in 1868 and still others 100 years later, it was reborn. In 1975 JPS brought it to English readers through Braude and Kapstein's translation.
Although Jewish scholars have recognized the French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas as one of the greatest minds of this century, the majority of Jews have remained ignorant of his teachings, largely because his work-even in translation-is dense and erudite. Rabbi Ira Stone, who has studied Levinas's work for many years and incorporated his methods and perspectives into his own teaching, now makes Levinas accessible to lay readers for the first time.
Making the Bible a Timeless Text
For many people the Bible is a dusty old book with little relevance to their lives. But for Vistozky the Bible is a living entity that can offer endless insights for its readers if they enter into dialogue with it in the manner of the ancient rabbis, whose midrash, or commentary, has accompanied it almost from its beginning. Focusing on themes in key biblical texts - good and evil, sexuality, parent-child relations, sibling rivalry, faith, and creation - Reading the Book demonstrates the ingenuity and richness of this traditional Jewish approach. It then shows how readers of any religion can create their own midrashim and develop living relationships with the text.