Torah Commentators

Wendie Gabay
Head Librarian
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy Library
French Philosopher ( 1288 - 1344 )
Commonly known as GERSONIDES.
Philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, and Bible commentator, who
practiced medicine.
The RALBAG wrote commentaries on Job (1325), Song of Songs (1325 or
1326), Ecclesiastes (1328), Ruth (1329), Esther (1329), the Pentateuch (1329–
38), the Former Prophets (1338), Proverbs, Daniel, Nehemiah, and Chronicles
Diverse questions of a philosophical or theological nature are discussed by
him, such as the problem of providence, miracles, and the Messiah.
From each book of the Bible, Levi extracts the ethical, philosophical, and
religious teachings that may be gleaned from the text and calls them to'alot
or to'aliyyot.
Born in Poland.
First Jewish bibliographer.
Assistant singer for the Altneu synagogue
(Altneuschul) in Prague,
hence, the nickname Bass.
He published the Pentateuch with a
super-commentary on Rashi, Siftei
Ḥakhamim (1680), a popular
commentary often reprinted; and
Siftei Yeshenim (1680),
His commentary is included in
‫( מקראות גדולות‬Mikraot
Gedolot) by Judaica Press
U.S. Reform rabbi and author
Plaut was born in Munster,
Germany, and earned his law
degree at the University of
Berlin in 1934.
When Nazi decrees made a law
career impossible, he switched
to Jewish studies.
He was tutored by Abraham
Joshua *Heschel
His masterpiece remains The
Torah – A Modern
Commentary (1981),
Rashi commented on
most, if not all, the books
of the Bible.
The main distinguishing
characteristic of Rashi's
commentary is a
compromise between the
literal and the midrashic
Rashi was born in Troyes, France.
Ibn Ezra's commentary is
devoted to precise and
multifaceted linguistic
One of the most important
Jewish Bible commentators;
also a poet, composer of
*piyyutim , grammarian,
translator, philosopher,
astronomer, and astrologer.
He had a tendency to apply the
rules developed by his
predecessors with extreme
caution and stringency.
Born in Narbonne, France
Author of a Hebrew grammar &
dictionary (Mikhol & Sefer haShorashim)
Kimhi used the methodology of Ibn Ezra
and the elder Kimhis stressing scientific
Kimḥi relied heavily on rabbinic
Kimḥi strove for clarity and readibility
His commentary on the Prophets & the
Psalms was translated from Hebrew into
Latin, during the Renaissance period
for the benefit of non-Jewish students
of the Bible.
Kimhi’s influence can be traced in every
line of the King James Bible.
He was strongly influenced by the
rationalism of Ibn Ezra and Maimonides.
He studied philosophy, mathematics,
philology, and, in particular, medicine,
He settled in Bologna,
where he played an active
role in resuscitating a
Hebrew printing house
and in organizing the
community. He
established a bet-midrash
which he conducted until
his death. His renown
was such that Italian
rabbis addressed halakhic
questions to him.
He focused on
literary structure and vocabulary exegesis
of the Bible.
He was educated at the
University of Florence, where
he was ordained in 1908.
A life-long Zionist, Cassuto
accepted an invitation to fill the
chair of Bible studies at the
Hebrew University in 1939,
where he taught until his death
in 1951.
Cassuto was appointed
director of the Rabbinical
Seminary in Florence, Italy.
Born in Riga-Educated in Berlin
From 1930, when she settled in
Palestine, until 1955, she taught
at the Mizrachi Women
Teachers Seminary in
Jerusalem. She was a regular
Bible commentator on the Israel
Broadcasting Service. From the
late 1950s she taught Bible at
Tel Aviv University (becoming a
tenured professor in 1968) and
at Bar-Ilan University.
Leibowitz clearly understood
that the layers of meaning in
the Bible could only be taught if
the student was an active
player in the classroom.
Her classes were not lectures
but dialogues between herself,
her students, and the written
Rabbi Moses Ben Naḥman;
E of
Naḥmanides acted as chief rabbi
Catalonia until his emigration to Ereẓ
His commentaries are
concerned mainly with the
sequence of the biblical
passages and with the
deeper meaning of the
Bible's laws and narrative.
Spanish rabbi and scholar
and one of the leading
authors of talmudic
literature in the Middle
Ages; philosopher,
kabbalist, biblical exegete,
poet, and physician.
Rabbi and Kabbalist
Born in Salé, Morocco
Desirous of establishing a college in Ereẓ Israel to
which Diaspora students would flock in order to
hasten the redemption, he set out for Ereẓ Israel
together with his closest disciples, There he
Established yeshivot.
His best-known and most
important work is the Or haḤayyim (Venice, 1742), a
commentary on the Bible.
Born is Lisbon, Portugal.
Head of Treasury in Lisbon.
Falsely accused of plotting
against the court, he escaped
to Castile, Spain.
Abarbanel’s Bible writings were
different from the usual biblical
commentaries because he took
social and political issues of the
times into consideration.
Following the Spainish
Inquisition of 1492, found
haven in Venice , Italy.
There he completed literary
works on philosophy, science,
history and Torah
He also took the time to include an
introduction concerning the character
of each book he commented on, as well
as its date of composition, and the
intention of the original author, in
order to make the works more
accessible to the average reader.
He treated the Bible as a living
literature and a dynamic force
Born in London, England
in history, endowed with the
Became a U.S. citizen in 1959.
ability to move men and
transform civilizations.
World renowned lecturer and
author in Biblical Studies.
Librarian at Jewish Theological
Sarna attempted to integrate
the results of a wide spectrum
of research in many disciplines,
and includes insights of
generations of Jewish
Wrote an easy to read commentary on
Psalms, Proverbs, and Job.
Began the popular Bible commentary
Metsudath David ‫מצודת דוד‬
a lucid exposition of the biblical text
Metsudath Zion ‫מצודת זיון‬
a glossary explaining difficult words as
they occur
His son, Rabbi Yehiel Hillel Altschuler
completed this work.
His major work, the Arba'ah Turim, as a result
of which he is commonly referred to as "the
Ba'al ha-Turim. The work is divided into four
sections (Turim, "rows”)
Jacob also wrote a comprehensive
commentary on the Torah (Zolkiew, 1806),
containing the best expositions of the peshat
("literal meaning") by earlier Bible
commentators, such as *Saadiah Gaon , *Rashi
, Abraham *Ibn Ezra , David *Kimḥi , and
others, in particular abstracting "the
straightforward explanations" from the
commentary of *Nahmanides and disregarding
the kabbalistic ones.
When Jacob added his own opinions
it was usually to explain the reason
for a Torah law or mitzvah.

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