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In writing a review, I know that I have essentially two audience members - those who know Rashi quite well and those that have never heard of Rashi before.
For those of you unfamiliar with Rashi, he was an 11th century rabbi who wrote responsa, Torah commentary, Talmud commentary and died in 1205. Maurice Liber has many chapters devoted to his Torah commentary and discussion thereof. If you are Jewish, this can give you a taste of Rashi before studying further. If you are not Jewish, this makes for a fascinating study in medieval philosophy as well as the tensions between Christian and Jewish communities. Maurice Liber notes many instances where Rashi purposefully comments on a psalm or a passage in a way that illegitimizes the Xian viewpoint. In other places, he's merely commenting as a commentator without the tensions.
If you are familiar with Rashi, this is still a fascinating book. Written in 1905 with a completely different set of biases (Liber praises Rashi for inspiring Mendelssohn for example), this book at times feels like the antithesis of those Artscroll biographies that make you suspect that the great sages never went to the bathroom much less read the secular newspapers of their days.Read more ›
The Jewish Bible was already old during that amazing century in which Jesus, Gamaliel, Hillel and Paul lived, and which saw the destruction of the Second Temple, the rise of rabbinical Judaism, and the emergence of Christianity. Until that time all Biblical scholarship was oral, but after the destruction of the Temple and everything else that was occurring, rabbis--which is to say, scholars--began to write commentaries on the Bible and other kinds of works. Rashi became one of the greatest rabbinical scholars, not just of his day, but of any day.
This biography was written over a century ago, and it reads like it. In other words, its slow going, and generally not organized as we expect today. On the other hand, if you work through it, you will be well rewarded. Author Liber places Rashi in the Jewish community of his day and time, and just as importantly, places that Jewish community in the context of Christian Europe. Liber tells us about the man, his character, and what we do know of the kinds of details we want in a biography. Liber also relates some of the fantastic tall tales and legends that survive about Rashi, and if he does so wryly, its because he realizes those kind of tales tell us something important too about a man and his times too.Read more ›
For those who are not well versed in the religious vs. non/anti religious from a Jewish perspective, very similar to the movements sparked by the Renaissance, Reformation and the Counter Reformation: Humanist/Socialist, Christians (Protestants) and Catholics that are very active today within numerous aspects of society today.
The names Liber affords acknowledgment must be questioned as the place the work into a polemic position because of their direct association to, and with, the Communist-Socialist movements: Bund and Reform Judaism. For those that do not know, Reform Judaism was the attempt by Abraham Geiger and a man named Lillianthal under the theories of Mendelssohn to Socialize Judaism by combining the teachings and culture of the Jew with that of the Christian, Pagan and the Humanist/Socialist/Communist theology. The result has been disastrous to Jewry and Judaism. Very similar to the attacks and splitting of Christianity into numerous sects all working against each other instead of with each other. I'd strongly recommend the book "To Eliminate the Opiate" by Dr. Rabbi Marvin Antelman.
Well written but suspect in my opinion... Happy Reading...
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a good work overall. What more could be known about a man who lived almost a thousand years ago? Especially helpful is to know that Rashi spoke so clearly and simply.Published 18 months ago by David Clem
I am in the middle of reading this book, and it is kind of boring and some of the text can get repetitive, but it is very informing on understanding the time and mind of Rashi.Published 20 months ago by Amazon Customer
For those who have a sincere interest in the sages, this is a worthwhile read. If a book adds only one gem to my crown of knowlrdge, I deem it justified.Published 23 months ago by Amazon Customer
Excellent reading material for any droid user. I found it and am finding it very informative and enlightening pertaining to Jewish Chinuch.Published on January 11, 2014 by Rabbi Aminadav Hinton
good book overall as an interesting introduction to Rashi. However, it treated the subject very simplistically. Read morePublished on October 12, 2013 by Marian L. Thornton