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5.0 out of 5 stars
The Comic Torah: Reimagining the Very Good Book
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on November 28, 2010
Moses is black and God is green -- and a she -- and both bear a strong resemblance to their real-life creators in "The Comic Torah," a graphic reimagining of history's enduring bestseller.

Husband and wife Aaron Freeman and Sharon Rosenzweig have written and illustrated a biblical midrash that is colorful, deep, funny and mind-blowing -- just like the original.

As the Five Books unroll -- with each Torah portion presented in a sumptuous double spread - the relationship between God and Israel develops in all its glory and chaos. What caught my imagination was the shifting relationship between God and Moses, sometimes like parent and child, other times like mistress and servant, and still others as mismatched lovers, even as Moses dreams of the Promised Land.

Those dreams are not so innocent and holy. Rosenzweig and Freeman depict the Israelites' ultimate quest as a blonde bombshell called Honey "The Land" Milkand. Other characters include an oily Jacob, with a suit, narrow tie and pencil moustache, and a dreadlocked Aaron. Other gods, dwelling in the etymological mists of the biblical text, make an appearance, including Zeus, who God turns to for advice. "You have a pantheon of support," she complains. "I'm a single parent."

"The Comic Torah" doesn't disparage the tradition that has grown up around the Torah. Freeman and Rosenzweig have clearly wrestled with the text. But they have also tapped into one of the secrets of the Torah's resilience, it's weirdness and primalness. "The Comic Torah" reads like a strand of tradition that never made it into the canon.

And it's often sharply funny. As God reveals to Moses her plans for a Tabernacle in the desert she conjures the image of a unicorn. "To cover the ceiling -- Tachash skin!" she says. "Wow, it's beautiful," Moses says, gazing at the creature whose non-existence has broken every child's heart. "Can I have one?" "No," God says, "I'm only making one. But you can kill it for me."

I wonder how some of the jokes will hold up, particularly popular references such as "Jew Tube" and to the Obama presidential campaign. (Joshua is a ringer for the president.) On the other hand, the Torah comes around every year, and is new every year, as Freeman and Rosenzweig acknowledge. "The Comic Torah," they write "is a snapshot of the arguments we had this year. Next year, different arguments."

And let us say: Amen.
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on November 2, 2010
In The Comic Torah, Aaron Freeman and Sharon Rosenzweig
illustrate key sections from each weekly Torah portion
in an offbeat, contemporary, loving interpretation that some may find
irreverent and many will find delightful. But the authors take the text
seriously--with a great deal of spice, and sass reminischent of Abraham's
backtalk to God in defense of Sodom. They depict God as a green woman--a jealous
God? a God who cares profoundly about Her earth?--which I find no more disrespectful than
Michelangelo's depiction of God as an old man with a long beard. Depiction of authority figures have to change with the times.

YHVH is demanding, giving, protecting, challenging, pushy, loving, kvelling (bragging), kveching (complaining) and more. The ultimate Jewish mother on a strong tea, sweet kugel, steroid high.

The portrayal of the Land of Israel as a beautiful, voluptuous woman echoes the
eons-long dream of the Jewish people to be restored to their heritage. Moses as a
black man (who looks remarkably like the author) brings to mind the black spiritual, "Go
down, Moses." Rosenzweig's vivid art work is replete with side bar allusions to
Star Trek, the Hobbit, and texting. Who knows what I'll find in a more careful second and
subsequent readings?

The Torah was originally delivered (or redacted for the modernists) to reach
the people of an ancient society. The Comic Torah "reimages" those stories and
injunctions for a wry 21st (or 57th)century comprehension.

Two caveats: Readers unfamiliar with the full text of the Five
Books of Moses may have trouble finding the continuity in
these two-page selections. The Comic Torah includes some things that your
Sunday school teacher skipped right over. Second, according to the urchins on the back cover,
it is "recommended for mature readers." With those
caveats, I strongly recommend The Comic Torah. You'll
never visualize the Good Book the same way again!

Dr. Why?

PS Just like the old "Levy's rye bread" ads in NYC, you don't have to be Jewish to love the Comic Torah.
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on October 22, 2010
Modern, contemporary, witty, intelligent and thought provoking. This is what Torah should be. Forcing one to re-think what they thought. Considering new insights. And because it is both graphic and terse there is much to be filled by the viewer. Brilliant, provocative and most of all really fun.
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