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Friday, April 18, 2008

Reform Torah commentary not quite as innovative as they think

The Union of Reform Judaism Press just came out with "The Torah: A Women's Commentary" which they hail as "the first comprehensive commentary, authored only by women, on the Five Books of Moses, including individual Torah portions as well as the Hebrew and English translation."

It is possible that they meant to say "...that includes" instead of "...including" but the way that sentence is written one would think that this is the "first comprehensive commentary, authored only by women, on the Five Books of Moses." And that is not even close to being true.

The brilliant Orthodox Professor Nechama Leibowitz published her own commentary on the Torah beginning over fifty years ago, in 1954. Her depth of Torah study is undisputed, although the translation of this part seems lacking you can get an idea of her virtuosity (and get some ideas for some Seder discussions) on some of her commentaries to the Exodus here, with an index and appreciation of her work here.

Other published women's commentaries to the Torah, not only from Orthodox perspectives, can be found here.