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It took Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz 40 years to complete his         bridging the gaps in language, outlook, and culture between us and the
translation and commentary on the Talmud Bavli (Babylonian                 world of the Bible,”as the introduction states.
Talmud), a remarkable feat which Time Magazine honored by                  To get a taste of this work, let us look at a verse from the narrative of
coining Steinsaltz a “once-in-a-millennium scholar.”                       Akeikat Yitzhak (the binding of Isaac) from Bereishit 22, which we read
The Jerusalem native, who turned 80 a few months ago, is the only person   on the second day of Rosh Hashana. Below, the boldface is the direct
in history to write commentaries on every work in the Jewish canon: each   translation, with Rav Steinsaltz’s commentary interspersed.
book in Tanakh, Mishna, Rambam’s Mishne Torah, the Tanya and more.
Over the past 10 years, these works have been published in partnership
with Koren Publishers Jerusalem, most notably The Noé Edition Koren
Talmud Bavli. Each of these works is exquisitely designed and includes
a wealth of fascinating explanations that incorporate history, recent
archeological findings, science, linguistics, and botany, that vibrantly
bring these Jewish texts to life.
This new year, Rav Steinsaltz is once again making history, with the
publication of The Louis Weisfeld Edition Steinsaltz Humash. The latest
masterpiece includes an original English translation, color photos, maps,
charts and Rabbi Steinsaltz’s unique commentary under a “Discussion”
heading. Here, “the purpose is to assist the contemporary reader by

Book of Genesis 22:8, from The Steinsaltz Humash:                                                           DISCUSSION

Abraham said, in a poignant response: G-d                                  Abraham said: One powerful aspect Apart from the personal sacrifice
will Himself see to the lamb for a burnt
offering, my son. At this point, Isaac surely                              of the story of the binding of Isaac is and the contradiction between
began to ponder: What if we do not find a
lamb? The juxtaposition of “burnt offering”                                the silence of the Torah with regard G-d’s statements, the sheer moral
and “my son” would have rung in his ears,
as Isaac was no doubt aware of the practice                                to Abraham’s thoughts and emotions repugnance of what he was being
of human sacrifice among the surrounding
peoples. Nevertheless, the verse repeats the                               throughout the ordeal, as well as asked to do must also have weighed
phrase indicating their solidarity: And the
two of them went together. Earlier, Abraham                                those of Isaac. Abraham could not on Abraham, who was familiar
was deeply troubled and Isaac was entirely
innocent, and they went together. Now Isaac                                perform his task immediately, but was with child sacrifice as one of the
has heard Abraham’s frightening words, but
he continues to walk with his father, without                              obligated to complete a journey of abominations of the Canaanites (see
any attempt to escape.
                                                                           several days, all the while nursing the Deuteronomy 12:31).

                                                                           thought that he would be required to    Abraham was thrust into a personal
                                                                           kill his own son when he would reach    crisis, facing the impending loss of
                                                                           his destination (see Ramban, verse      his beloved only son and heir, and
                                                                           2). For him, those days would have      simultaneously into a crisis of faith,
                                                                           been emotionally and psychologically    forcing him to reexamine both his
                                                                           devastating (see Bereshit Rabba 55:5).  relationship with G-d and the ideals

                                                                           One issue that must have struck in which he believed. The test of

                                                                           Abraham was the apparent the binding of Isaac highlighted

                                                                           contradiction between G-d’s earlier Abraham’s profound compliance

                                                                           promise: “It is through Isaac that with G-d’s instructions. When G-d

                                                                           descendants will be accounted to commanded him to perform this

                                                                           you” (21:12), and His command to act, he obeyed, without question or

                                                                           sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering. complaint (see Tanhuma, Vayera 46).

Enjoy 20% off your copy of The Steinsaltz Humash when you use promo code MIZRACHI on the Koren
website: (Valid until October 15, 2018.) Personalized dedication pages for synagogues are
available for bulk orders. Contact for details.
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