Review of Between the Lines of the Bible: Genesis

April 12, 2016

By Ben Rothke, The Times of Israel

There’s a famous Yiddish expression men shtarbt nisht fuhn ah kasha, roughly translated as “no one ever died from a tough question”. Judaism views doubt and questions as positive, as they can be mechanisms that lead a person to greater spiritual growth.BetweentheLinesoftheBibleGenesisWeb1

While that saying is true in certain contexts; when it comes to dealing with contradictions and challenging questions in the Bible, many people unfortunately haven’t taken the time to determine what the true answers are. Often these unresolved questions or unsatisfactory and unfulfilling answers will lead them to abandoning any future interaction with the sacred text.

In a fascinating new book, Between the Lines of the Bible: Genesis: Recapturing the Full Meaning of the Biblical Text (Urim Publications ISBN-13 978-9655242003), author Rabbi Yitzchak Etshalom has written an engaging work that provides significant new insights and a fascinating approach to the Biblical text. The book is a pleasure to read and the reader is certain to come out with significant insights to the text. Read the rest of this entry »


Between the Lines of the Bible

November 18, 2015

OU PRESS IN CONJUNCTION WITH URIM, ANNOUNCES NEW RELEASE, “BETWEEN THE LINES OF THE BIBLE: RECAPTURING THE FULL MEANING OF THE BIBLICAL TEXT,” BY RABBI YITZCHAK ETSHALOM

BetweentheLinesoftheBibleGenesisWeb1

OU Press announces the publication of Rabbi Yitzchak Etshalom’s Between the Lines of the Bible: Recapturing the Full Meaning of the Biblical Text – Genesis, published in conjunction with Urim Publications.

This new and expanded edition of the Genesis volume of Rabbi Etshalom’s Between the Lines of the Bible series, presents an opportunity for readers to become familiar with the work of one of the great proponents of the “new Orthodox school” of Biblical commentary. Rabbi Etshalom advocates a return to the pshat, or plain sense, of the text, while incorporating insights culled from modern disciplines such as archeology and literary analysis.

This methodology, which has emerged over the last generation primarily in religious Zionist circles in Israel, offers an approach which is rooted in tradition but also highly innovative. In encountering the text on its own without preconceived notions, Rabbi Etshalom discovers new solutions to ancient questions, as well as solving more recent questions raised by Biblical critics. Between the Lines of the Bible is an excellent introduction to a new world of Torah commentary which is both highly original and deeply committed.

Between the Lines of the Bible is the newest book from OU Press, the publishing division of the Orthodox Union. OU Press publishes high quality works of Jewish thought and Torah commentary, including the Chumash Mesoras Harav, the first Chumash containing the commentary of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik; Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Derashot Ledorot, a selection of sermons by one of the most gifted pulpit rabbis of our time; and Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ Covenant & Conversation, essays on the weekly Torah portion by the former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom.

OU | Enhancing Jewish Life

www.UrimPublications.com


Between The Lines of the Bible: The Legacy of Fractured Brotherhood

June 26, 2013

by The Curious Jew Between the Lines of the Bible Exodus

Urim Publications was kind enough to send me a copy of Rabbi Yitzchak Etshalom’s Between the Lines of the Bible: A Study from the New School of Orthodox Torah Commentary on the book of Shemot quite a while ago. It has taken me a while to read the book, but it was well worth the effort. It is uniquely fitting to read this book before Pesach, and in fact, I think many of you might enjoy reading it, so I recommend ordering it today- that way, you’ll probably get it over Chol Hamoed and will have something interesting to read during the Second Days.

Between the Lines is a thoughtfully considered, well constructed, carefully written text. Etshalom has clearly put a great deal of thought into the issues he addresses, and focuses on overall themes in addition to specific literary techniques (including chiastic structure) in his analysis. His book is academic in nature, and for academic texts, is quite readable. However, I prefer narrative-style books, especially those that weave in the original Hebrew rather than making use of the English translation. They are easier to read, and thus accessible to a larger audience. Ideally, I would have liked this book to have been written more in the style of Rabbi Ari Kahn, who uses that method of writing. While this text does have the Hebrew quoted and highlighted at the beginning of each chapter, I found that flipping back and forth between Etshalom’s analysis and that first page was somewhat of an annoyance.

Topics included in the book range from the binary structure of biblical narrative when it comes to the roots of our subjugation in Egypt, to the different derivations of Moshe’s name, to literary patterns in the education of Pharaoh, studies of intertextuality, a comparison of major characters and a focus on sanctity in time. I am going to sum up one of the Divrei Torah that I found particularly beautiful below.

In Shemot 1:1-4 we read, “These are the names of the Israelites who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, Issachar, Zebulon, and Benjamin, Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher.’ Etshalom notes that:

If we compare this list to Read the rest of this entry »