Etz Hayim: Torah and Commentary

Overview

This mammoth book is a humas for the spirit and the mind. It is based on the renowned JPS 1985 translation of the Torah and features separate p'shat and d'rash commentary themes, showing two approaches to interpreting the Torah. There are also essays on key themes by prominent Conservative Movement rabbis and scholars; a special section, halakhah l'ma-aseh, that points out where Jewish laws are based on biblical passages; and indications of traditional readings for Sephardic and...
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Overview

This mammoth book is a humas for the spirit and the mind. It is based on the renowned JPS 1985 translation of the Torah and features separate p'shat and d'rash commentary themes, showing two approaches to interpreting the Torah. There are also essays on key themes by prominent Conservative Movement rabbis and scholars; a special section, halakhah l'ma-aseh, that points out where Jewish laws are based on biblical passages; and indications of traditional readings for Sephardic and Ashkenazic communities.

Etz Hayim is a publication of the Conservative Jewish Movement produced through a joint venture consisting of The Rabbinical Assembly, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, and The Jewish Publication Society.

Standard edition features padded burgundy leatherette binding.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The first new Torah commentary for Conservative Judaism in over 70 years, Etz Hayim: Torah and Commentary, boasts an all-star editorial cast. Harold Kushner's d'rash (interpretive commentary) explores the importance of social justice in Judaism, while Chaim Potok's contributions attempt to ground the Torah historically by ascertaining its meaning to the ancient Israelites. A special section edited by Elliot Dorff and Susan Grossman investigates the Jewish legal tradition and its foundations in the Torah; biblical scholar Michael Fishbane offers commentary on the haftarah (Torah portions to be read in the synagogue throughout the year). This commentary is a monumental achievement, incorporating recent archaeological findings, textual interpretations and (for the first time) the opinions of female rabbis. (Oct. 12) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780827607125
  • Publisher: Jewish Publication Society
  • Publication date: 9/1/2001
  • Language: Hebrew
  • Series: The JPS Bible Commentary Series
  • Edition description: Standard, Bilingual Ed.: Hebrew & Eng.
  • Pages: 1559
  • Product dimensions: 7.26 (w) x 10.14 (h) x 1.86 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2002

    Why we need another commentary on the Humash

    Why do we need another commentary on the 5 Books of Moses? We've got the Hertz, and the Plaut, plus the Plaut Haftorah commentary. There is also the Stone Humash, from Artscroll, which I really can¿t recommend because of its translation, and the Soncino humash, which uses only medieval commentators. There's some with just the Rashi commentary, such as the Metsuda commentary. And there's the excellent 'Commentary on the Torah' by Richard Friedman, which just came out. <p> So why do we need another one? In other words, what do you get with this? One big reason for this book is the massive 5-volume JPS commentary, by four editors. It is the most thorough Jewish humash commentary in English. Its indispensable for someone who wants real depth but, like me, is not fluent in Hebrew. However, this is far too much for a synagogue Bible. So it was condensed down to give the pshat level of commentary in Etz Hayim. That means that you are hearing four voices --- not just one , as in other books. It includes recent understandings of biblical history, archeology, linguistics and literary forms. <p> There is a second layer of commentary, the derash, which provides spiritual insights that go beyond the plain meaning of the words., and is original for Etz Hayim. These two layers thus have different agendas. The pshat provides what the Torah meant in its time and place. For example, in the Akeda story, Isaac sees no animal for sacrifice, and asks Abraham, 'Where are the sheep for offering?' Abraham responds, 'God will see to the sheep.' The peshat observes 'the father's vague reply surely sustains whatever doubts Isaac now feels, especially in an age when human sacrifice was possible.' OK, you¿re right there in the story itself. The derash adds, 'One suspects that Isaac at this point intuited that he was to be the offering. Both father and son missed an opportunity for open conversation about a matter of supreme importance to each of them. This father and son never have the opportunity of speaking with each other again.' The Derash provides a moral lesson, musar, a spiritual and sometimes mystical dimension . It somewhat resembles the 'gleanings' section of the Plaut, but is more focussed and distilled. <p> There is an additional layer, halakhah le-ma'aseh, practical halakhah. Etz Hayim is the Bible for the Conservative movement, and this layer gives an opportunity to set forth the Conservative movement¿s views. Unfortunately, it¿s only a partial success. There isn¿t a lot of this layer, the entries are quite brief, and usually it¿s no different from the orthodox. You¿ll get a lot more of this in the Artscroll. And even when there is a difference, the Conservative view is sometimes unaddressed. For example, it notes disagreement on the kashrut of swordfish, but fails to state that the Conservative movement considers swordfish kosher. <p> Each Haftorah has a historical introduction, and an explanation about its relationship to the Torah reading, plus some commentary. Its comparable to the Plaut, but now in the same book, although, to be honest, the Plaut commentary is much more substantial, and usually includes an essay or two on issues raised by the Haftorah. This reflects Reform¿s greater emphasis on the prophetic material vis-à-vis the humash, than we have. <p> Each of the 5 books has its own introductory essay, although the ones in Plaut are more substantial. The real treasures are the 40 essays in the back, most of them on broad and important topics, and loaded with information. Here is where you will sometimes find more substantial discussions of the Conservative Movement's view of things on this or that topic. Still, if you want an essay on the Conservative Movement itself, and how it differs from other movements, you won¿t find it here. It¿s an odd omission. <p> The translation is the most recent, the 2000 version, of the JPS translation, with a few changes. For example, Khatat, that troublesome wo

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2007

    Very blessed with this Humash!

    Etz Hayim Torah and Commentary has been a wonderful blessing for me to use at synagogue and during the week when I am studying for my Sefer Torah Cantillation. The Torah Parashot and Haftarot are very comprehensive for my studies. But even though this is my personal favorite, try out the different Humashes for yourself. This Conservative Humash is a wonderful companion to the Jewish Study Bible and the JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh. Yes I use the NJPS translation most but I also find others useful as well. Even if you're not a Conservative Jew like I am just give it a try...or at least a thought. Be Well.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2002

    The Best Chumash Available

    Etz Hayim is, in my opinion, hands-down the best chumash (Pentateuch) available! With its superb translation, outstanding p'shat (simple meaning) and d'rash (implied meaning) commentary, halachah l'ma'ase ("practical halacha" notes), and essays, it is the best chumash I've seen by far. I highly recommend it to any modern Jew who wants to truly understand the Torah...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2010

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    Posted May 11, 2010

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