April 8, 2024
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April 8, 2024
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Enrich Your Study of Tanakh

A centuries-old manuscript unrolls on a computer tablet on the cover of Rabbi Yaak­ov Blau’s new book, Medieval Commentary in the Modern Era: The Enduring Value of Clas­sical Parshanut. It is a telling illustration of his theme: How to use the medieval commentar­ies to enhance contemporary understanding of Tanakh (Torah, Nevi’im, K’tuvim—the Five Books of Moses, the Prophets, and the Writ­ings).

Rabbi Blau advocates a Sugya (topic) ap­proach, gathering all the places where a top­ic is discussed and comparing the comments of different mefarshim on each issue. He dem­onstrates the Sugya approach by consider­ing questions that arise as one studies: Why is something repeated three times in a row? How does someone prove he is a prophet? How precise are numbers in Tanakh? Why are anonymous personalities identified by the mefarshim as specific people? Why are mi­nor characters said to be major ones? There are many examples, every one fascinating. He uses four commentaries—Ramban, Ibn Ezra, Targum, and Radak—and gives a chapter to each.

In the renaissance of studying the Writ­ten Torah that is happily occurring now, many teachers are using new analytic methods and applying terms from literary criticism to vers­es in Tanakh. In an opening chapter Rabbi Blau exchanges ideas with Rabbi Yaakov Beasley, another accomplished instructor, on whether the “old” or “new” methodology should be the primary focus in Tanakh study today.

The book is 83 pages long. His students can attest that Rabbi Blau does not say an extra word as he opens the richness of the text. The book reflects Rabbi Blau’s style of teaching: the excitement of learning, the encouragement of questioning, and the sharing of precise knowledge.

Rabbi Blau, a resident of Teaneck, will teach at TABC beginning in September.

This book will be valuable for everyone who enjoys learning Tanakh, and for teach­ers who want their students to enjoy learn­ing.

For more information, medievalcom­[email protected].

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