• Abravanel’s World of Torah

    Abravanel’s World of Torah

    is an enticingly innovative yet thoroughly loyal rendition of a major fifteenth-century Hebrew classic.
    For the first time, Don Yitzchak Abravanel’s Bible commentary has become accessible IN ENGLISH.


  • Red Cow Ashes According to the Abarbanel

    “And God spoke to Moshe and to Aharon, saying: This is the governing
    law that God commands, saying: Speak to the Children of Israel that they
    should take for you a red cow, hardy [and] blemish free, which has never
    borne upon it a yoke.”

    Don Isaac Abravanel (1437-1508) observes: One important question concerning the red
    cow commandment is its placement or position among the 613 Torah commandments.
    According to the Talmudic sages, the red cow commandment belongs to the body of priestly
    commandments. They learn that it forms part of those commandments whose focus is the
    Tabernacle service. As for the date, the sages peg the red cow mitzvah to the first of Nisan. On
    that most auspicious day, ten crowns descended from Heaven. Apropos, the rabbis explained,
    the red cow was ceremoniously burned. Its ashes would become a key element for the
    cleansing mixture, ashes that served to rehabilitate and spiritually cleanse the Jewish nation.
    Said cleansing prepared and allowed Hebrews to enter the Holy Tabernacle with proper

    However, this opinion of the placement of the red cow commandment is problematic. If
    the red cow commandment occurred simultaneous with the building of the Tabernacle, why
    wasn’t it written in Leviticus (and not here in Numbers), where the body of Temple and priestly
    commandments are provided? Second, why do we find the red cow commandment set here
    among the two highly perturbing narratives covering the Korach rebels and camp complainers
    or maylinim, both events taking a heavy toll on the wrongdoers.

    Abravanel answers as follows. The ancient sages put forth that Moshe performed the
    rites associated with the first red cow. He occupied himself with it when he served as the High
    Priest in the Tabernacle. On the first day of Nisan, the Tabernacle was erected in the desert. On
    that day, a red cow was ceremoniously burned, this for purposes of spiritually cleansing those
    men and women who wanted to visit the holy place. Had visitors to the Tabernacle not been
    ritually cleansed, they would have defiled it and profaned its sanctity.

    The admixture featuring the red cow’s ashes that Moshe prepared went a long way.
    Forty years. For forty years, while the Jews wandered in the desert, the prophet’s signature
    batch served its purpose admirably. Temple goers took of the red cow’s ashes and purified
    themselves before visiting the Tabernacle.

    At the conclusion of the forty years, the Chosen People were slated to liberate Canaan.
    God foresaw the Holy Land engulfed in bloody wars. Hebrew soldiers would come in close
    contact with the dead, triggering their ritual defilement. Some campaigns would take place in
    cities; some in open fields. Regardless of the battle’s location, the result would be the same.
    Jewish warriors would be needful of red cow ashes to help them restore their ritual status.

    Moshe’s batch would not suffice. For that reason, the Almighty guided and directed
    Moshe and Aharon in the minutiae of the red cow commandment. As for Korach’s gang and
    camp complainers, many of their followers had perished during the two respective rebellions.
    Moshe’s original quantity of red cow ashes were, perforce, depleted by the loyalists handling
    the corpses.

    For these two reasons, God provided an expedient in our Torah section when He
    commanded Moshe and Aharon to record this red cow mitzvah. Note, however, although we
    read of the red cow’s particulars at this juncture, it would only become operational on the eve
    of the Hebrews marching into Canaan.

    From the forthcoming Abravanel’s World, Bamidbar Vol. II
    Parashat Chukat, First Aliyah Zot Chukat (Numbers 19:1-2)


An outstanding translation of the fascinating commentary by the last of the Spanish greats.
Rabbi Berel Wein
A major contribution to Torah literature.
Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, MD
An interpretive reading in crisp, contemporary English.... [An] important contribution.
Yitzchok Adlerstein
Rabbi; cofounder, Cross Currents
Rabbi Zev Bar Eitan has embarked on a very ambitious project to make Abarbanel accessible to all Jews regardless of background. Baruch Hashem, he has succeeded admirably.
Rav Yitzchak Breitowitz
Rav, Kehillat Ohr Somayach
In clear, straightforward language…Bar Eitan opens the Abravanel’s world of complex ideas to the layman in a way that it has not been opened before. Highly recommended.
Rabbi Shmuel Goldin
Past President, Rabbinical Council of America; author, Unlocking the Torah Text and Unlocking the Haggada
Rabbi Zev Bar-Eitan…has achieved a rendition of the Abravanel which will enable all English readers to comprehend the depths and innovativeness of the original Hebrew text.
Rabbi Dr. Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff
Professor of Rabbinic Literature, Caroline and Joseph S. Gruss Institute, Yeshiva University
In an accessible and flowing language accompanied by a variety of visual aids, Abravanel is presented to the English reader in all his glory. [An] illuminative commentary.
Rachelle Fraenkel
Torah educator, Midrashot Nishmat and Matan
A masterful rendition…lucid, free-flowing and interesting.
Rabbi Zev Leff
Rabbi, Moshav Matityahu; Rosh Hayeshiva, Yeshiva Gedola Matityahu
I am perusing Vayikra, Vol. I: The Meat of the Matter, which looks very good and interesting.
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman
Rabbi Emeritus, Congregation Beth Jacob, Atlanta
Riveting and flowing elucidation of the text simplifies complex ideas leaving the reader readily able to grasp the Abravanel’s inner meaning and purposeful explanation.
Rabbi Meyer H. May
Executive Director, Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museums of Tolerance
Open[s] our eyes and minds to the fascinating world of the Abravanel and his unique way of analyzing the Torah...in a user-friendly commentary.
Rabbi Steven Weil
Senior Managing Director, OU
Zev eminently succeeds in making the awesome wisdom of Don Isaac available to the English-speaking public. We are in Bar Eitan’s debt.
Rabbi Sholom Gold
Founding Rabbi, Kehillat Zichron Yosef, Har Nof
The translation is as beautiful as the original Hebrew and the English reader loses nothing in this excellent rendition.
Rabbi Allen Schwartz
Congregation Ohab Zedek, Yeshiva University
Abravanel needs a redeemer…Bar Eitan takes on this complex task.
Rabbi Gil Student
Student Action
At once a work of scholarship and a treat for the imagination.… Bar Eitan’s Abravanel presents Exodus as great literature, as exciting and gripping as any great Russian novel.
Rabbi Daniel Landes
Rosh Hayeshivah, Machon Pardes
Zev Bar Eitan has an intimate understanding of two characters: Abravanel and the modern reader. He traverses great distance to bring these two together masterfully.
Avraham Steinberg
Rabbi, Young Israel of the Main Line; Rosh Mesivta, Mesivta High School of Greater Philadelphia
An uncommon treat.… Rabbi Bar Eitan is to be commended for providing an accessible entree to this timeless masterpiece.
Rabbi N. Daniel Korobkin
Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto Congregation
Relevant and accessible.… Ideal for teachers as well as Yeshiva High School, Ulpana, Yeshiva and Seminary students alike...a wonderful translation... enjoyable reading....
Rachel Weinstein
Tanach Department, Ramaz Upper School, NY
The clear, easy-to-read language and appended notes and illustrations bring the Abravanel to life, for scholars and laymen alike. A great addition to per¬sonal and shul libraries.
Rabbi Yehoshua Weber
Rabbi, Clanton Park Synagogue, Toronto
Of great value to those who have hesitated to tackle this dense, complex work.… Render[s] the Abravanel’s commentary accessible to the modern reader.
Simi Peters
author, Learning to Read Midrash
A gift to the English-speaking audience.… An important “must have” addition to the English Torah library.
Chana Tannenbaum
EdD, lecturer, Bar-Ilan University
The thoughts of a Torah giant over 500 years ago in terminology understand¬able to the modern reader.
Deena Zimmerman
MD, MPH, IBCLC,author; lecturer
Allows the reader the opportunity to see firsthand the brilliance, creativity, and genius of this 15th-century Spanish biblical commentator.
Rabbi Elazar Muskin
Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles
An excellent job bringing to life the profound ideas of one of the most original thinkers in Judaism and making them relevant and interesting 500 years later.
Rabbi Dr. Alan Kimche
Ner Yisrael Community, London
I really enjoyed the volume on Bereishis. It opened my eyes to the profundity of the Abravanel's commentary and for that I am ever grateful to you. I recommend it to all my students here at the University of Arizona who are searching for an in-depth understanding of the Chumash. Thank you very much for all your efforts. I am excited to read the next volumes on Shemos and Vayikra!
Rabbi Moshe Schonbrun
Senior educator, JAC University of Arizona
I’ve really enjoyed reading Abravanel's World of Torah. Abravanel was a great and original thinker whose perspective has broadened my understanding of Torah. Rabbi Bar Eitan presents Abravanel’s thought clearly and lucidly. I highly recommend his work. I’ve also really benefitted from being able to email Rabbi Bar Eitan regarding points where I needed further clarity.
Alistair Halpern
I want to tell you how much I'm absolutely enjoying Abravanel's World: Bereshit. I'm not much of a Torah scholar, but this is wonderful and terrific due to the seamless integration of Abravanel's thought and Bar Eitan's explication. All the kudos in the world. I'm looking forward to you completing the set.
New Jersey