• 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.


  • Bible Studies Commentary : Jacob and Joseph

    For Yaakov (Jacob), a bitter famine coupled with his sons’ insistence comprised formidable tailwinds propelling him to Egypt. Still, he might have braved hunger and stayed put in beloved Canaan. Perhaps he could have resisted their incessant appeals had it not been for one irresistible magnet. Its force tugged and jerked mercilessly. Uppermost in the mind and heart of the aged patriarch was an image that he hadn’t been able to shake for two decades: Yosef’s (Joseph's) face.

    Abravanel’s World of Torah Shemot Vol 1 pages 13-14


  • Bible Studies with Don Isaac Abarbanel

    Splitting the Red Sea

    “And God went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar
    of fire, to give them light, that they might go by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the
    pillar of fire by night departed not from before the people.”

    ‘The Almighty also provided these travelers with a pillar of fire. This flaming entity, too, was ethereal,
    stretching from the sky to the ground. The Jews in the desert had not taken along lanterns or oil from
    Egypt. God did not want the Jews stumbling in darkness, and He knew that an illumination source
    would put a spring in their step and a smile on their faces. A burning, torch-like fire column lit up the
    night. Knowing all too well that His children were in for a long haul with many zigzagging pit stops in
    the wilderness, God rolled out the fire and cloud implements in advance.

    Page 256 Shemot vol. I: Sinai Rules

  • Exodus Chapter 1: Jews Multiply in Egypt

    Don Isaac Abravanel (1437-1508) was a preeminent Jewish thinker, scholar, and prolific Biblical
    commentator. In Exodus Chapter 1 the Bible painstakingly details the Hebrew population explosion in
    Egypt, one that spooked the king and terrified his subjects.

    “And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and
    multiplied, and waxed exceedingly mighty. And the land was filled with

    Expressing fears of the Hebrews forming a fifth column, Pharaoh took action. “And he said unto his
    people: Behold, the children of Israel are more and mightier than we. Come let us deal wisely with them,
    lest they multiply, and it will come to pass that when there befalls a war, they will also join themselves
    with our enemies and fight against us, and leave the land.”

    Abravanel notes Pharaoh’s convoluted thinking. That is, if the Jews’ numbers and strength already
    reached mammoth proportions, why does the monarch phrase the problem in future tense: “And it will
    come to pass…they will also join themselves with our enemies?” The problem was now.

    Regarding Pharaoh’s worries, Abravanel poses a second question. “And it will come to pass…they will
    join themselves with our enemies and fight against us, and leave the land.”But if the Hebrews
    presented an existential problem for Egypt, why does Pharaoh state that they will “fight and leave the
    land?”What stops Hebrew fighters from conquering Egypt – whether in alliance with other belligerents
    or by themselves?

    On this topic of Pharaoh’s strategy for internal affairs, let us call them, Abravanel concludes his line of
    questioning. Why should Pharaoh fear that the Hebrews would “leave the land?” That should have been
    music to the king’s ears, seeing that he viewed the Hebrews as a ticking time bomb.

    Abravanel explains Pharaoh’s assessment of the Jews. When the king states, “Behold, the children of
    Israel are more and mightier than we” he did not mean that, at present, the Jews were more populous
    than the Egyptians. They weren’t. Pharaoh meant that the Hebrews were a sizeable nation. But, in the
    muscle department, they were tough, even tougher than the Egyptians.

    “Come let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply, and it will come to pass that when there befalls a
    war…” Pharaoh foresaw trouble afoot. Should Egyptian enemies attack, Hebrews could very well join the
    invaders, the king predicted. In such scenarios, Egypt would be defeated. At that juncture, the Jews
    could disgorge Egyptians and remain, or leave the country, to wherever they decided to go.

    In sum, Abravanel reframes the verses. By so doing, Bible students get a better glance into our chapter,
    as well as a glimpse into Pharaoh’s thinking – and planning.

  • Exodus Chapter 10: Egypt and the Plagues

    Don Isaac Abravanel (1437-1508) was a preeminent Jewish thinker, scholar, and prolific Biblical
    commentator. In Exodus Chapter 10, Bible students read about plagues number eight and nine to hit
    Egypt: locusts and darkness. (The tenth and final plague is a subject for the next chapter.)

    “And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh and said unto him: Thus
    says God, the God of the Hebrews. How long will you refuse to humble
    yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me. Or
    else…I will bring locusts unto your border.”

    Abravanel raises a question regarding Scripture’s style or editing. To preface, the Five Books of Moses
    are further subdivided into (roughly) 52 portions. Each portion, independent from the next, is read
    publicly in synagogues every Sabbath. Chapter 10 starts a new portion.

    Abravanel finds it peculiar that this portion opens up with verses discussing locusts. As stated, this is
    plague number eight – not number one – hence a strange place to begin a portion. Abravanel makes
    another point about the unusual placement of locusts here. He notes that according to hallowed Jewish
    tradition, it is the last four plagues which are grouped together, not the last three. Thus, if the Bible
    wanted to start somewhere toward the end of the plagues, and not with the first one, it could have
    begun our chapter with hail (plague #7). In a word, what lies behind the Bible’s style here?

    Abravanel suggests that the arranger of the Bible’s portions had good reason to begin with locusts –
    actually two reasons. For brevity, we only bring Abravanel’s first rationale. See Abravanel’s World for
    the fuller discussion.

    The plague of locusts brought a change in Pharaoh’s prior attitude toward the God of Israel. From here
    on out, palpable improvement marked the king’s behavior. He not only began to believe in the Maker,
    but he also showed signs of fearing Him. This revelation would accompany Pharaoh for the duration of
    plagues numbers eight (locusts), nine (darkness), and ten (slaying of the first born). That is, from the
    moment Moses told Pharaoh of an impending plague, the king shuddered. He believed that God would
    deliver, as per the prophet’s warning.

    To conclude, Abravanel posits that until the eighth plague, Pharaoh doubted Moses’ words and poo-
    pooed the warnings. That is, until they clobbered Egypt, the king remained nonchalant. However,
    starting with the plague of locusts, the light bulb went off, to be colloquial. In that vein, the Bible’s style
    makes sense and explains why plague number eight is an excellent start place for a new portion.

  • Exodus Chapter 11: Pharaoh and the Plagues

    Don Isaac Abravanel (1437-1508) was a preeminent Jewish thinker, scholar, and prolific Biblical
    commentator. Chapter 11 delves into the tenth and final plague: the slaying of Egypt’s first born. It also
    touches on Pharaoh’s obstinacy, before relating Moses’ and Aaron’s pivotal roles in the Exodus.

    “And God said unto Moses: Pharaoh will not hearken unto you, that My
    wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt. And Moses and Aaron
    did all these wonders before Pharaoh. And God hardened Pharoah’s
    heart, and he did not let the Children of Israel go out of his land.”

    Abravanel seeks clarification of our verse. Specifically, why does there appear a repetition and rehashing
    of Pharaoh’s stubbornness, leading to God’s pronouncement of punishment: “That My wonders may be
    multiplied in the land of Egypt”The sentence’s verb is conjugated in future tense: “That My wonders
    may be multiplied…” Yet, the Maker had already dished out all ten plagues.

    So, Abravanel asks what else was in store for Pharaoh and Egypt? Moreover, the very next verse informs
    Bible students that Moses and Aaron completed their tasks: “And Moses and Aaron did all these
    wonders before Pharaoh.”

    Abravanel explains the import of our verses. Readers should not walk away from the Exodus narrative
    with incorrect conclusions. Abravanel focuses first on Pharaoh’s intransigence. God had foreseen this
    well in advance, and informed His purpose in bringing the plagues, “that My wonders may be multiplied
    in the land of Egypt.”

    Next, Bible students should not incorrectly deduce that Moses and Aaron had been careless or
    negligent in performing their jobs and thereby contributed to Pharaoh’s constant backpedaling. Actually,
    wonders and miracles adhered to the Maker’s playbook to a T, attesting to both prophets’ alacrity and
    proficiency. Notwithstanding, all of Moses’ warnings fell on deaf ears.

    This brings us to the chapter’s closing verse: “And God hardened Pharaoh’s heart…” Abravanel
    interprets the oft-quoted description of the king’s bullheadedness. It teaches that God endowed
    Pharaoh with stamina and a stout heart. Like a mighty warrior, the king mustered inner resolve to
    withstand relentless and mounting battering implicit in the plagues.

    Pharaoh’s recalcitrance, then, had nothing to do with God withholding the opportunity for the king to
    repent his sins. The Creator did, however, imbue Pharaoh with a heart of indomitable will. With it, Egypt’s king chose evil. Nothing could sway Pharaoh from parting with his Hebrew servants…except for a series of debilitating plagues.

  • Exodus Chapter 12: The Jewish Calendar

    Don Isaac Abravanel (1437-1508) was a preeminent Jewish thinker, scholar, and prolific Biblical
    commentator. Exodus Chapter 12 pertains to the Pascal lamb sacrifice, providing a plethora of details about it.
    When was it sacrificed? What type of animal could be used? How was it eaten? These are a sampling of
    some salient aspects of the divine commandment given to the Jewish nation.

    “And God said unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt saying: This
    month shall be unto you the beginning of months. It shall be the first
    month of the year to you.”

    Characteristically, Abravanel analyzes the different aspects of the Pascal lamb with painstaking care. See
    Abravanel’s World for the entire discussion. For our purposes here, we select one requirement – the
    timing. The Pascal lamb was to be offered in the afternoon of the fourteenth day of the first month of
    the Jewish calendar. “And you shall keep it unto the fourteenth day of the same month…”

    Indeed, one marvels at the precision of the Jewish calendar, one that mortals could not have devised.
    This is because of the intricate mathematical calculations involved in plotting the celestials. For example,
    how would astronomers account for the discrepancy between the number of days in a lunar year versus
    the solar one?

    “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months.” But how many days are in a month? How many
    months in a year? How do we insert or intercalate leap years? Part of the genius of the Jewish calendar
    is that it adds one month intermittently throughout the nineteen-year solar cycle.

    Again, this blog will not go into more technical calendric detail other than to state that there are seven
    years (out of a nineteen-year cycle) where the Jewish calendar adds an entire month. When an extra
    month is inserted, that year has thirteen months and not twelve.

    In concluding, we quote Abravanel’s ancient Greek source who expressed unabashed adulation for the
    ancient Hebrews and their mathematical acumen. For him, the Jewish calendar attested to the Chosen
    People’s intimate relationship with God.

    “It is proof positive that prophecy rested among them.” – Ptolemy, Greek mathematician


  • Exodus Chapter 13: The Hebrews Leave Egypt

    Bible studies with Don Isaac Abravanel’s commentary (also spelled Abarbanel) has withstood the test of
    time. For over five centuries, Abravanel has delighted – and enlightened – clergy and layman alike,
    offering enduring interpretations of the Bible. Chapter 13 tracks the escape route of the departing Hebrews from Egypt.

    “And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led
    them not by the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was
    near, for God said: Lest the people lose heart when they see war, and
    they return to Egypt. But God led the people about, by the way of the
    wilderness by the Red Sea. And the Children of Israel went up armed
    out of the land of Egypt.”

    Abravanel asks on a seemingly superfluous phrase in our verse that mentions Pharaoh: “And it came to
    pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go.”The focal point of the verse, says Abravanel, is that God led
    them out. Why repeat the fact that Pharaoh gave permission? This information can be gleaned from the
    previous chapter.

    Abravanel’s first response follows. From the first communication that God had with Moses at the
    burning bush, the endgame had been to bring the Hebrews into the Promised Land. Of course, all
    travelers to any given destination choose the most direct route. Economy is of essence. The Bible, then,
    must explain why this expedient had been ignored. Why didn’t God lead His people along the Coastal
    Route, through the land of the Philistines? Abravanel quotes an ancient travel guidebook: “The trip from
    Egypt to Jerusalem takes eight days, if one travels via Ashkelon.”

    “And it came to pass…that God led them not by the way of the land of the Philistines, though that was
    near…”Abravanel solves the mystery behind the Hebrew’s circuitous journey, as dictated by God. Bible
    students, Abravanel says, should not draw the wrong conclusion. The Jews did not flee Egypt via the
    desert route in order to throw off suspecting Egyptians, who likely would attempt to round them up and
    force them back into slavery. Put differently, the Hebrews did not zigzag for purposes of misleading
    Egyptians in their hot pursuit.

    Our verse makes it plain that the Hebrews were not runaways or fugitives; Pharaoh sanctioned their
    exit. “And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not by the way of the

    In sum, here is Abravanel’s answer. He writes that although the king granted the Hebrew permission to
    leave, and although the Jews were not fugitives, still, there was a compelling reason behind the 
    Creator’s desire to have the nation shun the Coastal Route. “For God said: Lest the people lose heart
    when they see war, and they return to Egypt.”God calculated that the Philistines would defend their
    borders and fight the Jews, tooth and nail, to keep them out of their territory.

    See Abravanel’s World for the full discussion and true reason behind God’s interest in leading the
    Hebrews into the wilderness.

  • Exodus Chapter 14: The Egyptians and the Red Sea

    Don Isaac Abravanel (1437-1508) was a preeminent Jewish thinker, scholar, and prolific Biblical
    commentator. In Exodus, Chapter 14 captures the dramatic story of the utter demise of Pharaoh and his army.
    Down to the last man, they all drowned in the Red Sea.

    “And God said to Moses saying: Speak unto the Children of Israel, that
    they turn back and encamp before Pi-hahiroth…And Pharaoh will say of
    the Children of Israel that they are entangled in the land. The wilderness
    has shut them in.”

    Abravanel asks: Why did the Creator see fit to trick and entice Pharaoh into pursuing the Hebrews? “And
    God said to Moses saying: Speak unto the Children of Israel, that they turn back…” Zigzagging gave the
    distinct impression that Moses had no clue how to navigate the treacherous wastelands, and so they
    marched in circles. Pharaoh believed his former “confuzzled” servants were marching right into his

    Abravanel learns that God resolved to obliterate the Egyptians with much fanfare for two reasons. One
    stemmed from a divine commitment made from God to the patriarchs. Recall, the Maker promised to
    increase their descendants’ seed, to free the Jews from Egyptian bondage, and to bring them into a
    comely land.

    However, when God beheld the Jewish nation, He saw a people that were in a sorry state. Here was an
    abject nation, broken and weak. The mighty Canaanites, God assessed, would make short shrift of the
    hapless Hebrews, if nature was to run its course. The mismatch would result in a rout, the Jews
    humiliated, not to mention their population decimated.

    The compassionate Almighty devised a fix. He would make sure that the news of the Egyptian army’s
    defeat would reverberate far and wide. Whoever heard of Pharaoh’s sensational demise would be in
    shock. Indeed, the parting of the Red Sea provided the perfect, miraculous backdrop. And, it did the
    trick. Canaanites, Philistines, and Edomites to list just three hostile nations, trembled before the Jews, as
    the Bible makes explicit.

    Here is a second rationale for God’s luring Pharaoh into His trap: divine payback. Justice demanded
    retribution for infanticide. Egyptians drowned Hebrew babies. Now the murderers would pay the price.

    In summary, divine wisdom crafted a plan that would instill fear into every Canaanite’s heart. When it
    came to liberating the Holy Land, Hebrew warriors would conquer it in a cinch. See Abravanel’s World.

  • Exodus Chapter 15: Song at the Red Sea

    Don Isaac Abravanel (1437-1508) was a preeminent Jewish thinker, scholar, and prolific Biblical
    commentator. Chapter 15 pertains to the Jew’s jubilation after experiencing the miracle at the Red Sea.
    Abravanel takes the opportunity to digress from his verse-to-verse commentary and discuss song or
    poetry, from a Jewish retrospective. The Hebrew essay is lengthy. Please see Abravanel’s World.

    “Then sang Moses and the Children of Israel this song unto God, and
    spoke saying: I will sing unto God, for He is highly exalted. The horse
    and his rider has He thrown into the sea.”

    Here is a shorthand summary of Abravanel’s discourse. One type of song/poem is characterized by its
    form. It’s written with melody in mind, though this type does not have musical accompaniment. It is
    marked by meter and rhythm. Thus, these poems adhere to a style whereby the ends of the stanzas will
    share two or three common letters. Holy Writ does not contain poems of this sort, rather they came into
    usage at a later historical period. This literary style flourished when the Jews resided in the Arab or
    Muslim countries (circa 8 th -15 th centuries), attesting to the host culture’s influence upon those Jewish
    literati. Still, those authors penned their poems in the Hebrew language. Sweet songs, common themes
    praised God, the intellect, and wisdom.

    Type 2 song or poem did have musical instrumentation, but not necessarily strict, poetic form. It offered
    high praise to the One Above. Men of renown uttered these incantations, as David the psalmist writes:
    “The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tents of the righteous; the right hand of God does
    valiantly.”These poems utilized pleasant melody, vocals, and instrumentation to resonate with listeners,
    inspiring greater religious awareness. Examples of type 2 can be found in the Five Books of Moses, the
    Book of Job, as well as Proverbs. Emphasis was on mnemonic device, aiding listeners to commit those
    songs to memory.

    Type 3 relied on hyperbole, turn of phrase, and allegory. The purpose was to laud the subject at hand, or
    conversely, to demean it. It sought to bring joy or pain to the audience, an emotive experience. In a
    word, type 3 set out to influence man, to profoundly move him. Owing to its potency, it has been
    likened to medicine; healthy people need not take it. A tonic for a hurting heart and melancholy soul.

    In which category type does the song in our chapter belong? Abravanel’s World gives the answer.

  • Exodus Chapter 19: Torah from Heaven

    Bible studies with Don Isaac Abravanel’s commentary (also spelled Abarbanel) has withstood the test of
    time. For over five centuries, Abravanel has delighted – and enlightened – clergy and layman alike,
    offering enduring interpretations of the Bible.

    Don Isaac Abravanel (1437-1508) was a preeminent Jewish thinker, scholar, and prolific Biblical
    commentator. Exodus chapter 19 sets the backdrop for mankind’s defining moment: The transmission of
    the Torah on Mount Sinai.

    “In the third month after the Children of Israel were gone forth out of the
    land of Egypt, the same day came into the wilderness of Sinai.”

    Abravanel asks about the timing of the watershed event: Why did God wait so long? Consider, the
    Hebrews left Egypt three months earlier. Why now? Abravanel probes further, asking why the Creator
    hadn’t transmitted the Pentateuch to Adam, the first man? Or perhaps, Abravanel writes, the Torah
    should have been given to Noah, when the Maker entered into a covenant with mankind. As for
    exemplary individuals, certainly the patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – ranked as worthy
    recipients. Hence, why didn’t God communicate the Torah to them, as He does now with Moses?

    At length, Abravanel answers this intriguing question. See Abravanel’s World for the full treatment.
    Here, we will touch on the three main points of the essay. But here is the starting premise. The Torah
    should not be mischaracterized as a religious text concerning conduct, a guidebook of dos and don’ts.
    Rather it is a divinely-crafted and heavenly-honed system for mastering true faith, divine belief. Now let
    us return to the question: Why was God’s Torah transmitted at this particular juncture in history?

    One, it wouldn’t befit the Pentateuch to be given to a special individual or even a cadre of holy people.
    Torah demands throngs or myriads of gathered, quality folk. Only in the midst of the Chosen Nation can
    Torah be transmitted.

    Two, the intermediary or transferor of the Torah needed to be a unique soul, a noble personage. With
    all due respect to the phenomenal patriarchs and their illustrious ancestors (including Adam and Noah),
    Moses was cut from a different cloth. Of course, we are speaking about highly unusual traits. Abravanel
    lists ten. To give a sampling, first on the list is moderation of physical or spousal comforts, like sexual
    intimacy. In a word – detachment. Second is disinterest in eating and drinking, illustrated by Moses’
    forty-day periods without food or drink.

    Three, context and orchestration are key. Thunder and lightning and shofar blasts contributed to Sinai’s
    ambience and mood, promoting the proper prelude. The lead-up miracles wrought in Egypt and the
    splitting of the Red Sea, too, were all indispensable.

    In sum, Abravanel teaches that God’s Torah needed a specific combination or conflation of diverse
    elements to perfectly fall into place, before it could be wrested from heaven and brought down to earth.
    A critical mass of huddled Hebrews, under the tutelage of the greatest of all prophets – Moses, on the
    heels of the wonders the Creator performed in Egypt and in the desert proved to be the requisite and
    rich ensemble.


  • Exodus Chapter 2: Jochebed, Mother of Moses

    Don Isaac Abravanel (1437-1508) was a preeminent Jewish thinker, scholar, and prolific Biblical
    commentator. In Exodus Chapter 2, we learn of Moses’ birth. He was born to Amram and Jochebed, both
    from the tribe of Levi.

    “And there went a man of the house of Levi and took to wife a daughter
    of Levi. And the woman conceived and bore a son. And when she saw
    him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. And when she
    could no longer hide him, she took for him an ark made of bulrushes,
    and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and she put the child therein –
    and laid it in the reeds by the river’s edge.”

    Pharaoh had decreed infanticide on all males born to the Jews – by drowning in the Nile. Moses was a
    pre term baby. For a short time, Jochebed concealed him from lurking Egyptian police, ever vigilant to
    obey the king’s orders and murder Jewish babies.

    Three months passed. “And when she could no longer hide him, she took for him an ark…and she put
    the child therein…”Abravanel attacks Jochebed’s decision to endanger Moses by placing him in a
    waterproof crib, albeit a floatable one. Harshly, he asks: How did Jochebed’s action differ from
    Pharaoh’s? Drowning is drowning. If she derived comfort, Abravanel writes, that her floating device was
    superior to or more humane than Pharaoh’s decree, well, then she was delusional. It wasn’t.

    Abravanel provides Bible students with crucial context, allowing readers to evaluate Jochebed in its
    proper light. She gave birth to Moses at the start of her seventh month of pregnancy. Jochebed
    observed how the baby defied medical norms insofar as he was fully developed and had a pleasant
    nature, a rarity for preemies.

    Egyptian police tracked all Hebrew women’s pregnancies. Authorities knew when Jochebed was due,
    and regularly checked on her, starting from her seventh month. They constantly badgered her: “Where’s
    the baby?”, they interrogated.

    Our chapter records that she kept him well hidden, yet lied when she told the police that her baby died
    at birth. The goons didn’t believe her; they intensified their search. Eventually, Jochebed couldn’t
    conceal Moses any longer.

    Jochebed needed to consider the worse of two evils. If Egyptians discovered Moses, he and his parents
    would be summarily executed. And so, Jochebed built her son an ark, recalling that Noah survived the
    flood by so doing. “She took for him an ark made of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and pitch…”

    She chose her materials wisely, because it created a cushy interior for her baby on the one hand, and on
    the other hand blended in with the Nile’s riverbank surroundings. Of course, it was seaworthy.

    All told, Jochebed’s choice was excruciating. Holding on to her baby any longer brought certain and
    absolute death to the entire household. However, a floating crib gave Moses a fighting chance to

    The wise and pious woman’s gambit succeeded. “And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe in
    the river…and she saw the ark among the reeds, and sent her handmaid to fetch it.”

    The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

  • Exodus Chapter 20:The Ten Commandments

    Don Isaac Abravanel (1437-1508) was a preeminent Jewish thinker, scholar, and prolific Biblical
    commentator. We read in Exodus chapter 20 that the Ten Commandments were transmitted to the
    Hebrews on Mount Sinai.

    “And God spoke all these words saying: I am God, Who brought you out
    of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no
    other gods before Me…”

    Abravanel discusses exactly what makes the Ten Commandments stand out from the rest of the Bible. It
    is, not surprisingly, an elaborate discourse. See Abravanel’s World for the entirety of it. Here, we will
    share with Bible students Abravanel’s three, salient observations.

    One has to do with the Speaker – God. In contrast to all of the other divine commandments, only the
    Decalogue was from Heaven, sans an intermediary. That is, when it came to the other commandments,
    Moses delivered them to the Hebrews, at God’s behest. Not so with the Ten Commandments. Neither
    angel or seraph or prophet uttered them; they came directly from Above. On that historic day, the
    Creator of heaven and earth descended, as it were, and addressed His nation. Understand, therefore,
    the Decalogues’ intrinsic prominence.

    Two stresses the audience, the Chosen People. With the other commandments, God transmitted them
    to a single person, Moses, albeit His specially-designated messenger who had shown himself worthy.
    Moses’ brethren were not privy to hear what Moses heard, nor see what he had seen. How different
    were the Ten Commandments! Every person, young and old, heard and understood God’s words. The
    myriads of Jews were an integral part of the conversation with the Divine. The fire at Sinai they beheld;
    the audible voice they heard.

    Three emphasizes the material upon which the Ten Commandments were written – all etched in stone.
    No other verse in the Torah, no other commandment had been so indelibly engraved. Rather, they were
    transcribed from God to Moses, who wrote them on parchment. As for the Ten Commandments,
    moreover, no engraver’s tool had been utilized. It was the Maker’s handiwork, His imprint upon rock.
    Moses hadn’t participated an iota in it.

    In brief, Bible students are hereby apprised of the Ten Commandment’s uniqueness, their
    otherworldliness. The Almighty alone put His imprimatur on them, in a manner of speaking, as
    evidenced by the three reasons stated above.

  • Exodus Chapter 22: You Shall Not Commit Adultery

    Don Isaac Abravanel (1437-1508) was a preeminent Jewish thinker, scholar, and prolific Biblical
    commentator. In the latter part of Exodus Chapter 22, we read about sexual mores. For Abravanel, the
    seventh commandment prohibiting adultery, like each of the Ten Commandments, is not meant to be
    construed narrowly. Rather, it along with each of the other commandments in the Decalogue, contains

    “And if a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed, and lie with her, he
    shall surely pay a dowry for her to be his wife.”

    This blog highlights one offshoot of adultery: seduction. Abravanel learns that seduction is tantamount
    to, and resembles, adultery. We shall explain.

    Abravanel provides readers with what we may call a sociological context to our verse cited above. What
    type of man seduces a virgin? Who might fit the profile of a rapscallion bent on enticing a girl to sleep
    with him?

    First of all, Abravanel dismisses out of hand what some people might erringly think. Let’s be clear, he
    asserts. The Pentateuch does not draw the line of licentiousness at adultery. Nor does Holy Writ only
    flag sexual relations when a woman is engaged. Sexual sin, according to the Bible, is even attributed to a
    knave who “seduces a virgin who is not betrothed.”

    The Creator loathes sexual promiscuity. And violators pay a steep price: “He shall pay a dowry for her to
    be his wife.” What type of man commits this egregious affront, Abravanel probes?

    Abravanel posits that a cad is unlikely to target a woman of his social standing, a marriageable woman
    who shares his social circle. Had he found a suitable wife, he simply would court her and marry.

    This scoundrel, instead, sets his sights on a woman he finds attractive, although she had been raised in a
    lower socio-economic household. Not to be deterred, the rascal is keen on sleeping with her. And so, he
    sweettalks her, promising matrimony in exchange for sexual favors. When his passions are spent, so too
    are his empty promises. Off he gallops to brag to his friends about his exploits. Seeking to stem such
    seedy scandals, the Torah slaps the culprit with a hefty fine: “He shall pay money according to the dowry
    of virgins.”

    Of course, Abravanel teaches, it could well be that a sex fiend will pursue a woman above his station.
    See Abravanel’s World for his treatment of that situation. Before we conclude this blog, consider one
    more observation that Abravanel shares on a related, later verse in our chapter.

    “You shall not suffer a sorceress to live.” Abravanel learns that, generally speaking, unsavory characters
    intent on illicit sex, do not work in a vacuum. Their network includes abettors, or better, groomers.
    These are unprincipled women who scout out and prepare the groundwork for depraved men who seek
    improper and immoral sexual dalliances.

    These groomers, or as the verse calls them – “sorcerers” – have honed their skills and know precisely
    how to obtain the trust of unsuspecting female victims. Enticed, seduced, and entrapped, these girls are
    easy prey for unscrupulous perpetrators.

    In summary, the God of Israel will not abide sexual immorality. Indeed, in His eyes the cases we have
    presented are as sinful as adultery, and get characterized as such.

  • Exodus Chapter 26: The Making of the Tabernacle


    Don Isaac Abravanel, also spelled Abarbanel (1437-1508) was a preeminent Jewish thinker, scholar, and prolific Biblical
    commentator. Exodus chapter 26 continues to discuss the Tabernacle, a topic introduced in the previous
    chapter. Abravanel draws our attention to a grammatical inconsistency in our lead verse (“Moreover,
    you shall make…”) when compared to the verb’s conjugation in chapter 25 (“Make an ark…and you
    shall overlay it with pure gold”, “Make a table…and you shall overlay it with pure gold”, and “Make a
    menorah of pure gold…”).Our verse is conjugated in future tense; whereas last chapter’s verbs are
    written in the imperative or command form.

    Abravanel sheds light on the linguistic discrepancy after phrasing the question. Why, he asks, doesn’t
    our lead verse use the command form for literary consistency: “Make the Tabernacle…” instead of the
    future tense “You shall make the Tabernacle…?”

    Here is the answer. The previous chapter introduces the commandment to construct the Tabernacle,
    “Make Me a Tabernacle.” It uses the command form. That creates a divine fiat to build a Tabernacle.
    That earlier chapter then launches into the “how to” aspect of the first three fixtures in the sanctuary:
    “Make an ark…of pure gold”, “Make a table…with pure gold”, and “Make a menorah of pure gold…”

    Bible students will readily understand that the common – and most valuable – building material for the
    ark, table, and menorah is gold. Gold, recall, was the first of several building materials that Hebrews
    offered in order to finance the sacred enterprise, some others being silver, copper, wool etc.

    Now to the point. After the last chapter listed those three fixtures made of gold, our chapter provides
    the “how to” concerning the Tabernacle itself. What materials went into the Tabernacle’s walls and
    partitions? “Moreover, you shall make the Tabernacle with ten curtains…” As our chapter proceeds, we
    shall see that parts of the Tabernacle had also been constructed with gold, silver, copper, wool etc.

    In summary, the earlier chapter foreshadows – in general terms – an impending commandment to build
    a Tabernacle, hence the verb is conjugated in the future tense. Our present chapter follows up with the
    “how to” manual, including dimensions and the requisite building material to get the job done,
    necessitating the command form of the verb.

    See Abravanel’s World for the full discussion of the Tabernace and its fixtures.

  • Exodus Chapter 3: Moses and the Burning Bush

    Don Isaac Abravanel (1437-1508) was a preeminent Jewish thinker, scholar, and prolific Biblical
    commentator. In Exodus Chapter 3, we learn of Moses’ pilot prophecy. The Bible relates that the divine
    communiqué took place in a wilderness – from the midst of a fiery, burning bush.

    “Now Moses was keeping the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest
    of Midian. And he led the flock to the farthest end of the wilderness, and
    came to the mountain of God, unto Horeb. And the angel of God
    appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. And he
    looked, and behold the bush burned with fire. And the bush was not

    Throughout his commentaries on the Bible, Abravanel deals with Moses’ prophecy at length. Here, he
    focuses on the greatest prophet of all time, Moses, and the timing behind Moses’ pilot prophecy.

    With the opening verse of this chapter, Holy Scripture teaches Bible students four instrumental aspects
    of Moses’ prophecy, truly indispensable knowledge. See Abravanel’s World for the full treatment. Here,
    however, we will cover the first one: timing.

    Abravanel questions why Moses only received God’s word at this juncture, in a wasteland? Why, for
    example, had he not been graced with a heavenly message while growing up in opulence, in Pharaoh’s
    palace under the care of the king’s daughter? Or perhaps, Moses should have received bonus prophecy
    as the young activist went out to visit his brethren, advocating on their behalf.

    Indeed, timing is key. Abravanel cites an ancient history text that chronicles Moses’ life prior to tending
    to Jethro’s sheep. That source writes, that after Moses fled Pharaoh’s palace, he headed south and
    settled in Ethiopia. There, his career blossomed. In time, he assumed the throne. For our purposes,
    though, the question is: Why didn’t the Almighty appear to Moses when he ruled Ethiopia?

    Here is the first point about prophecy. It does not rest upon someone surrounded by fame and
    grandeur. On this delicate – and elusive – topic of prophecy, Abravanel quotes from Maimonides.

    What is the right stuff, Maimonides asks about prophets in a general sense? First, prophets need to
    possess analytical prowess and express themselves eloquently. Second, for Maimonides, the Creator’s
    messenger must be extraordinarily imaginative. Finally, seers display steely self-discipline, shunning
    physical pleasures. Clearly, Abravanel adds, prophets run from foolish pursuits, such as politics. They
    properly prioritize.

    Abravanel circles back to his original query about the timing of Moses’ first prophecy. He says, that as
    long as Moses engaged in politics and amassing temporal power, prophecy eluded him. After his stint in
    Ethiopia, Moses left Ethiopia and traveled to Midian. There, he labored as a shepherd and spent his days
    hiking deserted desert dunes. Change came, as well as personal growth.

    In the “farthest end of the wilderness…the angel of God appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the
    midst of a bush.”Miles from the din of civilization, Moses cared for his father-in-law’s flocks. One day, in
    mindful mediation, “he looked, and beheld the bush burned with fire.”

    A transformative dialogue with the One Above was about to commence.

  • Exodus Chapter 4: Moses and Jethro

    Don Isaac Abravanel (1437-1508) was a preeminent Jewish thinker, scholar, and prolific Biblical
    commentator. In Exodus Chapter 4, God bids Moses to return to Egypt. There, he was to address his
    fellow countrymen, who had been enslaved by Pharaoh. God assured His prophet success, courtesy of
    divine miracle after miracle. Though initially reticent about being up to the task ahead, the Maker chided
    the prophet. Ultimately, Moses acquiesced. 

    A technical issue arose: Would Moses’ employer, Jethro, grant a leave of absence? Abravanel puts Moses’ request and Jethro’s response into focus.

    “And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father-in-law, and said unto him: Let me go, I pray you, and return unto my brethren that are in Egypt, and see whether or not they are still alive.”

    Abravanel finds Moses’ request to Jethro ambiguous, if not self-contradictory. “Let me go, I pray you,
    and return unto my brethren”implies a long sojourn in Egypt. Moses desired to relocate and dwell
    among his fellow Jews. However, “And see whether or not they are still alive” suggests a quick visit.

    Abravanel takes Bible students behind the scenes, per se. After Moses accepted his role in God’s plan,
    he left Mount Sinai and returned to Midian, where he would visit his father-in-law, Jethro, and seek
    permission to go. Without a doubt, Abravanel teaches, Moses had not breathed a word about the
    prophecy he had experienced at Sinai. Instead, he asked: “Let me go, I pray you, and return unto my
    brethren that are in Egypt.”Moses insinuated a temporary leave of absence.

    Bolstering the impression of a visit of short duration, Moses continued: “And see whether or not they
    are still alive.” The prophet sorely missed his family and brethren, Moses told Jethro. As for tending
    Jethro’s flocks, the prophet professed interest in keeping his job.

    Jethro, however, was very astute, a brilliant thinker. He was also kind. Notwithstanding Jethro’s
    benevolence, he had put two and two together, suspecting that Moses’s trip was about more than a
    family reunion; it was about saving Jews. Jethro further figured that the Jews would not believe Moses,
    nor would they heed his speeches.

    “And Jethro said to Moses: Go in peace.” For Abravanel, these were not words of permission to leave.
    They were, instead, a forewarning.

    Egypt, for Moses, was a perilous place. Jethro recalled that the first time Moses went to see his
    brethren, it ended with him killing an Egyptian. The second time Moses interfered with the Hebrews,
    they snitched on him to local police, who promptly put a bounty on Moses’ head.

    “And Jethro said to Moses: Go in peace” is now clearer. For Moses, Egypt was fraught with mortal
    danger. His fellow Jews seemed to have a penchant for twisting Moses’ good intentions. Jethro worried
    that the treacherous precedent would raise its ugly head, putting Moses’ life at risk. Who knows, the
    sage from Midian imagined, perhaps the old charges against Moses would resurface.

    “Go in peace”, Jethro cautioned his so-in-law. Though he advised Moses to stay under the radar while in
    Egypt and keep a low profile, the perceptive father-in-law understood that would not be the case.

    See www.abravanelsworldoftorah.com for all blogs and to purchase Abravanel’s World of Torah.

  • Exodus Chapter 5: Let My People Go

    Don Isaac Abravanel (1437-1508) was a preeminent Jewish thinker, scholar, and prolific Biblical
    commentator. In Exodus Chapter 5, Moses and Aaron petition Pharaoh in the name of God: Let My
    People Go. The king was unmoved, let alone impressed. “And Pharaoh said: Who is God that I should
    harken unto His voice to let Israel go? I know not God…”

    “And afterward Moses and Aaron came, and said unto Pharaoh: Thus
    says God, the God of Israel: Let My people go, that they may hold a
    feast unto Me in the wilderness. And Pharaoh said: Who is God that I
    should harken unto His voice to let Israel go? I know not God, and
    moreover I will not let Israel go.”

    Abravanel asks about Moses and Aaron’s follow up, after Pharaoh categorically refused them. “And they
    said: The God of the Hebrews has spoken to us. Let us go, we pray you, three days’ journey into the

    What in the world, Abravanel questions, were Moses and Aaron thinking? Pharaoh had just stated: “I
    know not God, and moreover I will not let Israel go.” Further, what did the two brothers hope to
    accomplish with the threat: “Lest He fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword?” Pharaoh couldn’t
    care less about such chatter.

    Really, Aaron and Moses knew exactly what they were doing. After they heard Pharaoh profess
    ignorance of God, and a refusal to let the Jews celebrate in the desert, the two men doubled down: “The
    God of the Hebrews has spoken to us.”It amounted to giving Pharaoh a primer in Jewish history, and
    the decisive role God played in it.

    Abravanel elaborates on the lecture Moses and Aaron gave to the Egyptian monarch. Pharaoh, they
    fired away. Have you heard of the God of Shem and Eiver? Have you heard of the God of Abraham, the
    Hebrew, Who rescued the patriarch from a fiery furnace? What about that God Who brought military
    victories to Abraham over enemy forces far greater than his?

    Aaron and Moshe continued, Abravanel learns. Have you heard about the God of Isaac, Who brought
    King Abimelech, the king of the Philistines, to his knees? What about that same God of Jacob, Who
    humbled Esau?

    The two brothers again addressed Pharaoh, now in present tense. You don’t stand a chance against the
    God of the Hebrews. He watches over the Jewish people. That same Almighty spoke to us in a
    prophecy, and commanded that we serve Him in the wilderness. A modest request – for you the king
    to accept. We’re asking for three days in the desert, to sacrifice to the Almighty.

    Moshe and Aaron concluded their remarks with a simple cost/benefit analysis. Besides, Pharaoh, the
    celebration will benefit you. Should you turn us down, divine wrath will be brought to bear, in the
    form of pestilence and the sword. Consequently, your slaves will be decimated, causing you great loss.
    And all because you will not let the Hebrews celebrate for three days!

    In sum, Abravanel explains the cogent argument put forth by Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh. The Bible
    points out the king’s hubris and obstinacy. Though obnoxious, those traits did not cause Egypt’s utter
    ruin. His ignorance of the all-powerful God of Israel did.


  • Exodus Chapter 6: Hebrew Redemption from Egypt

    Bible studies with Don Isaac Abravanel’s commentary (also spelled Abarbanel) has withstood the test of
    time. For over five centuries, Abravanel has delighted – and enlightened – clergy and layman alike,
    offering enduring interpretations of the Bible.

    “And God spoke unto Moses, and said unto him: I am God…And
    moreover I have heard the groaning of the children of Israel. Wherefore
    say unto the children of Israel: I am God, and I will bring you out from
    under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their
    bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great

    Don Isaac Abravanel (1437-1508) was a preeminent Jewish thinker, scholar, and prolific Biblical
    commentator. In Exodus chapter 6, God again promises to rescue the Jewish nation from bondage. For
    Abravanel, the question here is what appears to be superfluous verbiage. That is, why does the Bible
    need to use three synonymous verbs in the verse cited above: “I will bring you out under the burdens”, I
    will deliver you from their bondage”,and “I will redeem you?”Surely, Abravanel notes, if God brings out
    the Hebrews from their taskmaster’s burdens, perforce He delivers and redeems them.

    Also, in the following verse, we read: “And I will take you to Me for a people…and you shall know that I
    am God your Almighty, Who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”Abravanel asks
    why is that particular verb chosen (“brought you out”), but not “deliver” or “redeem?”

    Following are the answers. Abravanel provides the mood in Egypt, at this early juncture of Moses’
    mission. Both Moses and the Hebrews had grown skeptical about any redemption from slavery, per an
    earlier verse: “For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has dealt ill with this people.
    Neither have You delivered Your people at all.”

    God responded to the prophet’s and nation’s disbelief, by explaining the three reasons or better, moral
    imperatives to prove that redemption was a foregone conclusion. For the fuller discussion, see
    Abravanel’s World. Here, however, we will briefly touch on the reasons Abravanel brings to answer the
    questions brought above.

    First, God had, if you will, a vested interest in freeing His people. Until now, all divine promises regarding
    the Hebrews had been delivered to the patriarchs, via angelic messengers. That was about to change.
    The Maker was intent to speak directly to Moses and to the Hebrew, each person according to their
    spiritual level. Thus, the Creator gave His word, per se, to redeem the Jews. “I will bring you out under
    the burdens of the Egyptians.”

    Second, the land of Israel has been designated for the Jews, as conveyed to the patriarchs in Genesis.
    And though the patriarchs had dwelled in the land of Canaan, they did so as sojourners, not owners or
    titleholders. Hence, the Almighty needed to take the Hebrews out of Egypt in order to fulfill His pledge
    to the patriarchs. “I will deliver you from their bondage.”

    The third reason that God needed to bring out the Jews from Egypt had to do with Him being the Judge
    of the universe. His people were suffering at the hands of the evil Egyptians, resulting in a travesty of
    justice. The Creator could not sit idly or ignore the injustice. Indeed, the covenant between God and the
    patriarchs had been predicated on punishing the nation that wronged the Jews: “And also that nation,
    whom they shall serve, will I judge.” “And I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.”

    Thus, for Abravanel, our verses inform Moses and the Hebrews, in no uncertain terms: freedom awaits.

  • Exodus Chapter 7: Judaism and Free Choice

    Don Isaac Abravanel (1437-1508) was a preeminent Jewish thinker, scholar, and prolific Biblical
    commentator. In Exodus chapter 7, Bible students encounter the most fundamental theological
    assumption of all: free choice. Indeed, no topic is more central to Judaism. Predictably, every major
    commentator has weighed in on free choice, featured front and center in the verse:

    “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart unto you, and multiply My signs and
    My wonders in the land of Egypt.”

    Abravanel asks: Did God violate Pharaoh’s volition? And if the Creator did remove the king’s ability to
    act independently, how can any wrongdoing be imputed to him? Yet clearly, our verse does ascribe
    transgression to Pharaoh: “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart…and multiply My signs and My wonders in
    the land of Egypt.”

    To be sure, Judaism posits the inviolability of free choice. Humans decide their destiny, without any
    interference from Above. See Abravanel’s Worldfor the full discussion of the centrality of free choice in
    general, and our chapter in particular. For our purposes, we summarize Abravanel’s main thrust.

    God did not bias Pharaoh’s behavior and played no part the king’s refusal to heed Moses’ words.
    Although, “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart” certainly sounds like a divine set-up, it wasn’t.

    Abravanel reframes the verse to show that Pharaoh’s mule headedness was the king’s own doing. Here’s

    All tallied, ten plagues would devastate Egypt. From the onset of the first plague (bloodying the Nile) to
    the last one (killing of Egypt’s firstborn), nearly a year elapsed. A pattern emerged whereby Moses
    would: 1) warn Pharaoh, 2) record the monarch’s obstinacy, 3) execute the given plague, and 4) wait
    before ushering the upcoming plague.

    This methodology gave Pharaoh time to reevaluate matters. He miserably misread the pause in the
    action, attributing the plagues to happenstance or bad karma. Perilously, the king mischaracterized the
    true Source of Egypt’s troubles, cutting God from the script.

    This is key to understanding our verse and the role of Pharaoh’s conduct. When he saw a cessation of a
    plague, he concluded that it occurred randomly. Heaven had not, he believed, orchestrated it. Stuff
    happens, so Pharaoh thought. The king’s skewered mind brought him to double down.

    If this was Pharaoh’s own doing, why does the Bible say: “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart?” Abravanel
    responds that when God slow-walked the procession of the plagues, it gave rise to the king hardening
    his heart.

    In sum, Pharaoh misinterpreted the drawn-out tempo of the divinely-wrought plagues and brought his
    demise. In the next chapter, this is explicit: “But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened
    his heart…”


  • Exodus Chapter 9: The Plague of Boils in Egypt

    Don Isaac Abravanel (1437-1508) was a preeminent Jewish thinker, scholar, and prolific Biblical
    commentator. In Exodus Chapter 9, the Bible details additional plagues to hit Egypt, including boils. On
    this particular plague, Abravanel notes an anomaly, giving way to a question: Of all ten plagues, why
    does God speak to both Moses and Aaron in the case of boils? In all other instances, the Creator solely
    addressed Moses.

    “And God said to Moses and to Aaron: Take handfuls of soot of the
    furnace, and let Moses throw it heavenward in the sight of Pharaoh. And
    it shall become small dust [particles] over all the land of Egypt. And it
    shall become rashes that form boils upon man and beast, throughout the
    land of Egypt.”

    Before delving into the answer, Abravanel adds a second part to his question. It is, why does God
    request both Moses and Aaron to “take handfuls of soot of the furnace”, yet only Moses performs the
    action with the soot – “And let Moses throw it heavenward?” It begs the question, Abravanel continues,
    what role did Aaron play in the plague of boils?

    Abravanel learns that the Maker desired Moses to sow the soot in all four directions on the
    weathervane: north, south, east, and west. This attests to the four directions that wind blows. God
    wanted oozing pus formed from rashes to spread to all corners of Egypt, per the verse cited above: “And
    it shall become small dust [particles} over all the land of Egypt.”

    Moses, of course, had only two hands. This necessitated Aaron’s assistance. Four hands scooped and
    carried four handfuls. Yet, when it came to flinging the soot, the Bible is explicit: “And let Moses throw it
    heavenward”– Moses tossed four handfuls to the four winds. Bible students are apprised that Aaron’s
    role in this plague had been limited to transporting soot.

    In closing, Abravanel shares the following insight. Regarding the plagues, Heaven’s plan took into the
    equation the true, inner nature of Moses and Aaron. For our purposes here, Moses was the more
    spiritual of the two brothers. Hence, Moses played the active part in the plague of boils, seeing that the
    dermatological disorder derived from air or wind.

    See Abravanel’s Worldfor more keen observations about the ten plagues.

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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.
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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
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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.
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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
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