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Midrash UnboundTransformations and Innovations$
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Michael A. Fishbane and Joanna Weinberg

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113713

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113713.001.0001

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Rashi’s Choice

Rashi’s Choice

The Pentateuch Commentary as Rewritten Midrash

(p.233) Twelve Rashi’s Choice
Midrash Unbound

Ivan G. Marcus

Liverpool University Press

This chapter focuses on the master exegete Rashi of Troyes. Although many have written supercommentaries, essays, and even books about Rashi as a biblical or talmudic exegete, until recently few have looked at him as an original medieval Jewish thinker, let alone as a historical source reflective of northern European Jewish mentalité. And yet, no medieval Jew shaped the collective identity of Ashkenazi and even Sephardi Jewry more than this remarkable figure, whose genealogy is obscure but who is often compared and contrasted to his Sephardi analogue, Maimonides, whose genealogy was long and distinguished. Could Rashi have been so widely accepted as 'the' interpreter of biblical-talmudic Judaism for all times had he himself not been a person of his own time as well as a refashioner of it? Rashi proposed Jewish core values to his readers, especially in his Pentateuch (Humash) commentary. He did not write a treatise but wrote biblical commentaries in the form of a selective editing of rabbinic lore. Even when he did not interpret narrative biblical irregularities, he wrote what can be called ‘rewritten Midrash’.

Keywords:   Rashi of Troyes, medieval Jewish thinker, Ashkenazi Jewry, Sephardi Jewry, Judaism, Jewish core values, Pentateuch, biblical commentaries, rabbinic lore, Midrash

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