The Pentateuch Commentary as Rewritten Midrash
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’.
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