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Recalling the Covenant

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Recalling the Covenant

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Recalling the Covenant
A Contemporary Commentary on the Five Books of the Torah
By Rabbi Moshe Shamah
KTAV Publishing House
In association with the Sephardic Institute and Tebah Educational Services
ISBN: 978-1-60280-184-4

Reviewed by Herbert White - February 22, 2012

Is it possible to have too many Bible commentaries? I don't think so. Each new commentary provides new insights into the Tanakh, and I find that reading new commentaries help to keep my studies vibrant and exciting, while also helping to enhance my understanding of such classic commentators as Rashi and Ramban. One of the newer commentaries on the Tanakh, to recently become available, is Recalling the Covenant.

Recalling the Covenant was written by the Sephardic scholar, Rabbi Moshe Shamah. In writing these commentaries he has taken a contemporary but traditionally grounded approach to this work, and has created a synthesis of modern scholarship combined with an in-depth traditional understanding and appreciation of the Chumash (Five Book of Moses). In writing these commentaries, Rabbi Shamah draws from not only traditional interpretations, but also from such diverse, modern fields of study as linguistics, archaeology, and literature. Rabbi Shamah is the founder of Sephardic Institute, he currently leads Brooklyn's Sephardic Synagogue, and he was the principal of Sephardic High School.

The commentaries in Recalling the Covenant are organized into chapters keyed to the weekly Torah reading. Throughout, Rabbi Shamah provides both a textual interpretation of the text and an outline of the biblical narrative with a detailed analysis of the underlying meaning of the text and the historical context from which it developed. This book contains only Rabbi Shamah's commentaries, and it can be used in conjunction with any edition of the Torah that you desire. In addition, it is suitable for use by both general readers and advanced biblical scholars. The commentaries are presented in English, although short Biblical quotations, in Hebrew, are included. In all cases, these quotations are accompanied by an English translation.

Throughout, Rabbi Shamah's tone is conversational, and never pedantic. This gives readers the feeling that they are having a one on one lesson with a great scholar. Best of all, Rabbi Shamah's commentaries are relevant to students of all levels, and they help to bring out the true depth, vitality, and meaning of the Torah. Along the way, his commentaries serve as a reminder just why the Torah is the foundation stone of Judaism, and the backbone of Jewish religious life, culture, literature, and history.

At more than 1,000 pages, Recalling the Covenant is not a quick read. Rather it is a book to be studied, to be savored, and to be used as a reference for years to come. Rabbi Shamah will help you to see aspects of the Torah that you never saw before, no matter how learned you are. For those new to Torah study, you will find Recalling the Covenant to be an excellent guide that will introduce you to the nuances of the biblical text, and also to it's vibrancy and continuing relevance. This book belongs in every Jewish home and in both public and private libraries.

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