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Pirke Avot: A Modern Commentary on Jewish Ethics (Modern Commentary On) [Paperback]

By Leonard S. Kravitz (Editor), Leonard S. Kravitz (Translator) & Kerry M. Olitzky (Editor)
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Item description for Pirke Avot: A Modern Commentary on Jewish Ethics (Modern Commentary On) by Leonard S. Kravitz & Kerry M. Olitzky...

This edition presents a fresh, new approach to a Jewish classic. Along with traditional commentaries from Rashi and Maimonides, readers encounter the wisdom of Eugene Borowitz, Emil Fackenheim, Lawrence Kushner, Anne Roiphe, Judith Plaskow, Maurice Eisendrath, and many others. Ideal for college and adult study.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Urj Press
Pages   114
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.88" Width: 7.64" Height: 0.36"
Weight:   0.7 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 1998
Publisher   Urj Press
ISBN  0807404802  
ISBN13  9780807404805  

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More About Leonard S. Kravitz & Kerry M. Olitzky

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Kravitz is a rabbi and a professor of Midrash and Homiletics at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, New York City.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Bible & Other Sacred Texts > Bible > Hebrew
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > Sacred Writings > Talmud
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > Theology

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Reviews - What do customers think about Pirke Avot: A Modern Commentary on Jewish Ethics (Modern Commentary On)?

Five-Star Text, Three-Star Commentary  Aug 18, 2002
"Pirke Avot" (the "Chapter of the Fathers") is a tractate of the Mishnah that collects not laws but sayings of the tannaitic Rabbis, mostly concerning the virtues of Torah study and the proper conduct of scholars. It is one of the classics of rabbinic literature, included (in whole or in part) in most prayer books, and the source of many familiar sayings. The picture it presents of Torah study as a democratic ideal, available to all and instilling a generous humility and respect for others, is a goal we can still admire and aspire to.

The translation and commentary presented here is helpful but leaves something to be desired. Each passage of Avot is followed by a brief commentary, generally identifying the rabbis quoted, providing some quasi-historical background on them and their relationship to other quoted rabbis, clarifying obscure phrases and summarizing the thoughts of Rashi, Maimonides and Bartinoro on many of the passages. (The introduction might lead one to think that the commentary also summarizes "Avot de Rabbi Natan" and Yom Tov Lippman Heller's commentary, but I found only a few references to either of these works.) This commentary is very helpful for understanding the plain meaning of the text, but seldom goes beyond the plain meaning to explore the theological or ethical significance of the passage. (A few passages that make the Reform editors uncomfortable are noteable exceptions -- here the commentary notes that "we modern Jews" look at things differently. While I agree with the modern conclusions, I found this condescending attitude annoying and unnecessary.)

Each chapter of Pirke Avot is followed by a section of brief essays (usually two or three paragraphs) by the editors on "salient themes." These often seemed more tangential than salient to me (a brief statement in Avot 3:1 that we return to dust leads to an essay on Jewish views on cremation), but they were interesting and provided further background on various aspects of traditional Jewish history, practice and thought. The brief essays are followed by section of somewhat longer "gleanings" from the works of various Reform or liberal Jewish thinkers. These tend to be quite tangential and are plainly intended to provide food for thought and discussion, not to answer questions. A few of them seemed more than a little out-dated, but in general the selection was interesting, if obviously slanted toward a Reform view of the world.

A final note on the translation, which is colloquial and inclusive. The former (particularly the use of contractions, which to my ear made too many passages sound like "don't be a don't bee") was irritating to me, but that's a matter of taste. The attempt to be inclusive (i.e., to use gender-neutral language), however, led on more than one occasion to translations that were so awkward they were a distraction ("everyone has one's moment"), which I find more difficult to forgive.

Valuable book for any Judaic collection.  Apr 28, 1998
I have many different editions of Pirke Avot. I am, at this time, using this in a class I'm taking at our shul with the rabbi. The Kravitz/Orlitzky are very good.

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