The supercommentator as thinker: Examples from the Ashkenazic Rashi supercommentary tradition

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Abstract

This article explores a largely neglected exegetical literary medium, supercommentaries on Rashi's Commentary on the Torah. Its main aim is to show how authors who wrote in this exegetical tradition contributed to Jewish thought. The supercommentators studied are Israel Isserlein, Judah Loew of Prague (Maharal) and Isaac Horowitz. In their ensemble, these writers reflect the Ashkenazic branch of the Rashi supercommentary tradition in its medieval, early modern, and modern phases. The questions that arise in the three supercommentarial samples investigated in the article include the rationality of biblical law, the nature of human spirituality at its acme, and the tension between love of God and interpersonal love. The findings commend supercommentaries on Rashi as objects of study both for students of biblical interpretation and for scholars seeking to understand the matter, and the manner, of Jewish thinking about enduring questions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-362
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Jewish Studies
Volume67
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2016

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