To this day, the commentaries on the Bible and Talmud written by the eleventh-century scholar known as Rashi remain unsurpassed. His influence on Jewish thinking was, and still is, significant. His commentary on the Pentateuch was the first Hebrew book to be printed, giving rise to hundreds of supercommentaries. Christian scholars, too, have relied heavily on his explanations of biblical texts.
In this volume Avraham Grossman presents a masterly survey of the social and cultural background to Rashi’s work and pulls together the strands of information available on his life, his personality, his reputation during his lifetime, and his influence as a teacher. He discusses each of his main commentaries in turn, including such aspects as his sources, his interpretative method, his innovations, and his style and language. Attention is also given to his halakhic monographs, responsa, and liturgical poems.
Despite Rashi’s importance as a scholar and the vast literature published about him, two central questions remain essentially unanswered: what was Rashi’s world-view, and was he a conservative or a revolutionary? Professor Grossman considers these points at length, and his in-depth analysis of Rashi’s world-view—particularly his understanding of Jewish uniqueness, Jewish values, and Jewish society—leads to conclusions that are likely to stimulate much debate.
Reviews‘Grossman draws heavily from the current Israeli scholarship on Rashi, including his own scholarly works, to present a well-rounded picture of Rashi. It is a work of synthesis; explicating clearly more arcane studies. Gross is a very good teacher, making his arguments clearly and using examples which clarify his own even further. He is especially helpful to explain Rashi’s relationship with the midrashic literature whether in the commentary of the Torah or elsewhere. Recommended for libraries with comprehensive undergraduate programmes and any synagogue library.’
Roger S. Kohn, Association for Jewish Libraries Reviews
‘The leading authority of his generation in this field.’
Marc Saperstein, European Judaism
‘Avraham Grossman, one of the world's foremost scholars of medieval Judaica . . . reads some famous texts very closely in an attempt to make Rashi come to life for twenty-first century readers . . . a tour de force . . . Grossman’s book, just like the works of Rashi, can be read with profit and enjoyment by both scholars and amateurs.’
Martin Lockshin, H-Judaic
‘Arguably the most learned scholar today writing about the life and works of Rashi . . admirable book . . . the scholarly achievements of Avraham Grossman, to which this book attests on every page.’
Ivan G. Marcus, Jewish Review of Books
‘The current volume is largely based on Grossman’s earlier and very extensive work, but he has succeeded not only in abbreviating it for present purposes but also in updating various aspects of his impressive scholarship. The result is a volume that will undoubtedly become the standard work in English, for use as much (perhaps, in truth, even more) by scholars as by non-specialists. There is little here that Grossman has not covered . . . his contribution to the topic goes far beyond the thorough and well-sourced provision of sound data and careful assessment. He is also able to offer fresh insights into Rashi the man, the scholar, the rabbi, and the teacher . .. splendid.’
Stefan C. Reif, Journal of Jewish Studies
‘An amazing volume that gives the reader a thorough understanding of who Rashi was through his many writings . . . Grossman’s book is an impressive one . . . very readable, accessible, and fascinating.’
Ben Rothke, Times of Israel