Kavanot: Sources and Resources

Thoughts on Tanach and the Davening

Primary Sources
חומש מקראות גדולות
I use the מקראות גדולות המאור.
I use the Nach Hamair L’Yisrael edition, with רש״י, מצודות, מלבי״ם, רד״ק and others, including a cross reference to the תלמוד.
Greek translation of תנ״ך from the third century BCE, written by חז״ל for Ptolemy II. Available online from Rabbi Eric Levy.
תרגום יונתן בן עוזיאל
Aramaic translation of most of נ״ך,‎ by the Tanna יונתן בן עוזיאל.
I use the Zohar HaSulam, with Rabbi Yehuda Leib Ashlag’s translation and commentary.
סדר עולם
Chronology of the world based on תנ״ך, attributed to the Tanna רבי יוסי בן חלפתא. Its methodology leads to a relatively compressed view of history, and many later authorities disagreed with it as a way of understanding פשט. It is the basis of Rashi’s understanding of history, and the origin of our system of dating Hebrew years.
תלמוד בבלי
I use the מהדורת נהרדעא edition.
אבות דרבי נתן
The “gemara” (amoraic and geonic commentary) for משנה אבות.
מדרש רבה
Collection of אגדות on חומש and the מגילות, of uncertain authorship and date, between 400 and 1000 CE.
מדרש תנחומא
Collection of אגדות and מדרשי הלכה on חומש, published by Salomon Buber from several manuscripts in 1885 (hence often called Tanchuma-Buber to distinguish it from other Midrashic collections also called Tanchuma). Likely redacted in the fifth century CE.
פסיקתא רבתי
Midrashic collection from the ninth century CE.
תנא דבי אליהו
Midrash attributed to the Amora Anan, discussing the history of the world from creation to the time of משיח. Mentioned in the Talmud but based on internal evidence, finally redacted in the tenth century CE.
מדרש שוחר טוב
Collection of אגדות on שמואל and תהילים‎, probably from the tenth century.
מדרש לקח טוב (also called פסיקתא זוטרתא)
Collection of אגדות on חומש and the מגילות, written by Rabbi Tuvia ben Eliezer of Kastoria, Greece, in the eleventh century. Of note, it mentions in a few places the destruction of Ashkenazi Jewry during the Crusades.
ילקוט שמעוני
Collection of אגדות on תנ״ך, probably from the early thirteenth century.
Abudirham, Rabbi David, דוד אבודרהם, commonly pronounced Abudraham (Spain, 14th century)
Author of a comprehensive commentary on the siddur.
Arama, Rabbi Isaac (Spain, c. 1420–1494)
Author of the עקידת יצחק, a philosophical commentary on the Torah.
Rabbeinu Bahya ben Asher ibn Halawa, רבינו בחיי (Spain, ?-1340) (not to be confused with Bahya ibn Paquda, author of the חובות הלבבות)
Commentator on the Torah. I use the Mosad haRav Kook edition.
Bertinoro, Rabbi Ovadiah of (Italy, Israel, c. 1440-1516)
Commentator on משנה.
Rabbeinu Chananel ben Chushiel, רבנו חננאל (Kairouan, Tunisia, c. 990-c. 1050)
First commentator on the Talmud, and author of a commentary on the Torah, which survives only as quoted in later works, largely Rabbeinu Bahya.
Ibn Ezra, Rabbi Avraham, אברהם אבן עזרא or ראב״ע (Spain, 1089-c. 1164)
Commentator on תנ״ך, emphasizing the pshat. Of note, he was one of the medieval mathematicians who introduced the zero to the west.
Raavad, ראב״ד, Rabbi Abraham ben David (Provence, France, c. 1125-1198)
Talmudic scholar and frequent critic of the Rambam.
Radak, רד״ק, Rabbi David Kimchi (France, 1160-1235)
Commentator on נ״ך.
Radbaz, רדב״ז, Rabbi David ben Shlomo ibn Zimra (Egypt, 1479-1573)
Posek and rosh yeshiva in Cairo; author of more than 3,000 responsa.
Rambam, רמב״ם, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (Spain, Egypt, 1135-1204)
Author of the משנה תורה, a code of Jewish Law, and מורה נבוכים, The Guide for the Perplexed, on Jewish philosophy.
Ramban, רמב״ן, Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (Spain, 1194-1270)
Commentator on חומש.
Ran, ר״ן, Rabbi Nissim Gerondi (Spain, 1320– 1376)
Medieval talmudic authority, author of the דרשות הר״ן, a series of twelve philosophical sermons.
Rashba, רשב״א, Rabbi Shlomo ben Aderet (Spain, 1235–1310)
Medieval talmudic authority, author of more than 3,000 responsa.
Rashbam, רשב״ם, Rabbi Shlomo ben Meir (France, c. 1085-1174)
Grandson of Rashi, commentator on חומש, emphasizing the pshat.
Rashbash, רשב״ש, Rabbi Shlomo ben Simon Duran (Algiers, c. 1400 – 1467)
Talmudic scholar, anti-Kabbalist, author of many responsa.
Rashi, רש״י, Rabbi Shimon Yitzchaki (France, 1040-1105)
The primary commentator on חומש and the תלמוד בבלי, . His commentary on נ״ך is shorter and less complete.
Recanati (Menachem), מנחם רקנאטי‎ (1310-1250, Italy)
Thirteenth century Kabbalist.
Sefer ha-Chinuch, attributed to (among others) Rabbi Aharon HaLevi (Spain, 1235-c. 1290)
Listing of the 613 מצוות, based on the רמב״ם, with a philosophical discussion of their underlying rationales.
Rabbi Yehuda Halevi, יהודה הלוי (Spain, c. 1075 – 1141)
Hebrew poet and philosopher, author of the ספר הכוזרי.
Altshuler, Rabbi David (Poland, 1687-1769)
Commentator on תנ״ך, published as the מצודת ציון on vocabulary and מצודת דוד on concepts.
Azikri, Rabbi Elazar (Sefad, 1533-1600)
One of the kabbalists of 16th century Sefad. Author of ידיד נפש and ספר חרדים, in which he lists the mitzvot according to the limbs of the body based on the verse (תהלים לה:י)‎ כל עצמותי תאמרנה ה׳ מי כמוך.
Berlin, Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda, נצי״ב, the Netziv (Belarus, 1816-1893)
Dean of the Volozhin yeshiva, author of the חומש העמק דבר.
Bornsztain, Rabbi Shmuel (Sochatchov and Lodz, Poland, 1855–1926)
The second Sochatchover Rebbe, author of the שם משמואל, a nine-volume collection of Hasidic thought on the Torah and Jewish holidays.
Cooperman, Rabbi Yehuda (Israel, 1929-2016)
Dean of Michlala Seminary in Jerusalem. Author of לפשוטו של מקרא and several commentaries on commentators on חומש.
dei Rossi, Azariah, עזריה מן האדומים (Italy, c. 1511-1578)
Italian scholar (it’s not clear if he considered himself a rabbi), author of the מאור עיניים in which he analyzed Talmudic Aggada in the light of contemporary science and historiography. Severely criticised by the Maharal and almost placed in cherem.
Emden, Rabbi Yaakov (Germany, 1697–1776)
German rabbi and Talmudist, author of the שאילת יעבץ.
Heller, Yom-Tov Lipmann (Bavaria (modern Czech Republic) and Krakow, 1578-1654)
Author of a commentary on the Mishnah called the תוספות יום טוב, Tosafot Yom-Tov.
Hirsch, Rabbi Samson Raphael (Germany, 1808-1888)
Leader of the German Jewish community in the battle against Reform, author of many works, including a comprehensive commentary on חומש and תהילים‎.
ibn Attar, Rabbi Chaim ben Moses (Morocco and Israel, 1696-1743)
Talmudist and Kabbalist, author of the אור החיים on the תורה.
Kagan, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Ha-Kohen (Belarus, 1838-1933)
Author of the חפץ חיים, on the laws of לשון הרע, and the משנה ברורה, a commentary on the שולחן ערוך, and the ביאור הלכה, a more technical commentary analyzing the reasoning behind the halacha.
Karo, Rabbi Joseph, יוסף קארו, המחבר (Tzefat, 1488-1575)
Author of the בית יוסף and שולחן ערוך, considered the ultimate authority on halacha, and the כסף משנה, a commentary on the משנה תורה.
Landau, Rabbi Yechezkel (Yampol (Ukraine) and Prague, 1713-1793)
Posek and commentator on the Talmud, author of the נודע ביהודה and ציון לנפש חיה‎ (צל״ח).
Maharal, מהר״ל, Rabbi Yehuda Loewe ben Bezalel (Moravia (modern Czech Republic), 1526-1609)
Seminal Jewish thinker, author of many works including גבורות ה׳ on all aspects of יציאת מצרים and פסח, and גור ארוה, a supercommentary on Rashi on חומש.
Maharik, מהרי״ק, Rabbi Joseph Colon ben Solomon Trabotto (Italy, c. 1420– 1480)
Italian talmudic authority; one of the main sources of Ashenazi halachic rulings.
Maharsha, Rabbi Shmuel Eidels, מהרש״א (Poland, 1555–1631)
Commentator on the Talmud, including on the aggadah.
Maharshal, Rabbi Solomon Luria, מהרש״ל, (Poland, 1510-1573)
Ashkenazi posek, author of the ים של שלמה on the Talmud, which analyzes key sugyot and decides between various authorities as to the practical halacha.
Malbim, מלבי״ם, Rabbi Meir Libush ben Yechiel Michel (Germany, Russia and Romania, 1809-1879)
Commentator on תנ״ך, emphasizing the connection between the oral and written Torah.
Meir Simcha of Dvinsk (Dvinsk, Latvia, 1843–1926)
Author of the אור שמח on the Talmud and the Mishneh Torah, and the משך חכמה on the Torah.
Mecklenburg, Rabbi Yaakov Tzvi (Königsberg, East Prussia, 1785-1865)
Author of the Torah commentary הכתב והקבלה.
Mizrachi, Rabbi Eliyahu (Constantinople, 1450-1525)
Author of a supercommentary on Rashi on חומש.
Netziv, Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin, נצי״ב (Volozhin, Lithuania, 1816-1893)
Rosh Yeahiva of the Volozhin Yeshiva and author of several works of rabbinic literature, including העמק דבר on the Torah.
Olshin, Rabbi Yerucham
Rosh Yeshiva at Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, New Jersey. Author of ירח למואדים on the Jewish Holidays.
Pazanavski, Rabbi Yosef (Poland, 1875-1942)
Author of the פרדס יוסף, a commentary on the Torah. As Dan Rabinowitz says, it “is a veritable encyclopedia of highly interesting Rabbinic miscellany…It is full of interesting tangents that are treated in an incredibly comprehensive manner.” Available on hebrewbooks.org.
Radbaz, Rabbi David ben Solomon ibn Abi Zimra, רדב״ז (Fez, Cairo and Tzefat, 1479-1573)
Posek and author of more than 3,000 responsa. Colleague of Rabbi Yosef Karo.
Rema MiPano, Menahem Azariah da Fano, הרמ״ע מפאנו (Italy, 1548-1620)
Italian rabbi, Talmudist, and Kabbalist. Student of Rabbi Moses Cordovero.
Soloveitchik, Rabbi Yosef Dov (Belarus, 1820-1892)
Talmudic scholar, founder of the Brisk dynasty, author of the בית הלוי.
Zundel, Enoch ben Joseph , חנוך זונדל בן יוסף (Bialystok, Poland, d. 1867)
Author of a commentary on Midrash Rabbah.
Modern Sources
Baumol, Rabbi Avi (2009) The Poetry of Prayer: Tehillim in Tefillah
Goes through selected tehillim that are part of the davening, analyzing how they fit into the larger concept of prayer.
Biberfeld, Henry (1978) David King of Israel
Lyrical biography of David as seen through the eyes of Chazal. Currently out of print.
Bunim, Irving (2000) Ethics From Sinai
An eclectic commentary on Pirkei Avot, from the man who spear-headed the Young Israel movement in America.
Carmell, Rabbi Aryeh (1986) Aiding Talmud Study
The indispensible handbook for understanding the Talmud, with grammar, units and charts of rebbe-student relationships.
Eisemann, Rabbi Moshe (1987) Divrei Hayamim I/I Chronicles
The Artscroll דברי הימים. Unlike most of the Artscroll Tanach, Rabbi Eisemann analyzes the sefer more deeply, looking at the contrasts with שמואל and how the מפרשים reconcile them. (דברי הימים ב was published in 2000)
Eisemann, Rabbi Moshe (2004) Music Made in Heaven
Rabbi Eisemann’s personal essay on the relationship between the “historical” David of שמואל and the David of תהילים.
Eisemann, Rabbi Moshe (2010) For Rashi’s Thoughtful Students
An approach to understandind Rashi’s commentary on the Torah.
Eisemann, Rabbi Moshe (2013) Seek Me Out
A collection of essays on Jewish values.
Feuer, Rabbi Avrohom Chaim (1985) Tehillim/Psalms 2 Volume Set
The Artscroll תהילים, with an extensive anthology of ancient and modern commentators.
Kleinman, Rabbi Heshy (2006) Praying with Fire 1
Daily guide to increasing the power of davening.
Hirsch, Rabbi Samson Raphael (1991) Psalms: Translation and Commentary
Rav Hirsch’s unique commentary on תהילים tries to unify the entire פרק, seeing the themes that run through each one.
Hirsch, Rabbi Samson Raphael (1992) Horeb: A Philosophy of Jewish Laws and Observances
A systematic explanation of the mitzvot.
Hirsch, Rabbi Samson Raphael (2009) The Hirsch Chumash
Rav Hirsch’s commentary on חומש emphasizing the hashkafa of the Torah’s world view and Hirsch’s unique analysis of the Hebrew language. I quote from the translation of the older, 1976 Judaica Press edition.
Koren, Rabbi Zalman Menachem (2009) The Beit Hamikdash
A reconstruction of the second בית המקדש based on archeological evidence.
Leibowitz, Nechama (2010), New Studies in the Weekly Parasha
Dr. Leibowitz (1905-1997) was a Israeli Bible scholar who emphasized the מפרשי הפשט. Her weekly גיליונות are available from www.nechama.org.il.
Schwab, Rabbi Shimon (2001) Rav Schwab on Prayer
Goes through the davening in detail, connecting it with the service in the בית המקדש.
Weinberger, Rabbi Yosef (2011) Shmuel I/I Samuel
The Artscroll שמואל א‎ (שמואל ב is not available yet). An anthology of commentaries.
משבצות זהב
Contemporary anthology and original commentary on נביאים, by Rabbi Shabsai Sheftel Weiss, a talmid of Rav Wolbe. Often quoted by the Artscroll Shmuel.
תנ״ך דעת מקרא
Comprehensive commentary on תנ״ך, combining classical sources with archeological discoveries, from the Mosad haRav Kook.
Academic Sources
Berlin, Adele (2008) The Dynamics of Biblical Parallelism
An analysis of the different types of parallelism found in Biblical poetry.
Fox, Rabbi Marvin (1995) Interpreting Maimonides: Studies in Methodology, Metaphysics, and Moral Philosophy
An analysis of the Rambam’s philosophical writings, mostly the Guide for the Perplexed, emphasizing (as I understand Fox) the Rambam’s fidelity to traditional Jewish thought but seen through the lens of contemporary (Aristotelian) philosophy.
Ginzberg, Louis (1909) Legends of the Jews
Massive 6-volume anthology of midrashim and other aggadic-type material (including non-Jewish sources), with 4 volumes of text and 2 volumes of index. Out of print but still available from used book sites and an OCR version for the Kindle.
Kugel, James (1998) The Idea of Biblical Poetry: Parallelism and Its History
An analysis of Tanach proposing that there is a continuum from “prose” to “poetry”, and reviewing the history of the analysis of Biblical poetry.
Sternberg, Meir (1985) The Poetics of Biblical Narrative
Scholarly work from one of the pioneers in the literary analysis of Tanach.
Online Resources
A Tanach study source with extensive source sheets for various topics.
Compendium of sources on Jewish topics, from the printed edition by Rabbi Shmuel Avraham Adler.
The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary
From Chabad, תנ״ך with רש״י and the Judaica Press English translation. The רש״י on נ״ך is only in translation.
Moshe Catane’s La’azei-Rashi Tanakh
Dictionary (in source and in alpahbetical order) of the Old French in Rashi’s commentary on תנ״ך. He also compiled a dictionary for Rashi’s Talmud commentary.
Site dedicated to preserving old seforim. Has a huge selection of out-of-copyright works, all scanned to PDF. Many have been OCR processed, so the text can be copied and pasted. (As one might expect from OCR of blurry offset printed pages, there are many typos in the digitized text. The scanned original is generally readable directly.) It is also available as an iOS app.
Herzog Teacher’s College
Archives of articles from Herzog in Gush Etzion. Includes full text articles from Megadim, but only listed by volume published, title and author. You have to know what you are looking for. There is a plan to re-organize everything under hatanakh.com, but it’s still a work in progress.
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash
Archive of shiurim from Yeshivat Har Etzion. Notable series include Rav Amnon Bazak’s Shmuel, Rav Yitzchak Levi’s Mikdash and Rav Ezra Bick’s Tefilah. Many of the shiurim have been translated into English.
Rabbi Jeff Koopeman’s Online Texts
An index of many online resources for Torah study.
Mechon Mamre
Digital archive of תנ״ך, תורה שבעל פה, משנה תורה in various formats, easily searchable.
Rabbi Anthony Manning
Rabbi Manning is Senior Rav Mechanech at Michlelet Mevasseret Yerushalyim (MMY) and a Senior Lecturer at Midreshet Rachel V’Chaya College for Women, and Shapell’s Darche Noam Yeshiva. His site is invaluable for audio shiurim and source pages on the history and developement of halacha.
An open-source collection of Jewish texts, with translations and hypertext links between them. Still being developed, but an excellent resource for what it does have. Includes all of תנ״ך with most of the major מפורשים.
SBL Hebrew Font
Simply the best Hebrew font, with good implementations of nikud and taamim. From the Society of Biblical Literature (a scholarly, non-Jewish organization), designed by John Hudson.
TanachML Project
An online תנ״ך that is searchable by consonants with or without vowels, and parsed by טעמים.
ובלכתך בדרך
Complete digital archive of תנ״ך, מפרשים, תורה שבעל פה, הלכה, קבלה and more. Also available as a mobile-formatted site and an iOS app.
Open source collection of Hebrew texts.