Monday, October 10, 2011

The Great Rashi Initiative

In the spirit of the late Steve Jobs, on Yom Kippur I unveiled our newest innovation at Beth Israel - The Great Rashi Initiative.

• Learning Chumash with the commentary of Rashi has always been the best way to build a strong foundation of Torah scholarship.

• Other than the Torah itself, there is no other work that can be learned on as many different levels. 8 year old students learn Chumash with Rashi and the greatest Torah scholars learn Chumash with Rashi.

• Rashi's commentary is easy to read, engaging, succinct, and has contained in it the most essential elements of the oral tradition and jewish values.

So this year at Beth Israel we are going to concentrate on Rashi's commentary to each parshah. All classes will incorporate Rashi's commentary in some way, and the quiz questions at Shabbat services will be based on Rashi.
In order to better participate it is worthwhile to invest in a copy of a Chumash with Rashi. For those who have a harder time with Hebrew there is a wonderful edition available by artscroll called the Sapirstein edition.

It comes in three sizes:
Full size - this is great for your home Judaic library. It is 5 volumes and you can purchase them either all at once or one at a time. You can bring it to shul with you every week and follow along and use it during the week to prepare for Shabbat.
Student Size - I think of this as the economy version. It is a bit cheaper than the full size. The print is still legible but for those who need a bigger print it is not recommended.
Personal Travel size - great for people on the go. This comes in 17 pocket sized pamphlets. The print is comparable to the student size. The down side is each volume has only a few parshiot rather than an entire book of the Torah so you have to remember to switch frequently. It is, however, the cheapest of the three sets, but it is mostly for reading on an airplane or waiting on line at the DMV or something. Not ideal for shul or for home study.

They can be bought either at or
Artscroll offers free shipping for orders of $70 or more while Amazon offers free shipping for $25 so if you are buying the whole set it may be cheaper to order from Artscroll.

I really hope everyone purchases a set and gets involved in this initiative. This will take our shul to the next level of Torah engagement.  I am really excited to begin the new parshah cycle with Rashi and with our shul!


  1. Kvod haRav,
    I wish you and your congregation the best of luck in this new and exciting endeavor.
    With your permission I'd like to share a thought regarding the study of Torah with a commentary. After a long time learning Rashi as "pshat" - *the* explanation, I was reminded of the place of Rashi in the pantheon of Torah scholars. He holds a high and respected place but is not the only explanation. As such I was shown how instructive it can also be to compare Rashi's explanation of a verse with that of other scholars and sages (Rashbam, Ibn Ezra, Ramban, etc) and even to compare Rashi's explanation to your personal free-form translation of the verse and your personal understanding of the chapter. This granted me a fresh perspective regarding the text and regarding the commentary of the great Rabbi Itzchaki (Rashi).
    Again, I wish you and your congregation much success.