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Rashi's Commentary on the TorahCanonization and Resistance in the Reception of a Jewish Classic$
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Eric Lawee

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190937836

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190937836.001.0001

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Rationalism versus the Rashi/Rabbinic Axis

Rationalism versus the Rashi/Rabbinic Axis

Pseudo-Rabad’s book of strictures

(p.150) 5 Rationalism versus the Rashi/Rabbinic Axis
Rashi's Commentary on the Torah

Eric Lawee

Oxford University Press

The Book of Strictures, the work of an unknown late medieval rationalist, is the most concentrated assault on Rashi’s biblical scholarship in the annals of Jewish literature. In devoting himself to an often scornful assault on Rashi’s exegesis and ideas, focusing almost exclusively on those of midrashic provenance, the work’s author put himself at odds with powerful intellectual, halakhic, and educational currents pulling in the opposite direction, each buttressing the work’s growing reach and authority. Sefer hassagot occupies a significant place in the reception history of Rashi’s work, especially when viewed in terms of the hermeneutics of canonicity. The author’s literary vehicle is the stricture (hassagah), to which he often appends a corrective to Rashi’s interpretation. In so doing, he insistently contrasts an understanding of scripture grounded in canons of plain sense interpretation and scientific criteria of credibility with Rashi’s more fanciful midrashic methods and fantastical mentality.

Keywords:   Rashi, Commentary, Torah, midrash, Book of Strictures, Rabad, pseudonymity

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