Mas­ter­pieces of Hebrew Literature

Curt Leviant , ed. and intro.
  • Review
By – January 16, 2012

In select­ing from the vast array of Hebrew lit­er­a­ture thir­ty-two works that give a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of a canon of writ­ing span­ning over a thou­sand years in Jew­ish his­to­ry, Curt Leviant has accom­plished an extra­or­di­nary task. 

Some of the works are by famil­iar authors such as Mai­monides and Rashi, two of the giants in Hebrew scrip­tur­al inter­pre­ta­tion and com­men­tary. But Leviant includes many less­er known fig­ures, for exam­ple Judah He- Hasid, as well as some anony­mous writ­ings. Giv­en the breadth of Hebrew schol­ar­ship and writ­ing, it is no small task to have made these selec­tions, which give the read­er an under­stand­ing of the devel­op­ment of Hebrew lit­er­a­ture over the cen­turies and some insight into how Jews, at var­i­ous times both inside and out­side of Israel, came to under­stand the foun­da­tion­al text of the bible. 

Each selec­tion is pre­ced­ed by a short expo­si­tion on the author, the time and place of the text, and oth­er insights into the impor­tance of the text in the Hebrew canon. There fol­lows one or two selec­tions from the piece to give the read­er a fla­vor of the writ­ing. The chain of Jew­ish his­to­ry, phi­los­o­phy, com­men­tary, and tra­di­tion is linked by each of these exam­ples of great intel­lec­tu­al thought.

Bar­bara Andrews holds a Mas­ters in Jew­ish Stud­ies from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go, has been an adult Jew­ish edu­ca­tion instruc­tor, and works in the cor­po­rate world as a pro­fes­sion­al adult educator.

Discussion Questions