Supercommentaries on the Pentateuch

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SUPERCOMMENTARIES ON THE PENTATEUCH , commentaries mostly on the chief commentators of the Pentateuch – *Rashi, Abraham *Ibn Ezra, and *Naḥmanides. Supercommentaries began to be composed soon after the appearance of the original commentaries. By far the largest number of such supercommentaries are on Rashi, the most popular commentator on the Pentateuch. An early supercommentary was Minḥat Yehudah (Leghorn, 1783). It was compiled by *Judah b. Eliezer, probably in Troyes, in the year 1313. The author quotes comments on Rashi by his teacher and earlier authorities. The most extensive supercommentary is by Elijah *Mizraḥi. It was printed for the first time in Venice in 1527, some time after the author's death, and in itself is largely quoted and discussed by later supercommentators. Prominent rabbis who wrote supercommentaries on Rashi included: Israel *Isserlein (Be'urim al Perush Rashi …, Venice, 1519); Obadiah di *Bertinoro (Amar Neke, Pisa, 1810); Samuel *Almosnino, whose supercommentary was printed in c. 1525 in Constantinople with three other supercommentaries; Solomon *Luria (Yeri'ot Shelomo, Prague, 1608); Moses *Mat (Ho'il Moshe, ibid., 1611); Mordecai *Jaffe (Levush ha-Orah, Prague, 1604); *Ḥayyim b. Bezalel (Be'er Mayim Ḥayyim, 1694–99); *Judah Loew b. Bezalel (Gur Aryeh, Prague, 1578–79); Issachar Baer Eilenburg (Ẓeidah la-Derekh, Prague, 1623–24); *David b. Samuel ha-Levi, author of Turei Zahav (Divrei David, Dyhernfurth, 1689); David *Pardo (Maskil le-David, Venice, 1760); and Ḥayyim *Palache (Palaggi) (U-Vaḥarta baḤayyim, Smyrna, 1874). Siftei Ḥakhamim (Frankfurt on the Main, 1712) by Shabbetai *Bass is primarily a selection from other supercommentaries. A critical edition of the text of Rashi's commentary with a supercommentary, called Zekhor le-Avraham, was prepared by Abraham *Berliner (1866).

The concise, abrupt, and enigmatic style of Abraham ibn Ezra gave rise to numerous supercommentaries, not only on his commentary on the Pentateuch, but also on those to other books of the Bible. However, most of these have remained in manuscript. Small selections from some of them have been published in modern times. Early supercommentaries on Ibn Ezra's Pentateuch commentary which appeared in print were Ẓafenat Pa'ne'aḥ (complete edition 1911–30) by Joseph b. Eliezer Bonfils, Mekor Ḥayyim (Mantova, 1559) by Samuel *Zarza, and Megillat Setarim (Venice, 1554) by Samuel ibn *Motot – all three from the 14th century. Another 14th century product, Perush ha-Sodot shel ha-rabe al ha-Torah deals only with Ibn Ezra's enigmatic statements. An abridged version of it was published in 1903 (in I. Last, Asarah Kelei Kesef, pt. 2). The work has been doubtfully ascribed to Joseph ibn *Kaspi. Other supercommentaries on Ibn Ezra were written by Moses *Almosnino, Yom Tov Lipmann *Heller, and Solomon *Maimon. Modern supercommentaries includes those by Moses Cremieux, Judah Leib Krinski, Isaac Meijler, and Leopold Fleischer. The supercommentary of Solomon Zalman Netter, which was first published in 1859, is to a large extent based on early supercommentaries.

One of the chief commentators on the Pentateuch, Naḥmanides, was widely quoted and discussed by subsequent commentators. His critical observations on Rashi were dealt with by Rashi's supercommentators, while kabbalists elucidated his kabbalistic allusions. Special treatises dealing with these kabbalistic references were written by the 14th-century kabbalists Shem Tov b. Abraham *Ibn Gaon, Joshua *Ibn Shu'ayb, Meir ibn *Sahula, and *Isaac b. Samuel of Acre. Isaac *Aboab ("the last Gaon of Castille") wrote a supercommentary on Naḥmanides (Constantinople, 1525). Joseph *Caro was said to have written explanations on parts of Rashi's and Naḥmanides' commentaries. Among rabbis and scholars of modern times who wrote supercommentaries or explanatory notes on Naḥmanides may be mentioned Mordecai Gimpel *Jaffe, Abraham Lieblein, Jacob Aryeh Frankel, Isaac *Maarsen, Aryeh L. Steinhart, and Joseph Patsanovski. New critical editions of Naḥmanides' commentary accompanied by a supercommentary were prepared by Ẓevi Menahem Eisenstadt (1958–61; on Genesis only) and by C.D. Chavel (1959–60; on the whole Pentateuch).


I. Schapiro, Parshanei Rashi al ha-Torah (1940) (repr. from Bitzaron, 2 (1940), 26–37); M. Friedlaender, Essays on the Writings of Abraham ibn Ezra (1877), 213–52; N. Ben-Menahem, in: Aresheth, 3 (1961), 71–92; Benjacob, Oẓar, 475, 479 (no. 729); I. Rivkind, in: ks, 4 (1927/28), 276; M. Kasher and J.B. Mandelbaum, Sarei ha-Elef (1959), 59–60.

[Tovia Preschel]