New Koren (Steinsaltz) Talmud

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Dear Rabbi Simon,

I was wondering what your "on-the-record" view of the new Koren Talmud was. This promo clip is quite appealing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DI5nsYG9Cj4&feature=youtu.be

Shimon

Dear Shimon,



It looks impressive, and very attractively produced. The question, of course, is how it will compare in popularity, ease of use, clarity, scholarship and price to Artscroll. The original Steinsaltz Talmud in English, published by Random House, made a big splash when it appeared 25 years ago, but it was quickly eclipsed by Artscroll and its legions of Daf Yomi students. (Ever heard of anyone learning daf yomi with Steinsaltz English?)



However, Koren, which has been around for years producing high-quality Hebrew Judaica, has recently gotten into the English-language market. The Sacks Siddur and forthcoming machzor is a big part of that, BTW. The Modern Orthodox “light touch” of Steinsaltz, while flirting with superficiality, may well find a market, and bring Talmud to an even wider audience. If so, more power to them.



Best Wishes,



Rabbi Rashi Simon

Questions & Answers
this week

Questions and Answers

Ask the Rabbi: Easy as א-ב-ג?
Dear Rabbi Simon,
I hope you fasted well yesterday.
Thank you for the insights into the Kinnot, making them easier to understand.
In the afternoon, I was listening to a shiur on Eichah on Torahanytime.  As an aside, the speaker mentioned that the 1st perek of Eichah is the source for the order of the alef bet as we know it.  Other chapters also follow the alef bet chronology but with ayin en peh interchanged.
He quoted Rabbi Shimon Schwab as his source.
Although he did not elaborate on this, surely Sefer Tehillim predates Megillat Eichah by centuries.  Several psalms are written in the alef bet order (e.g.
psalm 119).
Can you please clarify?
Thank you & best wishes.
PhilippeHi Philippe
***
TY for your sophisticated Q.
I have also heard that the question of the sequence of samekh and 'ayin is subject to dispute. It seems that there are indications that in Paleo-Hebrew the order is reversed from what we know. It is alleged that chapters 2, 3 and 4 of Eichah (chapter 5 is not alphabetical) reflect the original order. Of course, as you say, ch 1 conforms to the order with which we are family.
You are right that Tehillim predates Eichah, however a critic can claim that the order was redacted to bring it in line with the accepted/preferred sequence. This is particularly true for ch. 119, where each of the 8 vv per letter are their own group, and each set of 8 vv. can easily be repositioned. The question is in Ps. 34 or 145, if the internal logic of the passage sheds light on the correct sequence. In Ps. 34, some claim that the v. starting with the letter peh makes more sense to follow the verse starting with samekh (due to the common appearance of the word ra'). I am not convinced that this argument is compelling.
I will stick with the mesorah, that 'ayin belongs before peh. Best to look before speaking.
Rabbi Rashi Simon
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