A Conversation with Rabbi Avrohom Biderman – Editor of The Milstein Edition The Early Prophets with the Teachings of the Talmud

AS: How does this volume, on Sefer Yehoshua and Shoftim, enhance our understanding of the Navi?

RAB: This volume gives us “the rest of the story.” Neviim and Kesuvim are part of Torah SheBiksav, the Written Torah, which is explained and amplified by Torah Shebaal Peh, the Oral Torah. The teachings transcribed in the Talmud and Midrash give us both context and subtext — background on the personalities and incidents in Navi, as well as laws and lessons derived from the verses. By presenting, in readable English, the teachings in Bavli, Yerushalmi, and selected Midrashim that discuss the Navi text, we enable the reader to gain a greater understanding of what transpired and the implications of the Navi’s words.

AS: What kind of feedback have you received on the first volumes in the series, The Milstein Edition Chumash with the Teachings of the Talmud?

RAB: People love it! Talmudic language is often technical and the dialogue is frequently challenging to follow. The language in the Tannaic Midrashim included in this volume is often cryptic and the lessons are sometimes hard to understand. This series extracts the essence of these teachings, retelling “what they say” in English. We also include the Talmud and Midrash texts for those who would like to see the original.

We’ve heard from older children, teens, and parents who use Chumash with the Teachings of the Talmud to find interesting insights on the weekly parashah for the Shabbos table. Rabbeim teaching Chumash consult it and Gemara rabbeim use it to find a simple way to explain a complex topic. Morahs, who have never studied Talmud, have told us that this opens an entire new world and provides an invaluable resource.

AS: Was the research for the Navi similar to that of the Chumash?

RAB: As with the Chumash, the presentation of the Talmudic passages was generally adapted from how they are explained in the Schottenstein Editions of the Talmud. Another advantage we had is that now the entire Schottenstein Talmud Yerushalmi is complete. The Midrashic selections proved more challenging and required much more research and analysis, especially since many of those passages have few or no commentaries. At times, the few commentaries had divergent approaches in how to understand the passage, and the writers and editors had to use their judgment as to which commentary to follow.

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