Book of Legends: Sefer Ha-Aggadah: Legends from the Talmud and Midrash

Book of Legends: Sefer Ha-Aggadah: Legends from the Talmud and Midrash


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The first complete English translation of the Hebrew classic Sefer Ha-Aggadah brings to the English-speaking world the greatest and best-loved anthology of classical Rabbinic literature ever compiled. First published in Odessa in 1908-11, it was recognized immediately as a masterwork in its own right, and reprinted numerous times in Israel.

The Hebrew poet Hayim Nahman Bialik and the renowned editor Yehoshua Hana Ravnitzky, the architects of this masterful compendium, selected hundreds of texts from the Talmud and midrashic literature and arranged them thematically, in order to provide their contemporaries with easy access to the national literary heritage of the Jewish people -- the texts of Rabbinic Judaism that remain at the heart of Jewish literacy today.

Bialik and Ravnitzky chose Aggadah -- the non-legal portions of the Talmud and Midrash -- for their anthology. Loosely translated as "legends", Aggadah includes the genres of biblical exegesis, stories about biblical characters, the lives of the Talmudic era sages and their contemporary history, parables, proverbs, and folklore. A captivating melange of wisdom and piety, fantasy and satire, Aggadah is the expressive medium of the Jewish creative genius.

The arrangement of this compendium reflects the theological concerns of the Rabbinic sages: the role of Israel and the nations; God, good and evil; human relations; the world of nature; and the art of healing. Here, the reader who wants to explore traditional Jewish views on a particular subject is treated to a selection of relevant texts at his fingertips but will soon become immersed in a way of thinking, exploring, and questioning that is the hallmark of Jewish inquiry.

"Whatever the imagination can invent is found in the Aggadah," wrote the historian Leopold Zunz, "its purpose always being to teach man the ways of God." The Book of Legends/Sefer Ha-Aggadah, now available in william Braude's superbly annotated translation, enables modern Jews to experience firsthand the richness and excitement of their cultural inheritance.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780805241136
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/01/2000
Pages: 920
Sales rank: 523,899
Product dimensions: 8.86(w) x 11.10(h) x 1.90(d)

About the Author

HAYIM NAHMAN BIALIK (1873-1934) is the leading Hebrew poet of the twentieth century. Born in the Ukraine, he moved to Odessa in 1891 where he was drawn to the circle of Ahad Ha'am. In 1921, he left Soviet Russia for Berlin  and emigrated to the land of Israel in 1924.

YEHOSHUA HANA RAVNITZKY (1859-1944) was a pioneer of modern Hebrew journalism and publishing. A native of Odessa, he became Bialik's closest collaborator. Together they founded the publishing house of Moriah, which brought forth the first edition of Sefer Ha-Aggadah in 1908-11. Ravnitzky settled in Tel Aviv in 1921, where he and Bialik subsequently founded the Dvir Publishing House.

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Book of Legends: Sefer Ha-Aggadah: Legends from the Talmud and Midrash 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I wrote a few lines about this classic anthology but unfortunately the rating was made mistakenly as one star instead of the five I intended. One more word about this great book. It gives the heart of Jewish agada, story and legend as given in the Talmud. It should be in every Jewish person's home as major educational tool.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have taken this out of the library many times and finally bought it. The copy I received from B&N had a 16 page tome which was creased--the pages in this tome were actually a bit larger than the rest of it and there appears a fold in the paper about 1 1/2 inch up from the bottom of the pages . The retail outlets in my area did not stock it (so that I could just exchange it for a better copy). I didn't think it was worth it to go through a returns process. So I am completely happy with the book but not thrilled that the publisher decided to solve the issue of the larger pages by putting a fold which shows up for 16 pages. I think it should have been sold by B&N at a discount with an explanation of the imperfection.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Book of Legends is a must have for anyone interested in exploring the Talmud and Midrash. Bialik and Rawnitsky have given us an incredible book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a tremendously rich work .It collects together and organizes thematically much aggadic material , and gives a real insight into Jewish thought and wisdom. It could not be more highly recommended.