Toldot: Great Source(s)

Finally, it should be mentioned that the Yaakov stories are notable in the manner in which they portray the two levels of biblical reality: divine and human. Throughout the stories human beings act according to normal (though often strong) emotions, which God then uses to carry out his master plan. In this cycle one comes to feel the interpretive force of the biblical mind at work, understanding human events in the context of what God wills. It is a fascinating play between the ideas of fate and free will, destiny and choice — a paradox which nevertheless lies at the heart of the biblical conceptions of God and humankind.
— from Fox’s* introduction to Genesis/Breishit 25:19-36:43, “Yaakov”

Fox’s (1995) translation is published in English, without the Hebrew text, and much of the commentary is not arranged in a verse-by-verse format. There are some footnotes, but the more extensive commentary appears as introductions to units of text — such as the above cited “Yaakov” introduction. This commentary often brings the text into new relief and helps the reader organize the content in new ways.

This volume does not provide immediate links to centuries of commentary — as does the Plaut* or Stone* editions, e.g. — but it does offer an unusual opportunity to learn nuances of the original text, and gain familiarity with its rhythms and idioms, whatever your level of familiarity with Hebrew.

Fox’s translation of The Five Books of Moses is not available on-line, to the best of my knowledge, but it is available through libraries and used bookstores. Translations of Genesis, In the Beginning (1972), and Exodus, Now These Are the Names (1986), are available as individual volumes for just a few dollars. Here’s one thorough review, which includes references to the Buber-Rosezweig translation, on which Fox based his own work.

*Please see Source Materials for full citations and more details.

The “Opening the Book” series was originally presented in cooperation with the independent, cross-community Jewish Study Center and with Kol Isha, an open group that for many years pursued spirituality from a woman’s perspective at Temple Micah (Reform). “A Song Every Day” is an independent blog, however, and all views, mistakes, etc. are the author’s.

Published by


Virginia hosts "Conversations Toward Repair" on We Act Radio, manages, blogs on general stuff a and more Jewish topics at and

One thought on “Toldot: Great Source(s)”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s