Sefer Bereishit — the Book of Genesis—relates the stories of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs. So little is known about their struggles and achievements, and their spiritual stature is beyond our comprehension. Nonetheless, the Torah invites each reader to attempt to understand – inasmuch as the text allows – the motivations and emotions of these great men and women so we may come to understand ourselves and strive to emulate them.
Learning Torah must, first and foremost, begin with careful and close reading. Here to aid the English-speaker with such study, Through the Prism is an original inquiry framed by observations from the great classic commentators as well as more recent scholars.
Transliterations and translations facilitate understanding of the issues at hand in the original biblical Hebrew text. No translation can capture the full range of nuance and meaning of the original, yet this book attempts to transmit some of the richness of the language of the Torah – its allusions as well as its wordplay – so that the reader can begin to appreciate the unplumbed depths of its messages.
Through the Prism – Refractions and Reflections on Bereishit
Dr. Esther Shkop is renowned for her dynamic and innovative approach to learning and teaching Tanach, which has fascinated and inspired audiences of varied ages and levels of biblical literacy. She served as Dean of the Blitstein Institute of Hebrew Theological College, where she was Professor of Bible for thirty-two years. Previously she taught in seminaries and high schools in Jerusalem, Pittsburgh, and Chicago.
A tenth-generation Yerushalmit, Dr. Shkop was educated in both Israel and the United States and is fluent in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish. She earned a BA in English literature and philosophy, an MA in biblical literature, and a Ph.D. in public policy analysis. Her eclectic background has broadened her horizons and enriched her classic study of the Torah. She has published numerous scholarly articles primarily related to Tanach but also dealing with educational theory and leadership styles.
Dr. Shkop currently is director of the Wisdom of Torah Institute and serves on the board of Shalva, a community organization supporting women experiencing domestic violence. She is the mother of seven and grandmother and great-grandmother of a growing family.