Ari D. Kahn, "The Crowns on the Letters: Essays on the Aggada and the Lives of the Sages" (OU Press, 2020)

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Rabbi Ari Kahn’s The Crowns on the Letters: Essays on the Aggada and the Lives of the Sages (OU Press, 2020) represents a major achievement in the study of the lives of our Sages, as well as in the study of rabbinic Aggada. This work is an immensely learned and deeply creative interpretation of many fundamental aggadot relating to the intellectual biographies of the Tannaim and Amoraim, including Hillel and Shammai, Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, Resh Lakish and Rabbi Yochanan, and many others. Additionally, it covers aggadot dealing with major themes in Jewish thought, including the nature of the Oral Law, mysticism and its perils, the messianic era, teshuvah and Eretz Yisrael.

Rabbi Kahn presents close readings of Talmudic and Midrashic sources about events in the lives of the Sages, together with the gamut of interpretations, especially those of Kabbalistic and Hasidic commentators, to arrive at original and compelling conclusions. His insights shed light on the Talmudic narrative as well as on broader philosophical questions. Full Hebrew sources are included to enable readers to study the source material on their own. For all those interested in rabbinic lives and rabbinic Aggada, The Crowns on the Letters is essential reading.

Matthew Miller is a graduate of Yeshivat Yesodei HaTorah. He studied Jewish Studies and Linguistics at McGill for his BA and completed an MA in Hebrew Linguistics at Queen Mary University of London. He works with Jewish organizations in media and content distribution, such as TheHabura.com and RabbiEfremGoldberg.org.

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