October 19, 2023 | 4 Cheshvan, 5784
Last week, Jews around the world began a new Torah cycle. While the transition into another annual repetition of the Torah is typically a joyous occasion, this time it came at a time of deep pain. Yet, we know that for many of you — and for us here at Sefaria — our shared texts can offer refuge and strength during hardship.
That’s why we’re pleased to tell you about a new major addition to the library: an English translation of Bereshit Rabbah — a collection of verse-by-verse interpretations of Genesis (Bereshit in Hebrew).
Composed around 500 CE, Bereshit Rabbah is one of ten volumes that make up Midrash Rabbah, a landmark work of biblical commentaries and rabbinic stories. Last year, we announced that Sefaria would be commissioning a complete English edition of all ten volumes, and with today’s release we are more than half-way through. As the Torah cycle progresses, we’ll be adding the remaining English volumes of midrash on Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
Midrash Rabbah is Sefaria’s most ambitious original translation commission to date. The six-person translation team is led by Jason Rappoport, who previously worked as the managing editor for the Steinsaltz Koren Talmud Bavli translation project.
As with other works on Sefaria, these new translations are interconnected with other texts in the library. Connections can be viewed in the resource panel under ‘Related Texts’ by clicking on any passage. Additionally, all of our English Midrash Rabbah translations are being made available with CC BY licenses, allowing them to be shared and repurposed freely with proper attribution.
We extend our special thanks to Jorian Polis Schutz, who has generously sponsored the new Bereshit Rabbah edition in honor of his parents Stephen and Susan Polis Schutz and all of his ancestors on both sides, including Rabbeinu Shmuel ben Shlomo Flaiase, zt’’l, known as Sieur Morel.