Home Digital Content Library Burstein Scholar in Residence Lecture: Elsie Stern
Past Programs Videos

Burstein Scholar in Residence Lecture: Elsie Stern

November 10, 2023
Temple Israel of Boston

We welcomed Dr. Elsie Stern as our Burstein Scholar-in-Residence.

Dr. Stern’s lecture focused on the question, “If Torah has a plain sense, why do we need commentaries?” Since the middle ages, Torah commentators have engaged with the idea of peshat (plain sense) of Torah. However, there have always been different perspectives on what constitutes the “plain sense” and what kinds of information readers need to understand it. In this lecture, Dr. Stern discussed different historical approaches to the idea of peshat and share answers to the question, “What is peshat?”

About Dr. Elsie Stern

Dr. Elsie Stern is Professor of Bible at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and also serves as the general editor for a new Torah commentary, which is being produced by the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Throughout her career, Dr. Stern’s teaching and research has explored how ancient and contemporary Jews have experienced and interacted with Torah and other biblical texts in synagogue and communal contexts. She is the author of From Rebuke to Consolation: Exegesis and Theology in the Liturgical Anthology of the Ninth of Av Season and is a co-editor for The Dictionary of the Bible in Ancient and Modern Media. She has contributed to numerous Bible commentaries and edited volumes including The Jewish Study Bible and The Torah: A Women’s Commentary. As part of her work on the CCAR Torah commentary, Dr. Stern is currently exploring how weekly Torah portions are explored and interpreted in divrei Torah and Torah study contexts.