ISAIAH 52:13-53:12, Rabbinic Bible
Rabbi David L Kline
In 1973 a lot of questions came in regarding this chapter. I served the young adults of Temple Adath Israel in Merion, just north of Philadelphia, and Jews for Jesus were wosrking the area’s considerable Jewish population. What Jews wanted to know was, what is the traditional Jewish understanding of what the Christians were positing as references to Jesus.
What better way to answer than to cite the classic Mikraot G’dolot, “The Rabbinic Bible,” where the Tanach text is surrounded by Aramaic translation and at least 4 commentaries. You can plainly see the various interpretations, linguistic, grammatical, and midrashic (homiletical). The visual resembles a Talmud page, and suggests that there is no single answer to any question. The problem was that my people had a hard time with the Hebrew. So I began the translation.
No rabbi had a word processor yet but I happened to have a gifted secretary, an artist at the IBM Selectric. She had available any number of spherical font elements and produced complicated and elegant PR material. I talked about this with her and she jumped at the challenge.
For years the document existed only in the printed form, in a stack of copies that I handed out from time to time. Now, thanks to scanning and PDF, here it is: