Rabbi Francis Nataf is a Jerusalem based thinker, writer, and educator. He is the author of the Redeeming Relevance in the Torah series and of many articles on religious thought, biblical studies, and current events and is Associate Editor of the Jewish Bible Quarterly. He is known for his independent thought and creativity that simultaneously puts him to the right and to the left of everyone he knows. 

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In this book, Rabbi Francis Nataf brings a sophisticated approach to some of the central themes in Genesis offering profound and relevant teachings from the Torah’s first book. Redeeming Relevance comes highly recommended from such notable Jewish leaders as Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm and Rabbi Dr. Aharon Lichtenstein.

Rabbi Nataf draws on his keen literary awareness and deep knowledge of the text, Midrash and commentaries to provide original readings of some of the major stories in the book of Exodus. Through careful and creative textual analysis, he shows that we can still find new and provocative text-based insights.

”Francis Nataf overcomes ‘Vayikra Avoidance Syndrome’ with an ambitious set of essays that treat the book as a whole and justify its centrality in the Torah. He offers stimulating and sometimes provocative theses about… Kohanim and Israelites, Jews and gentiles, and flesh and blood.” –Rabbi Aryeh Klapper, Dean, Center for Modern Torah Leadership

This volume focuses on some of the text’s most perplexing stories in the Book of Numbers. It weaves them into discussions about the individual and the community, religious leadership and its abuse, and about communication and disappointment. Taking a new look at Judaism’s most basic text, Rabbi Nataf reads the Bible in ways that make it more accessible and more exciting to study.

A fresh look […], this volume focuses on topics such as mortality, personal vision, identity, humanity, and religion and state. Rabbi Francis Nataf shows his talent for discovering previously untouched facets of the Torah and connecting them to Jewish tradition. The clarity of the insights and patterns presented shows how a personal analysis of the biblical text can lead to living a more spiritually rewarding and ethically correct life.


The Plea of a Forsaken Mitzvah

We should work with the assumption that when workarounds are accepted by a large part of the Jewish people and its rabbinic leadership, they are axiomatically correct. In the case of interest, it is hard to imagine asking religious Jews to avoid all financial arrangements that involve taking or giving interest from a Jewish-owned company. In Israel, that […]

Self-Awareness, Modernity and Holiness

I often point out the influence of Netziv’s Torah commentary among Torah writers today across the spectrum. One of the reasons for this was his unique ability to find what the Torah was saying to the Modern Jew. In this week’s parsha, he picks up on the issue of individualism, something he discusses in several places, perhaps most famously in his discussion of the Tower of Bavel. Because it has always […]

Why Collective Punishment is OK and Why We Avoid it nonetheless

But even a more qualified objection to collective punishment is likely predicated on a limited understanding of the self that the Jewish mystical tradition considers ultimately incorrect. That tradition tells us that the reason we are told to love our neighbor as ourselves is because our neighbors are ourselves – literally. Hence that commandment is […]