When I read the torah text (parsha or otherwise) I currently use a couple of chumashim with notes, and Rashi. I know some Hebrew but am not fluent. I'm ready to stretch beyond what I'm reading now and would like to add another commentary to add a new dimension to my study. The chumashim I use include some verse-by-verse notes from a mix of Rambam, Ramban, Rashi, S'forno, Ibn Ezra, and occasional others, but not much commentary from any one source.

Is there a common "next step" for torah study? What do today's authorities recommend? What is the typical learning path in yeshivot?

  • Try Rav Shamshon Refael Hirsch. Jul 30, 2017 at 5:48
  • Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's Chumash, his notes will take you far and beyond.
    – Dr. Shmuel
    May 3, 2018 at 6:59
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    Regarding the vote-to-close, I think the last two sentences clearly exempt the question from being "primarily opinion based".
    – Alex
    Jun 15, 2018 at 7:20
  • To advance your Biblical Hebrew, you might consider Brown,Driver and Briggs. amazon.com/… It's organized by roots of Hebrew words (shoresh). It can be fascinating to see the applications and connotations of each root in various contexts. Also a use a good Biblical Hebrew grammar book. (Emphasis on Biblical). Then you can see how each word is constructed from the root, usually adding a prefix and/or a suffix. Translating may be slow at first, but there's no hurry and each word is of value. (Lashon Kodesh)
    – user18223
    Nov 12, 2018 at 16:58
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    Not really an answer to your question, but: I think the next thing anyone should do is re-read the Chumash - carefully. Verse by verse, spending time thinking about what is being said, and what you don't understand. Thinking about the overall picture and the details. I just see so often that people have learned various commentaries and pshetlach and never thought about any of it at all.
    – MichoelR
    Feb 11, 2021 at 0:42

9 Answers 9


Rabbi Eli Mansour said after Rashi to learn Ramban.

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    +1. It is generally expected for guys to come out of Yeshiva knowing Chumash with at least Rashi and Ramban. They are the classics. Plus, there's Artscroll Ramban in English.
    – jake
    Dec 29, 2011 at 2:12
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    Ramban is also more peshat-focused than rashi, but still deals with what chazal say on the pesukim (as opposed to some of the other pashtanim).
    – Ariel K
    Dec 29, 2011 at 5:42
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    I find Ramban to be great, precisely because he doesn't focus on pshat...
    – avi
    Dec 29, 2011 at 8:13
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    @avi You are both correct. Sometimes you will find Ramban will focus on each word seperately and sometimes you will find him totally off peshat. Dec 29, 2011 at 22:11

R' Hirsch (Isaac's suggestion) and Ramban (Hacham Gabriel's suggestion) are both widely available in English, and for good reason. Both are very easy to appreciate, both on the simplest of levels, as well as on much deeper planes. If your Hebrew improves or you can get a learning partner who is also capable of being a mentor, I highly, highly recommend Ramban in Hebrew. There's just something there that the English cannot fully capture.

There are so many other commentaries, each with its own flavor. If you want linguistics, especially those that challenge (then-accepted) norms, there's Ibn 'Ezra and Rashbam.

Seforno and Keli Yakar are both very, very deep, and I especially like their analyses of the Avoth, in particular Ya'akov.

Right, right, we're not supposed to subjectively list our favorites.....

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    Re There's just something there that the English cannot fully capture. I think there might be something there that the Hebrew cannot fully capture either. Ramban is one of the most difficult commentaries to understand in terms of the way he writes in Hebrew. (This applies as well to his Talmudic commentary.) I don't think Ramban was as skilled as a writer as other commentators were. That said, it might be a better idea to go for the English version.
    – jake
    Dec 29, 2011 at 3:43
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    @jake As Ramban would say, HaMevin Yavin. ;-)
    – Seth J
    Dec 29, 2011 at 4:04
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    I aspire to improve my Hebrew. Currently the main way I'm working on that is studying Sefer Ha-Aggadah in Hebrew with a skilled chevruta (rabbi). I read and translate what I can, he corrects and fills in what I couldn't do, and we discuss. It's not fast, but it's progress and I learn some great torah too. Dec 29, 2011 at 4:05
  • @MonicaCellio, Isn't Sefer HaAgadah quotations from the gemara, which is not in Hebrew?
    – jake
    Dec 29, 2011 at 4:13
  • @jake, it's a compilation of many sources -- g'mara, B'resishit Rabbah, others I can't remember at the moment. The compilation is in (mostly) Hebrew with a little Aramaic sprinkled in. Dec 29, 2011 at 4:23

I've got to put in a plug for the translation and commentary of R' Hirsch, of which I'm a big fan. I love his elegant, holistic, thoughtful take on the whole Torah, especially the ritual stuff in Leviticus (Temple offerings, ritual purity, etc.) that's otherwise most difficult to understand from a modern perspective. When I read R' Hirsch, everything fits together so well, and I'm in awe at the elegance with which God constructed the Torah.

The original English translation (He wrote in German.), which I'm familiar with, is now out of print. The new English translation uses a more contemporary English. I haven't studied it carefully enough to say anything else about it, but I can certainly recommend the ideas it came from.

Given that you'd probably be learning a translation in your native language, this won't stretch your language ability much, but the complex ideas definitely require intellectual effort. In addition, R' Hirsch quotes Talmudic, Midrashic, and other Rabbinic sources from all over the place, providing opportunities for branching out your investigation of topics that look interesting.


The Traditional Path of learning Tanach in the Yeshivah is to get a copy of the Mikrot Gedolot, and the Jastrow Dictionary.

Sadly, I don't think Mikrot Gedolot has been fully translated into English yet.

Mikrot Gedolot, generally contains the following Commentaries, in addition to Rashi and Onkelos. (Of course, there are different versions, with slightly different commentaries)

targum yonotan, Rashbam, Ibn Ezra, Radak, Ramban, Sforno and the Siftei Chachamim.

The goal tends to be to read them all side by side and to compare them. I vaguely imagine this is done to make the controversial statements of each of the various commentaries to be "dimmed" down as a daat yachid.

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    IMO this type of comparative study can obscure the fact that different approaches to mikra (or anything else) can be very different and have a personality - as you imply. This lends itself to being under-nuanced. I don't have any data on a "common path," but my inclination is to "dwell" with a single commentator for a while, to absorb that commentator's approach and perspective.
    – yitznewton
    Dec 29, 2011 at 15:10
  • That Judaica Press English series you link to, has been discontinued, somewhere before Vayikra.
    – yitznewton
    Dec 29, 2011 at 15:13
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    There are good and bad aspects of this style, but I believe it most accurately answers the update to the question, regarding "what they would do in yeshivah"
    – avi
    Dec 29, 2011 at 16:18
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    @MonicaCellio I was tempted to buy the books myself, but I read too many bad reviews about them. They are good books, but not a replacement for the real set. They are selective on what they translate apparently.
    – avi
    Jan 26, 2012 at 8:01
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    They would have to be or the translations would be enormous. If I could read it in Hebrew I would; since I can't yet, I'm considering buying these to use until I am. But I'd like to know more about selection bias; I'll be posting a new question about that. Jan 26, 2012 at 14:12

You may also want to look into a commentary that's more at the "macro" level. That is, a text which considers a couple of big questions per parasha and then exams the many answers to those questions from the commentators.

A famous one that I recommend is Nehama Leibowitz: New Studies in the Weekly Parasha (7 volume set) Amazon source for English translation. Also available in the Hebrew original.

I use the English version and it's great.

The astute reader may be wondering "7 volumes??" The reason is because her texts on Shmot and Vayikra are both in two vol sets.

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    I thought she counted "Vayhi binsoa" as one.
    – msh210
    Dec 29, 2011 at 3:53
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    On this note, also really excellent is Hagus B'Parshiyos HaTorah by R' Yehuda Nachshoni, translated into English by Artscroll as "Studies in the Weekly Parsha".
    – jake
    Dec 29, 2011 at 3:55
  • Thank you! I've seen some of her work in the past and it looks very promising; thanks for the reminder. Jan 26, 2012 at 4:12

I would suggest, as others have, something along the lines of either Seforno or the Ramban. However, one of the best options to my mind is to begin learning the commentary of the Malbim (מלבי"ם - Rav Meir Leibush Ben Yechiel Michel z"l).

If you can read the Hebrew, then I suggest getting a set and using that, but if you can't then Artscroll has a series entitled "The Essential Malbim" which is an abridged version of his comments in English. Although it currently only includes Bereshith and Shemoth, including these works into your study program will benefit you greatly.

So, why specifically the Malbim? Well, he is a fairly recent commentator on the entire Torah (19th century) and is hailed as being the pashut peshat ("the simplest and most plain meaning") by many - even (and especially) beyond that of Rashi. He seeks to be reasonable and in line with current Biblical scholarship while maintaining a fidelity to the aggadic tradtions of the gemara and midrashim (but without allowing them to completely dictate his plain understanding of the text). Many of his comments on Bereshit seem to almost "foresee" the world and findings of modern science and archaeology as it relates to the narratives of the Tanakh.

For example, one such instance can be found in his comments on Parashath Noahh where he concludes based on the language of the Torah that only domesticated animals were brought into the teva (pop. "ark"). The implications of this are massive and for a scholar in the 19th century to make such a claim is extremely interesting and telling indeed.

All in all, my suggestion to you is to give the Malbim a try. I am sure that you will enjoy him.

Hope this helps. Kol tuv.


R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik wrote in a letter to R. Samuel Belkin:

A thorough knowledge of the Pentateuch with its two basic commentaries, Rashi and Nahmanides, is a must. (Community Covenant and Commitment p. 104)

While this was in reference to the program of studies for rabbinical students, it is still apparent that he viewed the commentary of Ramban as the most important after that of Rashi.


I would suggest that you read either Sifte Chachamim (or Ikar Sifte Chachamim), which is a commentary on Rashi you can find in most of the Chumashim. Actually, Rashi's comments are annotated with Hebrew letters referring to Sifre Chachamim/Ikar Sifte Chachamim comments. You may also look at Daat Zekenim in the Mikreot Gedolot Chumashim. Daat Zekenim is a compilation of Tosfot commentary on the Chumash.

Kol Tuv


First off, it should be noted that one should first learn the entire Tanach with Rashi before moving on to more advanced commentaries. There are many sources, but I can't find them here exactly. Shulchan Aruch hilchos Talmud Torah (and Rambam) come to mind regarding this, but as far as the best possible commentary for Chumash:

Likutei Sichos. If your Yiddush isn't too good, start out with the Kehos Chumash. They take every sicha and compile them all into a narrative-form commentary of the Chumash (and some Haftorahs).

  • "the entire Tanach with Rashi before moving on to more advanced commentaries." No way. Chumash, yes.
    – MichoelR
    Feb 11, 2021 at 0:38

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