Four hundred years after his death, the Maharal of Prague remains a larger than life figure, just like his statue that stands in front of the Prague city
hall. He was a bridge figure between worlds. He helped to close the gaps between the medieval period and the stirrings of modernity in the Enlightenment;
between Torah and science; between philosophy and mysticism. Above all, he is appreciated for explicating the most difficult passages in the Aggada, making the
intent of Chazal clear to the student intent on mining their deep wisdom from their sometimes obscure words.
His running commentary on Rashi enjoys wide distribution, because it appeared in the most-often used collection of tools in understanding Rashi, Otzar
Peirushim Al Ha-Torah. Maharal's Gur Aryeh commentary, however, is too often given a wide berth by students. Rabbi Yehoshua Hartman, whose
magisterial treatment of Maharal has no peer (and to whom these essays will be in heavy debt) explains the ironic reason for this. Gur Aryeh is sometimes
extremely straightforward, analyzing Rashi's words and the options that Rashi rejected. At other times, Gur Aryeh is deeply philosophical or mystical.
Students looking for simple pshat in Rashi and nothing more are sometimes stymied by the deep and difficult pieces, while others who are interested
primarily in the creative and probing analysis tire of the pieces that hew closely to simple pshat. As a result, both give up on Gur Aryeh,
denying themselves its gems and treasures.
This series will present selections from both kinds of pieces in Gur Aryeh. Each week, we will offer our readers one or two passages from the weekly
parshah. They will not be verbatim translations, but paraphrases and adaptations. It is our hope that they will stimulate readers to spend more time not
only with Gur Aryeh, but with all of Maharal's priceless and timeless thought.
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