Differences between the 5-volume and 1-volume editions of the Kehos Chumash

The 5-volume edition of the Kehos Chumash was designed with great forethought as to how to make the content and layout “user-friendly.” In contrast, the 1-volume edition of the Chumash was designed to with an eye to how to encourage its usage by making it easy to handle (and therefore the content had to be abridged) and aesthetically pleasing. The following is a summary of the major ways in which the 1-volume edition differs from the 5-volume edition.

1.       Pagination: In the 5-volume edition, the layout of the parashiot is on a two-page spread, with all the English content reading from left to right. This means that when the commentary (Chasidic Insights) is printed on both pages of a given spread, it always begins on the left page of the spread (the verso) and continues to the right page (the recto). However, the volumes themselves are bound as are Hebrew books, i.e., progressing from “back to front” vis-à-vis English books. This gave rise to a quandary regarding how to number the pages. If each page was numbered individually in its consecutive “back-to-front” order, the reader would find himself very often reading the content of a page with a larger page number before that of a page with a smaller page number. It was therefore decided that for all two-page spreads to number the spread rather than the individual pages. (This convention was not followed when the text was not laid out on spreads but on individual pages, as in the Overviews, Haftarot, etc.) The 1-volume edition also makes use of spreads, but using two different pagination systems was deemed to be confusing for the target audience, so the system used in the 5-volume edition was abandoned in favor of straight single-page-numbering. This simplicity was gained, however, at the expense of the awkward situation described above, i.e., that it very often happens that the text flows from a greater to a smaller page number.

2.       Rashi vocalization: In the 5-volume edition, the text of Rashi is vocalized in order to make it easier to read, especially for beginners; in the 1-volume edition, the vocalization was dropped in order to conserve space.

3.       Rashi script: In the 5-volume edition, the text and footnotes of Rashi are set in square letters in order to make them easier to read, especially for beginners; in the 1-volume edition, they were set in Rashi script in order to conserve space.

4.       Hebrew numbering: In the 5-volume edition, the numbers of the chapters and verses, both in the Hebrew text of the Chumash and in Rashi, are in standard “Hindu-Arabic” numerals, in order to make the text more accessible to English readers. In the 1-volume edition, the numbering of the verses both in the Hebrew text of the Chumash and in Rashi uses Hebrew letters as numbers, in order to make the book have more of the look of a traditional Chumash.

5.       Hebrew Paragraphing: In the 5-volume edition, the traditional paragraphing of the Hebrew text of the Chumash (petuchot vesetumot) is indicated by a line break (in addition to the letters pei or samech as applicable), in order help give the reader a feel for the traditional layout of the Torah text. In the 1-volume edition, this visual aid was dropped in order to conserve space.

6.       Non-Jewish chapter number headings: In the 5-volume edition, the non-Jewish numbering system of the chapters and verses is de-emphasized as much as possible, by rendering it in grey in the Hebrew texts and rendering the chapter numbers in the same size font as the verse numbers. In the 1-volume, the chapter numbers are enlarged and emphasized. Since, as is known, the non-Jewish chapter-numbering system is often at odds with the plain sense of the text, especially as understood by Jewish tradition, a stumbling-block toward properly understanding the text has effectively been placed in the path of the reader.

7.       Interpolation: In the 5-volume edition, an effort was made to include all of Rashi’s commentary (save the grammatical observations) in the interpolated translation; content that does not “fit” into the interpolation is treated separately as “Closer Looks.” (The only exceptions are certain comments that Kehos deemed too politically incorrect or sexually explicit, and were therefore censored.) In the 1-volume edition, the interpolated translation was abridged and many “Closer Looks” were removed for reasons of aesthetics or in order to conserve space; thus, not all of Rashi is interwoven into the translation and commentary, and thus goal of presenting the reader with the text of the Chumash as Rashi understands it has been abandoned.

8.       Location of interpolations: In addition, many lengthier interpolations were made part of the commentary; thus, the reader no longer can assume that by reading just the interpolated translation he is getting a complete picture of the sense of the text as intended by Rashi.

9.       Paragraph breaks in interpolated translation: All of these that are present in the 5-volume edition were removed for the 1-volume edition, for both aesthetic and space reasons. Thus, the interpolated translation now often seems to jump into a new topic or sub-topic abruptly and senselessly.

10.   Chasidic Insights: Many Chasidic insights were removed or abridged for the 1-volume edition, in order to conserve space.

11.   Inner Dimensions: All Inner Dimensions were removed for the 1-volume edition, both in order to conserve space and since the target audience was not envisioned as having any background in Chassidus or Kabbalah.

12.   Overviews: The Overviews were all abridged for the 1-volume edition, in order to conserve space. Sometimes entire topics were removed; at other times illustrative content.

13.   Maps: For the 1-volume edition, many maps were eliminated and many smaller maps were consolidated into larger generalized maps, in order to conserve space. Also, all references to maps in the text were removed, also in order to conserve space. Thus, the reader must remember or guess, when reading the text, if the text at any particular point is elucidated by a map. On the other hand, the maps that are included in the 1-volume edition were all recast by a professional cartographer (as opposed to an illustrator), and are thus of much better quality.

14.   Illustrations, charts, and tables: Many of these elements that are present in the 5-volume edition were removed for the 1-volume edition, in order to conserve space. Also, all references to these elements in the text were removed, again in order to conserve space. Thus, the reader must remember or guess, when reading the text, if the text at any particular point is elucidated by an illustration, chart, or table. Conversely, the reader looking at a particular illustration, chart, or table, is left clueless regarding what point of the text the graphic element refers to.

15.   Topic headings: The 5-volume edition contains topic headings, centered on their own line of text within the interpolated translation. For the 1-volume edition, these topic headings were moved to the margin, both for aesthetic and space reasons. Since, however, not all the topic headings fit at exactly their relevant positions in the margins (i.e., directly opposite the first verse in the new topic), many topic headings were placed in the wrong position or simply discarded (e.g., when a new topic began on the recto, where there is no English margin), rendering those that remained almost useless, since the reader now has no guarantee that a given topic heading indeed covers all the text until the next topic heading and no more. In addition, many new topic headings were artificially created in order to fill up the margins of the verso pages when these margins happened to be empty of other elements (chapter numbers, graphic elements, etc.). Needless to say, this resulted in a very uneven division of the text into its natural topics.

16.   Layout: In the 5-volume edition, much effort was made to keep the three parallel textual elements of any particular verse (i.e., the Hebrew text, Rashi’s commentary, and the interpolated translation) on the same spread, with none flowing onto the next spread. This keeps the reader from having to flip back and forth from spread to spread in order to read each element. With very few exceptions, this goal was adhered to throughout all 5 volumes. In the 1-volume edition, this principle was adhered to much less, for aesthetic and space reasons. Much more page-flipping is therefore required in this edition.

17.   Headers:

a.       In the 5-volume edition, the Hebrew chapter and verse numbers do not appear in the headers, this being consistent with the goal of the design being for the English reader. In the 1-volume edition, the Hebrew chapter and verse numbers were added, even though doing so might disorient a non-Hebrew reader, in order to make the Chumash look more like a traditional one.

b.      In the 5-volume edition, the (English) chapter and verse numbers appear on the outside  margin (of the verso), enabling the reading to search quickly through the book (by “flipping” the pages) in order to find a given verse without having to open the book all the way. In the 1-volume edition, both the English and Hebrew chapter and verse numbers are found in the inside margins, making searching by “flipping” considerably more difficult.

c.       In the 5-volume edition, the (English) chapter and verse number is placed alongside the name of the particular book (Genesis, Exodus etc.), enabling the reader to understand where he is in one glance. In the 1-volume edition, the name of the book (both in English and Hebrew) is placed next to the outside margin, while the chapter and verse (both in English and Hebrew) are placed next to the inside margin. Thus, the reader has to first look at the outside margin to see what book he is in, and then look at the inside margin to find what chapter and verse are on the spread.

d.      In the 5-volume edition, the number of the reading (aliyah) is placed next to the outside margin (of the recto), enabling the reader to locate the parashah (whose name is in the center margin, both in Hebrew [on the recto] and English [on the verso]) and the reading quickly by “flipping.” In the 1-volume edition, the reading number was placed next to the inside margin, making looking for a particular reading much more difficult.

18.   Numbering within text: In the 1-volume edition, in most cases were a series (e.g., of re-translated verses, of the curses in parashiot Bechukotai or Tavo) is numbered in the 5-volume edition, the numbering was removed, in order to not graphically confuse someone who is looking at the text (even though this numbering would not confuse someone actually reading the text).

In summary, it is clear from all the above that no effort was spared to make the 1-volume edition into an aesthetically, inviting book, even at the expense of sacrificing essential content and/or user-friendliness.