"Well, finally, things have been changing. There is a serious alternative to ArtScroll, which finally marks a publishing renaissance for Religious Zionist, Centrist and Modern Orthodoxy: Koren. Koren is the only Jewish publisher aside from ArtScroll to have a comprehensive publishing vision. They are putting out siddurim, machzorim, chumashim, and a series of works on Tenach. And the flagship project is, of course, the Talmud."

Noted right wing fanatic Marc Shapiro-

https://seforimblog.com/2015/07/artscroll-and-more-2/ (Footnote 2)

"Only in the last year or so have I started to examine the ArtScroll Talmud on a regular basis and I am continuously impressed. This has to be one of the most significant Torah publications of the twentieth century. Since that is the case, I don’t see why such effort is being put into producing the new Koren Talmud. While it sometimes has points that do not appear in ArtScroll, I don’t know why anyone would prefer it over ArtScroll."

Expand full comment

"And yet, for many years, Religious Zionist, Centrist and Modern Orthodoxy ceded this important field almost entirely to the Charedi community...Koren is the only Jewish publisher aside from ArtScroll to have a comprehensive publishing vision. "

Huh? What about Mossad Rav Kook?

Expand full comment

I love Koren and use their works on Tanakh extensively. But their patented exclusive Hebrew font sucks badly. I hate it. It's the main thing stopping me from using their Hebrew works- they're unreadable.

Consider their stunning illustrated Tehillim. The pictures are great, but the font is terrible, which means it just takes up space on my bookshelf.

Expand full comment

Is this an add ?

If it is this should be disclosed in a clear manner.

Expand full comment

This post makes two massive mistakes, one about Kehati, and one about Koren. The first is rooted in ignorance; the second, in politics.

First, re Kehati. You claim its "obsolete". Oh, really?? Anyone with school age boys knows it still remains today one of the most popular bar mitzvah gifts boys give and receive. The set is still found and used in homes and yeshivahs and schools of all stripes, all around the world. Even Artscroll quotes from it. (Not often, but recall, it is not a primary source.) They reissued it a generation ago with the Bartenura commentary precisely to make sure it stayed fresh, and indeed, so it has remained. I don't know how its possible for so masterful a work - in which the author was at pains to minimize to leave his own ideas in the background, and focus only on the classics - to be "obsolete", but I guess some people will say anything to knock down A, if they think it helps prop up B. Which brings us to the second claim...

You gush on about Koren, but its painfully obvious to all that the primary benefit of in your eyes is that it "isnt Artscroll". How else can someone who hasn't even gone through most of the material give it such an enthusiastic review?

You mention the pictures. OK, that's definitely a plus, pictures can't hurt. But 3D diagrams and pictures of difficult subjects (eg, Eruvin, Kelim) have been around a long time. Moreover, not all pictures are equally helpful. Pictures of the vaunted "realia" only do so much. Far more valuable, in many cases, are pictures actually illustrating the views and opinions of the Tannaim. Such pictures need to illustrate opinions, not pots and pans. Those funny cartoon illustrated mishnayos do a great job of this. Does Koren? How do they display the complicated farming patterns of Kilayim, for example? It would be valuable to know this, as this might represent a real benefit. NS doesn't even mention it. Its more important to him that its not Artscroll.

NS also says Koren knows how to use "white space". Sure doesn't look like it from the examples I've seen. Looks more to me like a riot of arrows and highlight circles and sidebars. Kid books today are filled with such things, and I've seen zero evidence to show that kids today know more than kids of the past, who actually read straightforward paragraphs to lean. To me, this kind of learning is similar to "sugyot" learning with source sheets, as opposed to simply learning the Gemara straight on through. I have yet to meet the Baki b'shas produced by learning sugyot with source sheets.

I would also note that the sister publication mentioned by NS, the Koren siddur, was enthusiastically endorsed by the "Jewish Orthodox Feminists Alliance", the only siddur I know so acclaimed. I don't know if the Koren Mishna translation will be fortunate enough as to receive a similar commendation; however, I hope we get an update if and when the designation is handed down.

In all events, you're hopelessly biased in these areas, and should not be pretending as though you werent.

Expand full comment
Sep 4, 2023·edited Sep 4, 2023

This is very simple: the modern orthodox crowd that has family nights at the movies watching all sorts of dubious production understands that when it comes to Torah they and their rabbies aren't the best source. They want authenticity. There is very little depth in Steinsaltz' Tanach or Gemorah and I found them to be poor aids to study, I havent seen his Mishna yet. But I'm glad if it works for some.

Expand full comment

"They have failed to make a basic effort to perpetuate themselves"... In yiddishkeit. Full stop. ...Which is why they ceded this area to Charedim, aka ממילא.

Publishing & educators are the least relevant examples of the failure to perpetute.

A well formated mishnayos won't change that, but a well formated plan to bring MO from the brink of irrelevance might help.

Expand full comment
Sep 5, 2023·edited Sep 5, 2023

I was thinking that this article is written like an advertorial. Then I saw Koren publisher's responded to a comment. So just confirming this isn’t an advertorial.

Expand full comment
Sep 4, 2023·edited Sep 4, 2023

Only reason I prefer Rav Steinsaltz over Artscroll is because Steinsaltz donated his Talmud translation to the Creative Commons which allows Sefaria to use it. Artscroll wouldn't agree to do that.

Expand full comment

One small criticism; I have the Steinsalz Koren Nach. The paper is extremely thin and flimsy and creases far too easily. My guess is that given the number of pages they decided to use very flimsy paper to keep the size of the sefer manageable. However the expected life a sefer like this will suffer.

I personally prefer a sefer with quality paper albeit a bigger volume resulting.

Expand full comment

Obviously you are writing from the perspective of someone who lives outside of Israel. Koren is huge in Israel, non-Charedi schools, such as the Torani school my kids attend, use Koren for their Mishna and Chumash.

I think it is great that we are blessed with this abundance of collections, be Artscroll, be Koren, they stimulate each other to improve and offer different perspectives.

As the author of the blog noted, Koren have an excellent use of page space and visual sense that really helps learning, in particular their collections for children are outstanding... You will of course need Hebrew to benefit from them.

Expand full comment

It's a values problem. The culture that values learning for its own sake will out-learn the culture that doesn't.

Rabbi Yigal Ariel writes excellent seforim on Tanach.

Expand full comment

Why didnt you mention their Mishneh Torah?

Expand full comment


Thanks for explaining.

Regarding calling him a "weirdo", see (for instance) the following.

And also see the Artscroll commentary to the cited gemaras.

"It should go without saying that embarrassing or insulting another person is a serious transgression of the Torah. The Talmud even equates embarrassing another person with murder.[1] We are taught that one should sooner have oneself killed rather than embarrass another person.[2] This idea is derived from Tamar who was ready to have herself killed rather than allow Yehuda to be embarrassed.[3] One who embarrasses another person has no share in the World-to-Come.[4] Some authorities suggest that this remains true even for one who has repented from having done so.[5]"


Regarding your last paragraph, oh, it was snark.

Well, here's what Cambridge online dictionary says about snark:

"Criticizing someone in an annoyed way and trying to hurt their feelings."

Again, see above.

I see that you think it's OK to make stuff up (negative stuff) about known people and publish it online (implying that someone does not daven in synagogue, even though you have no evidence for this).

And you did this because you "could not help yourself."

Got it.

Expand full comment

While I have a great amount of respect for R' Steinsaltz ztl, is my understanding correct that some of the criticism directed at his English Bavli translation revolved around him "Soloing" the project, rather than the more "large group, collective effort" approach from Artscroll. Is this correct or false?

Expand full comment

I clicked on the link to order. It noted that I was in Israel and sent me to some Israeli page

which it then claimed could not be found.

Not a good start

Expand full comment