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Reader Comments



Reader Comments from Amazon.com


5A Genuine, Admirable Lady  (By RF)

This is like having access to a rich variety of midrash and commentary. The slight sketch of Leah in Genesis is fleshed out from those, making her a living and full dimensional person. Sure, some writers look at her through their own cultures, but putting so many views together produces a vibrant person.

It is not written as a fast moving story. The variety of views is looked at and compared, in good midrash fashion. One is left to decide what really is accurate.


What a feat of scholarship!  (By ronnaru)

A very readable and interesting discussion of someone about whom so little is written. It's quite interesting and impressive that the author found so much to write about this otherwise obscure matriarch. What a feat of scholarship!


An Innovative Great Read  (By MS)

Jerry Rabow has an enviable knack of crafting a compelling narrative of a classic story with well researched and augmented notations and bringing to modern readers an innovative amplification of a Biblical event usually faintly expressed into an all encompassing major reflection of what should have been more apparent at the outset.


About Leah, but also an introduction to midrash  (By BD)

A great book for readers particularly interested in Leah but also more generally interested in the style and process of midrash. Many Jews don't understand what midrash is. I was one of them and this book helped me learn about this important, delightful, and often fanciful strand of Jewish literature.


Follow the Midrashic process to learn about Leah  (By BR)

I enjoyed reading The Lost Matriarch. Leah had always been just an afterthought to me. In fact, I felt sorry for her, seeing her as the unloved wife, daughter, sister. After reading the book, I see how important she is, how she is deserving of being one of the matriarchs and a moral role model

There are enough character flaws and good points to go around among all the players in this story. The triangle between Jacob, Rachel and Leah plus Laban the girls’ father is tricky to tease apart and one I wouldn’t want to live in my own life!

I also learned so much about the Midrashic process. I’ve been to many, many Torah study sessions and presented analyses on Shabbat mornings in small groups myself, but I never immersed myself in the process for a full book. The writing was clear, concise, literate but not academic or dense.

I was amazed at the way Jerry could gather in all the research and arrange it in a structure that flowed so well.

Yes, I call him Jerry because – full disclosure – we attend the same synagogue. I met him a few months ago and we worked on a short project together. When his book came out I thought it was the friendly thing to do to buy it and read it. I hoped it would be at least ok so I could comment gently but truthfully to a new friend.

Thankfully Jerry writes well, is attentive to women’s issues given the time period of the story and is knowledgeable and quite the researcher. He was able to explain the story on both the literal and metaphorical levels.

If you want to take one story from the Torah/Bible and work your way through it in a doable fashion with an average size book, I recommend The Lost Matriarch. I considered giving it 4 stars to show I wasn’t being partial to a friend. But it was well done and shortchanging a book because you know the writer wouldn’t be fair either. Enjoy.


Revealing the Personal Leah  (By Ronnie)

This is a tender, beautifully written story of an almost forgotten woman who played an essential role in the history of the Jewish people as depicted in the Bible. What is so helpful to the reader's desire to know more about the Biblical Leah is the author's search through the Talmud for all the embellishments, speculations and wisdom of the Jewish sages as they filled in the vacuum left open by the Bible's brief references to her. But what I found particularly satisfying is the author's own views of how this woman, by virtue of how she followed her own values, is largely an overlooked heroine in the epic of the Jewish people.


Genesis and the critics  (By BS)

This is a most unusual and fascinating book. The Leah of the title is the enigmatic, long-suffering, Biblical ancestress of the Jewish people. Her family saga includes jealousy, deceit, betrayal, theft, sexual abuse, and even murder, along with altruism and love. Those of us whose last exposure to the book of Genesis was in Sunday school may not realize how much raw emotion and violence are packed into the Biblical tales of Abraham and his descendants including Leah. How Jewish sages and scholars down through the ages have tried to reconcile these tales with belief in a benevolent god is the subject of the book. The author vividly recounts each episode and then provides a sampling of the various interpretations given by prominent rabbis and other authorities from antiquity to recent times. Since the Bible provides little information on the motivations of its principal characters, the scholars must engage in an imaginative reconstruction of their thoughts and emotions. What accounts for the multiple intrigues of Leah, her unwilling husband Jacob, and her sister Rachel, who subsequently becomes Jacob’s second of four wives; and how can these acts be squared with the religious precepts of the Bible? To answer such questions the scholars not only analyze the clues in the text but fill in the back stories of what must happened to provoke the action. This is very much the way in which modern day critics seek explanations for the madness of Hamlet or other great literary puzzles. Cogent comments by the author pull together the stories and interpretations, making this a very readable approach to a profound subject.


An illuminating journey, written with care and scholarship. Highly recommended.  (By KSW)

Having studied the story of Leah and Rachel in Torah class, I thought Mr. Rabow's book might be of interest. It was far more! The Torah study felt like snorkeling — stay on the surface, dive down for some additional insight, then surface again and go on. Reading "The Lost Matriarch" was like scuba diving — go deep, stay as long as you like, and gather wisdom fromTalmud and Mishnah. The story as told by Mr. Rabow was illuminating as it opened up the wonders of the Talmud.


Reading Carefully Between the Lines of Genesis  (By DEW)


Jacob's wife Leah was the mother of 6 of Jacob's 12 sons, including Levi and Judah, forebears of the priestly and royal tribes of Israel. Yet we receive little explicit information about Leah in the book of Genesis, where she is overshadowed by her younger sister Rachel.


Readers through the centuries have carefully studied every word the Bible has to say about Leah, seeking to unearth the details hinted at but left unsaid. The result is an extensive body of speculation and legend that helps us imagine the events that occurred between the lines of Genesis. In this book, the author explores the rich Jewish midrashic traditions about Leah, helping to give the text new life for readers today. He brings in a wide range of commentary, ancient and modern. Among the questions Rabow investigates are: What does it mean that Leah's eyes were "rakhov"? What really happened on Leah's wedding night, when Jacob assumed he was marrying Rachel? How does Leah feel as she gives birth to 6 sons but is still Jacob's second favorite wife? How does Leah's relationship with Jacob change after Rachel's death?


This book is a great accompaniment to studies of the book of Genesis, much like Tuchman and Rapoport's "Passions of the Matriarchs".




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Some Other Reader Comments

[The following comments have not been publicly posted, so names have been omitted, and some personal comments in emails have been deleted for privacy reasons.]


I am a Presbyterian and for Lent I read religious books which intrigue me.  I chose your book from the new books shelf of my college library and saved it for now.  I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed it.  I don't think I've ever read anything from a Jewish point of view, certainly not any midrash.  I would have said that I have a long and thorough background in the Bible stories, but I learned so many new things reading this story again through your eyes.  The insights from thinking in a new way, bringing in other stories to connect with, and having many generations of cultural commentary available were so surprising to me.  …


Thank you so much for your effort in writing and publishing this book.  It brought to life Leah and Rachel - and yes, now I know that the order listed is important!  (By GY)



The full story of Leah becomes a fascinating and important one: I found "The Lost Matriarch" to be a wonderful book of scholarship and one from which I learned a great deal. Jerry Rabow has taken the Bible story of the marriages of Jacob - a story in which the matriarch, Leah, does not seem to play a large part, and shows how very important her role actually was. He does this by analyzing both the Bible story (and related ones) and the wealth of Midrashim, the rabbinical commentaries, which do not always agree. He makes a convincing case for the importance of Leah and the connections with other stories of the Bible. Even if I did not have a granddaughter with a middle name of "Leah", I would have found the book extraordinary.  (By FMF)



I thoroughly enjoyed "The Lost Matriarch." It was such a great introduction to midrash. Your writing style is so fresh and your presentation of the discussions so delicately even-handed the book was a joy to read.

Just as my own contribution to the midrash about Jacob crying when he meets Rachel at the well: I've always looked at it as his emotional release at realizing he is back among family. Here is a man who has always been surrounded by family, always among the tents of the family encampment, always protected by his mother's favoritism. Suddenly he is exiled, banished from the safety he has always known to find his way on his own. Strange things happen to him on his journey. He arrives at his destination at last and right away Rachel appears, unmistakably of his family. He's safe once again in the arms of relatives. Who wouldn't cry?

Thank you for an entertaining and thought-provoking exercise in discussion.  (By JJ)



The Lost Matriarch is a remarkable work, and I have enjoyed it thoroughly, of the sublime though subdued Leah in Torah. …  You know, I am lost as to which chapter was my favorite, possibly Ch. 4, "Leah Continues the Conflict." But really it is your continuity which has won me over. It reads like a detective story, a real historico-literary wrist breaker which surely will continue to get in the way of my other academic reading.  (By JMJ)



Peeling onions with Leah:  This delightful book was given to me as a present. I read it with pleasure as I typically do not read from this genre. The author’s research and storytelling made it a compelling book and I have a much better appreciation of Leah's life. She is very much different than most of the Jewish mothers I have known. I recommend it for Talmudic scholars and for those who just want to peel back another layer of the biblical onion. And the good part is these onions won't give you heartburn like the ones my mother used to fry up in a pan.  (By RW)



I really enjoyed and appreciated how you succeeded in providing a human and ethical personality to a very silent matriarch.  (By YB)



I want to compliment you on your research, readability, scholarship, and story-telling skill: these are all assets of a good author. You can be proud of what you have written. … I admire what you have done and hope that it finds a wide audience.  (By LH)