Jewish Journal

Editing the R-rated stuff out of the Torah or just editing?

by Brad A. Greenberg

July 4, 2014 | 4:53 pm

Uriel Heilman notes this story from a Chasidic village in New York:

The censored chumash, or Bible, was printed for Beit Tziporah, a girls school in New Square, a village of Skverer Chasidim in New York State’s Rockland County.

For example, the chumash edits out a section at the end of Genesis 19 in which Lot’s two daughters get their father drunk and sleep with him so they can get pregnant. The chumash also omits the entire first two parshas, or Torah portions, of Genesis, cutting out the story of the world’s creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the Tower of Babel, beginning instead at the story of Abraham...

Among other omissions in the chumash: The story of Onan, who spilled his seed rather than impregnate Tamar; Judah’s sexual encounter with his daughter-in-law Tamar disguised as a prostitute; and Potiphar’s wife’s attempted seduction of Joseph.

It sounds bad—how could they pick and choose the portions of the Bible that are appropriate for general study? But the edited Bible is intended as a study guide, not a complete text. To that extent, I have to wonder whether the cut portions of Torah were "too hot to handle" or simply weren't relevant to the course. I also don't think of the Garden of Eden and the Tower of Babel as R-rated.

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