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Rashi in English

A complete, and completely bilingual, version of Rashi’s Torah commentary is now available on Sefaria. One of the top five most frequently requested texts, Rashi in translation has long been high on our list of priorities.

While several Rashi translations are obviously restricted by copyright, we worked with our friends Hebrew Wikisource and came to believe that the Silbermann Edition, published between 1929 and 1934, was possibly public domain. The Silbermann edition had the added benefit of featuring the most accurate nekudot of any edition commonly available. Other distinguishing features include the inclusion of alternate versions of the text when manuscripts disagree as to Rashi’s original wording, and embedded citations to many of the midrashic sources Rashi quotes.

Sefaria is very fortunate to receive pro bono counsel from Simpson Thacher and our amazing intellectual property attorneys were able to help us in our effort to determine the status of the Silbermann Rashi’s copyright. Since the translations were published in the UK in the 1920s and 1930s, their copyright status is controlled by the UK Copyright Act of 1911, which established the length of copyright as the life of the author plus 50 years. Based on the lifetimes of the authors, the work would have fallen out of copyright in 1989, and therefore not have seen their copyright extended by the UK’s 1995 copyright extension. They also would not have been in copyright anywhere in 1996, and therefore did not get restored to a copyrighted status in the USA by the URAA either. In other words, we have every reason to believe that this edition is, indeed, public domain.

In our work digitizing the English and Hebrew text of the Silbermann edition, we’ve also corrected typos in the English text, expanded abbreviations, and added citations to the various sources that Rashi quotes from (like the various midrashim). There are a small number of comments that the original translations did not feel comfortable translating into English, so we had Rabbi Francis Nataf write new translations of these untranslated comments in order to complete the English translation on Sefaria. This new translation, known as the Sefaria Edition, has been released under the CC0 license, so it too is freely available for you to use in any way you see fit.

We’re excited to continue adding English translations to the library and increasing the accessibility of Torah. We’re thankful to Targum Shlishi, a Raquel and Aryeh Rubin Foundation, for sponsoring the work it took to get Rashi on Torah on Sefaria.

 

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