The Mekhilta of R. Shimeon Ben Yohai is a Tannaitic Midrash on Exodus, redacted in the early third century in the spirit of the disciples of R. Akiba. This text was lost over the years, but a significant part of it was reconstructed on the basis of pages from the Cairo Geniza and citations by medieval scholars in an edition by J.N. Epstein and E.Z. Melamed. Heretofore this Mekhilta has not received a comprehensive commentary, and its study has been based only on selected passages. This book presents the first systematic study of the Nezikin portion in the Mekhilta. It is based on a re-examination of the manuscripts, suggesting improved readings and completion of lacunae, a thorough study of the terminology and methodology used in the text, close comparison with parallel passages in the Mekhilta of R. Ishmael and throughout Talmudic literature, and detailed analysis of its redaction.
The book contains elucidating innovations regarding the literal meaning of the homilies, the precise understanding of midrashic terminology, the explicit and implicit literary connections between the Mekhilta and the Mishna and Tosefta, and a fascinating quest after its creation and redaction, helping to interpret the multitude of dissonances in content and style that appear in the section on Nezikin (Torts)}. The insights on substance and in principle to be found in this book constitute a major contribution to the interpretation and study of the Mekhilta of R. Shimeon Ben Yohai in particular, and the method of creation and redaction of Tannaitic Midrashim in general. Students of Torah and anyone interested in Talmudic research will find this book most edifying.