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Pinchas Kehati

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Pinchas Kehati (1910 – December 21, 1976) was the author of משניות מבוארות Mishnayot Mevuarot (literally "Clarified Mishnayos", popularly known as "the Kehati Mishnayot") which is a commentary and elucidation on the entire Mishnah. This work was written in Modern Hebrew. This work was translated into English and published in 1994 as The Mishnah.

Kehati worked as a teller in the Israeli Bank, Bank Mizrachi. Even though he was a Religious Zionist, his works can be found in many Haredi homes and Synagogues. Although he was never formally ordained as a rabbi, he is credited for enabling the study of Torah.

In the wake of the Holocaust, many religious Israelis began to study Mishna in memory of the souls of loved ones.[1] In response to the growing demand for a commentary of the Mishna in Modern Hebrew, Kehati was sponsored by the B'nei Akiva of B'nei Berak to develop a commentary. Kehati wanted to spread Torah throughout the world, so he sought to write a clear, concise, and easy-to-read commentary and elucidation on the entire Mishnah.

Photocopy of the Kehati First Edition with attribution to the co-author

Between 1955 and 1964, Kehati published a weekly pamphlet which was hand-delivered to 5,000 subscribers. In each pamphlet, he explicated 14 Mishnayos (two per day), two laws from the Shulchan Aruch, two laws from the Rambam, and a selection from Tanakh. The first pamphlets contained commentaries that Kehati compiled from local yeshiva students. Frustrated at the inconsistencies in the commentary quality and approach, Kehati hired Rabbi Zvi A. Yehuda, who taught Mishna on an Israel Broadcasting Service (Kol Israel) radio program, to help develop a consistent approach to his commentary. Between 1956 and 1959, approximately 150 of pamphlets included attribution to his co-author. The first book-edition of the Kehati Mishna includes this attribution (see image). Many editions have since been published after Kehati's death in 1976. Recent editions include the traditional Bartenura commentary, improving its appeal to the Haredi community.

Kehati's Mishna was written in Modern Hebrew, the book cover design used a modish font and color, and it lacked decorative edge-marbling. The page layout of the Kehati commentary mimics the layout found in Dr. Symcha Petrushka's Yiddish commentary of the Mishnayot (published in Montreal, 1946). Both Kehati and Petrushka were raised in Warsaw. Kehati's commentary was influenced by the clarity of the Me'eri, as well as the modern approaches of Dr. Petrushka, Rabbi Zvi A. Yehuda, and Professor Hanoch Albeck whom he quotes in his commentary.

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  1. ^ The Hebrew letters for Mishna (משנה)is an anagram for the Hebrew word Neshama (spirit/soul) (נשמה), and thus the study of Mishna in memory of (and according to many, to provide spiritual benefit to) the departed is a well-known custom.