Invitation à la découverte de l’œuvre de Hillel Bakis, auteur sur la tradition juive.

By Nicole Cohen

Manager of the site [1]

I would like to present to you today an author who deserves your attention. At least, if you are interested in the Jewish tradition and in understanding the Bible according to the rabbinical tradition.

Hillel Bakis has been known since his publication of an Anthology on Jewish Tales from North Africa (Time Pass; The Roads to Heaven…), fables (Fox and the wolf and other fables of Israel) and… a science fiction novel that deserves to be rediscovered The Messiah is late! [2].

It also deals with subjects of study to deepen Jewish traditions, and biblical studies (exegesis, grammar, liturgy…). His haggadah for the new year of the trees has been used since 2004 in many communities and families, especially since the newspaper Jewish News published, for ten years, a practical guide by the author . For those who wanted more details, it was always possible to download his "Tu B'Shvat seder" for free, which had been accepted by websites very consulted by the community (;;[3].

Hillel Bakis did not stop there. In 2013, he published a series of seven books under the general title "The voice of Jacob" (this name being a testimony of respect for his father). He explains that he got into this writing work by chance: in his community, the leaders had decided that in turn, the faithful volunteers would do a "dracha" each week before the end of the Saturday morning service. Now, he was referred to as "volunteer"; in vain he explained that he was not a rabbi, nor a Torah scholar, but a researcher in the social sciences, it had no effect other than giving him a reasonable period of preparation. After two months of work, armed with his notes, he did what was expected of him. And this was repeated several times a year... with increasingly shorter deadlines! And then, because he wrote everything because he wanted to be able to specify his sources ("we don't mess with the Torah!" he told us) friends asked him to format these texts... Twenty- five years later…. the series was published. Along with a commentary on all the parshas of the year, he added two methodological works: one on the methods of rabbinic interpretations of the Torah (or, as he puts it more simply: the "toolbox provided by the Oral Torah to allow access to the Written Torah”); the other…. a treatise on "Hebrew Grammar" systematizing the very numerous grammatical remarks which come to clarify a point or open up interesting perspectives.


The following year he published a method To read the Psalms where, starting from the longest of the psalms (the 119), he provides the access key to all the psalms, for to read accurately (explanation of the phonetics of consonants and vowels according to different customs), to translate according to grammar, and to understand according to rabbinic tradition.

He also started a new series, at least as demanding as Jacob's Voice; a series which aims to enlighten the reader on all the haftarotes of the Jewish year. We know that the haftarotes (haftara in the singular) are extracts from the books of the Prophets read in the Synagogue during Shabbats, festivals or fasts, after the reading of the Torah.The initiative is welcome because, as he indicates in the introduction to the volume on the festivals, "while many publications concern the parshas (weekly sections of the Torah), the commentaries of the haftarotes remain rarer... the books of the prophets are rather unknown to the general public, who cannot easily access a significant part of traditional Jewish teachings" However, the study of the prophets informs us about our history, about the characters and events of the past but also about the messianic perspectives.

In the series Understanding the haftara, as in the series of commentaries on the Pentateuch (The voice of Jacob) and in all his other works, Hillel Bakis wanted to give the reader the opportunity to deepen his study by direct access to bibliographical resources. So what he says is verifiable; it suffices to follow the path traced by abundant footnotes. Everything is referenced, clarified because artistic vagueness is not the best way to approach the study of the divine word. The author does not take the posture of "connoisseur who must be trusted" because he is a demanding academic (Professor of Universities and Director of Research in his field[4]). Humbly, he provides precisely the sources of his analyzes and what he owes to the great masters of Orthodox Judaism throughout the centuries. When he sometimes allows himself to advance an innovative interpretation, he remains clear to his readers by indicating with a clear code (his famous "maybe"), that he did not find this idea in the traditional comments , but that he allows himself to advance a deduction, in any event.

Hillel Bakis has just completed the fourth volume of the Understanding the Haftara series. As in the previous ones, we will find for each haftara, liturgical indications followed by the summary, the presentation of the historical context, and the relations with the content of the parsha of the week. Tables present, at the end of the volume, the list of stories, maps and illustrations. A detailed index makes it possible to refer to the themes and names mentioned in such and such a chapter. Note that the author gives historical and geographical details essential to a good understanding of the text of the prophets. He writes in the foreword to this new volume: “It is indeed necessary to first understand the time period of each haftara. Some texts come from the time of the suffetes (judges) while others describe events that took place after the destruction of the Temple. It is also worth knowing what places are mentioned both in Israel and in neighboring countries, the names often being enigmatic for readers of our time.


We must point out here that the various works of Hillel Bakis have found favor in the eyes of important rabbis, in France and Israel. He has in fact received numerous authorizations and recommendations which, according to rabbinic usage, are reproduced in front of each book. Do we know that some readers do not even bother to read a religious work if it does not include the guarantee of "conformity" offered by these recommendations? For, as Hillel Bakis aptly writes in The Voice of Jacob, one does not interpret the Torah; we transmit the teaching of our masters. Hence the author's desire to indicate his sources whenever necessary[5].

The works of Hillel Bakis have also found favor in the eyes of his readers. We realize this by browsing the testimonials available on the website of his publishing house: www.editionsbakishcom [6].


[1] Text originally published in the blog of the site, July 8, 2019
( /reading-room/invitation-to-discover-the-work-of-hillel-bakis)
[2] Tales, fables and the novel are published by other publishers: Raphaël Jeunessse (Paris) and A.J. Presse (Jewish News, Les Lilas).
[3] Booksellers can obtain all the works of Hillel Bakis from BibliEurope ( Paris).

[4] See: and Ph. Vidal (2018), “Henry Bakis,
pioneer of the geography of telecommunications”, Netcom, vol. 32, nos 1/2,
pages 9 to 28.

[5] The information in our article comes from the author's books, his website, and an interview where Hillel Bakis explained his approach to us. We also used the record Wikipedia concerning him ( and the volume Vayikra of the series Understanding the haftarah.

[6] See:

Histoire & religion


Bakis benny

Fier de votre travail

Hillel Bakis

mes remerciements à Nicole Cohen pour sa rétrospective et au site pour la publication sur le site. Voir la page facebook “La voix de Jacob”.

Hillel Bakis

Merci au site et à Nicole Cohen pour m’avoir informé de cet article rétrospectif. Bonne continuation. Hillel

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