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All about Seforim - New and old, and Jewish Bibliography.

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    Mad magazine and Peanuts – moralists for today?

    By Dov Silberman*

    With all the messianic overtones that the Jewish people are regaled with over Tishrei, one beloved by Chassidim is the Zohar's view (I, 117a) is that we are privileged to live in an era where similar results occur in both the natural and religious worlds, where "the gates of knowledge above, and the fountains of knowledge below, will be opened".

    Academics and scientists are always aware that similar breakthroughs in knowledge occur at approximately the same time in different places without either party knowing about the other.

    But it can occur in the realms of book methodology as well. Many readers will be familiar with the utilization by Rabbi Abraham Twerski of the Charlie Schulz "Peanuts" cartoons to make his points in several of his popular selling self help books.

    In an interview in the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle in 2000, Twerski said that Schulz's wisdom first appealed to him when he was trying to teach students and found that the cartoons made effective tools. The first time was in his 1988 book When Do the Good Things Start.

    But this was not the first time a religious writer used popular culture in the form of comic strip characters to illustrate religious ideas for students. Not twenty years before Twerski used Schultz cartoons, in 1970 Vernard Eller B.A., B.D., M.A., Th.D. (1927-2007) wrote "The Mad Morality" first published by Abingdon Press, subsequently by Signet in the 1970's Mad book form. It was a book trying to explain the Ten Commandments which illustrated them with examples of similar messages from Mad magazines.

    Eller was an Xtian professor of religion at La Verne College in California. He was trying to reach teenagers at church camps without success, so he asked them what popular culture they were interested in.

    On being shown Mad magazines, he found that Mad's satires of deceptive advertising, racism, phoniness, white lies and hypocrisy taught morality but did so without preaching. "...Beneath the pile of garbage that is Mad there beats, I suspect, the heart of a rabbi."

    But Mad publisher William M. Gaines and editor Al Feldstein, were uncomfortable with that. "We reject the insinuation that anything we print is moral, theological, nutritious, or good for you in any way, shape, or form."

    Compare this to what Schulz told Twerski before he died, "Abe," he said, at their last meeting, "you keep on saying I'm wise. That's just not true. I'm not a philosopher or a psychologist. I'm just a cartoonist."

    Similar scenarios. We must truly be living in wondrous times.

    *Dov Silberman is a commercial litigation lawyer in Melbourne Australia, and is overjoyed to find that he can now justify the time he spends at second hand bookshops.

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  • 10/22/07--06:19: The Animals
  • "A man enters synagogue on Yom Kippur with his dog and tells the gabbai this is a very smart dog, he can talk. "If he will talk for you," says the man, "will you let him sit next to me?" The gabbai says "let's hear him." Man turns to dog and says what is on top of this building which keeps the rain out? the dog says ruf ruf. The guy says see he said it was a roof. But if you are not satisfied with that, I will have him answer another question. He says to the dog, who was the most famous baseball player of all time? Dog says ruf ruf. Man says see he said Babe Ruth. The gabbai throws man and dog out. Dog looks up at the man and says, "Should I have said Willie Mays?"
    -- Jewish Joke
    I thought it may be instructive to examine what Judaism says about animals. In the course, I hope to highlight some lesser known bibliographical items. The Torah appears to place significant obligation on people vis-à-vis animals. For instance, we are commanded to remove an overburdened animal (Deut. 22:4), we are told to feed one’s animals prior to one eating themselves (TB, Berachot, 40a), and finally there is a general injunction against mistreating animals. It is from this final prohibition – tzar ba’alei hayyim – that we continue with the remainder of our discussion.

    Although we are commanded to treat animals well, Jews are also not prohibited from eating animals. The combination of these two ideas were for some rishonim an understanding of how and why shehita is the obligatory process for eating meat. They explain that purpose of shehita is to minimize pain to the animal even when we do kill it.[1] They point to law of a smooth knife as well as cutting specifically on the neck as trying to minimize pain. The issue of animal pain, was raised on numerous occasions for some to argue that shehita should be prohibited. In the defense of shehita the idea that it is the least painful method of killing was usually marshaled. In at least one instance, at the turn of the 20th century, this defense “caused even non-Jews to only use Jewish shehita and the Society for [the prevention] of Cruelty to Animals in America attempted to obligate this in all places.”[2]

    In America as well there was a question of the legitimacy of shehita as a humane method. A book was published, originally in Hebrew and subsequently to English, which bore the title Tub Taam, or Vindication of the Israelitisch Way of Killing Animals by R. Aaron Zev Friedman (downloadable here). According to a family legend, this book convinced Ulysses S. Grant to eat only kosher meat.[3]

    While all the above is true, there appears to be an opposite view of animals, one which places less respect to the animal world. R. Moshe Isserles, in his commentary on Shulhan Arukh, states “Anything that is necessary for health, or for anything else there is no prohibition against inflicting pain on animals; therefore, it is permissible to pluck quills from live duck and there is no consideration of causing pain to the animal. But, it is best to avoid all this as it is heartless.”[4] Thus, according to Rama, whenever there is any need, there is no prohibition of causing pain. According to this understanding, one need not understand the commandment of shehita to have anything to do with minimizing pain, as there is no need to minimize pain as the meat will be used.[5]

    The view of Rama was applied by R. Yaakov Reischer when he asked [in an undated responsum] whether it is permissible to use an animal to test the efficacy of a drug.[6] He responded that based upon this Rama, animal testing is permitted. He explained that the caveat of Rama, that “it is heartless” and therefore should be avoided, is inapplicable to this case; as in the case of animal testing, the animal may not feel pain immediately, and as a result, according to R. Reischer, poses less of an issue of tzar ba’alei hayyim.

    R. Ezekiel Landau, in his Noda BeYehudah[7] similarly applies Rama to a different question. He was asked whether it is permissible for a Jew to hunt animals. R. Landau says based upon Rama, there is no issue of tzar ba’alei hayyim. While he counsels against this practice for other reasons[8] these reasons are not out of concern for animals. R. Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin, in Haamek Davar, places Noah as the first to own pets. R. Berlin explains that the raven and dove were Noah's own pets and not part of the animals he collected into the ark. R. Berlin alleges that the dove was actually trained similarly to a homing pigeon. (Haamek Davar, vol. 1, 8:7)

    In discussing animals and Judaism there is a related discussion concerning the propriety of dog ownership and dogs in particular in Jewish thought. R. Jacob Emden rails against dog ownership.[9] He decries dog ownership solely for pleasure or as a companion and goes so far to claim that dog owners are suspect of engaging in bestiality.[10]

    On the other hand, historically, the dog specifically, has actually been used as a positive icon. For instance, in the Hamburg Miscellany, there is a depiction of a wedding scene with a dog at the feet of the groom.[11] Similarly, the Washington Haggadah contains a depiction of a dog (see here).

    The Sefer Hasidim claims that all animals can teach humans positive traits.[12] He singles out the dog for teaching loyalty, which is easily what the depiction in the Hamburg Miscellany could be depicting in the wedding scene – a scene which describes what is essentially a loyalty ceremony.

    While the positive aspect of a dog can be found in some illustrations, the negative view of animals and specifically dogs can also be found in illustrations. In the Prague 1526 haggadah we find a depiction of a hare hunt being used for the mnemonic YaKNeHaZ (the order the blessing are recited when Pesach night falls on a Saturday night). The usage of the hare hunt is in German, the term for hare hunt or Jagen-has sounds like YakNeHaZ. In Augsburg, 1534 haggadah, Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi notes it not only shows a hare hunt, but the hare escaping.[13] He says the hare is representative of the Jewish people and the dogs their enemies and therefore, “it is plausible to conclude that hate two successive representation of the Jagen-has are not only an innovation in themselves, but together comprise an allegory of the persecution and salvation of the Jewish people.”[14] In this depiction the dogs are actually the enemies of the Jews conforming with the prior negative views of dogs.

    Finally, in the apocryphal work Tobit, in many versions there is a positive mention of a dog. In some editions, however, the dog is missing. One scholar posits the removal was deliberate in that, according to him -- and as we have seen above this is not universal -- Jews (and other Eastern cultures) do not depict dogs positively.[15] Thus, the dog had to go. Again, this follows the negative view of dogs.

    In conclusion, there appears to be two schools of thought regarding animals and specifically dogs. Some view them and animals positively and is borne out in practice, while there is another tradition inapposite.

    I wanted to thank Eliezer Brodt and Menachem Butler for their additional insights and sources which added significantly to this post.

    [1] See Sefer haHinuch, commandment 451; see also Eshkoli, Tzaar Baalei Hayyim, [], 2002, 79-80 (collecting sources).
    [2] See Greenwald, ha-Shohet ve-haShehita be-Safrut ha-Rabbunut (New York, 1955), p. 19.
    [3] For the source and a description of this book in general see Yosef Goldman, Hebrew Printing in America (New York, 2006), 2:1092. See also, Shnayer Z. Leiman, "Montague Lawrence Marks: In a Jewish Bookstore," Tradition 25:1 (Fall, 1989): 66, 69, nn.12-13.
    For more on the German attempt to ban shehita and R. Y.Y. Weinberg's response, see Hirsh Jakob Zimmels, The Echo of the Nazi Holocaust in Rabbinic Literature (New York, 1977), 181-193 and Marc B. Shapiro, Between the Yeshiva World and Modern Orthodoxy (Littman Library, 1999), 117-129; and regarding the highly controversial nature of R. Weinberg's responsum, Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog hesitated to allow it in print at all, see p. 192. Shapiro also cites a letter where it is suggested that "Herzog later agreed that publishing the responsum would not create difficulties" (ibid., n.86).
    [4] Rama, Even haEzer, 5:14; see generally Eshkoli, supra n.1, chapter 12.
    [5] R. Yosef Toemim, in his introduction to Pri Megadim discussing shehita cautions against applying rationales generally for commandments, and specifically for shehita. Pri Megadim, Peshiha Kollelet l’Hilchot Shehita.
    [6] R. Yaakov Reischer, Shevut Ya’akov, vol. 3, no. 71.
    [7] R. Ezekiel Landau, Noda b’Yehuda, Mahdurah Tinyana, Yoreh Deah, no. 10.
    [8] He offers that Biblically, the only hunters were Esau and Nimrod thus hunting is not a “Jewish pastime.” Further, he argues that one is prohibited from putting himself in danger. He goes so far to claim that the simple reading of Esau’s statement “I am going to die” as an expression that Esau was aware that he was involved in a dangerous profession.
    David Katz recently noted that R. Ezekiel Landau "laughingly applied" to R. Jacob Emden the Talmudic dictum (BT, Yoma, 30b) concerning mad dogs: "They bark and bark but no one hears!" David Katz, "A Case Study in the Formation of a Super-Rabbi: The Early Years of Rabbi Ezekiel Landau, 1713-1754" (University of Maryland, 2004), 17, 420-421.
    [9] R. Jacob Emden, She'elat Ya’avetz, vol. 1 no. 17; Eshkoli, supra n.1, pp. 221-224; id. 225-28 (discussing cats).
    [10] There is a related discussion about the Antisemitic use of the dog to depict Jews. See Ruth Mellinkoff, Antisemitic Hate Signs in Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts from Medieval Germany (Jerusalem, 1999), pp. 38-9; now, see generally, Kenneth Stow, Jewish Dogs: An Image and Its Interpreters (Stanford, California, 2006), 28-32 and passim. Additionally, it is worth noting that there is actually a Jewish explanation as to why non-Jews have called Jews dogs. See R. Y.Y. Stahl, ed., Sefer Kushiyot (Jerusalem, 2007), no. 128 p. 100 (finding scriptural basis for the dog epithet!).
    [11] Bezalel Narkiss, Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts (Israel, 1984) plate 59 p. 185; this illumination also appears in Encyclopaedia Judaica (Jerusalem, 1967), vol. 16, opp. col. 616. Sperber notes other instances of dogs in Jewish items but attributes it to Christian ideology. See Daniel Sperber, Minhagei Yisrael, vol. 4 pp. 84-5, n.12. But, as is shown above from the Sefer Hasidim, the use of a dog to display loyalty has Jewish roots as well.
    [12] Margoliyot ed., no. 47, p. 106. See also, Sefer Hasidim (Sefer HaMaskil) p. 12 "at all times one should have in their home animals or birds, at the very least a rooster or duck. One should then feed the animal first to fulfill the obligation to feed animals prior to one eating themselves." For a discussion regarding this Sefer Hasidim vis-a-vis the Sefer HaMaskil, see R. M.M. Honig, in "al Mahduroso haHadasha shel Sefer HaMaskil (Sefer Hasidim) l'R' Moshe Bar Eliezer HaKohen," Yerushashanu, vol. 1 (2007): 196-240.
    [13] Both of these are available in their entirety from the JNUL site.
    [14] Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, Haggadah and History (Jewish Publication Society 1997), plate 15. For a fuller discussion of this imagery, see Elliott Horowitz, "Odd Couples: The Eagle and the Hare, the Lion and the Unicorn," Jewish Studies Quarterly 11:3 (August 2004): 243-258, and idem., "The People of the Image," The New Republic 223:13 (September 25, 2000): 41-49.
    [15] Israel Abrahams, "Tobit's Dog," Jewish Quarterly Review (old series), I, 3 (1888/1889): 288.

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    From Ma’adanei Eretz to Kitvei Ma’adanei Eretz (5704-5767)
    Rabbi Chaim Rapoport
    (London, England)

    As Rabbi Eliezer Brodt has recently noted in a post at the Seforim blog the advent of the sabbatical year has been blessed with a plethora of new books and pamphlets related to the laws of shemitah.

    Prominent amongst these is a publication entitled Kitvei Ma’adanei Eretz on Masechet Shevi’it, from the writings of the world renowned halachic authority, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (1910-1995), published by Zehav haAretz on the “eve of the shemitah year, 5768”.

    The sefer (341 pages) is divided into two parts. The first part is arranged according to the order of Masechet Shevi’it and presented as a commentary on it. The second half is comprised of a series of chapters on a broad variety of halachic topics related to shemitah.

    In the preface we are told that the editors received much support and encouragement from Rabbi Shlomo Zalman’s sons, including Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach shlit”a. We also learn that much of the material in the sefer was never intended for publication by Rabbi Shlomo Zalman. [It was often written in note-form for his own perusal etc.] Nevertheless, given the enormous interest in the writings of Rabbi Auerbach, it was decided that these chiddushim should be edited and published. This feat was accomplished to the delight of the publishers and their intended audience.[1]

    For the sake of producing a comprehensive work the publishers inform us that they have included segments of the author’s previously published works that relate to the Masechet Shevi’it and its halachot.

    Indeed, the second half of the sefer, which consits of chiddushim on Rambam and halachic discussions pertaining to shemittah, appears to have been gleaned almost entirely from Rabbi Shlomo Zalman’s earlier works, most particularly his Ma’adanei Eretz on the laws of shevi’it.

    However the publication of this sefer raises two related bibliographical questions: (a) Rabbi Auerbach’s classic on Shevi’it, namely his celebrated Ma’adanei Eretz, published originally by the author himself in anticipation of the shemitah year 5704,[2] and republished with the blessing of the author in anticipation of the shemitah year 5733, has been out of print and unavailable for many years.[3] Why has this book not yet been re-published? (b) Why has only some, but not all of the material in the original Ma’adanei Eretz been reproduced in Kitvei Ma’adanei Eretz?

    I cannot offer a definitive answer to these questions. Yet it is possible that two features of the original work are the cause for these ‘omissions’.

    Firstly, the original Ma’adanei Eretz dedicates much discussion to the ‘heter mechirah’ and its dynamics. Although Rabbi Auerbach clearly expresses a preference for the observance of shemitah without recourse to the heter mechirah, he does recognise the plausibility of the ‘heter mechirah’ and seeks to buttress this mechanism with halachic argumentation. Moreover, (as is evident from his introduction), Rabbi Auerbach’s defense of the ‘heter mechirah’ - which he considered to have been endorsed by ‘minhag yisroel’ - was one of the primary purposes of his work.[4]

    In times bygone, this apect of Ma’adanei Eretz apparently presented no cause for concern, even amongst the most chareidi Jews. Rabbi Zelig Reuven Bengis (1864-1953), then Rosh Beth Din of the ultra-Orthodox Edah Chareidit in Jerusalem, was aware of Rabbi Auerbach’s ‘agenda’ (towards which he was not particularly sympathetic), yet this did not prevent him from writing a complimentary letter of approbation in honour of the author and the book.[5] The same is true for Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer, (1870-1953), then rosh yeshiva of the Etz Chaim yeshivah in Jeruslaem. Yet nowadays this is no longer the case. Some of Rabbi Auerbach’s biological and/or 'spiritual' heirs who completely deny the validity of the heter mechirah and/or its application in the contemporary social and economic climate, may be deeply embarrassed by the original Ma’adanei Eretz.

    Secondly, Rabbi Auerbach refers with the most reverential terms to the late Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak haKohen Kook (1865-1935), and attributes much weight to his halakhic opinions.[6] In contradistinction to many other illustrious authorities to whom Rabbi Auerbach refers to as “ha-gaon . . . of blessed memory’ his appellation for Rav Kook includes the honorific “maran [ha-gaon ha-Rav Kook of blessed memory].”[7]

    In today’s ultra-orthodox climate, in which Rav Kook has almost been written out of existence[8] [or worse still, ‘demonised’], it should come as no great surprise that some would like to disassociate the prestigious Rabbi Auerbach from one of his primary mentors.[9] Accordingly, it is only natural that they would endeavour to orchestrate matters in such a way that the original Ma’adanei Eretz (with its ‘offensive’ contents) fades into oblivion.[10]

    An examination of the ‘privileged’ segments of the original Ma’adanei Eretz that have been ‘preserved’ in the Kitvei Ma’adanei Eretz supports my thesis. Rav Kook, whose views and vision clearly inspired Rabbi Auerbach, has been wiped off the face of the map. Likewise the heter mechirah, a central feature of the original work, has, for all practical intents and purposes, become a non-issue in the new work.[11]

    In a world in which honesty means little and history means even less, Kitvei Ma’adanei Eretz has performed a successful face-saving tactic, for ‘what the eye does not see, the heart does not grieve’! [12]

    [1] The publication of this sefer seems to be in partial overlap with “Minchat Shlomo – Chiddusim uViurim al HaShas” on Masechet Shevi’it which was published by Rabbi Auerbach’s sons in Jerusalem, 5761.

    [2] נוסח דף השער של הספר הוא: 'ספר מעדני ארץ כולל חדושים וביאורים וחקרי הלכות בעניני שביעית, ונלוה אליו קונטרס לאפרושי מאיסורא בענין הפרשת תרומות ומעשרות' חובר בס"ד מאת שלמה זלמן אויערבאך מישיבת עץ חיים בהרב הגאון המפורסם מוהר"ר חיים יהודה ליב שליט"א, יצא לאור על ידי ישיבת מדרש בני ציון בסיוע מוסד הרב קוק שעל יד המזרחי העולמי - ירושלים תש"ד – ערב שנת השמיטה

    [3] A number of years ago I was fortunate enough to be able to find and purchase a somewhat worse for wear copy of Ma’adanei Eretz in a second hand seforim store in New York.

    [4]בהקדמתו ל'מעדני ארץ' כתב הגרשז"א: "לתועלת המעיינים אקדים סקירה קצרה לתולדות היתר ההפקעה משביעית שהותר לראשונה ע"י גדולי ישראל מגאוני הגולה ז"ל ושוכלל אח"כ ע"י רבותינו הגאונים מארי דארעא דישראל". לאחרי ה'סקירה הקצרה' הוסיף הגרשז"א, וז"ל: "אחרי כל האמור הנני מוצא לנכון להעיר לבל יתקבל ח"ו שום רושם כאילו הכנסתי ראשי בין הרים גדולים ורמים גדולי הדורות אשר מימיהם אנו שותים ומפיהם אנו חיים ואף גם את שמותיהם אזכיר במורא ופחד אלא מכיון שההיתר הזה שיסודותיו בהררי קודש נתקבל ונהוג למעשה בכל אה"ק [מלבד יחידי סגולה גבורי כח עושי דברו ששומרים שביעית כדת וכהלכה ד' יגן עליהם ותחזקנה ידיהם קודש וכל העוזרים והמסייעים להם אשרי חלקם] לכן הרשיתי לעצמי לבאר ולברר יסודותיו עד כמה שידי יד כהה מגעת ולהציע לגדולי תורה היושבים על מדין את אשר נלענ"ד לנכון להעיר".
    בפתיחה ל'מעדני ארץ' סימן ט כתב הגרשז"א: "כידוע היו רבים מגאוני הדור הקודם שהתנגדו להיתר המכירה, וגם היו ביניהם כאלה שאמרו שאופן המכר הנעשה על ידינו אין לו שום ערך וחשיבות . . . אע"פ שבכמה מקומות מוכח יותר כדברי המחמירים עם כל זאת מנהג ישראל תורה, וכללא הוא דכל הלכה שהיא רופפת בידך צא וראה איך המנהג, והמנהג הוא מקדמת דנא לקולא . . . ואם היינו באים להחמיר הי' נראה הדבר כגזירה חדשה, וגם הלכה כבתראי שהכריעו רובם ככולם שההלכה מסכמת גם להמנהג . . . רק נתתי אל לבי לברר בפרק זה את יסודי הדברים של המתירים".
    וראה בהסכמת הגרא"ז מלצר, בעל 'אבן האזל', הנדפס בתחלת ספר 'מעדני ארץ' שכתב בתו"ד: " עיינתי בכמה סימנים בספרו ונהניתי מאד מדבריו הנאמרים בהרחבה גדולה בכל פרטי ההלכות ובסברא נכונה וישרה, ואם אמנם לא אוכל להצטרף בקביעות דבריו להלכה משני טעמים, אחד בשביל שלא עסקתי הרבה במסכת זו בדברי הראשונים והאחרונים בהלכות אלו, עוד זאת בשביל שרוב דבריו הם לברר פרטי הדינים היוצאים לפי היתר המכירה שהנהיגו גאוני ארה"ק, ומכיון שיש בעיקר ההיתר מחלוקת גדולה בין גאוני הדור בדור שלפנינו לא אחפוץ להכניס ראשי בין ההרים גדולים".

    [5] ראה בהסכמת הגרר"ז בענגיס, בעל 'לפלגות ראובן', הנדפס בתחלת ספר 'מעדני ארץ' שכתב בתו"ד: "ויהי' דברי אלה ליקר סהדותא על גודל ערך הספר ועל יקרת הגאון המחבר שליט"א. אבל חס לי להצטרף למסקנותיו גם להחמיר וכ"ש שלא להקל ובכונה רצוי' סלקתי א"ע מלחוות דעה באלה הלכות למעשה".

    [6] גם בהקדמתו מסתייע הגרשז"א מזה שהרב אברהם יצחק הכהן קוק "נלחם מאד לחזוק ההיתר נגד הקמים עליו לבטלו, בחששו שבביטולו יחרב כל הישוב ח"ו וגם משום הוצאת לעז על הגאונים שהתירו שכבר פשטה ההלכה והמנהג כמותם".

    [7] ראה 'מעדני ארץ' סימן א אות ו: "ועיין גם בס' משפט כהן למרן הגאון מוהרא"י הכהן קוק ז"ל שכתב בתשובה להגאון הרידב"ז ז"ל"; שם אות ז: "אולם בשנת תר"עיין סידר מרן הגרא"י הכהן קוק ז"ל את תיקון המכירה . . . "; שם אות טו: "ומשמטה רביעית היא שנת תר"עיין סודרו כל שטרי מכר ע"פ נוסחו של מרן הגאון מוהרא"י הכהן קוק ז"ל".

    [8] Thus, for example, the Sefer HaMafteiach in the Frankel edition of the Rambam does not include any references to the chiddushim of Rav Kook on the Mishneh Torah. Present day works on shemitah rarely include the contributions of Rav Kook (even with regard to matters unrelated to the heter mechirah). Needles to say, Rabbi Chaim Kanievski’s Derech Emunah on Rambam’s Sefer Zeraim (inc. Shemitah veYovel) does not refer to Shabbat HaAretz etc.
    Rav Kook’s haskamah that was, in his heyday, often the crown of glory on many seforim is now viewed with derision by many, and has even been ‘removed’ from later editions of the same works (sometimes, apparently, by the author himself!).

    [9] Recent explorations into Rav Kook’s (heretofore) esoteric thought may add to the evident anxiety that exists in certain circles regarding the relationship between Rav Kook and Rav Auerbach. [See Avinoam Rosenak, "Hidden Diaries and New Discoveries: the Life and Thought of Rabbi A.I. Kook," Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 25:3 (Spring 2007): 111-147. See also his review article, “Who’s Afraid of Secret Writings? Eight Files from the Manuscripts of Rabbi Kook,” Tarbiz 9:2 (2000): 257–291]. Most recently, see Yehudah Mirsky, "An Intellectual and Spiritual Biography of Rabbi Avraham Yitzhaq Ha-Cohen Kook from 1865 to 1904," (PhD dissertation, Harvard University, 2007), esp. 450-485.

    [10] In the course of time we may yet witness the birth of reports to the effect that Rabbi Auerbach (and/or: the Rabbis who gave their glowing haskamot) regretted ever having published (written approbations for) his Ma’adanei Eretz. Clearly Rabbi Auerbach’s regret will have to have been expressed ‘be-sof yamav’, since in 1972/5732 he was evidently still enthusiastic about the project.

    [11] לדוגמא בעלמא: סימן ט בספר 'מעדני ארץ' נערך מחדש "ע"י בן רבינו הגאון רבי אברהם דוב אויערבאך שליט"א רב ואב"ד טבריה", ונדפס בתוך 'כתבי מעדני ארץ' (בחלקו השני) סימן כג. בצורתו החדשה חסרים כמה דברים ובעיקר דברי הפתיחה לסימן זה ע"ד תוקף היתר המכירה (ראה מה שהעתקתי לעיל בהערה 4). גם לסימן יו"ד בספר 'מעדני ארץ' באו פנים חדשות בגלגולו החדש ב'כתבי מעדני ארץ' סימן כ"ד [ונשמט מ"ש ב'מעדני ארץ' שם אות א ע"ד היתר המכירה]. ואם כי לא זכיתי להבין את טעמי כל ההשמטות והשינויים שעשו העורכים בסימנים אלו, מ"מ נראה ברור שהטעם לחלקם הוא בגלל יחסם החיובי (או הקשרם) להיתר המכירה הנהוג למעשה.
    להווכח מה היתה כוונת העורכים מחדש די להביט על השינויים שעשו בכותרות לשני הסימנים האלה:
    בכותרת ל'מעדני ארץ' סימן ט כתב הגרשז"א: "יסודי ההיתר של תיקון המכירה כדי להפקיע את הפירות מקדושת שביעית, ובירור דעת הסוברים דאף שאין קנין לנכרי להפקיע ממעשר ושביעית, מ"מ כל זמן שהקרקע היא ברשות העכו"ם הרי היא מופקעת שפיר ממעשר ומשביעית", ואילו בכותרת לסימן כ"ג ב'כתבי מעדני ארץ' נדפס: "ביאור שיטת הכסף משנה בדין קנין הנכרי בארץ ישראל" [כאילו דברי הגרשז"א נכתבו במקורן מבלי כל קשר להיתר המכירה הנהוג למעשה].
    בכותרת לסימן יו"ד ב'מעדני ארץ' כתב הגרשז"א: "המשך לסימן הקודם בבירור יסודי תיקון המכירה, עם עוד טעמים אחרים המועילים רק להפקעת דיני שביעית מגידולי שדות נכרים ולא לענין היתר עבודה, ובענין איסור האכלת פירות שביעית לנכרים, ודין פירות שביעית לאחרי הביאור", ואילו בכותרת ל'כתבי מעדני ארץ' סימן כ"ד כתבו העורכים: "עוד בשיטת הכסף משנה בהא דאין נוהג קדושת שביעית בפירות נכרים", והוציאו את הדברים מהקשרן הראשון.

    [12] The purpose of this article was to explore one example of a particular trend in contemporary rabbinic censorship. It was not written in order to express a view on, or assess the virtues of, the heter mechirah or its proponents. [Whilst this is totally irrelevant (at least to the subject matter at hand), I will attempt to save the time of many potential speculators by putting on record that I personally do not rely on the heter mechirah. The Lubavitcher Rebbe zy”a, whose rulings I attempt to follow, was far from enthusiastic about the heter mechirah and encouraged all Jews to observe the shemitah without recourse to the heter mechirah].

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    Someone in a comment to a recent post mentioned an article that appears in the latest issue of the journal Ets Hayyim. This journal is published by the “students and hassidim of Bobov.” [Supposedly this journal is a break-off of the excellent journal Kerem Shlomo.]
    The journal is comprised of what most torah journals are today, there is a section publishing manuscripts hiddushei torah, general hiddushei torah, some articles on halacha etc. In this fourth and most recent issue there is an article that I think deserves wider dissemination.

    R. Shmuel Aboab (1610-1694), author of the Davar Shmuel (as well as Sefer Zikrohonot, discussed here, and Tavat Dovid) was one of the leading rabbis in Italy and Europe of his day. He corresponded with numerous people, part of that correspondence was published in Davar Shmuel. Davar Shmuel, published posthumously by his son, was a mahdurah kama (first edition -that Spiegel doesn't mention in his discussion regarding mahdurah kama/tinyana - although it is a printed book and not a manuscript), and does not include all R. Shmuel Aboab's responsa (something that was not corrected in the latest reprint of the Davar Shmuel). For many years, a collection of R. Abaob's letters (approximately 300!) were in the Montefiore Library and now they have passed into private hands. (These letters are mentioned in Hartwig Hirschfeld's Descriptive Cataloue of the Hebrew Manuscripts in the Montefiore Library - but the Google books version is for some reason missing the relevant page.) According to the description provided in Ets Hayyim, many of these letters have never been published or used by scholars (see below for a discussion of this claim). In Ets Hayyim, they have published one of the letters in its entirety. A detailed introduction about the manuscript generally and R. Aboab is included. This was written by R. Betzalel Divlitski. R. Divlitski uses traditional as well as academic sources in his introduction. Also an index of all the letters from the Montefiore collection is provided that includes some important snippets of these letters. For instance, one letter (no. 125) includes information when R. Ya'akov Hagiz came to Italy, something, according to R. Divlitski, that was previously not definitively known (again, see infra for more on this claim). According to the index, this letter tells us R. Hagiz came to Italy in 1659 (see infra note 2 ). Moreover, the letter that is published is in no way pedestrian. Rather, it is about a controversial topic and takes, what can be seen, as a controversial position.

    While the above comes from R. Divlitski’s introduction and notes, it is worthwhile pointing out some serious shortcomings in R. Divlitski’s comments. R. Divlitski claims that most of these letters have never been published. This is wrong, and R. Divlitski knows it is wrong. Most of these letters were published by Meir Benayahu in his Dor Echad B’Aretz. R. Divliksi is aware of Benahyahu’s work as he cites it throughout. Divliski also made the claim the letter discussing when R. Hagiz came to Italy [1] was unknown, while again Benayahu has it in his work and discusses its implications (Dor Echad pp. 304-5). [2] Moreover, although R. Divlitski is willing to use the book he is unwilling to say who actually wrote it. Thus, every time R. Divlitski cites Dor Echad he never mentions Benayahu’s name. Lest one think Benayahu is somehow “treif” (whatever that may mean), R. Shlomo Zalman Aurbach seem to have no problem with Benayahu and read Benayahu’s works. (See Benayahu, Yosef Becheiri, Jerusalem, 1991, p. 364, 380). [3]

    A bit of history regarding Benayhu’s work - Dor Echad B'Aretz - published in Jerusalem, 1988. A while back Benayahu while traveling the world and discovered this excellent collection of letters of R. Shmuel Aboab. He even writes that he could not believe his luck on finding them - these untapped sources full of this incredible wealth of information.[4] He noted that they were extremely important for multiple areas. Therefore, Benahayu went ahead and started printing them in many different journals. These articles started appearing as early as 1954. He divided the letters into different topics, inter alia, history of Eretz Yisroel, seforim and Sabbatianism. In 1988 Benayahu collected many of these letters from these varied journals and added some more from this collection (over 100) and printed them in one volume – Dor Echad B’Aretz. In this volume he included a comprehensive history of R. Abaob and R. Moshe Zaccuto (as Benayahu is well-known for his comprehensive biographies and works). For some odd reason he did not print all the letters from this collection nor did he even print all the letters he had already published. It could be that he never noted this important letter (now published in Ets Hayyim) perhaps because he planed on coming to it in a future work as it is well known he has over thirty years worth of seforim in manuscript!

    Turning back to the article, R. Divlitski is correct that the letter regarding Modena has never been published and is thus important. [It is unclear why Benayahu decided not to publish this letter.] Thus, what Diviltski should have done was prefaced his article stating that although much has been written on R. Aboab and on the letters formerly housed in the Montefiore Library and many were published by Benayahu, for some reason, a very important letter has thus far escaped publication and now to remedy that, the letter is now being published – now on to the actual letter.

    The letter in question discusses the belief, or lack thereof, in gilgul (transmitigation of souls). This subject has been a hot topic for centuries and much has been written on it in general and will be the subject of a different post. [For now, see Kol Hanevuah from R. Dovid Hanazir pp. 230-36 for an excellent collection of material on this topic and see R. Reuven Margolis in Sharei Zohar, Bavaeh Metziah, 107a.]

    One of the persons to have denied belief in gilgul was R. Yehudah Aryeh Modena in his work Ari Noham. While Modena explicitly denied gilgul, some questioned whether that was truly his position. The Hida, first in Shem HaGedolim and later on in his travelogue, Ma'agel Tov, (pg 113) Hida states that he saw Modena’s then unpublished autobiography and the Hida claimed that Modena wrote that he changed his opinion on gilgul because of an event he witnessed towards the end of his life. Joseph Michael Hayim in Or haHayyim (pg 443) mentions that he never found evidence of Modena’s change of heart in any manuscripts of Modena’s autobiography. [Divlitski alludes to Hayim, but like the other “academics” doesn’t cite to him or mention him explicitly.] Today, we have two printed editions of Modena’s autobiography and neither has any reference to Modena’s alleged change of heart. It is worth noting that the autobiography contains other fascinating material – much of which would not be considered flattering as it portrays Modena in a very human sense. Thus, in the Sefer HaTerumos published by Mechon Yerushalim with the commentary of the Gedulei Terumah, by R. Azariah Figo, a student of Modean, an amazing allegation is made to deal with Modena’s Autobiography. A. Goldschmidt in the introduction claims that because of the content of the Autobiography it is “a forgery.” The reason being “it is unconscionable that a qualified Talmid Hakham such as R. Yehuha Areyeh Modena [would write things] that [even] simple people would not want publicized.” (p. 25 n.8).

    The letter now published in Ets Hayyim is not from Modena but instead from R. Aboab to R. Moshe Zacuto about R. Yehuda Areyeh Modena. [5] Specifically, R. Zacuto heard that R. Modena was denying and publicizing that gilgul was not a Jewish belief. R. Zacuto wanted to put Modena in herem or come out against him, and wrote to R. Aboab to get his opinion. As R. Divlitski demonstrates this letter is key to disproving the notion that although Modena initially did not believe in gilgul he changed his mind later. Due to the timing of this letter it appears that either literally at the end of Modena's life he repudiated his belief on gilgul or, the more likely conclusion is that Modena never did.

    In the letter, R. Aboab counsels against disputing Modena. R. Aboab makes a simple argument in that there are sources that dispute the claim of gilgul. Thus, there have been others who don't believe. How then can we reconcile those positions with R. Aboab's and R. Zacuto's idea that gilgul is a central tenet - it must be that only worthy people appreciate and therefore believe in gilgul. It would be pointless to criticize someone for not believing when it is not really their fault.

    Basically, this is a great article with important new material but proper credit is not given. Furthermore, as Divlitski notes, and in light of the fact Benayahu clearly has not yet published all these letters, hopefully, with this letter being published in Ets Hayyim someone will finally publish all these letters.


    This post is the product of the combined efforts of myself and R. Eliezer Brodt.

    [1] For some reason it seems E. Carlebach did not use Dor Echad, although she does use Benayahu’s prior articles, and thus was unaware of Benayahu’s discussion of this particular letter. See Carlebach, The Pursuit of Heresy, New York, 1990, p. 21, 284 nn.11-12. Although Benayahu rejects using the dates of R. Hagiz’s works to place Hagiz in Italy, Carlebach does just that. See Benayahu, Dor Echad, pp. 304 and Carlebach, id. Additionally, Carlebach does not mention the letter discussed above that explicitly establishes Hagiz in Italy.

    [2] For some reason Divlitski says the letter was written in 1659 while Benayahu says the letter was written in 1657. Additionally, Divlitski says that he can figure out who the recipient of the letter is, although “coincidentally” Benayahu uses the same materials to come to the same conclusion.

    [3] This is not the only time Divlitksi leaves out the authors name. He also uses Tishby’s edition of Tzitz Novel Tzvi, but doesn’t mention Tishby.

    [4] Divlitski uses similar language when discussing how important the letters are as an untapped resource.

    [5] It is worth noting that Modena and Aboab corresponded directly see Benayahu, “Yediyah al Hadfasat Seforim vehafatzasm b’Italia” in Sinai, 34 pp. 157-58, 186-87.

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    Towards A Reappraisal of the Recent Works
    Of Rabbi Shelomoh Luriah (Maharshal)

    By Rabbi Eliezer Brodt

    As previously mentioned on the Seforim blog by myself and others, our generation is privileged to something no previous generation has seen, a sheer volume of Jewish books being printed and reprinted. Many of these works are seeing print for the first time - works of Rishonim and Achronim on all sorts of topics brought to the public eye from manuscript form. Some of these printings are beautiful editions, critically edited, and even glossed with illuminating marginal annotations. Other times the only benefit is to see the change from an illegible typeface to a clear block print (oft as not without any particular in the editing). In many cases, specific institutions are founded solely to deal with works from a particular religious group, while at other times, entire publishing houses are established that deal with the writings of one particular author. Recently one Godol, the great prolific writer, the Aderet (Rabbi Eliyahu David Rabinowitz-Teomim), famous for, amongst many things, being the father-in-law of R Kook, has had over five distinct groups working on printing his writings although almost none of his writings were published in his lifetime.

    Recently, a rather modest institute called Makhon Iyay HaYam has begun reprinting as well as publishing for the first time, the many writings of the great gaon R. Shelomoh Luria, Maharshal. To date, this Makhon has already printed a few of his works and is currently working on many more. In this post, I would like to discuss this great person, the Maharshal, some of his printed works, and the current and future projects of this particular Makhon. As much has already been written on this great goan, including several biographical sketches, as well as a dissertation by Dr. Meir Raffeld on the Maharshal's magnum opus, Yam Shel Shelomoh (more later), I have limited myself to but a few highlights.

    The Maharshal was born circa 1510 (most likely in the city of Brisk or Posen), and died in 1573 in Lublin. He was a Rav in many cities, including Brisk,[1] Ostra and Lublin.[2] Alongside the rabbinate, the Maharshal established and ran yeshivot, training many famous students. Amongst these students are, notably, R. Yehoshuah Falk Katz (author of the Preisha), R. Moshe Meis (author of Mateh Moshe on minhagim as well as Hoel Moshe on Rashi; more on him later), R. Shelomoh Efrayim Lunschitz (author of the Kli Yakar), R. Chayim of Friedberg (author of Sefer HaChayim and brother of the famous Maharal of Prague), and R. Eliyahu of Chelm (the great-great-grandfather of the Hakham Zvi and Rabbi Jacob Emden, famous for being the only latter day Godol to have created a documented golem (see here for Prof. Shnayer Z. Leiman’s post, "Did a Disciple of the Maharal Create a Golem?" at the Seforim blog) all studied in the Maharshal’s Yeshiva. As an historical aside, it is worth pointing out that in the biography printed by R. Chechik, Sefer Chasdei Hashem (Yerushalayim, 5767, pg. 3), R. Chechik makes the claim that the major talmidim of the Maharshal studied in his yeshiva in Lublin. This appears highly implausible as the Maharshal only came to Lublin in 1569, and by then most of his talmidim were already accomplished poskim. More likely these students studied in one of the Yeshivot the Maharshal headed prior to the Maharshal’s Yeshiva in Lublin.

    R. Shelomoh Luria was a contemporary of and related to R. Moshe Isserles, the Rama. In his Maalot Hayuchsin (Yerushalayim, 5764), p. 15, R. Efraim Zalman Margolis traces the various ways in which the Rama and the Maharshal were related. Among those was through the marriage of Maharshal's daughter Miriam to Rama's brother Eliezer. Additionally, these two Gedolim carried on extensive correspondence between themselves, some taking a rather sharp tone (most noted are those letters regarding the study of philosophy and dikduk). Yet, as R. Efraim Zalman Margolis notes, the utmost respect and esteem was maintained between the two. In fact, they seem to have been keenly interested in the other’s works, there is evidence that they read the other’s work prior to publication. (See Klilas Yoffe p. 9b and Maalot Hayuchsin of R. Efraim Zalman Margolis, pp. 27-28.) [3]

    While both the Rama and the Maharshal were well respected and many of the Poskim of that generation were the Maharsha’s students, in a choice between the two regarding how to decide halakha, the Rama is the clear winner. The Shelah HaKadosh, however, bemoans the fact the Maharshal’s decisions were not accepted. This is so as the Maharshal followed the Rama (i.e. the Maharshal died later) and, as such, should have been awarded consenting rulings out of principle (halachisha k’basrayi). As a result, the Shelah HaKadosh calls upon those who fear Hashem to take upon themselves all stringent dissenting opinions of the Maharshal in opposition to the Rama (Shnei Luchot HaBrit, Shaar Ha’Otiyot, #100, Kedushah).

    The Maharshal is well-known for his caustic tone in his writings. Many biographers note his use of rather sharp epithets in his works concerning other Gedolim. R. Chaim Dembitzer cites many instances where the Maharshal writes sharply against various Rishonim (Klilas Yoffe p. 11). But, some have questioned the focus on the Maharshal’s tone. For instance, Shmuel Abba Horedesky, who authored a biography on the Maharshal, Kerem Shlomo, included a discussion of the Maharshal’s caustic tone. Horedesky sent his book to the Sdei Chemed, and in a recently published letter, the Sdei Chemed sharply critiques Horedesky’s inclusion of that portion on the Maharshal.[4] (Dr. M. Raffeld, in his dissertation also bemoans the misguided focus of previous historians at these caustic remarks instead of researching the more unknown eras of the Maharshal’s life).

    Aside from his goanus, the Maharshal was an extremely prolific writer, writing on many areas. Some of his more famous works include an outstanding work on Shas called Yam Shel Shelomoh. For itself, the work is pretty well known, unfortunately it is not used to its full potential in today’s yeshivah world (this due to many reasons, most importantly the current mahalach halimud) although of late it has been reprinted in a nice block print edition. The style of the Yam Shel Shelomoh is oriented toward halakha. Typically, each topic is examined systematically from its beginning sources, through the Rishonim and through (the then) current minhag (see further Dr. M. Raffeld). This work has not reached us in its entirety, as parts are missing from those mesechtos present. Furthermore, it is clear from many places in his writings as well as quotes from his talmdim that he wrote more than what we have. (To date we have volumes on seven masekhtot, but according to various sources, the Maharshal wrote on sixteen masekhtot. Dr. Raffeld attempts to construct a list of the remaining nine; not all agree to this listing and several substitutes have been suggested). I seem to recall that recently they discovered the volume of Yam Shel Shelomoh on masekhet Baba Batra, but the collector who owns it does not allow anyone to print it and is only willing to sell it for a very large sum of money. Likewise, rumors of Yam Shel Shelomoh on masekhet Shabbat have been circulating among professional circles, without any concrete evidence.

    In addition to the Yam Shel Shelomoh on the Gemara, the Maharshal penned many other notes on many masekhtot, dealing with, among his personal novella, the correct girsa’ot of the Gemara. Known today as Hagahot Hokhmat Shelomoh, this work was originally printed as a separate volume. Present-day editions of Gemara find some of the comments having added into the text of the Gemara and Rashi over time, and the authorship erased along with the original gloss. The remaining glosses are printed in the back of almost all recent editions of the Gemara. In his editing, the Maharshal used old manuscripts, as well as variant texts. In a lengthy article in Alei Sefer, vol. 15, Y. Ron deals with this work. Later on Professor Yaakov Shmuel Spiegel dealt with this work in his classic Amudim be-Toldot ha-Sefer ha-Ivry, Hagot u-Maghim (pp. 279-285). Hokhmat Shelomoh on Masekhet Gitten has been recently reprinted by R. Y. Satz, (Toronto: Otzreinu, 1990). The foreword includes a detailed article elaborating on the need to reprint this work, basing the glosses on the exact comments of the Gemara used by the Maharshal. Large amounts of the glosses have been deleted by editors who mistakenly attributed them to lines already corrected, while in fact the Maharshal had another point in mind.

    A partial list of the Maharshal's other famous works include Teshuvot Maharshal, responsa quoted by all poskim; glosses on Rashi al haTorah called Yerios Shlomo, reprinted several times of late; glosses to Sefer Shaarey Dura by R. Yitzhak of Duren called Ateret Shelomoh. He also wrote glosses on the Sefer haMitzvot haGadol (SMaG) by R. Moshe of Coucy, called Amudei Shelomoh. Makhon Yerushalayim has issued a critical edition of this work, in three volumes, based on manuscripts and first prints, replete with footnotes by R. Yosef Luban. In addition to stand-alone volumes, the Makhon has also included the Maharshal's valuable glosses in their critical edition of the Sefer haMitzvot haGadol.

    Now for the works printed by Makhon Iyay HaYam:

    As previously mentioned, the Maharshal routinely wrote marginal notes on a vast number of seforim. Of the most popular, were his glosses on the side of the Tur. In large, these notes are quoted by his talmid, R. Yehoshua Falk Katz, the Preisha, as well as the Bach (Sefer Bayit Chodosh) and many other Poskim, but until this century, these notes were never printed. In 1957, the editors of Tur HotzaatEl Hamikoros’ commissioned R. S. Werner to ‘liberate’ these notes from manuscript ‘captivity,’ allowing for a tremendous find for the halakhic world. Unfortunately, thirty simanim in Yoreh Deah were lost from the copyist, and were listed as missing in the manuscript. In 1995, R. A. Chavatzelet published these simanim in a Sefer Zikaron for R. Werner, with the intention of completing the sefer on Yoreh Deah.

    While researching another work, R. Y. M. Dubovick found citations to glosses not printed in R. Chavazelet's addendum. Further perusal revealed the existence of more manuscripts in libraries worldwide that R. Werner was unaware of, and of which R. Chavatzelet had not availed himself. With more accurate texts, and numerous additional pieces not found in the manuscripts R. Werner had been given, it was clear of the need to edit the hagahot from the beginning. R. Dubovick decided to print this whole work again with all the corrections and missing pieces. First, R. Dubovick published an expository article in the journal Yeshurun (vol. 11) listing many missing parts on Yoreh Deah. In 2000, he issued a limited printing of the hagahot on Even HaEzer (including hagahot on the last ten simanim, a notable lack in R. Werner's edition). More recently, he released a critical print of the first sixty simanim of Tur, Yoreh Deah with footnotes, surrounding the text of the Tur (Crimea, 1558) as used by the Maharshal. Therein, he references all the relevant writings of the Maharshal and his talmidim to the glosses on the Tur, as well as citations of these glosses by the poskim.

    R. Dubovick intends to conclude the rest of Yoreh Deah in the near future and deal with Orah Hayyim and Hoshen Mishpat next, and finally, a reissue of Even HaEzer.

    The focus of this recent volume on Yoreh Deah is the Sefer Ateret Shelomoh a commentary on the Shechitos u'Bedikos of R. Yaakov Weil, the hagahot on Tur an addendum to this rare work. As little as less than a hundred years ago every shochet had been tested specifically on this work, and virtually every small-town rav had to be an expert in this area as well. Many of the she’elot presented to a local rav were on these very topics and could not be referred to another Rav, as by than the animal would spoil. Nowadays, a shochet is tested on Sefer Beit David (R. David Tschechovitz), and unfortunately, the shechitot and bedikot of R. Yaakov Weil are almost unknown by anyone today, save for the occasional excerpt in other seforim.

    Seeing how this valuable work has not been reprinted with the Maharshal's notes in the past 400 years, Makhon Iyay HaYam recently undertook this project to enrich the public with yet another one of the Maharshal's many invaluable works, reprinting the text based on the only two printings, and a manuscript fragment. R. Dubovick set himself to the task, painstakingly annotating along the way with extremely thorough notes on the entire sefer. Albeit some times his notes are a bit lengthy, there is a wealth of singular information contained in them, both on the halakhic field as well as the bio-bibliographic, which the editor could not deny the public, and did not omit them from print. A few examples; when the Maharshal quotes his grandfather, R. Yitzchok Klauber, noted are many of the places where the Maharshal cites his grandfather, throughout his many seforim (p. 3, n.6), along with a brief biographical sketch. [5] The same style note can be found when the Maharshal mentions his father-in-law R. Kalonymus (Kalman) Havarkstein-Yerushalmi; a listing of other citations, along with a thumbnail bio, including the Maharshal's wife's name (p. 38, n.28). With an eye on the halakhic ramifications of reprinting this sefer, R Dubovick notes that R. Efraim Zalman Margolis highlighted the importance of studying this sefer for those learning shechita, and yet, due to the sefer having been published as an addendum to the sefer, Sha’arei Dura, and not having a distinct title page from the Sha’rei Dura, remained unknown. (Introduction to Ateres Shlomo, see also Ma’alos haYhuchsin, p. 35) Additionally, regarding R. Efraim Zalman's work on treifus in lungs (Rosh Efraim), R. Efraim Zalman states that Shechitot u'Bedikot were written last, even after Yam Shel Shelomoh, and the Halakha should be fixed accordingly, even against a dissenting opinion in Yam Shel Shelomoh (p. 38, n.27). In addition, he includes interesting sources to the practice of watering cattle before shechita (p. 55, n.92), as well as bringing to light a fascinating source to the puzzling minhag of peeling off sirchos (lesions) from the lung (p. 64, n.129).

    The Maharshal's extreme regard for maintaining minhagei Ashkenaz and their halakhic impact are spread throughout both his and his talmidim’s many writings. One can especially find this true with regard to R. Moshe Meis’ classic work Mateh Moshe. A while back, a manuscript was discovered of some minhaghim of the Maharshal called Hanhagot HaMaharshal. Dr. Y. Refael printed this work in a Sefer Hayovel and then later on as a separate pamphlet. These minhagim were written anonymously, and the editor attributes them to R. Moshe Meis, author of Mateh Moshe, and known to have been a personal member of the household of his teacher, R. Shelomoh Luria. As these minhagim do not cover the whole year, Dr. Refael concludes that the text is only a segment of a much larger work, which had unfortunately been lost. Interestingly enough, R. Shmuel Ashkenazi told me recently he did all the work in annotating this sefer and preparing it for print, although for some reason he wasn't credited for it. (While this edition was printed from a manuscript, copied expressly for R. Nachum Ber Friedman of Sadigura (Areshet, vol. 1 397-98), there is another, variant edition, printed in the back of some copies of Nagid uMitzaveh (Sinai, vol. 63, p. 96)).

    Among the interesting minhagim included in here is: [6]

    מורי מוהר"ש אמר שקצת מינות באמירת י"ג עיקרים שתקנו באני מאמין שיש בו י"ג עיקרים, כי קצת אומרים וחושבים בלבם כשמאמינים בי"ג עיקירים אף על פי שעשו כל התועבות שבעולם ר"ל מכל מקום יש להם תקנה ואינו כן אלא אפילו מדברי חז"ל הוא עיקיר אחד, כמו שמצינו שאמר מה נאה הלכה זו ולא משבח האחרות גם כן אינו עושה כהוגן. ולא נתקנו אלו הי"ג עיקירים רק בשביל פילסוף מימים הקדמונים שהיו עושים עיקרים בכללים ולא עשו כמנין הללו באו חז"ל ותקנו גם כן בכלליהם וכן ביגדל אלקים חי נתקן י"ג עיקירם גם כן ולא אמר מורי אחד מהם ולא יגדל ולא אני מאמין".

    Also, the Maharshal discusses the Shir HaYichud, and offers a rather radical explanation of who the author of Shir HaYichud was: [7]

    ביום טוב אחרון של פסח ביום ב' אירע שנפל נר על דף של סידור ואמר בחור אחד בבית הכנסת של מורי מהר"ש לכבות אותו ולהציל ספרי קודש מדליקה. ואמר אפשר מותר ובפרט ביום ב' של יום טוב שהוא דרבנן ובחור אחד אמר שהוא משיר היחוד ואמר מורי מהר"ש אל תבכו, גם זה לטובה שנשרף, שהוא סובר שלא בר סמכא עשאו, שמין עשאו

    Similarly, in the Siddur Siddur Shabtei Sofer, vol. 1 pp. 89-90, R. Shabtei records in the name of the Maharshal:

    והנה נוהג' ברוב קהלות אשכנז לומר שיר היחוד הזה בכל יום רק במדינת רוסיא בקהלות אשר נהג בהם רבנות הגאון מהר"ר שלמה לוריא ז"ל אין אומרים אותו כל עיקר. ושמעתי מפי רבים מזקני הדור שהגידו לי ששמעו את מהרש"ל שהיה דורש בק"ק לבוב ובק"ק לובלין בתחלת בואו לנהוג שם רבנות ואמר בדרשותיו שאין לומר שיר היחוד מפני שמצא שחיבר אותו מין, ובעבור זה היה מוחה בכל הקהלות מושבותיו מלאמרו

    Another rather unknown work of the Maharshal, is his Zemirot for Shabbat. While this work has been printed many times, not one of these editions has been reprinted based on the first printing and manuscript and many of the modern printings have actually detracted from the sefer's integrity. This rare sefer is comprised of songs the Maharshal composed for Shabbat and Motzei Shabbat, with the author's commentary to those songs. Included in his explanations are many halakhot and minhagim of Shabbat. Some examples of which are; women should wear a special garment when lighting the Shabbos candles; a reference to the custom of wearing a kittel on Shabbos. Another example, he praises the people of Ashkenaz for having a set system with regard to hosting yeshiva students for Shabbat meals. (Interestingly enough, while Prof. Simha Assaf mentions this minhag in his biographical sketch of the Maharshal printed in Sefer haYovel Lichvod Prof. L. Ginzburg, he makes no note of it in his Mekorot LeToldot HaChinuch biYisrael, even though he does mention several other sources to this custom pp. 229, 236, 633). [8]

    Here too, R. Dubovick is working on reprinting these zemirot, along with an excellent commentary of his own on this work. A few samples of his efforts have been published in the journal Yeshurun (vol. 16). Here, I was simply amazed at the sources and comments of R. Dubovick regarding the various points of the Maharshal. One only hopes he will finish this work soon along with all his many projects relating to the Maharshal.

    I would like to thank R Y. M. Dubovick and Dan Rabinowitz in for their extremely helpful suggestions and sources in writing this post.

    [1] On the Maharshal’s tenure in Brisk see the letter of R. Nosson Rabinovitch (author of Dikdukei Sofrim) in Eyur Tehilah p. 198.

    [2] On the Maharshal’s time in Lublin, see the story brought in Simchas Hanefesh (see here for an earlier post, "Simchat ha-Nefesh: An Important But Often Ignored Work on German Jewish Customs," at the Seforim blog) from R Yehudah Chassid pg 109-110. A similar story is quoted by the Chida in Shem haGedolim, erech R Avrhoum Mocher Yerokos.

    [3] For a recent lengthy discussion of these correspondences, see Y. Elbaum in his Pisichut Vehistagrot (pg 156 and onwards), as well Dr. Asher Siev's biography of the Rama (1972). For the exchange of letters between Rama and Maharshal on philosophy, as part of the appendix of translations of primary texts from 16th-century East-European Jewish Thought, see Leonard Levin, "Seeing With Both Eyes: The Intellectual Formation of Ephraim Luntshitz," (Ph.D., Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 2003), 299-284, esp. 299-311.

    [4] On the caustic comments of the Maharshal see Iggerot S’dei Chemed, vol. 1, siman 11, pp. 24-25; see also R. Barukh haLevi Epstein, Mekor Barukh, Introduction, pp. 89-93.

    [5] For more on the Maharshal’s grandfather see M. Rafeld, in Daniel Sperber, Minhagei Yisrael (Jerusalem: Mossad Harav Kook, 2007), 8:174-96.

    [6] For more on Ani Manmin see HaSiddur, pp. 232-36; Marc B. Shapiro, The Limits of Orthodox Theology: Maimonides' Thirteen Principles Reappraised (Oxford: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2004), pp. 19-20 (citing opinion of the Maharshal).

    [7] For more on this topic see: A. Berliner, Kesavim Nevcharim, vol 1 pg 145-170; R. Dovid Hanazir , Kol Haneveha pgs 124, 143-144; H.J. Zimmels, Askenazim and Sephardim, pp. 132-134; A Haberman, Shiur Hayichud Vhakovod (intro), Y. Dan, Shiur Hayichud (facsimile edition) with the commentary of R. Yom Tov Muelhausem, Introduction; R.Y. Stal, Sefer Gematryios L'Rabenu Yehudah Hachassid, vol 1 pg 32-38; R. Y. Golhaver Minhaghei Hakehlos, vol 1 p. 132: and my forthcoming article in the Yerushasenu volume two.

    [8] Another person who missed this source while discussing this topic is Mordechai Breuer, in his comprehensive book on the Yeshivot, Oholei Torah: The Yeshiva, Its Structure and History (Merkaz Zalman Shazar 2003), pp. 405-409.

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    As previously noted at the Seforim blog, Eruv Online has an excellent series on the history of eruvin controversies. In his most recent offering, he has posted the fifth segment of "History of City Eruvin − The Eruv in St. Louis." For earlier posts, see 1,2,3,4.

    On a related topic, see Rabbi Adam Mintz's earlier post about "The Manhattan Eruv" at the Seforim blog.

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    Marc B. Shapiro holds the Weinberg Chair in Judaic Studies, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Scranton. He is the author of Between the Yeshiva World and Modern Orthodoxy: The Life and Works of Rabbi Jehiel Jacob Weinberg, 1884-1966 (London: Littman Library, 1999), The Limits of Orthodox Theology: Maimonides' Thirteen Principles Reappraised (London: Littman Library, 2003) and Saul Lieberman and the Orthodox (University of Scranton Press, 2006).

    Prof. Shapiro is a frequent contributor to
    the Seforim blog and his recent posts include: Uncensored Books”; a response to Rabbi Zev Leff (with a subsequent exchange with Rabbi Chaim Rapoport); "What Do Adon Olam and ס"ט Mean?," and obituaries for Rabbi Yosef Buxbaum and Prof. Mordechai Breuer.

    This post is a follow-up to his recent
    "Forgery and the Halakhic Process."

    Forgery and the Halakhic Process, part 2
    by Marc B. Shapiro

    In this post I would like to finish up with Rabbi Zvi Benjamin Auerbach's Eshkol. But first, I must clear up another matter about which I was asked, as I discussed it right at the beginning of my first post dealing with the Eshkol. I mentioned that the late fourteenth-early fifteenth-century kabbalist, R. Menahem Zioni, quotes R. Yehudah he-Hasid’s comment that a section of the original Torah was removed by David and placed in the book of Psalms. After being shown this passage, as part of the effort to defend the authenticity of R. Yehudah he-Hasid’s commentary, R. Moshe Feinstein replied that Zioni’s commentary was also forbidden to be used.[1]

    R. Moshe also writes that he doesn’t know who R. Menahem Zioni is. Presumably, this is designed to show Zioni’s insignificance, and make it easier for R. Moshe to ban his book. The problem is that Zioni is hardly an unknown figure; his commentary on the Torah is actually quite famous. He was also “one of the few kabbalists in 14th-century Germany.”[2] For R. Moshe to state that he is unfamiliar with Zioni is an acknowledgment that he is not particularly learned in Kabbalah. I don’t think anyone should find this surprising, much like they shouldn’t find it surprising that R. Moshe was not a savant of Jewish philosophy. He was an ish halakhah, and his time was spent focused on Shas and Poskim. Just as the Rav reports that R. Moshe Soloveitchik never held the Rambam’s Guide, we can also say about R. Moshe Feinstein that his interests were in line with the typical Lithuanian gadol, and that meant that Talmud and halakhah were what he devoted himself to.

    While I don’t find R. Moshe’s lack of knowledge about a medieval kabbalist surprising, not all share this sentiment. After my last post someone wrote to me asking if it is true that R. Menasheh Klein rejected R. Moshe’s disqualification of Zioni. This is indeed true, and Klein’s responsum appears in his Mishneh Halakhot, new series, vol. 2, no. 214. Klein also points out that Zioni is quoted in halakhic sources, including the Magen Avraham, and he adds:

    הציוני מקדמוני בעלי המקובלים וגדולי הפוסקים גאון וקדוש ה' ואשרי מי שזוכה להבינו ולחקרו וללמדו, וח"ו להוציא לע"ז על קדוש ה

    As to how R. Moshe could have banned such a work, Klein has his own solution: “I don’t believe that these words came from the Gaon R. Moshe, but in my humble opinion a mistaken student wrote them and placed them among his papers after his death.” He also states that it is impossible for him to believe that R. Moshe never heard of Zioni since he is quoted in the commentaries on the Shulhan Arukh, and R. Moshe knew the Shulhan Arukh backwards and forwards. He concludes that God should forgive the one who is responsible for what appear in Iggerot Moshe, that which is now falsely attributed to R. Moshe.[3]

    This is, of course, comical. R. Moshe insists that Zioni’s commentary should be banned, and Klein insists that R. Moshe never wrote this. The fact that the relevant volume of Iggerot Moshe was published in R. Moshe’s lifetime and the letter in which he writes against Zioni was sent to Rabbi Daniel Levy of Zurich and is dated 1976 does not deter Klein is what is surely one of the strangest things to appear in his volumes of responsa (which contain a good many strange things[4]).

    As for R. Yehudah he-Hasid’s commentary, which R. Moshe also banned, Klein writes as follows (Mishneh Halakhot, vol. 16, no. 102):

    מהעתקת הציוני כת"י של רבינו יהודה החסיד זה הוא עדות נאמנה גם על הכת"י של רבינו יהודה החסיד שהוא קודש קדשים וח"ו לרחקו ולומר שמינים כתבוהו

    R. Moshe’s rejection of the commentary of R. Yehudah he-Hasid is not entirely unexpected. In fact, there are about ten different places where R. Moshe denies the authenticity of an earlier text because it does not agree with his preconceptions. In a future post I hope to list all of these examples, which show that R. Moshe could be quite daring (and this led to sharp responses to him by other poskim). Yet, as with R. Yehudah he-Hasid, every one of the texts that R. Moshe rejects is unquestionably authentic. In at least one of the cases we even have the author’s own manuscript.

    A number of years ago I was studying R. Mordechai Spielman’s Tiferet Zvi. This is a multi-volume commentary on the Zohar which shows incredible bekiut. In fact, the Zohar is often just a springboard for the learned author to discuss all sorts of Torah matters. His first book, Tziyun le-Nefesh Tzvi, shows the same characteristics, and it is devoted to the issue of whether kohanim can go to the graves of tzadikim. While most poskim rule that they cannot, there is also a tradition, popular among the kabbalistically inclined, that tzadikim are exempted as they do not cause impurity. In one of his final articles, the late Prof. Israel M. Ta-Shma dealt with this issue.[5]

    I noticed that Spielman cited Zioni and was curious to hear his reaction to R. Moshe’s teshuvah. In a lengthy letter, dated July 14, 1994, in which he discussed a variety of matters, he wrote:

    וכשהייתי לפני כמה שנים בירושלים עה"ק ובקרתי אצל מרן פוסק הדור מו"ה ש"ז אויערבאך הנ"ל הסכים עמי ואמר לי בפירוש במעמד א' מיקירי רבני ירושלים עה"ק שליט"א שאין הצדק עם הגאון ר' משה זצ"ל לאסור למכור את הספר הקדוש הזה

    [Quite by coincidence, a couple of years later my havruta at the Scranton yeshiva was the great-nephew of Rabbi Spielman. He told me that his uncle, who was a follower of the Munkatcher rebbe, R. Hayyim Elazar Shapira (and also a native of Munkatch), used to celebrate Thanksgsving each year. Such was his feeling of gratitude to be living in the United States.]

    Returning to Auerbach’s Eshkol, the controversy really started when R. Shalom Albeck, in an open letter, later followed by his Kofer ha-Eshkol, accused Auerbach of forging the work. (Albeck himself, and his son Hanokh, later published the authentic Eshkol.) Yet it must be noted that Albeck was not the first to accuse Auerbach of this, as right after the work was published there appeared an anonymous article in He-Halutz[6] saying the same thing. There is a widespread assumption that this article was written by the outstanding scholar Raphael Kirchheim. Yet I don’t know how this assumption arose, as I can find no evidence to justify it. I believe that the author was Joshua Heschel Schorr, the publisher of the journal.

    I must thank Rabbi Baruch Oberlander of Budapest[7] who called my attention to the fact that in another article in He-Halutz, eleven years later,[8] Schorr once again attacks Auerbach and his edition of the Eshkol. Among his choice words are the following:

    וחטא למחבר הספר וחטא לקוראים ההוגים להתלמד, וחטא לאמת ולמי שחותמו אמת וחטא לנפשו, והוא עתיד ודאי ליתן את הדין ומי יודע אם יצא נקי בדין, כי אין מרחמין בדין

    Oberlander also called my attention to the following, which is quite interesting. In my previous post I quoted R. Shlomo Yosef Zevin’s assessment that Albeck was correct in judging Auerbach’s Eshkol a forgery. Yet in the Talmudic Encyclopedia, edited by Zevin, Auerbach’s Eshkol is cited! I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the people working on the various entries, who are all great talmidei hakhamim, have never even heard of the dispute over the volume. Unlike the case of Besamim Rosh, the reliability of Auerbach’s Eshkol is almost never mentioned in traditional rabbinic literature, and the great poskim continue to cite it as a rishon. Yet Auerbach’s Eshkol is also cited numerous times in the volumes that appeared while Zevin was still alive. How can one explain this?

    Auerbach’s Eshkol was shown to be a forgery in that it contained formulations taken from post-medieval works. In my last post I quoted R. Ratsaby’s comment in his letter to me that the work contains material from the Beit Yosef. Oberlander points out that R. Menahem M. Kasher, Torah Shelemah, 9:140, also raises this possibility.

    באשכול הנדפס בכת"י ע"י ר"ש אלבעק דף 46, ליתא קטע זו וצ"ע אם אין זו הוספה ע"פ הב"י

    It is in this area, of post-medieval material in the Eshkol, that Prof. S. Z. Havlin has made a fascinating discovery. I refer to his article in Yeshurun 13 (2003), which should satisfy even the final doubters that the work is indeed a forgery.

    Havlin quotes a passage from R. Abraham ben ha-Rambam that is found in the Orhot Hayyim of R. Aharon of Lunel and also appears in Auerbach’s Eshkol. The question is obvious: How could the Eshkol, whose author, R. Abraham ben Isaac, died in 1159, quote anything from R. Abraham ben ha-Rambam. Of course, one could say that this is a later addition to the manuscript from someone who used the Orhot Hayyim. But as Havlin notes, this is no help either because where would this person have come across this text, as it is lacking from the standard edition of Orhot Hayyim and is today only found in one Jerusalem manuscript?

    The answer is that the Beit Yosef cites this passage in the name of Orhot Hayyim (without noting that the Orhot Hayyim is quoting R. Abraham ben ha-Rambam). R. Joseph Karo had access to a manuscript of Orhot Hayyim which had this text, which, as mentioned, does not appear in the standard version of Orhot Hayyim. Auerbach saw this text in the Beit Yosef and simply incorporated it into his Eshkol, perhaps even assuming that this was another example of Orhot Hayyim quoting the authentic Eshkol, as he often does. Only now, when we have access to the Jerusalem manuscript of this work, do we see that Orhot Hayyim is actually quoting a teaching of R. Abraham ben ha-Rambam. This was information that Auerbach did not have, and explains how he could include it in his edition. R. Abraham ben Isaac was a great scholar (and father-in-law of the Ra’avad). Yet even he was not able to quote from works that would not appear until after his death.

    Havlin concludes:

    נמצא אפוא שיש בנוסח מהדורת הרב אויערבך הוספות שנבלעו בפנים בלא אות או סימן, שנעשו לא לפני שנת שי"א (1551), שבה הופיע לראשונה ספר בית יוסף

    I was asked to explain a bit about the Eshkol, vol. 4, that Bernard Bergman published. First some background: In the introduction to volume 3 of his edition of the Eshkol, Auerbach wrote that the halakhot of the Eshkol found in his manuscript that remained to be published were Hilkhot Yom Tov, Rosh ha-Shanah, Yom Kippur, Orlah, Kilayim, Hallah, Hekdesh, Vows and Oaths, Tzedakah, and Rabbinic laws. In his Kofer ha-Eshkol, Albeck, who insisted that Auerbach had no Eshkol manuscript but created his edition using various other sources (including the authentic Eshkol), challenged Auerbach’s supporters to at least produce Auerbach’s transcribed copy of his manuscript. It was asserted that the original manuscript had been lost, presumably put into geniza by the family which owned it and didn’t realize its value. But, Albeck claimed, certainly Auerbach had made a copy of it.

    Auerbach’s request was never fulfilled, and it is obvious that all of Auerbach’s defenders, who were in close touch with his family, assumed that there was no such copy. Had anyone known of it, its existence would have been a central feature of the defense of Auerbach’s honesty.

    In 1986 Bergman published volume 4 of Auerbach’s Eshkol, which contains some of the missing sections. This shows that Albeck was not correct in his assumption, and accusation, that no such text existed, But its existence says nothing about the authenticity of Auerbach’s Eshkol. All it means is that Auerbach had written down certain sections, and added his commentary Nahal Eshkol which he had to do before publication. Even forgers have to present a written text to the printer!

    With regard to Bergman’s volume, it is very curious that the reader is given no insight in the introduction as to where this manuscript came from (or even a picture of it). I can’t think of any other publication of a rishon where this information is not provided. I would not be surprised if some think that the new edition is itself a later forgery designed to protect Auerbach’s legacy. After all, how is it that Bergman came to this work when Auerbach’s family and defenders knew nothing about it? Despite these questions, I think that barring new evidence we should give Bergman the benefit of the doubt and assume that the manuscript did originate with Auerbach.

    I realize that it was, and remains, hard for people to accept that a gadol be-Yisrael was capable of such an outrage, namely, forging the work of a rishon. I think we should simply assume that he had some sort of schizophrenic personality, and leave it at that. Even great Torah scholars sometimes do weird things.

    It is of course understandable that people who knew Auerbach as a pious sage were not able to accept this. Professor Jacob Barth, who taught at both the Rabbinical Seminary of Berlin and the University of Berlin, and was one of the world’s leading Semitic scholars, is a perfect example of this phenomenon. Although he was R. Esriel Hildesheimer’s son-in-law and a leading figure in German Orthodoxy, he also had a critical mind and was not one to be led by convention. It was thus possible for him to argue that Isaiah 40-66 was a later addition, and to reject the talmudic dating of various post-biblical books. He even claimed that the Song of Songs was not originally intended as an allegory, a position that today would probably get him put into herem. Yet even this giant of critical scholarship could not approach the Eshkol problem objectively. Instead, he reflected on how forty years prior he had studied Talmud under Auerbach, and how much he was impressed by him, from both an intellectual and personal standpoint. As he put it, whoever had any contact with Auerbach knows that it is “absolutely impossible that he could have committed the smallest literary dishonesty.”[9] He concludes his essay by stating that the learning and character of Auerbach stand tall, despite the shameful attack of Albeck.

    In my first post I noted that R. Hayyim Heller pointed out to the Rav that Auerbach’s Eshkol is a forgery. In this regard, it is interesting to mention something that appears in Shimon Yosef Meller, Uvdot ve-Hanhagot le-Veit Brisk. In recent years there has been great interest in “Brisk.” I am not referring to the Brisker method of Torah study which has been popular for a long time, but rather a great interest in the personal lives of the outstanding figures of Brisk.

    As every bit of information is precious, and every book wants to offer new stories, it is important for the authors to look anywhere they can. Unfortunately, at least one such book has plagiarized from R. Herschel Schachter.[10] Another unfortunate element in these books is the lack of respect shown to figures who did not share the Brisker anti-Zionism. This is more understandable, as at times R. Chaim and R. Velvel themselves had negative views of the religious Zionist gedolim.[11] It would be censorship if their attitudes were not recorded properly, but most people reading this will still regard it as unfortunate that these great rabbis were not more tolerant. (The irony, of course, is that they are expected to be tolerant of those who supported what in their mind was bringing great devastation upon the Torah world.)

    Speaking personally, I must say that some of the stories recorded in these books are so strange that I wonder if most people in this generation would be led to admire these figures more after hearing the stories, or if the result would be the opposite. For example, what is one to make of the following story, told in order to inspire awe of the Brisker Rav? Once he was served something which, while kosher, did not measure up to his standards. Upon learning of this, he immediately stuck his finger down his throat, causing himself to throw up on the host’s expensive rug. Rather than this upsetting the host, we are told that this further increased his admiration for the Brisker Rav.[12]

    Can people today grasp what it means to be a pure ish halakhah of the sort the Rav describes in Halakhic Man, whose behavior can come across as very cold and unfeeling (e.g., R. Moshe Soloveichik’s rebuke of the Baal Tokea, and the story of R. Elya Pruzhener and his dying daughter)?[13] Another such example of this is the report that when one of R. Velvel’s sons died shortly after birth, and the family was crying, he was insistent that they stop their tears, since there is no avelut before thirty days.[14] Whether this type of pan-halakhism is inherently positive or negative I will leave to the judgment of others, but I think that in modern times it is clear that the average person who hears stories like this, even if he is a haredi, will not be spiritually inspired. I think that many times he will even be spiritually turned off, for obvious reasons.

    I know that Rabbi Pinchas Teitz, who headed my high school, the Jewish Educational Center, didn’t like the similar sort of stories told about the Rogochover. He felt that people today would hear these stories and the only thing that would stay with them is that the Rogochover was eccentric. Since the point of stories of gedolim is to inspire respect and awe, telling stories that stress his eccentricity would therefore be counterproductive. For example, hearing about how the Rogochover threw a chair at R. Hayyim Ozer, or how he proclaimed that R. Yitzhak Elchanan didn’t know how to learn or that Tosafot is full of errors, are hardly the sort of tales that will inspire awe.

    In fact there are many gedolim about whom R. Teitz’ point is applicable. I remember when a high school rebbe of mine got all excited telling the class about his trip to the Steipler, and how while he was there the Steipler chased another fellow out of the house. (Subsequently I learnt that this was not so uncommon). After the rebbe finished his story, no doubt thinking we would be impressed, one of the students blurted out something along the lines of “Do you think that was a nice thing to do?” Now I certainly am not going to judge the Steipler, and it is likely that the man was deserving of being thrown out, but the rebbe didn’t know the details and thought that it would be exciting to tell us high schoolers how the great Steipler lived up to his reputation as one who didn’t suffer fools. Yet the acculturated Modern Orthodox response was to wonder why he wasn’t a nicer person. In other words, Rabbi Teitz was correct about the need to be careful when it comes to telling the masses stories of gedolim.

    To give another example, I recently read a hesped where R. Yitzhak Yosef recorded how the deceased talmid hakham, R. Moshe Levi, didn’t miss a moment of Torah study. He described how when R. Levi was at a communal meal he kept a book under the tablecloth, and every free second he could be seen be looking at it. The eulogizer saw that as something positive, whereas in my town, everyone would regard it as very rude. This point illustrates why I find haredi hagiography so fascinating, as it clearly reveals the culture gap between the haredi world and the Modern Orthodox world. Some of the stories that are told, and are part of haredi myth making, would be regarded with horror by the Modern Orthodox world.[15] How better to determine the ethos of a community than by seeing how it chooses to remember and praise its leaders? If anyone thinks that the Rav shared the Modern Orthodox ethos, just look at the stories he tells in Halakhic Man.

    Sometimes truly horrible stuff is found in haredi “gedolim books” as well. Let me offer just one example. There is a very helpful book by Dov Ber Schwartz entitled Artzot ha-Hayyim (Brooklyn, 1992). This book contains short biographies of numerous American rabbis, a list of rabbinic books published in the United States, and an essay on Orthodoxy in America. Yet in the midst of the book, on page 52a in the note, one finds the shocking passage which you can see here, and which I am too embarrassed to translate. One can only hope that sentiments such as these are not very common among Schwartz’ fellow Satmar hasidim.

    Another real problem with all of the haredi hagiography is that one never knows if the stories are trustworthy. That doesn’t mean that the stories have no value, for even if gadol x never did what is recorded, the fact that this story is told about him reveals the mindset of the generation telling the story. In other words, we can adapt the point Neusner has made about talmudic tales of tannaim really telling us about the amoraim; late twentieth and early twenty-first-century tales of gedolim really reveal what the current haredi ethos is (especially since anything that doesn’t agree with this ethos will be censored.)

    While in many cases the stories told are strange and one wonders whether they are accurate, in some cases it can be determined with virtual, or even complete, certainty that they are false. Yehoshua Mondshine has authored a number of articles showing the falsehoods in (mostly) hasidic stories. Among the non-hasidic works he takes aim at is R. Barukh Epstein’s Mekor Barukh.[16] Mondshine’s prime concern is with the famous story recorded by Epstein about his father’s meeting with the Tzemah Tzedek, and Mondshine attempts to show that there is no reason to believe the report.

    To this I would only add that, knowing Epstein’s reputation as a plagiarizer and how he manufactured stories, one should not take seriously any of his “recollections.” I know the feminists will be upset with this, but we must assume that the entire dialogue between him and Rayna Batya,[17] which shows her as a proto-feminist, is contrived and has no historical significance other than revealing that Epstein himself wanted to call attention to the sad fate of talented women who are not permitted to study Torah In the unlikely event that he does accurately portray Rayna Batya, all I can say is that the punishment of one who tells tall tales is that even when he tells a true story he is not believed. We must, however, remember that even when it comes to stories that are certainly false (and there are loads of them being invented all the time, and then repeated by the gullible), one should not be discouraged when reading them. Rather, one should keep in mind Saul Lieberman’s famous comment: “Nonsense is nonsense, but the history of nonsense is scholarship.”

    What does all this have to do with Auerbach’s Eshkol? In Uvdot ve-Hanhagot le-Veit Brisk, 3:291, we are told in the name of someone who heard it directly from R. Velvel that when Auerbach’s Eshkol was published, “I [R. Velvel] immediately said that this is not the Eshkol.” R. Velvel is also quoted as saying that it was actually written by another rishon. Here is a perfect example of why these sorts of books are so unreliable. I am not saying that the person who reported this story is lying, only that he didn’t understand what R. Velvel said, or perhaps after forty years no longer remembered properly. I say this because R. Velvel never could have said what he is alleged to have said, as he wasn’t even alive when Auerbach’s Eshkol appeared in 1868. The only kernel of truth that can be gleaned from this text is that R. Velvel knew that Auerbach’s Eshkol was not the authentic Eshkol. Seeing how badly the informant messed up, I am not even willing to trust him that R. Velvel said that Auerbach’s Eshkol is the work of another rishon. Perhaps he only said that it contains information from rishonim, without committing himself to it being an authentic medieval work.

    The great problem is what to do with pesakim that rely on Auerbach’s Eshkol. For example, the authentic Eshkol does not have hilkhot niddah, but Auerbach’s does. Unlike Saul Berlin, Auerbach was not simply making up pesakim and attributing them to rishonim. He was taking information in the Beit Yosef and other works and putting this in the mouth of

    0 0

    Marc B. Shapiro holds the Weinberg Chair in Judaic Studies, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Scranton. He is a frequent contributor to the Seforim blog and his most recent posts are "Forgery and the Halakhic Process" and "Forgery and the Halakhic Process, part 2."

    The post below was written as part of
    "Forgery and the Halakhic Process, part 2," which the baale ha-blog have split up for the convenience of the readers of the Seforim blog. As such, the footnotes continue from the conclusion of the previous post.
    Responses to Comments and Elaborations on Previous Posts
    by Marc B. Shapiro

    1. Some were not completely happy with an example I gave of an error in the Chavel edition of Ramban in a previous post at the Seforim blog. So let me offer another, also from one of Ramban’s talmudic works (since that was the genre I used last time). In Kitvei Ramban, 1:413, Chavel prints the introduction to Milhamot ha-Shem. The Ramban writes:

    וקנאתי לרבנו הגדול רבי יצחק אלפאסי זכרונו לברכה קנאה גדולה, מפני שראיתי לחולקים על דבריו שלא השאירו לו כפי רב מחלוקותיהם ענין נכון בכל מה שדבר, ולא דבר הגון בכל מה שפרש, ולא פסק ראוי בכל מה שפסק, לא נשאר עם דבריהם בהלכות זולתי הדברים הפשוטים למתחיל פרק אין עומדין

    In his note, Chavel explains the last words as follows:
    רק בסוף הפרק הזה נמצאה השגה אחת מבעל המאור

    Yet what Ramban means by למתחיל פרק אין עומדין are the children who begin their talmudic study with Tractate Berakhot. In other words, it is only the explanations and pesakim of the Rif that are obvious even to the beginner that have not been challenged.[21]

    Regarding the example I gave in my last post at the Seforim blog, I forwarded to R. Mazuz one of the questions I received, which dealt with the form of the verb אסף found in the Ramban:

    וחכמי הצרפתים אספו רובן אל עמן

    He answered as follows:
    אפשר לפרש אָסְפוּ מלשון ויאסוף רגליו אל המטה, ולשון קצרה הוא. ואפשר לומר אָסְפוּ כמו נאספו. ודומה לו (תהלים קה, כה) "הפך לבם לשנוא עמו", שהכוונה נהפך. אבל עדיף להגיה אֻסְפוּ מבנין פֻעַל אם כי לא מצינו דוגמא לזה במשמעות זו

    I must note, however, that while R. Mazuz’ understanding of Ps. 105:25 is in line with the Targum, this is not how the standard Jewish translations understand the verse.

    (Shortly before writing this, I read about the outrage taking place in Emanuel, where in the local Beit Yaakov Sephardi students are being segregated from Ashkenazim to the extent that the two are not even permitted to play together. The Shas party has referred to this as nothing less than Apartheid, which it surely is.[22] What’s next? Mehadrin buses where the Sephardim sit in the back? Of course, when this happens the justification given will once again be that Ashkenazim are on a higher spiritual level and that’s why they can’t sit with Sephardim, not that they are racist, chas ve-shalom.

    I mention this because R. Mazuz has made a comment that is relevant in this regard. Speaking to Ashkenazim who like to imagine the tannaim as “white”, he has called attention to Negaim 2:1, where R. Yishmael states that Jews are neither black nor white, but in between. In other words, the tannaim looked like Sephardim.)

    2. One of the e-mails to me stated that we Modern Orthodox types love to criticize Artscroll, but how come we never point out errors in the Rav’s works. I can’t speak for anyone else, and it is true that the Rav has now assumed hagiographic standing, meaning that it has become much harder to criticize him or point out supposed errors in his works. However, if I detect what I think is an error I will definitely call attention to it, and I believe the Rav would expect as much, for this is a sign that you are taking his writing seriously. If the Rambam could make careless errors (the focus of a large section of my forthcoming Studies in Maimonides and His Interpreters, available for pre-order on Amazon for only $8) then anyone can err, and it is no disrespect to call attention to these errors. There are actually a number of seforim which have sections in which they call attention to careless errors or things overlooked in the writings of various aharonim.

    I understand why students of the Rav and his modern day hasidim might be reluctant to do so, but I never had any real relationship with him and can approach matters as an outsider. My only connection to the Rav was one summer in the Boston kollel (1985, the last year of the kollel. When I lived in Brookline in the 1990’s the Rav was no longer well). I was, however, privileged, together with Rabbi Chaim Jachter, to drive him back and forth to the Twersky’s house, and was thus able to hear some memorable things from him which I will record in a future post at the Seforim blog.

    While on the topic of the Rav, let me also state that I used the Rav’s Machzor on Yom Kippur. I found the commentary uplifting and great credit must go to Dr. Arnold Lustiger for the effort he put into the volume. But there is one thing in the Machzor that annoyed me. It relates to what is called Hanhagot ha-Rav. This section includes all of the various practices of the Rav. This is certainly worth knowing and it wouldn’t have bothered me had it simply appeared at the beginning of the Machzor. But that is not the case.

    Before I explain the problem, let me start with the following: A number of years ago I asked Prof. Haym Soloveitchik what the practice of his father was in a certain matter. His response was short and crisp. He told me that he never answers questions about his father’s hanhagot, and that to do so would be in total opposition to his father’s outlook.

    I assume that today, if it was clear that my concern was of an academic nature, he would be more forthcoming. But back then I was another unknown kid writing to him trying to find some interesting practice of the Rav.

    The way I understood Prof. Soloveitchik is that his father, like many gedolim, had practices that diverged from the mainstream. They came to these practices based on their original reading of the sources. Yet these were entirely private practices, reserved at most for other family members and perhaps some very close students. Because they went against the mainstream, they were not for mass consumption. Along these lines, R. Zevin reports, in his article on R. Hayyim Soloveitchik in his Ishim ve-Shitot, that it was such an outlook that explained why R. Hayyim did not want to decide practical halakhah. His original mind would lead him to overturn many accepted halakhot, yet he was not prepared to do so.

    Returning to my problem with the Rav’s Machzor, we are told the following in this book: The Rav reversed the order of the final two phrases in the benediction ולירושלים in the Amidah, saying וכסא דוד מהרה לתוכה תכין prior to saying ובנה אותה בקרוב בימינו בנין עולם. This is the way the Sephardic siddurim have it, but certainly the Rav did not expect the entire Ashkenazic world to abandon their long-standing practice because of his practice. Yet when this paragraph (in minhah before Yom Kippur and maariv following Yom Kippur) appears there is a note telling people how the Rav read it. This is certainly encouraging people to abandon the Ashkenazic tradition in favor of the Rav’s reading. From all that I know about the Rav, this is not something he would have wanted.

    Another example is that we are told that the Rav omitted the blessing הנותן ליעף כח as it is post-Talmudic. What possible purpose can such information have when provided on the page where this blessing appears, other than to lead people to omit the blessing? Is one to assume that the Rav really wanted people to reject the universal Ashkenazic practice? The Rav never got up at an RCA convention and told people that this is what they should do. Even at the Maimonides minyan and school there is no official minhag to omit this blessing. R. David Shapiro reported to me that almost all those who daven from the amud at the Maimonides synagogue minyan recite the blessing, and everyone does so at the Maimonides school minyan. Yet I wonder how many followers of the Rav are now omitting the blessing after seeing what appears in the Rav’s Machzor.

    There are other examples, and as I said above, I don’t believe that this information should be secret. However, when you put it on the relevant pages of the Machzor, where the instructions to the worshipper are designed to be for practical application, you are telling people that if they see themselves as followers of the Rav, then they should follow his practices.

    Since my correspondent made the false assumption that I would never point out an error of the Rav, and indeed almost challenged me, let me offer one. In Halakhic Man, page 30, in writing about halakhic man’s relationship with transcendence, the Rav writes:
    It is this world which constitutes the stage for the Halakhah, the setting for halakhic man’s life. It is here that the Halakhah can be implemented to a greater or lesser degree. It is here that it can pass from potentiality into actuality. It is here, in this world, that halakhic man acquires eternal life! “Better is one hour of Torah and mitzvot in this world than the whole life of the world to come,” stated the tanna in Avot [4:17], and his declaration is the watchword of the halakhist.
    I am not an expert in scholarship on the Rav,[23] so I may have missed it, but I have not seen any articles on Halakhic Man which call attention to the fact that the Rav has misquoted Avot. What the Mishnah says is “Better is one hour of repentance and good deeds in this world than the whole life of the world to come.” Also surprising to me is that the learned translator did not mention the problem with the Rav’s quotation.[24] Is it possible that the Rav’s intellectualism and “halakho-centrism” led him to unknowingly replace בתשובה ומעשים טובים with בתורה ומצוות?

    While on the topic of the Rav, which is always of interest to people, let me note another error in the Rav’s writings, although this time the printer is at fault.[25] It has been reprinted a number times and the sentence has also appeared in translation. I realize that it is difficult to say that a text that appeared in the Rav’s own lifetime a few times without correction is a mistake, so I would love to be proven wrong. Yet it does seem that we are confronted with a typo. I would assume that the Rav never knew of the mistake, since people often don’t read their own material after it appears in print. In “U-Vikashtem mi-Sham”[26] the Rav writes:

    אבא מרי דיבר תמיד על אודות הרמב"ם. וכך היה עושה: היה פותח את הגמרא; קורא את הסוגיא. אחר כך היה אומר כדברים האלה: זהו פירושם של הר"י ובעלי-התוספות; עכשיו נעיין נא ברמב"ם, ונראה איך פירש הוא. תמיד היה אבא מוצא כי הרמב"ם לא פירש כמותם ונטה מן הדרך הפשוטה

    Can there be any doubt that instead of הר"י the text should read רש"י?

    R. Aharon Kafih, in his new book Minhat Aharon, 416, calls attention to a similar type of error in Shiurim le-Zekher Abba Mari, 1:14-15, n. 5 (I don’t have this book, so I can’t determine if Kafih is correct). Here the Rav writes:

    ועיין ברמב"ן סוף מס' פסחים (במלחמות) שמתוך דבריו וביאורו בירושלמי . . . עולה שאם לא קרא את ההלל בביהכ"נ חייב לברך על ההלל בהגדה

    Kafih writes:

    אחר המחילה נראה שיש כאן טעות, ומדובר בר"ן ויובאו דבריו לקמן בגוף החיבור ד"ה וזה שאמרו בירושלמי

    3. A few people asked me about R. Mazuz’s reference to the homosexual poem in Judah Al-Harizi’s Tahkemoni (see my previous footnote 15, here). The relevant section, which appears in Gate 50, reads as follows
    לאיש עשה שיר מלא זמה וטומאה

    לו שר בנו עמרם פני דודי מתאדמים העת שתות שכר
    ויפי קוצותיו והוד יופיו לא חק בתורתו ואת זכר
    The translation is:
    To a man who wrote a poem full of filth and lewdness

    Were Amram’s son to see my friend’s face
    Blushing when he drinks strong drink
    And for the loveliness of his locks and the splendor of his beauty
    He would not have inscribed in his Torah
    “If a man lie with mankind” (cf. Lev. 20:13).[27]
    Following this, Al-Harizi, quotes the poems of nine others, and himself, who condemn the homosexual poet. Some contemporary readers might be shocked to see the language used. It is certainly not anything that those preaching a message of “hate the sin and love the sinner” vis-à-vis the gay community – and this includes R. Chaim Rapoport, the world’s expert on halakhah and homosexuality – would endorse. For example, one of the poems reads:

    מוכר קדושת אל בעד טומאה מהר ליד הורג יהי נמכר
    He who sells the sanctity of God for defilement
    Let him quickly be sold into the hand of the slayer.
    Another reads:
    שדי שלח מהר עדי מות האיש אשר דתך בחטא מכר
    Almighty, deliver speedily into the hand of death
    The man who has sold Thy law into sin.
    In fact, all of the poems quoted by Al-Harizi call for the gay poet to be struck down, in one way or another.

    The gay poet speaks of the face of the young man, and this is actually a popular theme. In particular, the poets focus on the cheeks. There are a number of examples of this in R. Moses Ibn Ezra and Ibn Gabirol, but let give two examples from R. Judah Halevi:

    מלחייו עדן בשמי כאשר מעיניו סמי

    This means “From his cheeks is my spice garden, as poison comes from his eyes.”[28] Brody notes that the first part is working off Song of Songs 5:13, where the woman says לחיו כערוגת הבושם, “His cheeks are as a bed of spices.” The last section means, to use a modern expression, “his look can kill.” That is, if he gives you non-approving look, it is crushing.

    Elsewhere, Halevi writes:[29]
    לחי כרצפת אש ברצפת שש

    In Norman Roth’s translation: “Cheeks like coals of fire on a pavement of marble,” or as he paraphrases, “ruddy cheeks on pale skin.”[30]

    I was asked about the meanings of these poems. I am hardly expert in this area and must leave it to others to determine the exact sense. There has been some dispute about them, although the current scholarly consensus is not something that will make the Orthodox community very happy.[31] I would like to believe that Nehemiah Allony is correct that all of these poems are to be understood as simple imitations of the dominant Arabic style, or as akin to the Song of Songs, where the love poems are to be understood allegorically as symbolizing spiritual matters. R. Shmuel ha-Nagid actually says this explicitly about his poems dealing with man-boy love.[32] (I think we can all agree that writing such verse today will certainly, and deservedly, get a rebbe fired![33])

    The issue of homosexuality in the medieval Jewish world even came into the great conflict between R. Saadiah Gaon and David ben Zakkai. This was because the future gaon of Pumbeditha, R. Aaron ben Joseph ha-Kohen Sargado, who was on David ben Zakkai’s side, accused R. Saadiah of having homosexual relations with young men. If that is not bad enough, he adds that this was done with sifrei kodesh in the room and that witnesses can attest to it![34] This is, of course, an abominable accusation, and Harkavy, in his introduction (p. 223), apologizes for having to print what he terms

    דברי שמצה ונבול פה שאין הנפש היפה סובלתם

    Of course, this is hardly the first example of rabbis, even great ones, hurling outrageous accusations at each other, but it is hard to find anything more disgraceful than this. The only example I can think of that is in this league is found in R. Jacob Emden’s Hit’avkut, 76b-77a, where he publicizes the disgusting accusation that R. Jonathan Eybeschütz fathered a child with his own daughter! If that’s not bad enough, this horrible story is repeated by R. Marvin Antelman in his Bekhor Satan, 37-38. (Antelman and his unusual writings deserve their own post at the Seforim blog.) It was regarding this sort of mudslinging that R. Zvi Yehudah Kook is quoted as follows (Gadol Shimushah [Jerusalem, 1994], 20):

    הדגיש בכאב עצום שתחילת המחלוקות החריפות בין גדולים מעבר לאמות מידה מקובלות של מחלוקות, התחילו מבית-מדרשו של רבי יעקב עמדין

    Academic scholars such as Scholem have also noted the destructive affect on traditional Jewish society of the battle against Sabbatianism in general, and the Emden-Eybeschütz conflict in particular.

    4. Since in my earlier post at the Seforim blog on the Eshkol I mentioned R. Yitzhak Ratsaby, and his negative attitude towards R. Joseph Kafih, I should note that one of Kafih’s students, R. Aharon Kafih (no relation) has recently published his Minhat Aharon.[35] On pages 211 n. 13 and 255 n. 45, there are some very strong attacks on Ratsaby, even accusing him of plagiarism. He also mentions how Ratsaby, when he needs to quote something from R. Yihye Kafih (known among his followers as מו"ר הישיש), will omit the last name so that people won’t know to whom he is referring. As Tamir Ratzon has pointed out, in the 1970’s Ratsaby referred positively to R. Joseph Kafih,[36] yet unfortunately, this is no longer the case. In fact, R. Aharon Kafih reports that Ratsaby tells people that it is forbidden to have any of R. Joseph Kafih’s books, and they must be burnt![37]

    This dispute between Ratsaby and Kafih is simply a continuation of the great Yemenite dispute over the legitimacy of Kabbalah. It began with Kafih’s grandfather, R. Yihye, who stood at the head of the anti-Kabbalah forces.[38] Matters reached such extremes that the pro-Kabbalah side was successful in having R. Yihye thrown into jail (much like some mitnagdim conspired to have the same done to R. Shneur Zalman of Lyady). Here is the cover of a rare pamphlet published about 20 years ago. It is directed against both R. Yihye and R. Joseph.5. In my earlier post at the Seforim blog I referred to the anti-Habad book Ve-Al Titosh Torat Imekha. A few people asked me how they can get this book. The author, who wishes to remain anonymous so that he can be spared the personal price paid by anyone who goes up against Habad messianism, told me that when I quote his letter (see below). I should also announce that anyone who is interested in the book should write to him at the following address

    הרב יב"א הלוי, ת"ד 57615, ירושלים

    This book is interesting because you see that the author is somewhat conflicted. On the one hand, he recognizes how great the Rebbe was and all the positive things Habad has accomplished. On the other hand, he sees what is going on today and reluctantly concludes that the Rebbe himself crossed the line into heretical statements. I asked him why, if he thinks the Rebbe advocated heretical notions, he still shows him great respect? Why doesn’t he treat him as an enemy of traditional Judaism, as he would all others who advanced heresy? He wrote to me as follows.

    זו אכן שאלה שכבר נשאלתי עליה מרבים וטובים, והתשובה היא שאם היה מדובר בסתם אדם אז בודאי שאסור להתייחס אליו בכבוד, לעומת זאת הרבי האחרון מחב"ד, שלמרות הבקורת העזה עליו, הוא ג"כ עשה פעולות גדולות והפיץ הרבה תורה בעולם, ולכן צריך לחפש ללמד עליו זכות (הגם שאני בעצמי אינני יודע מה אפשר לומר עליו זכות במה שכתב שהוא "מרגיש" שהקב"ה התלבש בו). ולכן העדפתי לעשות פלגינן, אליו אישית להתיחס בכבוד, ולעומת זאת לכתוב שדבריו הם מנוגדים לי"ג עיקרים, ומי שרוצה להסיק מזה מסקנא לגבי הרב בעצמו עושה זאת על דעתו, כי באמת לא ידוע לי איך צריך להתיחס למי שמצד אחד כתב דברים נוראים ומצד שני הפיץ הרבה תורה, ודוק והבן

    So Rabbi Halevi feels that the Lubavitcher Rebbe denied certain of Maimonides Principles and yet he won’t regard him as a heretic because of all the good he accomplished. Once again, theological error in the Thirteen Principles, and the consequences that are supposed to result from this, have been trumped by other considerations. I don’t know how many more examples I need to bring where even the most traditional scholars are not prepared to accept Maimonides’ statement that rejection of one his Principles ipso facto removes one from the faith.[39] Of course, followers of the Rebbe will deny that he has violated any of Maimonides’ principles, but what is important for my purpose is that Rabbi Halevi has no doubt, and elaborates at length, on how the Rebbe has indeed done so. Yet despite this, he still does not regard him as a heretic.

    6. In my earlier post at the Seforim blog I wrote that it is unfortunate that one of the only things R. Joseph Messas is known for is being the posek who permitted married women to uncover their hair. Someone wrote to tell me that he was not the only Moroccan rabbi to do so, as R. Moshe Malka, the late chief rabbi of Petah Tikvah, also ruled this way in his responsa Ve-Heshiv Moshe. (Malka published six volumes of responsa entitled Mikveh ha-Mayim; I don’t know why, for his last volume, he picked a new title). The correspondent began his e-mail regarding Malka by noting “I don’t know if you are aware . . . ” In fact, I am well aware of Rabbi Malka’s teshuvot on this topic, as they were addressed to someone I know very well. Since not everyone has access to the volume, here are the responsa. A quick internet search revealed that R. Irving Greenberg picked up on this source.[40] (He obviously saw it in one of R. Michael Broyde’s articles, as Greenberg also cites R. Yehoshua Babad, whose understanding of women’s hair-covering has been one of the bases for Broyde’s own lenient opinion in this matter, and it was Broyde who first publicized Babad’s view.)

    7. In my last post at the Seforim blog I mentioned that the version וכל נוצר יורה in Yigdal is found in Birnbaum but not in earlier sources. Noam Kaplan pointed out that this is incorrect and that it is found in at least two early siddurim.[41] It is incredible that Abraham Berliner, who was an expert in manuscripts and early prayer books, overlooked this. R. Mazuz was also unaware of this version, and the Siddur ha-Meduyak only gives וכל נוצר יודה as an alternate. I am grateful to Noam for the correction. It is a good illustration of how the accumulated knowledge of many readers is a great help to all of us.

    8. In my first post on the Eshkol, I raised the issue of whether one can accept a pesak even if one is convinced that it is incorrect from the standpoint of modern scholarship. I quoted Prof. David Berger’s view that it is acceptable to do so. Subsequently, I found that Berger also discusses this matter in a recent essay, where he raises the problem without advocating any position.
    In the realm of concrete decision-making in specific instances, it is once again the case that the impact of academic scholarship does not always point in a liberal direction. In other words, the instincts and values usually held by academics are not necessarily upheld by the results of their scholarly inquiry, and if they are religiously committed, they must sometimes struggle with conclusions that they wish they had not reached Thus, the decision that the members of the Ethiopian Beta Israel are Jewish was issued precisely by rabbis with the least connection with academic scholars. The latter, however much they may applaud the consequences of this decision, cannot honestly affirm that the origins of the Beta Israel are to be found in the tribe of Dan; here, liberally oriented scholars silently, and sometimes audibly, applaud the fact that traditionalist rabbis have completely ignored the findings of contemporary scholarship.[42]
    I have to say that I too struggled with this question, as I was involved in the Ethiopian Jewry cause.[43] My first trip there, in 1987, was memorable, as we were the first group allowed into the villages of Gondar after Operation Moses. (It was also great to be together with Rabbi Dr. Ari Zivotofsky, who in recent years has done such important work on various communal traditions that are in danger of being forgotten.) Yet I vividly recall how even then, when I was quite young, I knew that the notion of the Ethiopian Jews being descended from Dan was a legend without any historical value. The Ethiopians themselves never claimed that they had any connection to the tribe of Dan.

    The legend goes back to Eldad ha-Dani and was accepted as authentic by the Radba

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    R. Yehuda Hachasid & Natural Phenomenon: A Review of Amaros Tehoros
    by: Eliezer Brodt

    In Kovetz al Yad (new series), volume 12, Professor Y. Ta-Shma published, for the first time from manuscript, a small kuntres of R. Yehuda Hachasid, that he titled Zecher Asa Lenifleosav. More recently, this article was reprinted and included in Ta-Shema’s collected writings, Kenesset Mekharim, (vol. 1, chap. 14). Two years ago, R. Yaakov Stal decided to turn this small pamphlet in to a beautifully edited book. He turned the work into a 517 page sefer!

    Professor Ta-Shma, for the most part, printed the text almost as is, and did not add citations for the statements of R. Yehuda Hachasid. Furthermore, Ta-Shema included only a brief introduction to this work (which in general is not like him, as I will elaborate in an upcoming post). R. Stal, however, in his work on Chasedei Ashkenaz in general and more specifically R. Yehudah Hachasid, decided to reissue this work in a proper critical edition.

    First, R. Stal shows that the name of the sefer is really Amaros Tehoros Chizionis U’Pnemeis. Additionally, R. Stal went out of his way to research all the statements in this work and show parallels to other works of Chasidei Ashkenaz. He includes very lengthy notes to all the statements in this work. Moreover, R. Stal shows that there were many inaccurate readings of the actual words in the text by Ta-Shma. The end result is an excellent scientific edition of this sefer by R. Yehuda Hachasid.

    This sefer is heavily influenced by R. Sa’adia Gaon’s haEmunah V’Deos. It is worth pointing out that R’ Yehuda Hachasid and the other Chasidei Ashkenaz had a different translation of this work than the standard ibn Tibbon translation of haEmunah V'Deos. This alternative translation has only recently been found by R.C. Kiener that he published in his PhD dissertation, The Hebrew Paraphrase of Saadia Gaon's Kitab Al-amanat Wa'l-Ictiqadat (Penn. 1984) [according to Kiener's website, he is working on a critical edition of haEmunah V'Deos]. [1] R. Stal highlights R. Sa’adia’s influence throughout the sefer and note the important distinctions between the two translations of the haEmunah v’Deos and its effect on R. Yehuda Hachasid’s work.

    Turning now to the content of Amaros Tehoros. The main theme of the sefer is to explain difficult philosophical concepts and to do so the sefer uses items appearing naturally to explain the supernatural. Consequently, the sefer is full of topics relating to nature, how the world works, and animals. There is much about the topic of nevuah, and many topics relating to and about malachim. For example, R. Y. Hachasid writes everyone knows that Hashem is everywhere, but that’s incomprehensible. To help understand it, he gives the example of a magnet. A magnet has a force that we can’t see but everyone knows that hat force is there. This can help us understand a bit the concept that Hashem is everywhere even though we can’t see Him (pp. 6-7).

    Another example of utilizing everyday occurrences to explain otherwise incomprehensible topics is a discussion of how Hashem knows the future. R. Yehuda Hachasid says that we can understand this from the fact that people sometimes see the future in their dreams (p. 33).

    Or, the question of how the world was able to be created in six days, when a pregnancy takes nine months so the creation should have taken much longer. R. Yehuda Hachasid points to the fact that there are certain things are able to grow overnight, for example, certain mushrooms so the power exists to create fast and god has that power (pp. 36-37).

    This work is the first mention of the compass in Jewish sources, again this mundane phenomena is used to show more complex notions. Specifically, R. Y. Hachasid writes:

    ועוד רב החובל בים מנסה בה לאן ספינתו הולכת מביא אבל בספל מצד אחד, והמחט מצד אחד, ואיש אומר לחבירו: אנה נחפוץ שתלך הספינה? אם יאמר למזרח, והספינה פונה למעריב תלך המחט סביב לאבן דרך עקלתון, ותכנס המחט כמעט כולו באבן, ואם פונה למזרח תלך המחט דרך ישר

    Aside from the focus on explaining philosophical questions, the work contains other interesting points as well. For instance, R. Yehuda Hachasid says some interesting things about a pregnancy of triplets (pp. 50 -51):

    ואם תאמר הלא המעשה משתנה לפעמים? כגון... ואשה ג' ילדים... ויש לומר כל אלו השנויים רומזים על בעליהם אשה שילדה ג' ילדים לפי שגזר השם על בעל להעמיד תולדות הרבה ופשע בגופו בחטאו, וכדי לקיים גזירתו בתולדותיו, מיהר והרבה לו ביחד ג' או ד' בנים כדי להמיתו מהרה"..

    On this topic R. Stal brings a wide range of sources about twins and triplets and whether or not such a pregnancy is a good or bad sign (pp. 371-388).

    R. Y. Hachasid mentions the using of a sword to protect one from Demons by going around the bed with it. Here R. Stal includes many sources for this which was done especially by the bed of a woman who just gave birth (pp. 176- 178).

    R. Y. Hachasid discusses and rejects the notion that a person can think two different thoughts simultaneously. (p.11). R. Stal, however, provides an excellent collection of sources that document many gedolim who were able to think two thoughts at the same time ( pp.304-312).

    As R. Yehuda Hachasid mentions many unique ideas, R. Stal includes a 200 page section with lengthy articles about many of these topics. For example, R. Yehuda Hachasid discusses how many colors exist. R. Stal includes a chapter discussing the differences of opinion from early Jewish sources about the number of colors. R. Y. Hachasid has a discussion about magnets so R. Stal has a whole article on the topic of magnet from many sources – how it works, what the point is, etc. As mentioned above, this work is the first Jewish reference to a compass, so R. Stal includes a chapter from early Jewish sources about the compass and how it works, even getting into a discussion of the Bermuda triangle. R. Y. Hachasid mentions the famous Even Takumah, again, R. Stal includes a chapter on this to. R. Stal includes an excellent chapter on the topic of lengthy pregnancies – more than nine months and some as long as fourteen and fifteen months such as Yitzchak and Yissacar.

    In sum, this work is great for anyone interested in philosophy, nature or a plain old real interesting read from a great rishon.

    In the U.S. the book is available at Beigeleisen Books.

    [1] See also Kiener's article, "The Hebrew Paraphrase of Sa'adia Gaon's Kitab al-Amanat Wa'l-I'tiqadat," AJS Review, Vol. 11, No. 1, (Spring, 1986), pp. 1-25.

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    Who is the Person Whom Rambam Says Can be
    ‘Consecrated as the Holy of Holies’?
    By Menachem Kellner

    Menachem Kellner is Professor of Jewish Thought at the University of Haifa. Author of several dozen articles on Jewish philosophy, Kellner has written/edited fourteen books, including, most recently, Maimonides' Confrontation With Mysticism (London: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2006).

    This is his first contribution to the Seforim blog.

    Rabbi Aryeh Leibowitz's learned and interesting article in the most recent issue of Tradition ("The Pursuit of Scholarship and Economic Self-Sufficiency: Revisiting Maimonides' Commentary to Pirkei Avot," Tradition 40.3 (Fall 2007): 31-41) contained a passage which really surprised me, even though, perhaps, it should not have. (A PDF of this article is only available to online/print subscribers of Tradition.)

    In his article, Leibowitz discusses Maimonides' position vis-à-vis the appropriateness of scholars receiving communal funds. In doing so, Leibowitz surveys the Maimonidean sources, including the well-known statement of Maimonides in his Mishneh Torah in hilkhot Shemittah ve-Yovel. Leibowitz in his discussion of this particular source, however, appears to have made a common mistake. As this mistake has broad implications, it is necessary to set the record straight on Maimonides' true meaning.

    Leibowitz weakens his own argument by apparently not realizing that Rambam in Hilkhot Shemittah (13:13) is not talking about Jews in particular, let alone talmidei hakhamim. The passage in question is one of the clearest examples of universalism to be found in the Mishneh Torah. It may be that because that universalism goes against the grain of so much of what passes for Torah Judaism today that it is so easily missed.

    Before turning to what Rambam says, let it be noted that he divided his Mishneh Torah into fourteen books. The seventh book of the fourteen is itself divided into seven sections (and is the only book divided into precisely that number of sections). This seventh section is itself divided into thirteen chapters. The thirteenth of these chapters is itself divided into thirteen paragraphs (halakhot) in the printed editions.[1] Thus, the thirteenth halakhah of the thirteenth chapter of the seventh section of the seventh book of the Mishneh Torah marks the precise mid-point of that work.

    The number thirteen is, of course, significant in Judaism generally, but has special significance for Rambam. Not only did he promulgate thirteen principles of Judaism, but in "Laws of Circumcision," 3.9 he emphasizes the fact that the word "covenant" (brit) is found precisely thirteen times in the account of Abraham's circumcision (Gen. 17).[2]

    The number seven is significant in many human societies, and not just in Judaism (Judah Halevi to the contrary – see Kuzari 2.20); according to Leo Strauss (1899-1973) it is of particular significance to Rambam.[3] I am in general no enthusiast for Straussian numerology, but this case seems too contrived not to have some significance.

    Let it be further noted that for Rambam the halakhot of shemittah and yovel have messianic significance (Hilkhot Melakhim 11.1). I have proven (to my complete satisfaction at least) that according to Rambam the distinction between Jew and Gentile will lose all significance by the time the messianic era reaches fruition.[4]

    So, what precisely does Rambam write in this special place in the Mishneh Torah? Here are his words:
    Not only the Tribe of Levi, but each and every individual human being, whose spirit moves him and whose knowledge gives him understanding to set himself apart in order to stand before the Lord, to serve Him, to worship Him, and to know Him, who walks upright as God created him to do,[5] and releases himself from the yoke of the many foolish considerations which trouble people -- such an individual is as consecrated as the Holy of Holies, and his portion and inheritance shall be in the Lord forever and ever. The Lord will grant him adequate sustenance in this world, the same as He had granted to the priests and to the Levites. Thus indeed did David, peace upon him, say, O Lord, the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup, Thou maintainest my lot (Ps. 16:5).[6]
    Leibowitz translates the beginning of this passage as follows: "Not only the Tribe of Levi, but every single individual from among the world's inhabitants whose spirit moves him…" (p. 32) and the penultimate sentence as follows: "Behold this person has been totally consecrated…" He then goes on to say:
    Maimonides is not stating that this individual, who has dedicated his life to God, can rely on financial support from the community; rather Maimonides is stating that that such an individual can also sustain himself on less and will reap the benefits of heightened spirituality and increased divine assistance. (p. 33)
    In an erudite footnote to this sentence Leibowitz makes it abundantly clear that he has missed a crucial point here: Rambam is not talking about Jews, be they talmidei hakhamim supported by the community or not.[7] He is talking about (unconverted) Gentiles who, through their devotion to God, become "as consecrated as the Holy of Holies." Rambam here is talking about God's support of all human beings who consecrate themselves; he could hardly imagine that this sentence would be turned into an argument in support of kollelim!

    Why do I say this? The operative term in our passage is kol ba'ei olam. In every other place in the Mishneh Torah where Rambam uses this expression the context makes it clear that he means human beings as such, in contradistinction to Jews specifically.[8] In none of these places could the term mean proselytes or Noachides. There is no reason in the world to think that davka here Rambam had a more restrictive meaning in mind.

    The expression "each and every individual human being" translates the Hebrew, kol ba'ei olam. This expression finds its classic use in a debate between the school of Rabbi Akiva, who maintained that the Torah was revealed to the Jews alone, and the school of Rabbi Ishmael, who insisted that the Torah was ultimately meant to reach kol ba'ei olam, "each and every individual human being."[9] Here there can be no doubt but that the expression literally means all human beings (as opposed to Jews, native or converted).[10]

    The expression is best-known to most contemporary Jews from a text which Rambam himself may or may not have known the liturgical poem (piyyut) unetaneh tokef.[11] The poem is based on Mishnah Rosh Ha-Shanah 1.2, which in turn is based on Ps. 38:15. It is a safe bet that most Jews who recite this passage on the yamim nora'im do not realize that the clear intent of these texts is all human beings, not Jews. Rambam, on the other hand, certainly knew it.[12]

    The entire debate – ably analyzed by Rabbi Leibowitz – over whether Rambam's statement at the end of Shemittah ve-Yovel represents a retreat from his strictures against compensation for Torah study is thus based upon a demonstrable misunderstanding of Rambam.[13]

    [1] Rambam did not number the specific halakhot in the Mishneh Torah; unfortunately for the elegance of the point I am making here, the best mss. count our halakhah as the 12th, not 13th. My thanks to Rabbi Shalomi Eldar for pointing this out to me.
    [2] Isaac Abravanel discusses various other reasons for Maimonides' use of precisely thirteen principles in Rosh Amanah chapter ten.
    [3] Strauss, "How to Begin to Study the Guide of the Perplexed," in trans. Shlomo Pines, Guide of the Perplexed (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963), pp. xi-lvi, p. xiii. Further on the significance of the number seven in Maimonides see Joel Kraemer, "Moses Maimonides: An Intellectual Portrait," in Kenneth Seeskin (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Maimonides (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 11-57, especially pp. 20 and 42.
    [4] See my discussion in Maimonides on Judaism and the Jewish People (Albany: SUNY Press, 1991).
    [5] I wonder if this expression ought to be read as an implied critique of notions of original sin? Such notions are not only native to Christianity, but also attracted a number of (post-Maimonidean, Kabbalistic) Jewish figures. For a recent study on expression of original sin in Jewish exegesis, see Alan Cooper, "A Medieval Jewish Version of Original Sin: Ephraim of Luntshits on Leviticus 12," Harvard Theological Review 97:4 (2004): 445-460. For some studies on the notion among Jewish philosophers, see Daniel J. Lasker, "Original Sin and Its Atonement According to Hasdai Crescas," Da'at 20 (1988): 127-35 (Hebrew), and Devorah Schechterman, "The Doctrine of Original Sin and Commentaries on Maimonides in Jewish Philosophy of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries," Da'at 20 (1988): 65-90 (Hebrew).
    [6] I cite the translation of Isaac Klein, Book of Agriculture (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979), p. 403.
    [7] In that footnote (no. 11), Leibowitz cites medieval authorities who take Maimonides to be talking about Jews and also an essay by a Rabbi Steven Weisberg who understood Maimonides to making a point about "an elevated state of utopian existence for a God-fearing Jew, rather than an operative point of law" (emphasis added).
    [8] Actually, my Bar-Ilan "responsa project" database found them; I just pushed the buttons. In any event, the places are: "Repentance," 3.3 and 6.3,"Tefillin," X.11, "Sanhedrin," 12.3, and "Kings," 8.10. See further Ya'akov Blidstein, "The Promulgation of Religion as an Aim of War in Maimonides' Teachings," in Avriel Bar-Levav (ed.), Shalom Vi-Milhamah Bi-Tarbut Ha-Yehudit (Jerusalem: Merkaz Zalman Shazar, 2006): 85-97 (Hebrew). On p. 86, note 7 Professor Blidstein points out that the expression is "beloved of Rambam, and he uses it to denote humanity, generally in a spiritual or cultural context."
    [9] This debate was made the subject of a penetrating study by Marc (Menachem) Hirshman, Torah Lekhol Ba'ei Olam: Zerem Universali be-Sifrut ha-Tana'im ve-Yahaso le-Hokhmat he-Amim (Torah for the Entire World: A Universalist Stream in Tannaitic Literature and its Relation to Gentile Wisdom) (Tel Aviv; Ha-Kibbutz Ha-Meuhad, 1999). The book's main findings were presented in English in idem., "Rabbinic Universalism in the Second and Third Centuries," Harvard Theological Review 93:2 (2000): 101-15.
    [10] A scan of the one hundred ninety one citations of this expression in the Bar-Ilan Responsa Project database of rabbinic literature shows that in the vast majority of cases it means human beings simply, and in many places it is used in explicit contradistinction to Jews.
    [11] For a useful discussion of what is actually known about the poem (as opposed to what we have all been taught about Rabbi Amnon), see Ivan G. Marcus, "Kiddush HaShem in Ashkenaz and the Story of Rabbi Amnon of Mainz,” in Isaiah M. Gafni and Aviezer Ravitzky (eds.), Sanctity in Life and Martyrdom: Studies in Memory of Amir Yekutiel (Jerusalem; Zalman Shazar Center for Jewish History, 1992), 131-147 (Hebrew); Menahem Shmelzer, “Sefer Or Zarua and the Legend of Rabbi Amnon,” in Adri K. Offenberg (ed.), Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana: Treasures of Jewish Booklore: Treasures of Jewish Booklore Marking the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Leeser Rosenthal, 1794-1994 (Amsterdam University Press, 2003), available online; David Golinkin's discussion online; as well as Jacob J. Schacter's lecture, "U-Netaneh Tokef Kedushat Ha-Yom: Medieval Story and Modern Significance" (sources [PDF]).
    [12] My latest book is an extended discussion of the implications of Rambam's universalism. See Maimonides' Confrontation With Mysticism (Oxford: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2006).
    [13] For a very important discussion of the historical background to Rambam's attack on Torah scholars who accept community funds in his commentary on Avot, see Mordechai A. Friedman, "Rambam, Zuta, and the Muqaddams: A Story of Three Bans," Zion 70 (2005): 473-528 (Hebrew). This article supports Rabbi Leibowitz's overall point by showing the specific historical back ground to Rambam's spirited attack on those who accept (let alone demand) money for Torah study. On the subject in general I would also like to draw attention to: Ephraim Kanarfogel, "Compensation for the Study of Torah in Medieval Rabbinic Thought," in Ruth Link-Salinger (ed.), Of Scholars, Savants, and Their Texts: Studies in Philosophy and Religious Thought: Essays in Honor of Arthur Hyman (New York: Peter Lang, 1989), 135-47.

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    Response to Professor Menachem Kellner
    By Aryeh Leibowitz

    To the editors of the Seforim blog:

    In Professor Menachem Kellner’s spirited and scholarly post ("Who is the Person Whom Rambam Says Can be ‘Consecrated as the Holy of Holies’?") at the Seforim blog, he argues that my inclusion of Rambam’s hilkhot Shemittah ve-Yovel passage is “based on a demonstrable misunderstanding of the Rambam,” and that this passage, understood properly, is not germane to the issue I am addressing. In this short response, I would like to address the cogency of Kellner’s claim that my failure to including gentiles in the Rambam’s intent “weakens” my argument, and comment on Kellner’s reading of the Rambam passage under discussion.

    Kellner claims that “Leibowitz weakens his own argument by apparently not realizing that Rambam in hilkhot Shemittah ve-Yovel (13:13) is not talking about Jews in particular, let alone talmidei hakhamim.” I fail to see how this is so. I contend that the passage in hilkhot Shemittah ve-Yovel is Rambam’s statement of the lot and expectations of an individual who dedicates himself to God, and more importantly, the spiritual and moral responsibilities of such a person. Even if Kellner is correct that Rambam in this statement is also addressing gentiles, it certainly addresses Jews as well. We can debate if these expectations and responsibilities of the one who is consecrated to God described by Rambam apply to righteous gentiles, but that Rambam does refer to righteous Jews is beyond debate.

    If we are in agreement that the passage in hilkhot Shemittah ve-Yovel addresses a Jew (and perhaps a non-Jew) who dedicates himself to God,[1] why would the following conclusion in my article not be appropriate and forthcoming?
    Maimonides endorses an individual dedicating himself to a life of Torah study and refraining from pursuing a profession, so long as such activity does not require burdening the general population. This is expressed in his famous comments at the end of Hilkhot Shemitta ve-Yovel (13:13)…Maimonides is not stating that this individual, who has dedicated his life to God, can rely on financial support from the community; rather Maimonides is stating that such an individual can also sustain himself on less and will reap the benefits of heightened spirituality and increased divine assistance.
    The (disputable) fact that Rambam also includes gentiles in this statement does not exclude its relevance vis-à-vis Jews and their pursuit of a heightened spiritual existence. Had I written an article about a gentile who wished to live such a life, I would need to engage Professor Kellner’s suggestion regarding this passage.

    In summation, I fail to understand why Kellner states regarding the passage in hilkhot Shemittah ve-Yovel that “Rambam here is talking about God's support of all human beings who consecrate themselves,” and yet maintains that this passage does not shed light on God’s support of Jews who consecrate themselves.[2]

    In regards to Kellner’s actual reading of the Rambam, I tend to agree.[3] As he notes, the Rambam uses this term in multiple contexts as a reference to all of humanity. Moreover, in the literature of Hazal, this is a standard expression for all the nations of the world.[4] In fact, I’m not sure how else one could read the words kol ba’ei ha-olam.

    My translation (actual Prof. Twersky’s), as he notes, reflects this, as it is not Jew-specific. “Not only the Tribe of Levi, but every single individual from among the world's inhabitants whose spirit moves him…” Indeed, an earlier draft of this article noted the universalistic tone of this passage in a footnote. However, I specifically removed it because I felt it was off topic, and not relevant to the discussion.

    Lastly, I appreciate Prof. Kellner’s reference in his last footnote to Mordechai Friedman’s important article on this topic.[5] Unfortunately, my article was written and submitted early in 2005 and hence I did not have access to that article.

    All in all, Prof. Kellner raises an important issue regarding how we Jews view the spiritual potential of our gentile neighbors, and is deserving of a fuller exploration within the religious thought of Rambam and other Jewish thinkers. However, it has no apparent bearing on the specific issue discussed in my article.

    Aryeh Leibowitz
    14 November, 2007

    [1] Prof. Kellner seems to present a confusing image of the Rambam’s intent. He suggests that I missed a crucial point, yet he claims: “Rambam is not talking about Jews, be they talmidei hakhamim supported by the community or not. He is talking about (unconverted) Gentiles who, through their devotion to God, become ‘as consecrated as the Holy of Holies.’” It is hard to imagine the Rambam is only talking about gentiles! And indeed, in the next sentence Kellner himself admits “Rambam here is talking about God's support of all human beings who consecrate themselves…” (emphasis added).
    [2] And that is why the commentators of Rambam that I quote indeed understand that this passage is relevant to Rambam’s comments in Pirkei Avot.
    [3] It is crucial to note that the form of dedication to God that will be undertaken by a gentile will likely vary greatly from that of a Jew. See for example Rambam’s view regarding a gentile’s opportunities for Torah study and Sabbath observance in hilkhot Melakhim 10:9. This passage in Melakhim is also significant for our discussion as the end of the passage seems to bear a negative tone to the enterprise of an unconverted gentile seeking greater dedication to God through increased mitzvah observance.
    [4] Besides the references made by Kellner, the Talmud Yerushalmi, and the “halakhic midrashim,” such as the Mekhilta, Sifra, and Sifre, all use this expression repeatedly to denote all of mankind.
    [5] See Mordechai A. Friedman, “Rambam, Zuta, and the Muqaddams: A Story of Three Bans,” Zion 70 (2005): 473-528 (Hebrew).

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    In honor of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the publication of Professor Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi's Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory, the Jewish Quarterly Review published a special forum with articles by David N. Myers, Moshe Idel, Peter N. Miller, Gavriel D. Rosenfeld, Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi and Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin, in the latest issue of Jewish Quarterly Review 97.4 (Fall 2007).

    Jewish Quarterly Review, established in 1889 and currently the oldest English-language journal in the field of Jewish studies, is published by the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. Elliott Horowitz of Bar Ilan University and David N. Myers of UCLA are the editors of Jewish Quarterly Review. (Full disclosure: I am the Editorial Intern of Jewish Quarterly Review).

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    In response to Professor Menachem Kellner's thoughtful post at the Seforim blog regarding Rabbi Aryeh Leibowitz's recent article in the latest issue of Tradition and subsequent response at the Seforim blog, frequent contributor to the Seforim blog, Rabbi Chaim Rapoport of London, presents his latest offering below:

    שבט לוי" בספר 'משנה תורה' להרמב"ם[1] ובזמן הזה"

    תגובות למאמר החכם פרופסר מנחם קלנר

    הרב חיים רפופורט

    לונדון אנגלי'


    בספר 'משנה תורה', בסוף הלכות שמיטה ויובל (פי"ג הי"ב והי"ג) ובסיום 'ספר זרעים', כתב הרמב"ם[2]: ולמה לא זכה[3] לוי בנחלת ארץ ישראל ובביזתה עם אחיו, מפני שהובדל לעבוד את ה' לשרתו ולהורות דרכיו הישרים ומשפטיו הצדיקים לרבים[4], שנאמר (פ' ברכה לג, יו"ד) 'יורו משפטיך ליעקב ותורתך לישראל'.[5] לפיכך הובדלו מדרכי העולם; לא עורכין מלחמה כשאר ישראל, ולא נוחלין, ולא זוכין לעצמן בכח גופן[6], אלא הם חיל השם שנאמר (שם, יא) 'ברך ה' חילו', והוא ברוך הוא זוכה להם שנאמר (פ' קרח יח, כ) 'אני חלקך ונחלתך'. ולא שבט לוי בלבד אלא כל איש ואיש מכל באי העולם אשר נדבה רוחו אותו והבינו מדעו[7] להבדל לעמוד לפני ה' לשרתו ולעובדו לדעה[8] את ה' והלך ישר כמו שעשהו האלקים ופרק מעל צוארו עול החשבונות הרבים אשר בקשו בני האדם[9] הרי זה נתקדש קדש קדשים[10] ויהי' ה' חלקו ונחלתו לעולם ולעולמי עולמים ויזכה לו בעולם הזה[11] דבר המספיק לו[12] כמו שזכה לכהנים וללוים[13], הרי דוד עליו השלום[14] אומר (תהלים טז, ה), 'ה' מנת חלקי וכוסי אתה תומיך גורלי'. עד כאן לשון הרמב"ם.

    והנה זה עתה מצאתי ב'אתר הספרים', המיוחד למאמרי חכמים וסופרים, שקלא וטריא בביאור דברי הנשר בידו, זה אומר בכה וזה מראה באצבעו לעומתו.

    ואמרתי אף אני אענה את חלקי שהניחו לי, פרי עמלי בביאור דברי המיימוני, ואינני אומר קבלו דעתי, רק ירא הקהל וישפוט: הדין עם מי.

    "כל איש ואיש מכל באי העולם"

    א) במאמרו שנדפס זה עתה ב'אתר הספרים', כתב ידידי החכם פרופ. מנחם קלנר, שכוונת הרמב"ם בביטויו "כל איש ואיש מכל באי העולם" היא ליהודים וגויי הארצות כאחד.

    והנני בזה, לכל לראש, לציין לתנא דמסייע לי' בזה:

    באגרת כ"ק אדמו"ר מליובאוויטש זי"ע מיום ג' תמוז ה'תשכ"ד[15] עמד ג"כ על דברי הרמב"ם אלו, ועל המילים "כל באי העולם" כתב בזה הלשון: "כולל גם אומות העולם - ראה ראש השנה פ"א מ"ב ['בראש השנה כל באי העולם עוברין לפניו כבני מרון שנאמר (תהלים לג, טו) היוצר יחד לבם המבין אל כל מעשיהם'] . . . - כי חסידי אומות העולם יש להם חלק לעולם הבא (רמב"ם הל' מלכים סוף פ"ח[16])". עכ"ל.[17]

    גם מבואר מדבריו, דס"ל דזה שגם גוי מ'אומות העולם' יכול להגיע לדרגת 'קדש קדשים', אין זה בגלל יכולתו להתגייר[18] ולהתעלות למדריגות גבוהות ככל ישראל ('ככם כגר'), כי אם שגם בהיותו גוי יכול להתקדש עד כדי כך ש"יהי' ה' חלקו ונחלתו לעולם ולעולמי עולמים", וכהא דקיי"ל ש"חסידי אומות העולם יש להם חלק לעולם הבא"[19].

    ובמקום אחר[20] ציין אדמו"ר לכמה מקומות בספר 'משנה תורה' שבהם השתמש הרמב"ם בביטוי "באי עולם" או "באי העולם", והכוונה נראית ברורה, שר"ל 'כל בני אדם', ואלו הם:

    (א) הל' תשובה פ"ג ה"ג ["בכל שנה ושנה שוקלין עונות כל אחד ואחד מבאי העולם עם זכיותיו ביום טוב של ראש השנה]; (ב) שם פ"ו ה"ג ["ולמה הי' שולח לו ביד משה ואומר שלח ועשה תשובה וכבר אמר לו הקב"ה אין אתה משלח כו' כדי להודיע לבאי העולם שבזמן שמונע הקב"ה התשובה לחוטא אינו יכול לשוב אלא ימות ברשעו"]; (ג) הל' ספר תורה פ"י הי"א "שהוא העד הנאמן לכל באי עולם"]; (ד) הל' סנהדרין פי"ב ה"ג ["הרי כל באי עולם בצורת אדם הראשון הם נבראים"]; (ה) הל' מלכים פ"ח הי"א ["וכן צוה משה רבינו מפי הגבורה לכוף את כל באי העולם לקבל מצות שנצטוו בני נח"].

    ועליהם יש להוסיף: (ו) נוסח התפלה הנמצא ב'סדר תפלות לכל השנה'[21] הנקבע בספר 'משנה תורה' להרמב"ם בסוף ספר 'אהבה': "קבץ קויך מארבע כנפות הארץ יכירו וידעו כל באי עולם כי אתה הוא האלקים לבדך לכל ממלכות הארץ".

    ויש להעיר גם ממ"ש הרמב"ם ב'פירוש המשנה' עמ"ס ביכורים. במשנה שם (פ"א מ"ד) שנינו: "אלו מביאין ולא קורין, הגר מביא ואינו קורא, שאינו יכול לומר 'אשר נשבע ה' לאבותינו'[22]". ובפירוש המשנה שם כתב הרמב"ם, דלהלכה לא קיי"ל כמשנה זו אלא ש"מביא הגר עצמו בכורים וקורא, וסמכוהו למה שאמר ה' לאברהם (פ' לך יז, ה) 'כי אב המון גוים נתתיך', אמרו[23] לשעבר הייתה אב לארם עכשיו אב לכל העולם כולו, ולפיכך אפשר לכל גר לומר 'אשר נשבע ה' לאבותינו', מפני שאברהם אב לכל באי העולם לפי שלימדם האמונה והדת", וגם בדבריו אלו הכוונה היא לגוים[24], וכמ"ש הרמב"ם בהל' ע"ז (פ"א ה"ג) על אברהם אבינו, ד"כיון שהכיר וידע (אברהם את בוראו) . . . התחיל לעמוד ולקרוא בקול גדול לכל העולם ולהודיעם שיש שם אלו-ה אחד לכל העולם ולו ראוי לעבוד, והי' מהלך וקורא ומקבץ העם מעיר לעיר ומממלכה לממלכה . . . שנאמר (פ' וירא כא, לג), ויקרא שם בשם ה' א-ל עולם".[25]

    ואם ישאל השואל: היאך שייך שמי שאין לו קדושת ישראל יוכל "לעמוד לפני ה' לשרתו ולעובדו לדעה את ה'", אף אתה אמור לו: עבודת ה' ושירותו שייכות גם באומות העולם, וכמבואר ממ"ש הרמב"ם בהל' ע"ז שם, ש"כיון שהכיר [אברהם אבינו] וידע (את בוראו) התחיל . . . להודיע לעם שאין ראוי לעבוד אלא לאלו-ה העולם כו' כדי שיכירוהו כל הברואים הבאים", ע"ש.

    וגם לדורות נצטווינו, (כמ"ש הרמב"ם[26]), "שנדרוש ונקרא האנשים כולם לעבודתו יתעלה ולהאמין בו . . . כי כשתאהב אדם תשים לבך עליו ותשבחהו ותבקש האנשים לאהוב אותו . . . ולשון סיפרי[27] 'ואהבת את ה' וגו', אהבהו על הבריות כאברהם אביך, שנאמר (פ' לך יב, ה) ואת הנפש אשר עשו בחרן', ר"ל, כמו שאברהם בעבור שהי' אוהב השם כמו שהעיד הכתוב (ישעי' מא, ח) 'אברהם אוהבי' שהי' גם כן לגודל השגתו דרש האנשים אל האמונה מחוזק אהבתו, כן אתה אהוב אותו עד שתדרוש האנשים אליו".

    [וכן יהי' בימות המלך המשיח ש"ילמד כל העם ויורה אותם דרך ה' ויבואו כל הגוים לשומעו, שנאמר (ישעי' ב, ב[28]), 'והי' באחרית הימים נכון יהי' הר בית ה' בראש ההרים[29] ונשא מגבעות ונהרו אליו כל הגוים'," ויתקן "את העולם כולו לעבוד את ה' ביחד, שנאמר (צפני' ג, ט) כי אז אהפוך אל עמים שפה ברורה לקרוא כולם בשם ה', ולעבדו שכם אחד"[30]].

    ע"פ כל הנ"ל מבואר שהרמב"ם בסוף הל' שמיטה ויובל מדבר על כל מי ש"נדבה רוחו אותו והבינו מדעו להבדל לעמוד לפני ה' לשרתו ולעובדו", וכל איש ואיש מבאי העולם – אפילו גוי – יכול להתקדש 'קדש קדשים'[31].

    "לְבַד רְאֵה זֶה מָצָאתִי אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה הָאֱלֹקִים אֶת הָאָדָם יָשָׁר וְהֵמָּה בִקְשׁוּ חִשְּׁבֹנוֹת רַבִּים" (קהלת ז, כט).

    ב) הרמב"ם רקם בתוך דבריו את הכתוב בספר קהלת וכתב: "כל איש ואיש מכל באי העולם אשר נדבה רוחו אותו כו' והלך ישר כמו שעשהו האלקים ופרק מעל צוארו עול החשבונות הרבים אשר בקשו בני האדם".

    פרופסר קלנר נסתבך קצת בדברי הרמב"ם אלו, והעלה שאולי כוונתו לחלוק על מ"ש המקובלים בענין חטא עה"ד.

    אבל באמת נראה שכוונת הרמב"ם פשוטה, ודבריו עשירים במקום אחר - בספרו 'מורה נבוכים' חלק שלישי פרק יב. ב'מורה' שם הגדיר וביאר שלשה מיני 'רעה' שנפגעים בהם בני אדם בעולם הזה, ו"המין השלישי מן הרעות הוא מה שימצא כל אחד מבני אדם מפעולתו בעצמו, וזהו הרוב . . . ומרעות זה המין יצעקו בני אדם כולם . . . ועל זה המין מן הרעות אמר שלמה (משלי יט, ג) אולת אדם תסלף דרכו וגו', וכבר ביאר גם כן בזה המין מן הרעות שהוא פועל האדם בעצמו, והוא אמרו 'לבד ראה זה מצאתי אשר עשה האלקים את האדם ישר והמה בקשו חשבונות רבים', והחשבונות ההם הם אשר הביאו עליו אלו הרעות, ועל זה המין נאמר (איוב ה, ו) כי לא יצא מעפר און ומאדמה לא יצמח עמל, ואח"כ ביאר מיד שהאדם הוא אשר ימציא זה המין מן הרע, ואמר (איוב שם, ז) כי אדם לעמל יולד וגו', וזה המין הוא הנמשך אחר המדות המגונות כולם, ר"ל רוב התאוה במאכל ובמשתה ובמשגל, ולקיחתם ביתרון כמות, או בהפסד סדר, או בהפסד איכות המזונות, ויהי' סיבה לכל החליים והמכות הגשמיות והנפשיות", ע"ש בארוכה.

    הרי מבואר שכוונת הרמב"ם במ"ש בהל' שמיטה ויובל "כל איש ואיש . . . אשר נדבה רוחו אותו . . . והלך ישר כמו שעשהו האלקים ופרק מעל צוארו עול החשבונות הרבים אשר בקשו בני האדם", פירושו שלא הביא על עצמו רעה על ידי המשכו אחרי תאוות עולם הזה, וע"כ לא סבל מ"החשבונות ההם". כיון שהלך אך ורק בדרך הישר, לא נגרע מאיכות הטוב אשר בו עשה האלקים את האדם.

    "כל איש ואיש . . . אשר נדבה רוחו אותו . . . להבדל"

    והנה יש לעיין במה שכתב הרמב"ם בנוגע ל"כל איש ואיש מכל באי העולם אשר נדבה רוחו אותו", דיש לפרש כוונתו בשני אופנים:

    (א) שמדבר מכל איש ואיש אשר, כמו שבט לוי ממש, אין לו עסק בנחלת שדה וכרם ואינו זוכה לפרנסתו בכח גופו, כי הבדיל א"ע מכל התעסקות בדרכי העולם וכל ימיו ושנותיו מוקדשים אך ורק לעבודת ה' ולהורות דרכיו לרבים. 32

    וממקומו אתה למד, שהרי הרמב"ם כתב את דבריו אודות "כל איש ואיש אשר הבינו מדעו" בהמשך ישר לדבריו מענין התפקידים שהוטלו על שבט הלוי ו'הבדלתם' לעבוד את ה'. וע"כ נראה שכיוון לאותו סוג וגדר של הבדלה המיועדת לשבט הלוי, דהיינו שדיבר כלפי המורמים מעם בכל דור ודור שהבדילו את עצמם להתמסר אך ורק להתפקידים המיועדים לשבט לוי. ומה הם התפקידים המיוחדים לשבט הלוי? גם זה מפורש ב'משנה תורה' על אתר: (א) "לעבוד את ה' ולשרתו"[33]; (ב) "להורות דרכיו הישרים ומשפטיו הצדיקים לרבים".

    [ויש להוסיף ולהבהיר, שאין בזה סתירה להמבואר לעיל שהרמב"ם הרחיב את המעגל לכלול בתוכו גם אומות העולם, כי "להורות דרכיו הישרים ומשפטיו הצדיקים לרבים", שייך, במדה מסויימת, גם באומות העולם, שהרי כבר השריש הרמב"ם ב'ספר המדע' (הל' דעות פ"א ה"ה) מה הם "הדרכים הטובים והישרים" ועל זה הביא (שם ה"ז) הכתוב (פ' וירא יח, יט) "כי ידעתיו למען אשר יצוה את בניו ואת ביתו אחריו לעשות צדקה", והרי כתב הרמב"ם (בהל' ע"ז שם) שה"אלפים ורבבות" של בני נח (=גוים) שהשפיע עליהם אברהם אבינו עד שהחזירם לדרך האמת34 הם "הם אנשי בית אברהם".35

    (ב) שאין הרמב"ם מייחד את דיבורו בהלכה זו לאלו שהובדלו מדרכי העולם לבדם [אשר בהכרח אין סדר זה נחלת הכלל ושייך רק ליחידי סגולה], אלא כוונתו שכל איש ואיש אפילו אלו שאינם נבדלים מדרכי העולם, יכולים להתקדש 'קדש קדשים' על ידי ההתמסרות לחיים מקודשים, דהיינו חיים המוקדשים – כל כולם – לעבודת ה'. ואע"פ שעוסק במשא ומתן ונוהג במנהג דרך ארץ הרי כבר כתב הרמב"ם בהל' דעות (פ"ג ה"ג) שאפשר להיות "עובד את ה' תמיד, אפילו בשעה שנושא ונותן וכו' מפני שמחשבתו בכל כדי שימצא צרכיו עד שיהי' גופו שלם לעבוד את ה'."36]

    לפי האופן השני תורף דברי הרמב"ם כך הם: כל אחד ואחד ממש יכול להתדמות ללויים במדה מסויימת. והיינו, דכמו שהלויים היו מיוחדים לעבוד את ה' תמיד, כמו כן כל איש ואיש - אפילו אם אינו משבט לוי ועל כן הוא עוסק בדרכי העולם - יכול להיות עובד ה' תמיד (וכנ"ל מהל' דעות); וכמו ששבטו של לוי זכו למתנות מיוחדות מאת ה' כדי לעזור להם במשימתם המיוחדת, כך יזכה גם הוא לסייעתא דשמיא והקב"ה יספיק לו את צרכיו בזה ובבא.

    ואם כי, בדרך כלל, הבינו גדולי הדורות את דברי הרמב"ם באופן הראשון, נראה שמקום הניחו לנו לפרשו גם באופן השני.

    ועל פי אופן זה השני יובן מה שינה הרמב"ם בסגנונו: (א) שבהלכה יב, בתיאור שבט לוי, כתב "שהובדל לעבוד את ה' לשרתו ולהורות דרכיו הישרים ומשפטיו הצדיקים לרבים", ואילו בהי"ג, בתיאור נדיבי הרוח מכל באי עולם, כתב "להבדל לעמוד לפני ה' לשרתו ולעובדו לדעה את ה'," ואילו "להורות דרכיו כו' לרבים" לא קתני; (ב) שבהלכה יב, בתיאור שבט לוי, כתב ש"הובדלו מדרכי העולם" וביאר כוונתו ש"לא עורכין מלחמה כו' ולא נוחלין ולא זוכין לעצמן בכח גופן", משא"כ בהי"ג בתיאור 'נדיב הרוח', לא כתב שהובדל מדרכי העולם, ובמקום זה הוסיף שני דברים שהם מתפקידי כל אדם הראוי לשמו, ואלו הם: "לדעה את ה'," – וכמ"ש הרמב"ם בהל' דעות ש"צריך האדם שיכוון לבו וכל מעשיו כולם לידע את השם ברוך הוא בלבד"; ש"הלך ישר כמו שעשהו האלקים ופרק מעל צוארו עול החשבונות הרבים אשר בקשו בני האדם", שכוונתו בזה (כמשנ"ת לעיל ס"ב) שלא נמשך המותרות וכו' המקלקלים את האדם, אשר גם זה הוא הדרך הישר שיבור לו כל אדם וכמ"ש הרמב"ם בהל' דעות.

    מחלוקת חכמי המדע: פרופסר קלנר לעומת ר' ארי' לייבאוויץ

    ג) והנה במאמרו הנ"ל יצא פרופ. קלנר בסופה ובסערה נגד אלו שהראו מקום לדברי הרמב"ם הנ"ל (הל' שמיטה ויובל פי"ג הי"ג) בקשר לאלו שתורתם אומנתם, [או להורות שיש מקום לחכמי התורה להתלות על נדבות הציבור או להורות על הצורך שיש לתלמידי חכמים להסתפק במועט[37], וכתב דכיון שהרמב"ם מיירי (גם) מגוים, אין לדבריו אלו שום זיק וקשר לאלו שמתמסרים לגמרי ללמוד התורה (והוראת התורה) באופן ד'תורתם אומנתם'.

    ואילו הרב לייבאוויץ טען דמה בכך שלשון הרמב"ם 'כל באי העולם' כולל גם גוים, וכי בכלל שהרמב"ם סובר שגם חסידי אומות העולם יכולים להבדל ולהתקדש כשבט לוי, אי אפשר לישראל, מזרע אברהם יצחק ויעקב, להתעלות גם הוא עד כדי כך? יציבא בארעא וגיורא בשמי שמיא!

    אמנם נראה שפרופסר קלנר קיצר במקום שהי' לו להאריך. כנראה הוא הבין את דברי הרמב"ם כאופן השני הנ"ל, ד"כל איש ואיש מכל באי העולם" לא מיירי באלו (יהודים או גוים) המניחים חיי שעה ועוסקים אך ורק בחיי עולם אלא מכל איש ואיש, כולל אלו שיש להם נחלת שדה וכרם ונהנים מיגיע כפיהם. ועל כן טען שאין ללמוד מדברי הרמב"ם שום דבר בקשר להנהגת חכמי ישראל או (להבדיל) חכמי אומות העולם שהובדלו מדרכי העולם!

    אבל ר' ארי' לייבאוויץ הבין דברי הרמב"ם, כמו שהבינו רוב מפרשיו מקדמת דנא, כאופן הראשון הנ"ל, וע"כ ראה בדברי הרמב"ם הדרכה מעשית להתלמידים והחכמים הנבדלים מדרכי העולם.

    והבוחר יבחר.

    ה' מנת חלקי וכוסי אתה תומיך גורלי : הא כיצד

    ג) והנה, לפי שיטתו הנ"ל, יצא החכם קלנר לחלוק על אלו שמצאו סמוכין בדברי הרמב"ם בסוף הל' שמיטה ויובל הנ"ל, להחזקת בני תורה ורבנים, ישיבות וכוללים וכל הנשענים על תמכין דאורייתא, כמעשה יששכר וזבולון וכשמעון אחי עזרי'[38], ודכוותייהו טובא.[39]

    פרופ. קלנר טוען כי אין דברי הרמב"ם שייכים לענין זה כלל, ולא בא הרמב"ם כי אם לומר שהקב"ה הוא הוא ה'תומך שבט' לוי ודכוותי' כל איש ואיש מכל באי עולם, יהיו מי שיהיו, המקדישים את עצמם לגמרי לעבודת ה' – יהי' באיזה אופן שיהי'. [40]

    וגם בזה יש מקום לבע"ד לחלוק על דברי פרופ. קלנר.

    הנה אמת נכון הדבר, שבדברי הרמב"ם באותה הלכה [המתחלת בתיבות "ולא שבט לוי בלבד"] בלבדה, אין שום הוכחה למעשה תמכין דאורייתא ואופן החזקת תלמידי חכמים ומורי הוראה בימיו ובימינו, כי: (א) לפי האופן השני הנ"ל (שכנראה נקט בו פרופ. קלנר) אין הרמב"ם מדבר בהלכה זו מאלו שתורתם אומנתם כלל, וכמשנ"ת; (ב) גם לאופן הראשון הנ"ל, יש לפרש דמ"ש הרמב"ם "ויזכה לו בעולם הזה דבר המספיק לו כמו שזכה לכהנים וללוים", פירושו שהוא יתברך, בכבודו ובעצמו, ימציא עבורם "בעולם הזה דבר המספיק לו" למלאות צרכיו. [41]

    מכל מקום, נראה שעדיין יש מקום בראש לטעון ולומר, שהנהוג בימינו (ועד"ז בדורות קודמים) שתלמידי חכמים ורבנים מוסמכים מקבלים מחייתם מן הציבור, יש לה מעין מקור בדברי הרמב"ם בהלכה זו בצירוף דברי הרמב"ם בהלכה שלפני' ובהלכות אחרות.

    הסברת הדברים: בדבר שבט לוי קבע הרמב"ם שבגלל "שהובדל לעבוד את ה' לשרתו . . . לפיכך הובדלו מדרכי העולם; לא עורכין מלחמה כשאר ישראל, ולא נוחלין, ולא זוכין לעצמן בכח גופן".

    וכאן הבן שואל: התינח שאין בני שבט לוי עורכין מלחמה, הרי אחיהם, בני שאר השבטים, נלחמים בעדיהם. אבל אם אינם נוחלין ואינם עובדים – מהיכן שבט זה חי?

    והנה בנוגע לנחלה כבר כתב הרמב"ם בתחלת הפרק ש"שבט לוי אע"פ שאין להם חלק בארץ כבר נצטוו ישראל ליתן להם ערים לשבת ומגרשיהם", אבל עדיין יש מקום לתמוה, דהתינח בתים לשבת בהם, אבל כיון שאין להם נחלת שדה וכרם, מנין יגיע להם (בדרך הטבע) לחם לאכול ובגד ללבוש?

    ישוב תמיה זו אינו צריך לפנים: הרי הוא מפורש בתורה ושנוי ב'משנה תורה' להרמב"ם ומשולש ומבואר בספרו 'מורה נבוכים'.

    כתוב בתורה:

    (א) בפרשת ראה יב, יא-יב: וְהָיָה הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר יִבְחַר ה' אֱלֹקֵיכֶם בּוֹ לְשַׁכֵּן שְׁמוֹ שָׁם שָׁמָּה תָבִיאוּ אֵת כָּל אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם עוֹלֹתֵיכֶם וְזִבְחֵיכֶם מַעְשְׂרֹתֵיכֶם וּתְרֻמַת יֶדְכֶם וְכֹל מִבְחַר נִדְרֵיכֶם אֲשֶׁר תִּדְּרוּ לַה'. וּשְׂמַחְתֶּם לִפְנֵי ה' אֱלֹקֵיכֶם אַתֶּם וּבְנֵיכֶם וּבְנֹתֵיכֶם וְעַבְדֵיכֶם וְאַמְהֹתֵיכֶם וְהַלֵּוִי אֲשֶׁר בְּשַׁעֲרֵיכֶם, כִּי אֵין לוֹ חֵלֶק וְנַחֲלָה אִתְּכֶם";

    (ב) שם יד, כו-כז: "וְנָתַתָּה הַכֶּסֶף בְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר תְּאַוֶּה נַפְשְׁךָ בַּבָּקָר וּבַצֹּאן וּבַיַּיִן וּבַשֵּׁכָר וּבְכֹל אֲשֶׁר תִּשְׁאָלְךָ נַפְשֶׁךָ וְאָכַלְתָּ שָּׁם לִפְנֵי ה' אֱלֹקֶיךָ וְשָׂמַחְתָּ אַתָּה וּבֵיתֶךָ. וְהַלֵּוִי אֲשֶׁר בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ לֹא תַעַזְבֶנּוּ כִּי אֵין לוֹ חֵלֶק וְנַחֲלָה עִמָּךְ";

    (ג) שם יד, כט: "וּבָא הַלֵּוִי כִּי אֵין לוֹ חֵלֶק וְנַחֲלָה עִמָּךְ וְהַגֵּר וְהַיָּתוֹם וְהָאַלְמָנָה אֲשֶׁר בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ וְאָכְלוּ וְשָׂבֵעוּ לְמַעַן יְבָרֶכְךָ ה' אֱלֹקֶיךָ בְּכָל מַעֲשֵׂה יָדְךָ אֲשֶׁר תַּעֲשֶׂה"

    שנוי ב'משנה תורה' להרמב"ם:

    (א) בנוגע לשבט לוי, ברמב"ם הל' חגיגה פ"ב הי"ד: "חייב לשמח העניים והאומללים שנאמר (פרשת ראה טז, יא) 'והלוי והגר והיתום והאלמנה', מאכיל הכל ומשקן כפי עשרו. ומי שאכל זבחיו ולא שמח אלו עמו, עליו נאמר (הושע ט, ד) 'זבחיהם כלחם אונים להם, כל אוכליו יטמאו, כי לחמם לנפשם', ומצוה בלוי יותר מן הכל לפי שאין לו לא חלק ולא נחלה ואין לו מתנות בבשר, לפיכך צריך לזמן לויים על שולחנו ולשמחם, או יתן להם מתנות בשר עם מעשר שלהם כדי שימצאו בו צרכיהם, וכל העוזב את הלוי מלשמחו ושוהה ממנו מעשרותיו ברגלים, עובר בלא תעשה, שנאמר (פרשת ראה יב, יט), 'השמר לך פן תעזוב את הלוי'."[42]

    (ב) בנוגע לכהנים, ברמב"ם הל' ביכורים פ"י ה"ה: "כיון שזיכה לו הקב"ה בתרומות שהן לחמו ויינו, וזיכה לו במתנות בהמה וקדשי מקדש שהבשר שלו, זיכה לו בראשית הגז ללבושו, ובגזל הגר והחרמים ושדה אחוזה ופדיון בכורות להוצאותיו ושאר צרכיו, שהרי אין לו חלק בנחלה ובבזה".

    ומשולש במורה נבוכים:

    ב'מורה נבוכים' חלק שלישי (הנ"ל) עמד הרמב"ם ג"כ על תפקידו המיוחד של שבט לוי וטעמי מצוות מתנות כהונה ולוי', וכתב (בסגנון המקביל למ"ש בהל' שמיטה ויובל), וזה לשונו: "מתנות עניים ענינם מבואר גם כן, ענין התרומה והמעשר כבר ביאר סיבתם, 'כי אין לו חלק ונחלה עמך', וכבר ידעת סיבת זה כדי שיהי' זה השבט כולו מיוחד לעבודת השם ולידיעת התורה, ולא יתעסק לא בחרישה ולא בזריעה רק יהי' להשם לבד, כמ"ש יורו משפטיך ליעקב ותורתך לישראל ישימו קטורה וגו', ותמצא דברי התורה במקומות רבים הלוי הגר והיתום והאלמנה, ימנה אותו תמיד בכלל העניים בעבור שאין לו קנין[43]".

    [וע"פ כל הנ"ל נראה דמ"ש הרמב"ם בהל' שמיטה ויובל שם, שהכהנים והלויים שהובדלו מדרכי העולם "הם חיל השם . . . והוא ברוך הוא זוכה להם", פירושו שהקב"ה מזכה להם מתנות כהונה ולוי' כדי שעי"ז יהי' להם מזון ולבוש, [44] ולשון הרמב"ם "והוא ברוך הוא זוכה להם" הוא ע"ד מ"ש בהל' ביכורים שם: "כיון שזיכה לו הקב"ה כו' לחמו ויינו, וזיכה לו במתנות . . . זיכה לו בראשית הגז"].

    הוה אומר: לפי דעת הרמב"ם קבעה התורה שהכהנים הלויים אינם מתעסקים בחרישה וזריעה ושאר שבילי פרנסה וכלכלה, וע"כ יהיו 'עניים' ותלויים באחיהם בני שאר השבטים שיפרנסו ויזונו אותם משלהם בתרומות ומעשרות ועוד מתנות עניים.

    ועל פי כל הנ"ל הי' נראה לכאורה, שההנהגה (השכיחה גם בימינו) שהמובדלים לעבוד את ה' בלבד יסמכו על הציבור לצורך פרנסתם ופרנסת בני ביתם, אף שאין מקור ברור לזה מדברי הרמב"ם, ה"ה מושרשת ומעוגנת היטב בהיסודות ההגיוניים שהציק הרמב"ם בקשר לשבט לוי.

    ואכן מצינו שרבים מגדולי ישראל בימיהם ובימינו ראו ב'שבט לוי' שורש לההשקפה המבססת את תמיכת חכמי התורה בכספי ציבור.

    הרי שלש דוגמאות מני הרבה:

    (1) בשו"ת 'חתם סופר' אורח חיים סימן רח כתב, וז"ל בא"ד: "כי כשישראל יושבים על אדמתם מלאים כל טוב, כל אחד פונה לכרמו ולזיתו, הבדיל הקב"ה שבט הנבחר והמציא להם פרנסתם בריוח בלי שום עבודה, חרישה וקצירה, וכל שבט אין לו חלק אלא אחד משנים עשר מה שמוציא האדמה דגן תירוש ויצהר, ואותו שבט נוטל חלק העשיריות דגן תירוש ויצהר בלי שום עמל ויגיעה כדי שיהיו פנויים לעבודת ה' ולהורות נתן, אע"ג דתרומת פירות לאו דאורייתא, מכל מקום סגי להו בדגן ותירוש בריוח ותענוגים כלל לא ומשום הכי הטיל עליהם ההוראה, ושבט יששכר הפנויים גם כן על ידי שמצוי להם פרנסתם מזבולון על כן ידעו 'בינה לעתים'[45], אבל הוא הדין כל מי שעושה מלאכתו עראי ותורתו עיקר ומטיל על עצמו עול תורה ועול הציבור ומסתפק במה שהציבור מזמינים לו פרנסתו ואינו רודף אחרי רהבים ושטי כסף, הן המה הכהנים הנגשים אל ה' בכל עת ובכל זמן ובכל מקום מקטירים ומגישים לה' ריח ניחוח".[46]

    (2) בשו"ת 'בנין שלמה' להרה"ג ר' שלמה הכהן מווילנא, סימן לג, כתב: ולענין אי שייך האידנא מצות לשמוח את הלוי ברגל, נראה לי דאף דהאידנא לא שייך לשמוח ללויים ממש, כיון שאין להם עבודה ושירות כלל בזמן הזה והם עוסקים במשא ומתן וסחורה כשאר בני ישראל, ואין שייך כלל דיהיו חייבים לשמוח אותם. אבל מכל מקום יש ללמוד מזה דכמו שחייבה התורה לשמוח את הלוי ברגל בזמן הבית, וע"כ דהטעם הוא משום דהכהנים הלויים לא נטלו חלק בארץ וכמו דכתיב בפרשת שופטים (יח, א-ב) 'לא יהי' לכהנים הלויים כל שבט לוי חלק ונחלה עם ישראל אשי ה' ונחלתו יאכלון, ונחלה לא יהי' לו בקרב אחיו ה' הוא נחלתו כאשר דבר לו'. . . ואמנם כל אלה בהיות ההיכל על יסודותיו ומקדש הקודש על מכונו והכהנים היו עוסקין בעבודתן ולויים בדוכנם, אבל מעת חסרנו כל אלה בעוונותינו הרבים, ואין לנו לא כהן בעבודתו ולא לוי בדוכנו ולא מזבח ולא קרבן ואין לנו שיור רק התורה הזאת, לכן עתה התלמידי חכמים ורבני הקהלות ורבני המו"צ אשר בכל דור ודור הם הם המורים והם המלמדים ומהם תצא תורה והוראה לישראל, גם הם הכהנים והלויים העוסקים בעבודה . . . היוצא לנו מזה, דתלמידי חכמים העוסקים בתורה ובהלכות עבודה בזמן הזה, הם דוגמת הכהנים והלויים ממש, ודומה ממש כאילו בית המקדש בנוי וכהנים עוסקים בעבודה . . . והלכך כמו דהטילה התורה מצות עשה על הישראלים בזמן הבית ליתן תרומות ומעשרות ושאר מתנות כהונה ולוי' לכהנים הלויים המחזיקים בתורת ה', הכי נמי מוטל מצות עשה האידנא על הישראלים ליתן שכירות והספקה לתלמידי חכמים ולרבני הקהלות מדי שבוע בשבוע כדי שיוכלו להחזיק בתורת ה', וכמו שהטילה התורה מצות עשה לשמוח את הכהנים הלויים ברגל ולתת להם צרכי החג, בעבור שברגל הוטל עליהם עול התורה והעבודה ביותר מכל השנה כולה, הכי נמי מוטל ממצות עשה האידנא לשמוח את התלמידי חכמים ורבני הקהלות ברגל, יען שברגלים מוטל עליהם עול התורה ביותר ולהשיב לכל שואל בדבר ה' זו הלכה למעשה בהלכות החג ובאיסור והיתר כן נראה לעניות דעתי בעז"ה.

    (3) בשו"ת 'קול מבשר' (להגאון ר' משולם ראטה זצ"ל) ח"א סי"ז כתב, וז"ל: "ועיין ברמב"ם סוף הלכות שמיטה ויובל שכתב, למה לא זכה לוי בנחלת ארץ ישראל עם אחיו, מפני שהובדל לעבודת ה' ולהורות דרכיו ומשפטיו לרבים שנאמר 'יורו משפטיך ליעקב ותורתך לישראל', ולא שבט לוי לבד אלא כל איש ואיש וכו' ויזכה לו בעולם הזה דבר המספיק לו כמו שזכה לכהנים וללויים, יעו"ש לשונו הזהב. הרי, דמי שתורתו אומנתו ויושב להורות לרבים ואינו עוסק בשום מלאכה צריך לקבל פרנסתו משל ציבור, כמו מעשרות ומתנות כהונה שזכתה התורה לכהנים וללוים".

    אבל עכ"ז לא הגענו אל המנוחה, כי כפי שהרגישו כמה מפרשים (וביניהם הרדב"ז והמעשה רוקח על הרמב"ם הל' שמיטה ויובל שם), מה נעשה ביום שידובר בו דברי הרמב"ם בהל' תלמוד תורה (פ"ג ה"י)[47] ובפירוש המשנה עמ"ס אבות[48], שם כתב הרמב"ם דברים כדרבנות וכמסמרות נטועים נגד העוסקים בתורה בלא דרך ארץ ומטילים עול פרנסתם על הציבור! ולכאורה: אם לשבט לוי הותר ליקח ממון הציבור כדי שיוכלו להבדל מן העולם ולעבוד את ה' בלבד, למה לא יעשה כן כל איש ואיש אשר נדבה רוחו אותו להיות תורתו אומנתו ולקיים מש"נ "יורו משפטיך ליעקב ותורתך לישראל"?

    אכן אולי אפשר ליישב קושיא זו לפי שיטותיהם של כמה מנושאי כלי הרמב"ם שכתבו לחלק בין המטיל עצמו על הציבור, שעל הנהגה כזאת צעק הרמב"ם ככרוכיא, לבין מי שהציבור מטילים אותו עליו ולפרנסו ברצון קיבלו עליהם, שבכה"ג גם לפי דעת הרמב"ם אין בזה שום איסור.[49]

    אמנם שערי התירוצים והחילוקים לא ננעלו, והרשות והיכולת נתונה לחלוק גם על חילוק זה.[50] מה שנוגע לעניננו הוא, שלפענ"ד, אי אפשר למבטל במחי יד את דעתם של אלו האחרונים הרואים בדברי הרמב"ם מקור הגיוני לתמיכת רבנים וחכמים ע"י יחידים וציבורים.

    [1] בכל המקומות שציינתי לשינויי גירסאות בדברי הרמב"ם בספר משנה תורה ה"ה ע"פ 'ילקוט שינויי נוסחאות' אשר ברמב"ם מהדורת שבתי פרנקל.

    [2] חלק מדברי הרמב"ם הללו הובאו (בשינויים קלים) גם ב'ספר החינוך', סוף מצוה שמב.

    [3] י"ג: "זכה" וי"ג "זוכה".

    [4] ויש להוסיף שלפי דעת הרמב"ם ייחודו של שבט לוי הוקבע כבר בשנים קדמוניות – טרם היתה ישראל לגוי, וכמ"ש בריש הל' עבודה זרה (פ"א ה"ג): "יעקב אבינו לימד בניו כולם והבדיל לוי ומינהו ראש והושיבו בישיבה ללמד דרך השם ולשמור מצות אברהם, וציוה את בניו שלא יפסיקו מבני לוי ממונה אחר ממונה כדי שלא תשכח הלימוד, והי' הדבר הולך ומתגבר בבני יעקב ובנלוים עליהם ונעשית בעולם אומה שהיא יודעת את ה', עד שארכו הימים לישראל במצרים וחזרו ללמוד מעשיהן ולעבוד כוכבים כמותן חוץ משבט לוי שעמד במצות אבות, ומעולם לא עבד שבט לוי עבודת כוכבים".

    ומבואר מדברי הרמב"ם אלו, שכבר מאז ומקדם היו הלויים (ואבוהון דכולהו – לוי בעצמו) נבדלים, ומיועדים לגדלות: ללמוד וללמד, להזהר ולהזהיר.

    [5] להעיר ג"כ ש"מצוה להיות בסנהדרין גדולה כהנים ולויים שנאמר (פ' שופטים יז, ט) ובאת אל הכהנים הלוים" (רמב"ם הל' סנהדרין פ"ב ה"ב).

    [6] המעיין בספר 'מורה נבוכים' חלק שלישי פרק לט, יראה שדבריו ב'מורה' וב'יד' משלימים זה את זה ויחדיו יהיו תואמים. וז"ל במו"נ שם: ". . . כי אין לו חלק ונחלה עמך, וכבר ידעת סיבת זה כדי שיהי' זה השבט כולו מיוחד [א] לעבודת השם ו[ב]לידיעת התורה, ולא יתעסק לא בחרישה ולא בזריעה רק יהי' להשם לבד, כמ"ש יורו משפטיך ליעקב ותורתך לישראל, ישימו קטורה וגו'," ע"ש בארוכה.

    [7] י"ג: "והבין מדעתו".

    [8] י"ג: "לדעת".

    [9] ע"פ קהלת ז, כט: "לְבַד רְאֵה זֶה מָצָאתִי אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה הָאֱלֹקִים אֶת הָאָדָם יָשָׁר וְהֵמָּה בִקְשׁוּ חִשְּׁבֹנוֹת רַבִּים".

    [10] ע"פ דברי הימים-א כג, יג: "בְּנֵי עַמְרָם אַהֲרֹן וּמֹשֶׁה וַיִּבָּדֵל אַהֲרֹן לְהַקְדִּישׁוֹ קֹדֶשׁ קָדָשִׁים הוּא וּבָנָיו עַד עוֹלָם לְהַקְטִיר לִפְנֵי ה' לְשָׁרְתוֹ וּלְבָרֵךְ בִּשְׁמוֹ עַד עוֹלָם".

    [11] יש שאין גורסים תיבה זו.

    [12] ברדב"ז שם: "ודקדקתי בדבריו ז"ל שכתב 'ויזכה לו בעוה"ז דבר המספיק לו', שהקב"ה יזכה לו להרויח בעולם דבר המספיק לו ולא שישליך עצמו על הציבור".

    [13] י"ג "כמו שזכה ללוים".

    [14] יש שאין גורסים שתי תיבות אלו.

    [15] נדפסה ב'לקוטי שיחות' חלק ח' עמוד 325.

    [16] ראה גם: הל' תשובה פ"ג ה"ה; הל' איסורי ביאה פי"ד ה"ז.

    [17] לאחרונה ראיתי שכיוונו לזה שנים מרבני דורנו: (א) "דברי הרמב"ם הם חובקי עולם: 'כל איש ואיש מכל באי-עולם', אפילו גוי! אם אך ירצה באמת ובתמים לדעת את ה' יהי' קודש קדשים!" ('שיחות לספר במדבר' להרה"ג ר' אביגדור יחזקאל הלוי נבנצל שליט"א, פרשת קרח, עמוד קסח); (ב) "שמעתי מפי מרן הרב מפוניבז' ז"ל בקידוש עלי' לתורה של הרב הגאון ר' ישראל מאיר זכריש שליט"א שדייק מלשון הרמב"ם 'כל איש ואיש מכל באי העולם' שאפילו גוי יכול להתעלות" ('גליונות על הרמב"ם ונו"כ' להרב שמואל הלוי שולזינגר, רב ואב"ד דקרית אתא, נדפסו במאסף תורני 'ישורון' חט"ז, ארץ ישראל תשס"ה, עמוד רטו ואילך. קטע זה נמצא בעמוד רלב).

    [18] וע"ד מ"ש הרמב"ם בהל' מלכים שם: "משה רבינו לא הנחיל התורה והמצות אלא לישראל כו' ולכל הרוצה להתגייר משאר האומות".

    [19] דאלה"כ – מה ענין 'חסידי אוה"ע' לכאן?!

    [20] ב'לקוטי שיחות' שיצא לאור לקראת ש"ק פ' קרח התשד"מ (נדפס בלקו"ש חכ"ח עמוד 104).

    גם פרופסר קלנר במאמרו ציין למקומות אלו – ע"פ פרוייקט השו"ת של בר-אילן.

    [21] קרוב לתחילתו.

    [22] לשון הכתוב בפרשת ביכורים – פרשת תבא כו, ג.

    [23] ירושלמי ביכורים פ"א ה"ד.

    [24] אבל יש להעיר, שבספר משנה תורה הל' ביכורים (פ"ד ה"ג) כתב: "הגר מביא וקורא שנאמר לאברהם 'אב המון גוים נתתיך', הרי הוא אב כל העולם כולו שנכנסין תחת כנפי שכינה, ולאברהם היתה השבועה תחלה שיירשו בניו את הארץ". ובספר 'משנה תורה' הביטוי 'כניסה תחת כנפי השכינה' הוא תואר נרדף ל'גירות'. ראה: הל' איסורי ביאה פי"ג ה"ד ("כשירצה הגוי להכנס לברית ולהסתופף תחת כנפי השכינה ויקבל עליו עול תורה"); הל' דעות פ"ו ה"ד ("אהבת הגר שבא ונכנס תחת כנפי השכינה"); הלכות מלכים פ"ח ה"ה ("אם קבלה עלי' להכנס תחת כנפי השכינה מטבילה לשם גרות"). וכ"ה בספר המצוות להרמב"ם מל"ת רנב ("ועכשיו נכנסת תחת כנפי השכינה"). וראה גם אגרת הרמב"ם להרב עובדי' הגר (תשובות הרמב"ם מהדורת פריימאן, תל אביב תרצ"ד, סימן שסט; תשובות הרמב"ם הוצאת 'מקיצי נרדמים', ארץ ישראל תש"ך, סימן תמח - עמוד 728). שם מתאר הרמב"ם את הגר צדק בזה הלשון: "אדם שהניח אביו ומולדתו ומלכות עמו . . . ורדף אחר ה' ועבר בדרך הקדש ונכנס תחת כנפי השכינה, ונתאבק בעפר רגלי משה רבינו רבן של כל הנביאים ע"ה".

    [25] ועוד יש להעיר שמצינו בספר 'משנה תורה' (הל'

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  • 11/21/07--05:53: Where's Shai Agnon Revisited
  • You may recall that in a prior post we noted that in the Reinetz edition of the Pirush Ba'al HaTurim al HaTorah is a victim of censorship. Specifically, Reinetz quotes a story about how quickly the Tur wrote his commentary on the Torah. In the early edition of Reinetz's work, Shai Agnon is cited as the source while in later editions Agnon is removed.

    In the comments, however, some took issue with the need to cite to Agnon as Agnon was ultimately citing to another work, Kol Dodi, and thus, according to some commentators, so long as Reinetz cites to the Kol Dodi it is ok. These commentators' opinion is premised on the notion that Kol Dodi is another work. As was noted in the comments there is no such published work. Although there is no published work with that name that contains this story, there is still some abiguity as it could be Agnon was cited to an earlier work in manuscript. Now, however, we can put that all to rest and conclusively show that the only source is Agnon.

    As mentioned previously, we hope to provide comprehensive reviews of Y.S. Spiegel's Tolodot Sefer HaIvri, in that vein, we came across the following footnote (vol. 1, p. 29 n.8) where Spiegel discusses Agnon's Kol Dodi:

    יש לציין לדברי ש"י עגנון בספרו ספר סופר וסיפור, ירושלים, תשל"ח, עמ' ק, בשם ספר קול דודי:"בשעה שהיו ישראל עולין לרגל היו מביאין עמהם ספרי תורה שלהם והיו מגיהין אותם מספר עזרא הסופר שהיה מונח בעזרה." פירוש מעניין שלא מצאתיו במפרשים. אמנם כפי שכתבה לי בטובה בתו גב' אמונה ירון, ותודתי נתונה לה בזה, כינה אביה בשם קול דודי את חידושיו עצמו (וראה שם ברשימת המקורות, עמ' תנט, שנאמר על ספר קול דודי שהוא כת"י המחבר.) וכן אמר עגנון עצמו לדוד כנעני, כפי שכתב האחרון בספרו ש"י עגנון בעל פה, תל אביב, תשל"ב, עמ' 34-35

    I wish to cite to Shai Agnon's statement in his work Sefer Sofer v'Sippur where he cites in the name of the work Kol Dodi . . . this statement in the name of Kol Dodi is very nice, however I have not found it in any other commentaries. But, according to what Emunah Yaron, Agnon's daughter told me, her father used the title Kol Dodi for stories of his [Agnon's] own creation . . . Furthermore, Agnon himself told David Kenanin as much . . . .

    Thus, there is no doubt that in fact the only source for this story regarding the Ba'al HaTurim is Agnon and Reinetz cannot be absolved removing Agnon's name and citing to Kol Dodi, a fictitious work.

    In the comments to this post Professor Lawrence Kaplan kindly brought to our attention a great article by G. Scholem that appeared in Commentary Magazine titled 'Reflections On S.Y. Agnon' (Commentary Dec. 1967 44:6) where Scholem reviews Agnon the person and his works.
    Scholem refers to Agnon's famous anthology, Yamim Noraim and writes "With his caustic sense of humor he [Agnon] included a number of highly imaginative (and imaginary) passages, cullled from his own vineyard, a nonexistent book, Kol Dodi ('The Voice of my Beloved'), innocently mentioned in the bibliography as 'a manuscript in possession of the author.'''

    Professor Kaplan then adds: It also follows that one cannot excuse Agnon for this (in my view rather innocent) deception on the grounds that he only referred to Kol Dodi in Sefer, Sofer, ve-Sippur, which he did not prepare for publication.

    The truth is that Scholem made a mistake as in the bibliography of both Sefer, Sofer, ve-Sippur and Yamim Noraim, Kol Dodi is listed and described as "כת"י המחבר" meaning a manuscript of the author - himself not as Scholem translates it "a manuscript in possession of the author." Scholem's description of Kol Dodi is based on the English version translation! Addtionally, in the three places which Agnon quotes from this work in his Sefer, Sofer, ve-Sippur it appears to be a collection of stuff he heard from people on topics similar to the Sefer, Sofer, ve-Sippur. But it do not appear that Agnon was trying to fool anyone to a nonexistent book

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    Beis Havaad, Le'arechat Kitvei Rabboseinu, ed. Yoel Hakoton and Eliyahu Soloveitchik, (Jerusalem, 2003); 272 pp.

    Beis Havaad is a collection of articles based on a series of lectures that were delivered in Yerushalayim dealing with many aspects of the proper way seforim should be published. Beis Havaad was originally intended to be a journal but, to date, no other issue has appeared. With its focus on books, it is only proper that a review of this book should appear at the Seforim blog -- albeit somewhat belatedly -- and discuss some of the many important points raised in this book.

    This book is a collection of articles from many of the top names in the field of printing and editing of seforim and includes articles by both rabbanim and professors. This sefer is basically a must have for anyone who wants to understand how seforim are printed, how to write them, how to find information and the importance of printing proper texts. Although I believe it is currently out of print, The sefer is available at Beigeleisen and many of the articles can be accessed online here. I will list some of the many points of interest raised in the various articles in the book.

    The book begins with an excellent article by Professor S.Z. Havlin regarding the importance of establishing the correct text of the seforim and using manuscripts. He gives some great practical samples demonstrating his points. Havlin also explains and examines the Hazon Ish’s position regarding the use of manuscripts and the need (or lack thereof) to establish a correct text. At the end of the article, Havlin highlights a source not typically used in the discussion about manuscripts etc. Havlin notes that the topic was touched upon in Chaim Potok’s novel The Promise. Havlin is not the only one to deal with this topic in Beis Havaad, R. Eliyahu Soloveitchik, in his article also discusses this topic. Both of these discussions add some more points to this ongoing discussion amongst talmidei hakhamim and scholars alike regarding the use of manuscripts and correcting texts. [I shall return to this topic at greater length in a forthcoming post at the Seforim blog.]

    Professor Havlin also mentions a bit about the derech halimud of R. Avraham Eliyahu Kaplan. Additionally, included in this journal is a reprint of much of R. Kaplan's work on the topic. This work of R. Kaplan is a very special blueprint of how to print an extensive commentary on shas. [This great goan and his works will be the subject of a forthcoming post at the Seforim blog.] With permission of the family, they printed parts of this fascinating project which unfortunately never came to full fruition.

    Another important article in this journal is from R. Hillel Parush of Machon Harav Herzog and deals with other aspects of the nusach of the Talmud. Amongst the topics that he discusses is the the Hagahos of the Maharshal on the gemara, if they were from based on logical deduction or manuscripts. [For more on this topic, see Yaakov Shmuel Spiegel, Amudim b’Toldot Sefer HaIvri, Haghot u’Maghim, pp. 279-85.]

    There are at least three articles discussing exactly how one should edit seforim. Each of these articles contribute different, yet offer very important points for discussion. The first is from R. Y. Weiss who was the editor of the excellent journal, Tzefenous. He gives many practical samples on mistakes found in various classical seforim and how he would suggest these mistakes be corrected. Following R. Weiss’s article on the topic is another article on the topic from Professor Robert Brody of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, famous for his work on the geonim. Specifically, Brody's article discusses how after tracking down all the manuscripts of a specific sefer, the next step is to establish which manuscript is the most accurate text to base the actual text of the sefer. He also points out how one has to be very careful to be crystal clear when printing a sefer to note one's methods in coming to the decision of which manuscript to use. [As Prof. Brody notes, this whole topic is a very complicated one, one that takes him a few months to teach how exactly this is done. Here, however, he provides an outline of some of the more salient points.]

    R. Yoel Koton, co-editor of this volume and editor of the Hamaayan, has an in-depth article with all the rules of writing an article or sefer. Amongst the topics are all rules of grammar and how to quote the sources exactly. This is an extremely important article and anyone who is printing anything for the public should look at it as he raises many important issues. Amongst the points he raises are: the need to cite exactly what source is being quoted, including the edition used as many times there can be many works with the same name or even of the same author with different printings and one trying to track it down has great difficulty doing so; and, consulting experts on particular topics. Koton gives the example of if one is working on Mesechtas Rosh Hashana and comes to the topics relating to Hilchos Kiddush Hachodesh, he should consult people who are familiar with astronomy. [One who looks at the work of R. Chaim Kanivesky on Hilchos Kiddush Hachodesh will see how he consulted an expert on these topics.] As R. Zev Lev writes, in his introduction to Marchei Lev, how he used to explain and discuss the various aspects of science with R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach when he was working on his teshuvos about opening a refrigerator on Shabbos.

    Another article of interest is from Benjamin Richler where he discusses the history of the Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts (IMHM), situated in the Manuscripts and Archives Wing on the ground floor of the Jewish National and University Library, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.[2] Richler writes that 95% of the Jewish manuscripts in the world can be found there, either through microfilm, or actual text. This was written a few years ago. More recently, Richler writes only 90% can be found here. Be that as it may, an extremely large percentage of the Jewish manuscripts in the world are found there. He writes that a very large percentage of the halachic works of the Rishonim have been printed. But on kabbalah and other topics there are still many works in manuscript. Richler encourages anyone working on a work of the Rishonim or Achronim to check if perhaps there’s another manuscript that will help them print a more accurate text of the work. See also Benjamin Richler's posts (here and here) offering some examples on the benefits of the JNUL manuscript room. The catalog is available online, and it is very easy to navigate through. The staff of the manuscript room is very helpful.

    Another article is by Ezra Schwat, also of the JNUL Manuscript Room. His article has a list of all the different helpful websites for one to find different manuscripts. These sites are very helpful for all different kinds of research related to all Jewish areas. Another article is from Professor Spiegel, one of the heads of the Bar Ilan Responsa project. He writes that it is very important for any person working on a sefer to use the Bar Ilan program and similar programs, as they are extremely helpful, especially for locating sources. This article was written before the waves of hard drives from Otzar Hachochma, Otzar Haposkim, Otzros Hatorah, and which are also important to use.

    Another important article was written by Rabbi Mordechai Honig. This article is a continuation of an article from Professor Simcha Emanuel, available here, about the great necessity of an updated version of the sefer Sarei Haelef from Rabbi Menahem M. Kasher. The last updated print edition of the Sarei Haelef was in 1979 and much has been printed since then. Emanuel began to list in his article some of the updates and Hoenig gives another few hundred additions. The work is extremely important. Many times when one is working on a topic, one is curious to know if a work quoted by a Rishon was actually printed, or if there was any historical information about the Rishon. One can turn to this reference. But, as both Emanuel and Hoenig show, Sarei Haelef really requires an comprehensive update.

    Included in this journal is an article from Rav Yitzchak Shilat dealing with one of his pet projects, the reprinting of the Perush HaMishnah of the Rambam. There is also an article describing the important project of Halacha Berurah based on R. Kook.

    One of the articles which seems to be completely out of place of the spirit of this journal is written by R. Yehuda Liba ben Dovid. This author has written many excellent articles in different Torah journals, some of which he collected and printed in a very interesting sefer called Shevet Mi’Yehuda. Reprinted here is an article that was printed many times before, which is his macha’a (objection) on the way many frum authors write their works. His first problem is on two works printed from Machon Ofek, one called the Teshuvos Hagaonim Hachadashos by Prof. Simcha Emanuel and another called Teshuvos R’ Naturnai Gaon by Professor Robert Brody. His main complaint is that both of these works use Christian, Greek, Karai and Maskilic sources. He says that there’s no reason for a frum work to quote any of these works today. He writes that there is a reason why these works aren’t found in the local beis medrash or yeshiva library. Another example he gives is Ahavat Shalom reprinted a work on minhagim called Kesser Shem Tov from Shem Tov Gagen. This author also brings quote in his work from Christians, Karaim, and Reform Jews. Again, R. ben Dovid writes that he doesn’t understand how a respected publishing house could reprint this work. He goes on to list some other examples and complaints.

    In my humble opinion I beg to differ on this point. The basic problem with R. ben Dovid’s article is that what he is suggesting runs directly counter to a significant portion of Beis Havaad and general common sense. As the Rambam teaches: Halomed Mikol Adam. Even if the sources aren’t religious or Jewish at all, if they have a good point, they may be quoted. Granted, this approach has been debated throughout the generations by many. In litvish circles, most notably, R. Yosef Zecharia Stern held that one may quote all sources as long as one realizes who he is quoting. Today in the field of Jewish academics and printing new seforim, there’s much to be learned from the way scholars, even non-Jewish ones, have presented their works, and sometimes they might have good point or two that’s beneficial for the work at hand. For example, if one is working on medical halakhic questions, he can’t just rely on the words of the poskim, but he must be familiar with updated studies in the scholarly world of medicine and to be at least aware of what they write about the various medical conditions before he reaches his conclusions. Knowledge of history is also very important especially in learning halakha as one needs to know who learnt by whom and who was born first, all of which plays a great role in deciding halakha. It is quite obvious to all that the Chida in his classic work Shem Hagedolim was not wasting his time when he wrote it.

    There are many other examples of why this is important. For another example, see the excellent Haskamah of R. Shlomo Cohen to the Otzar Haseforim [a bibliography of Hebrew books] by Ben Yakov a Maskil - yes, a maskil – how, according to R. Yehudah, could he give a haskamah to such a work. So to in printing these works of Gaonim, Rishonim and even Achronim many times it is very helpful to be aware of history of the time in order to understand there words. Many times statements of the Geonim it has been proven how many things they wrote were specifically against the Karaim (there are numerous examples of this). Of course, no one is suggesting to pasken based on these Karaim or Christian sources, but it just helps one understand the specific words of the Gaonim and Rishonim. Great people had no problem using works that quoted such sources just to list a few: R. Mordechai Gifter, R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, R. Shlomo Yosef Zevin, R. Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg and R. Reuven Margoliyot all quote Prof. Saul Leiberman in their writings, as they did not seem to be bothered by R. ben Dovid's concern. (many others have hid it see Marc B. Shapiro, Saul Lieberman and the Orthodox).

    Another example is when Professor A. Sofer, who also taught at JTS, passed away late at night. R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, who was a good friend of his, was feeling very weak than yet he made it his business to attend the funeral as a hakarat hatov for all R. Sofer’s work on the Meiri’s writings. (See Yeshurun, vol. 15, p. 501). When one works on minhagim it’s very helpful to be familiar with the history of the time in order to understand the development of certain things as Professor Daniel Sperber ably demonstrates time and time again in his now-eight-volume set of Minhagei Yisrael. Recently an excellent work on minhaghim came out from the ultra-Orthodox -- as opposed to academic -- circles called Mihnaghei Hakehilos by R. Yehiel Goldhaber. R. Goldhaber also uses such sources and he has received many haskamot from various gedolim. In sum it is important to use all available sources to understand what ever topic one is working on.

    Of course, there is the very important point to all this which Professor Lieberman said many times, that the most important thing is to learn real Torah. All of these things are helpful but only a tafal to the learning. All of Professor Lieberman's excellent writings on Greek in Jewish Palestine were on the side his main learning goals was to complete his works on the Tosefta and Yerushalmi.

    In all, Beis Havaad, is an extremely important collection of articles on the topic of seforim in general.

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    Kuntress Ha-Teshuvot He-Hadash, A Bibliographic Thesaurus of Responsa Literature published from ca. 1470-2000, ed. Shmuel Glick, vol. II, Jerusalem & Ramat-Gan, 2007, [4], 11, 483, [4].

    I have briefly mentioned previously the bibliography on the Teshuva seforim, Kuntress Ha-Teshuvot He-Hadash ("KTH"). The second of four volumes has been published and I wanted to provide a more in-depth review of this work. KTH is an update of Boaz Cohen's earlier bibliography, Kuntres Ha-Teshuvot, of Teshuvos seforim. In truth, however, this is far from a standard bibliography and when viewed as merely a bibliography it falls short. There are two basic types of Jewish bibliography works. The first is a "standard" bibliography and contains a meticulous entry of the publication information of a book. So in this type the reader gets the title, author, page count, size and various editions. The second type, while sometimes less exact on the technical side makes up for that by including additional information either about the contents of the book or the author. An shining example of the second type is the Hida's Shem HaGedolim. KTH, while it has some of the first type is much stronger if viewed as in the Shem HaGedolim category.

    KTH provides the basic information for each entry. The information includes: title, author, place[s] the author lived, years the author lived, a description of the book, sources for biographical information on the author, various printings of the book, and where the editors have seen the book recorded. In the bibliographical sense, KTH does not attempt to provide information on every printing of a particular book. Thus, one looking for a complete history of printing will be disappointed. That said, today, with the ease of viewing almost every major library's catalog online locating a particular edition is not too difficult.

    Instead, what KTH provides is something a typical library catalog cannot - detailed information on the content of the books. For many, although not all, of the books listed in KTH there are detailed description of many of the questions that appear in the book in question. And, I cannot emphasis enough how much information they provide at times it is amazing as not only do they provide the details of the book itself the editors also provide articles on the topic in question or citations to other books that discuss the same or a similar question. A few examples from the literally hundreds of such entries. In the entry for מלחמות אלקים by R. Bernard Illowy (2266) they list some of the teshuvos in the sefer one is teshuva no. 4:

    סי' 4: תשובות מאת המחבר ומאת ר' שמשון רפאל הירש ור' נתן אדלר בעניין כשרות עוף הברברי . . . על הפולמוס בעניין עוף זה, ועל תשובות המחבר, ראה ז' עמר וא' זיבטפסקי, "כשרות הברברי והמולרד", המעין מד, א (תשס"ד) עמ' 35-42, נ"י וינברגר, "והעוף ירב בארץ", ישורון יד (תשס"ד) עמ' תתקט-תתקלא

    KTH is full of such entries. Another example, is the entry for מקוה ישראל (no. 2438) one of the books on the controversy regarding the mikvah in Rovigo. Again not only is the controversy mentioned merely as it appears in the book, instead, a nice bibliography on the controversy generally is provided. To wit,

    על הפולמוס ראה: גרשון כהן, "לתולדות הפולמוס על סתם יינם באיטליה ומקורותיו," סיני עז (תשל"ה) עמ' סב-צ, יהודה בלוי, כתבי הרב יהודה אריה ממודינא, בודאפשט תרס"ו, עמ' 127-137, י' זנה, "הבדותה על דבר הספר מלחמות ה' בעניין המקוה מרוויגו", קרית ספר י (תרצ"ד), עמ' 360-364, מ' בניהו,"ספרים שחיברם ר' משה חאג'יז וספרים שהוצים לאור", עלי ספר ב (תשל"ו) עמ' 132 הע' 31, וראה עוד על הפולמוס ועל הדף "בשם ה'" שצורף לספר, מחקרי ספר, עמ' 420-429. וראה גם י' יודלוב, "פסקי דין של רבני ויניציאה משנת שס"ט" סיני מג (תשל"ט) עמ' קסו-קעב הע' 11

    Or, the entry for the נודע ביהודה, the editors (no. 2627) document the well-worn and imaginary story that some editions of the נודע ביהודה were changed. Specifically, the famous teshuva discussing the recitation of לשם יחוד ends with a sharp barb at Hassidim. R. Landau substituted חסידים for פושעים. Many have recorded that in some editions this was changed back to the original reading. While that might be a good story there is no evidence that in any edition the passage in question was ever altered from the original. The entry lists many of those who record the story albeit with slightly different facts (they analyze the following sources: Beis Rebbi, Mekor Barukh, MiDor Dor, Medi Hodesh b'Hodsho, Imrei Shammai, and Mofesh HaDor) and then demonstrates the falicy of the story. Just two small additions to the entry are worthwhile pointing out. First, although many who record the story are listed, Dr. Sperber, in Minhagei Yisrael also was taken by this story (vo. 2 p. 118). Second, the only source provided that discusses the permissabilty of reciting לשם יחוד is the Hida in Machzik Berakha, O"C, 231:1. At the very least, R. Chaim Czernovitz, Sha'ar Ha-Teffilah should be mentioned as it is an attempt to rebut the position of R. Landau. See also Sperber's discussion in Minhagei Yisrael, vol. 2 115-18, vol. 3 186-209.

    The entry for מספד תמרורים (no. 2366) states:
    עמ' 7-8: "נשאלתי בהא דנוהגי' הגבאי' בהלוי' המת כשיש בידם הקופות שקוראי' 'צדקה תציל ממות' דהרי הוי לועג לרש וחרף עושהו וממש דמגרה עם המת שלכן מת כיון שלא נתן צדקה ואלו הי' נותן צדקה לא הי' מת? ע"כ

    Aside from the "extraneous" information, information about various printings is provided as well. In the entry for the נחלת שבעה (no. 2667) the editors note that Efrahim Koffer found an autograph manuscript of the work that contains additional teshuvot and information. The editors also note that this new material was included in the 2006 edition of the נחלת שבעה. The editors point out, however, that in the 2006 edition they were "unaware" that Koffer found and published this additional material first. Moreover, the editors provide additional information on other manuscripts of the נחלת שבעה. Other entries contain which editions are lacking or have been changed.

    The entries also provide sources for biographical information of the authors. The sources run the gamut from academic sources to biographies in the Yated Ne'eman (see, e.g. no. 2057).
    All the information provided makes this a highly readable work and more importantly, provides the reader with much information that is difficult to locate otherwise. This work when competed in four volumes, will be the standard work in the field.

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    December 6 Is Coming: Get Out the Umbrellas
    By Daniel J. Lasker
    Daniel J. Lasker is Norbert Blechner Professor of Jewish Values at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, and is chair of the Goldstein-Goren Department of Jewish Thought. His landmark work Jewish Philosophical Polemics against Christianity in the Middle Ages, originally published in 1977, was recently republished with a new introduction in 2007.

    This is Professor Lasker’s first post at the Seforim blog.
    We Jews in Israel have been praying for rain since the seventh of Marheshvan (the night of Thursday, October 18), but, unfortunately, so far the prayers have generally not yet been answered (especially in Beer Sheva where I live). Next week, it will be the chance of Jews who live in the Diaspora to pray for rain, beginning in Maariv of the night of Wednesday, December 5 (the eve of December 6). As undoubtedly all readers of the Seforim blog know, the dates for asking for rain (adding the words ve-ten tal u-matar li-verakha to the ninth blessing of the Shemoneh Esreh, in the Ashkenazi and Nusah Sefarad rites; or changing the form of that blessing from Barkheinu to Bareikh Aleinu, in what is now usually known as the Edot ha-Mizrah rite) are different for the Land of Israel and for the Diaspora. Perhaps not all readers know 1) why there is a difference; 2) why most years one begins the prayer in Maariv of December 4 (the eve of December 5); and 3) why one begins on December 5 this year.

    Why is there a difference?

    Mishnah Ta’anit 1:3 reads: “On the third of Marheshvan one is to begin praying for rain; Rabban Gamaliel says: ‘On the seventh of that month, fifteen days after the feast of Tabernacles, so that even the tardiest Israelite may reach the Euphrates [on the return journey from the pilgrimage to Jerusalem].’” The Talmud (Ta’anit 10a) records Rabbi Eleazar as stating that the law follows Rabban Gamaliel. Despite the fact that the pilgrimage on Sukkot is no longer binding, and modern methods of transportation obviate the need to wait two weeks for the pilgrims to return home, the practice has remained constant: in the Land of Israel, she’elat geshamim (the prayer for rain) begins on the eve of the seventh of Marheshvan.

    The same Talmudic passage records that, in the Golah, the practice was to wait “until the sixtieth [day] of the [autumnal] equinox (ad shishim ba-tequfah)” before beginning the prayer. No explanation is given for this difference between Israel and Babylonia, but there are good reasons to believe that it has to do with the meteorological and agricultural differences between the countries. Jews in Babylonia did not need, nor did they want, the winter rains to begin until two thirds of the autumn season had passed; therefore, they waited longer before beginning the prayer. Both communities, however, began “mentioning” rain (mashiv ha-ruah) on Shemini Atzeret, and they ceased mentioning rain and saying the special prayer for rain at Passover.[1]

    What about Jews in other countries? Should Jews in these areas pray for rain according to the needs of their own country of residence, as did Jews in the Land of Israel and in Babylonia, or should they employ an already established schedule? Since Babylonian procedures were usually followed in the whole Diaspora, it became the practice of Jews almost everywhere outside the Land of Israel to offer their prayers for rain on the same dates as did their Babylonian coreligionists.[2]

    This generalization did not go unchallenged, and the most noteworthy attempt to alter the practice was made by Rabbeinu Asher ben Yehiel (Rosh, c. 1250-1328). He tried to establish the principle that each Jewish community would pray for rain when they actually needed it in their country; this attempt was rebuffed by his contemporaries. The Rosh’s failure to innovate a change in the practice, no matter how sensible it might have seemed, was a major reason why no one in the northern hemisphere ever again challenged the prevailing practice. Questions did arise, however, when Jews migrated to areas in the southern hemisphere, when the order of the seasons is reversed. Rabbinic opinion has usually held that the Babylonian pattern should be followed even when the local winter occurs during summer in Babylonia and vice versa. The result is that to this day, Jews throughout the Diaspora set their liturgical calendar in this regard according to the agricultural needs of Iraq, a country which is now almost devoid of Jews.[3]

    On most years...

    But why December 4? The Talmud says “the sixtieth day of the autumnal equinox,” and the autumnal equinox this year fell on September 23, 2007, at 5:51 AM, on the American eastern seaboard, making the sixtieth day on November 21.[4] The answer to this question is to be found in a miscalculation of the length of the year. Present-day astronomers calculate the mean solar year to be 365.2422 days (365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds). This is slightly shorter than the 365.25 days (365 days, 6 hours) assumed by Samuel, the third century amora and astronomer, who gave the rules for calculating the equinoxes and solstices (Eruvin 56a). This is the same assumption which is at the basis of the Julian calendar as well.

    The discrepancy between the assumed length of the year and actual length may not seem like much; it is only .0078 days (11 minutes, 14 seconds) a year. Yet, over a period of a thousand years, a difference of 7.8 days (1000 x .0078) exists between a system based on assumed length (the Julian calendar or Samuel’s tequfot) and one based on actual length. It is this difference which led the Catholic Church under Pope Gregory XIII to correct the Julian calendar by dropping 10 days in 1582 (the day after Thursday, October 4 became Friday, October 15), thus creating the Gregorian calendar. To prevent further problems, three leap years were eliminated every 400 years, so that only century years divisible by 400 were leap years. This system, which eventually caught on in the whole world, is not perfect, since in 3300 years another one day discrepancy accumulates.

    In Samuel’s calculation, however, there are exactly 365 ¼ days in a year, and each tequfah (solstice or equinox) lasts exactly 91 days and 7 ½ hours (despite the disparate lengths of the various seasons). One autumnal equinox (tequfat tishrei) falls exactly 365 ¼ days after the previous one. Samuel’s calculation has kept in step with the Julian calendar throughout the centuries, and, therefore, just as in Samuel’s time tequfat tishrei fell on the Julian September 24, so, too, today it invariably falls on that date. In this century, however, the Julian September 24 is the Gregorian October 7. The sixtieth day after October 7 is December 5, and one generally begins saying tal u-matar in the Maariv before December 5, namely on December 4.

    ... but this year.

    So why is this year different from all other years, or at least the last three years? This is a function of the exact hour when the equinox falls. Although it is always on October 7, in a four year cycle the tequfah will come at 03:00, 09:00, 15:00 and 21:00 (check your synagogue luah for the times). The fourth year is always a Hebrew year divisible by four (5768), or the year before a civil leap year (2008); in that year, tequfat tishrei is after dark (21:00) and, therefore, it is considered the next day (October 8). Fifty-nine days later is December 6 and tal u-matar begins in Maariv of December 5. Since the coming civil year adds an additional day, next year’s calculated autumnal equinox will again fall on October 7 at 03:00, and tal u-matar will again begin in Maariv of December 4. In the nineteenth century, the prayer for rain began in Maariv of December 3 or 4; since 1900 was not a leap year, it jumped to December 4 or 5 in the twentieth century. 2100 will also not be a leap year, and in the twenty-second century, tal u-matar will begin in Maariv of December 5 or 6. Given enough time, and no calendrical reform, eventually Jews outside Israel will start praying for rain only on the eve of Passover, just in time to stop this prayer when Passover begins.[5]

    A few observations can be added to this description of the beginning time of the prayer for rain in the Diaspora. First, the same miscalculation which causes the “sixtieth day of the autumnal equinox” to move forward vis-à-vis the sun is at the base of another Jewish ritual, the once in 28 years “Blessing of the Sun” (Birkat ha-Hammah), scheduled to occur again in one year and five months on Wednesday, April 8, 2009 (coincidentally, fourteenth of Nisan, the eve of Passover; the last time was on Wednesday, April 8, 1981). In the nineteenth century, the Blessing of the Sun occurred on Wednesday, April 7, every 28 years; in the twenty-second century it will be on Wednesday, April 9, every 28 years. Despite the fact that the Blessing commemorates the cyclical repetition of the first vernal equinox at creation, it now falls 18 days after the actual astronomical equinox.

    Furthermore, it is clear from the sources that each Jewish community is actually praying for rain for its own needs, and not for rain in the Land of Israel. Nevertheless, many Jews, even relatively knowledgeable ones, think that adding tal u-matar to the prayers on December 5 marks the beginning of the rainy season in Israel, not realizing that she’elat geshamim had already begun in Israel on the seventh of Marheshvan. Perhaps one of the sources of this widespread misconception is the fact that the astronomical sixtieth day of the equinox has meaning only for Iraq, if even there, and the calculated sixtieth day has no meaning anywhere. Thus, when Jews in the Diaspora start praying for rain on December 4, they mistakenly think that they are doing so for the residents of the Land of Israel.

    Perhaps their prayers are still valuable. From my experience, often November is a dry month in Israel, and the winds pick up and the rain starts falling only in the first week of December. The sages tell us that the reason Israel has distinct wet and dry seasons and is so dependent upon rainfall (as compared to Egypt; cf. Deut. 11:10-12) is that God delights in hearing the prayers of the righteous who turn to Him in supplication for rain. Perhaps, the beginning of serious rain in the Land of Israel at the beginning of December, just as the prayer for rain starts in the Diaspora, is a sign that God actually delights in the prayers of the ignoramuses, who believe that their supplications for rain at that time are directed for the good of the Jews in the Land of Israel, not realizing that their prayers should be intended to bring rain to their own countries of residence. Whatever the case, we wish along with the High Priest on Yom Kippur that this year in Israel will, indeed, be very wet and not too cold, and that the rain will be only for a blessing!

    [1] For a discussion of the Babylonian custom, and the reasons behind it, see Arnold A. Lasker and Daniel J. Lasker, "The Jewish Prayer for Rain in Babylonia," Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic and Roman Period 15 (1984): 124-144.
    [2] In the words of the commentary attributed to Rashi on Ta’anit 10a: “Thus we act since all our customs follow the Babylonians (kol minhageinu ahar benei bavel).”
    [3] For a fuller description of the long process described in these few sentences, see Arnold A. Lasker and Daniel J. Lasker, "The Jewish Prayer for Rain in the Post-Talmudic Diaspora," AJS Review 9:2 (Fall 1984): 141-174.
    [4] The equinoxes and solstices fall at the same instant all around the world, so in Israel, the autumnal equinox was at 12:51 PM; in Hawaii, at 12:51 AM; all times are daylight savings times.
    [5] Details can be found in Arnold A. Lasker and Daniel J. Lasker, “The Strange Case of December 4: A Liturgical Problem,” Conservative Judaism 38:1 (Fall 1985): 91-99.

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    What follows is a guest post discussing a "revised" edition of the sefer Mitzvat Ner Ish uBeto, a work devoted to the laws and customs of Chanukah. For an earlier post on Chanukah see here, here, and here.

    על ספרו של הרב אליהו שלזינגר:

    מצות נר איש וביתו, חנוכה בהלכה ובאגדה

    מאת: עקביא שמש

    אחד המאפיינים את הספרות הרבנית ההלכתית בדורנו הוא חיבור ספרים סביב נושא הלכתי אחד.[1] העובדה שהמחבר מרכז את כל הידוע לו סביב אותו נושא, הופכת את הספר למבוקש ושימושי ביותר, לא רק ל"עמך", אלא גם לציבור הלומדים.[2] חלק מספרים אלו יוצא לאור במספר מהדורות, דבר המלמד על חשיבותו הרבה של הספר, ועל הצורך הרב שיש בו. הנה כי כן בהתקרב חג מסוים, אנו עדים להופעת מספר ספרים הלכתיים על ענייני החג, או אף על הלכות מיוחדות בודדות הקשורות עם אותו חג. אחד מהספרים הללו הוא ספרו של הרב אליהו שלזינגר: מצות נר איש וביתו, חנוכה בהלכה ובאגדה. ספר זה, היוצא לאור במספר מהדורות החל משנת תשל"ח, דבר המעיד על חשיבותו הרבה של הספר, יצא לאור זה עתה במהדורה נוספת, ירושלים, תשס"ח. ברצוני לייחד את הדיבור על ספר זה אך ורק בענייני צורה, מבנה וסגנון, ותו לא. מובן מאליו שאין בכל האמור לקמן לגרוע ולו במשהו מערכו וחשיבותו הרבה של הספר. נהפוך הוא, דווקא מפני חשיבותו הרבה של הספר, ודווקא מפני ריבוי המשתמשים בו, ראוי הוא שידקדקו בו.

    א. תיאור קצר של הספר

    הספר מורכב מארבעה חלקים. חלק ראשון: הלכות חנוכה. חלק שני: בירורים הלכתיים. חלק שלישי: מאמרים ודרשות. חלק רביעי: מדרש לחנוכה. בשערו נאמר: "מהדורה ראשונה יצאה בשנת תשל"ח, מאז נדפסו מהדורות רבות, מהדורה חדשה מורחבת ומשוכללת, עם הוספות וחידושים רבים י"ל בשנת תשס"א ועתה פנים חדשות באו לכאן, מהדורה חדשה ומחודשת עם עוד הוספות וחידושים רבים".

    ואכן מהדורה זו היא בת תקפג (583) עמודים, ואילו המהדורה הקודמת שיצאה לאור בשנת תשס"א היא בת תסד (464) עמודים. אין ספק שלפנינו גידול מרשים של כמאה ועשרים עמודים בהיקפו של הספר, וכדברי המחבר בשער הספר שהובאו לעיל: "עם עוד הוספות וחידושים רבים". השוואה בין שתי המהדורות מלמדת כי החלק שלישי והחלק רביעי אינם שונים בשתי המהדורות, ונמצא כי גידולו של הספר הוא בשני החלקים הראשונים.

    ואכן בחלק השני נוספו עוד יג בירורים חדשים. היינו, כז בירורים היו בשנת תשס"א, לעומת מ' בירורים במהדורת תשס"ח. סידרם ותוכנם של הבירורים בשתי המהדורות זהה עד לסימן כה. סימן כו וסימן כז במהדורת תשס"א, הם סימן לט וסימן מ במהדורת תשס"ח. כך שהבירורים החדשים הם סימנים כו-לח.

    ומה ביחס לחלק הראשון? בחלק זה יש הלכות, וגם מקורות ודיונים בהלכות הללו שנדפסו בהערות. במבט ראשון קשה לדעת מה נוסף בו. אכן מצאתי בו אגב עיוני הוספות בהערות, ועל כך אדבר עוד לקמן. לא בדקתי אם יש תוספת בהלכות עצמן.

    בדיקת גודלה של תוספת הבירורים החדשים מראה שהיא בת 65 עמודים, ונמצא כי זו היא רק בערך מחצית מכמות העמודים שנוספה במהדורה זו. מכאן עולה כי שאר העמודים שנוספו הם בחלק הראשון. נמצא כי בשני החלקים הראשונים שבספר נמצאים כל החידושים הרבים, והם מתחלקים כמעט באופן שוה בין שני החלקים הללו.

    ב. הערות על הספר

    1. גופן הספר

    בארבע המהדורות האחרונות של הספר, שיצאו לאור בשנים: תשנ"ג, תשנ"ח, תשס"א, תשס"ח, לא נדפס הספר באותו גופן (פונט), אלא כל מהדורה הודפסה בגופן אחר. נכון הוא שלפעמים יש אילוצים מסוימים לשינוי הגופן, אבל דומה כי מן הראוי להשתדל להדפיס את הספר באותו גופן, כך שאדם שרכש את הספר במהדורה קודמת יוכל לראות בצורה נוחה, מה נתחדש במהדורה שאחריה. לא ברור מדוע יש לשנות את הגופן, או את גודלו, ממהדורה למהדורה. כך לדוגמה במהדורה האחרונה הוגדל הגופן בעיקר בחלק הראשון של הספר, וההגדלה היא רק בחלק העליון של העמוד שבו נמצאות ההלכות, אבל בהערות נשאר הגופן הקודם. הגדלה זו הגדילה את מספר הדפים של הספר, אם כי, כאמור, עיקר הגידול של הספר הוא בתוכן עצמו.

    2. כפילויות בספר

    לספר יש שתי הקדמות, האחת בשם: "דברים אחדים", והשניה בשם: "הקדמה". הראשונה דומה מאוד לזו של מהדורת תשס"א, אלא שנוספה בה פיסקה בתחילה שאינה ענייננו כאן. בשתי המהדורות הללו כותב הר"א שלזינגר: "במהדורה זו נוספו ענינים חדשים רבים. כמו"כ הרבה מהמאמרים שנדפסו במהדורות קודמות בחלק "בירורי הלכה", הוכנסו הפעם בתוך הספר עצמו למען הקל את העיון".

    מהדברים הללו עולה כי כל מה שהיה במהדורת תשנ"ח נשאר גם במהדורה החדשה (אלא שנוספו בה הרבה דברים חדשים). אולם השוואת שתי המהדורות מלמדת אחרת.

    המעיין במדור בירורי הלכה במהדורה הקודמת לה, היא מהדורת תשנ"ח, ימצא כט עניינים. כז מהם נמצאים ככתבם וכלשונם במהדורת תשס"א, ושניים מהם: ו, כח, חסרים. בירור ו כולל שני מכתבים של רא"י הופמן ביחס לחובת הדלקה בחוץ. בירור כח מכיל מכתב מרי"ש שרגא הלוי, ושני מכתבים מרח"צ אוללמאנן, ובהם הערות שונות על האמור בספר. על פי דברי המחבר ב"דברים אחדים", היה מקום לצפות כי שני הסימנים שהושמטו ממדור הבירורים, יודפסו עתה במהדורת תשס"א בחלק הראשון, או בהלכות עצמן או בהערות. אבל בחלק ראשון של הספר, סי' ה סוף הערה ה, נאמר: "וראה עוד אריכות דברים בח"ב מספרינו זה סימן ו' וסימן כ"ח". אבל אין מובן למשפט זה, שהרי שני סימנים אלו נמצאים אמנם במהדורת תשנ"ח, אבל הושמטו במהדורת תשס"א, וכיצד יכול המעיין לראותם? נמצא אם כן כי במהדורת תשס"א, חסרים שני בירורים שהיו במהדורה הקודמת.

    עתה נבדוק מה כוונתו של המחבר באומרו ש"הרבה מהמאמרים שנדפסו במהדורות קודמות בחלק "בירורי הלכה", הוכנסו הפעם בתוך הספר עצמו".

    עיון בחלקו הראשון של הספר מגלה כי סימנים שלמים מתוך מדור בירורים, נדפסו גם בתוך ההערות עצמן, כדמותן וכצלמן. לדוגמה, בירור ב: פרסומי ניסא - הידור מצוה או חלק מהמצוה, נדפס בחלק ראשון בהערות בעמ' יא-יח. כמו כן, בירור ג: הדלקת נר חנוכה - חובת הבית או חובת הגוף, שיש בו מכתב ארוך החתום: א. א. ירושלים, ותשובת המחבר שארוכה הרבה יותר, נדפס כולו בעמודים צ-צד (הערה לד). כדי לא להאריך לא אביא דוגמות נוספות, והמעיין ימצא עוד כהנה וכהנה.

    נמצא כי יש בירורים שהודפסו פעמיים. פעם אחת במדור בירורים עצמו, ופעם אחת גם בהערות. נמצא אפוא שכוונת המחבר במשפט דלעיל ש"הרבה מהמאמרים שנדפסו במהדורות קודמות בחלק "בירורי הלכה", הוכנסו הפעם בתוך הספר עצמו", שונה לחלוטין מההבנה הפשוטה. הקורא לתומו משפט זה סבור כי יש בירורים שהוצאו ממדור בירורים והודפסו רק בהערות. ואילו אנו רואים כי כוונתו שונה לגמרי. לאמור, דברים שנדפסו קודם רק בבירורי הלכה, נדפסו הפעם גם בתוך ההערות. השאלה היא אם על דבר זה ניתן לומר, כפי שכתב המחבר, שעשה כן "למען הקל את העיון". איני יודע אם יש כאן הקלה, אבל ודאי הוא שיש כאן יותרת הכבד. יש כאן דברים מיותרים שמגדילים את נפח הספר. דומה בעיני שיש כאן צורה חדשה של סידור ספר, שלא ראינוה עד הנה.

    מעניין הדבר שגם במהדורת תשס"ח המשיך המחבר באותה שיטה. חלק מבירורי ההלכה נדפסו פעמיים - גם בחלק הראשון בתוך ההערות, וגם בחלק השני הנקרא בירורי הלכה. הדוגמות שניתנו לעיל ביחס למהדורת תשס"א, שרירות וקיימות גם ביחס למהדורת תשס"ח. נתייחס לשתי הדוגמות שניתנו לעיל: בירור ב נדפס כולו בהערות בדפים יא-יח. בירור ג נדפס כולו בדפים קכא-קכד (הערה לד).[3]

    ואם תאמר שמא מצאנו כפילות זו רק בבירורים של מהדורת תשס"א, שאותם משום מה הדפיס המחבר בכפילא, אבל בשלושה עשר הבירורים החדשים שנוספו במהדורת תשס"ח אין הדבר כן. ולכאורה סיוע לכך ניתן למצוא בהקדמה למהדורת תשס"ח, שבה אכן יש דברים מסוימים השונים מההקדמה של מהדורת תשס"א. הנה מצאנו בהקדמה, בעמ' 28, את המשפט הבא, שאינו במהדורת תשס"א: "בחלק השני שבספר זה הבאנו "בירורי הלכה", בו נתבררו הרבה מן ההלכות שבגוף הספר הובאו בקצרה וכאן נתבררו בהרחבה ובפירוט, וגם בפלפולא דאורייתא כדרכה של תורה". מכאן מתקבל הרושם כי במהדורה הזו שינה המחבר את דרכו, והקדיש את החלק השני של הספר, "בירורים", להרחבה ודיון מפורט בהלכות שונות, בעוד "שבגוף הספר הובאו בקצרה".

    אבל לא כך הם פני הדברים. גם ביחס לבירורים החדשים חוזרת התופעה של הדפסה כפולה. צא וראה, לדוגמה, את בירור כו במהדורת תשס"ח: חיוב ברכה על נר שמדליק מחמת חשד, שהוא בירור חדש שנדפס רק במהדורה זו. והנה כל הבירור כולו נדפס כדמותו וכצלמו גם בחלק הראשון, סימן ה, בהערה לב, בעמודים קנא-קנד. כן הדבר ביחס לבירור כז, שנדפס כולו גם בחלק הראשון, סימן ד, בהערה לא, בעמודים קיז-קכ. גם בירור כח נדפס כולו גם בחלק הראשון, סימן ו, בהערה טז*, בעמודים קפ-קפה.[4] הגדיל לעשות המחבר בבירור כט, שהכניסו כולו בחלק הראשון, סימן ג, הערה א (פרט לשתי הפיסקאות הראשונות), והוא בן שלושה עשר עמודים! (סוף עמ' סג ועד עמ' עו). והמעיין ימצא עוד בכגון אלו.

    3. משפטים שאינם בהירים

    כפילות זו, שאותו עניין נזכר הן בהערות והן בבירורים, גורמת שקיימים משפטים שאינם מובנים ואינם בהירים די הצורך.

    הנה בסוף בירור ל נאמר: "ובכל זה הארכנו בדברי מרן הגר"ש ואזנר שליט"א בספרינו [5] "מצות נר איש וביתו" חלק בירורי הלכה (סימן ז)" וכו'. המשפט תמוה. הרי אנו נמצאים בספר "מצות נר איש וביתו", ומלשון המחבר עולה כאילו עלינו לפנות לספר אחר. זאת ועוד, הרי אנו נמצאים בחלק "בירורי הלכה", ואם כן די היה לכתוב: ובכל זה הארכנו... לעיל סימן ז, ללא המלים: חלק בירורי הלכה. אלא נראה שהסיבה לכך היא, שבירור זה כולו נדפס גם בחלק ראשון בהערה כח, בעמודים קצב-קצד, ושם הסיומת: "ובכל זה הארכנו בדברי מרן הגר"ש ואזנר שליט"א בספרינו "מצות נר איש וביתו" חלק בירורי הלכה (סימן ז)", מתאימה קצת יותר, כי המחבר מפנה אותנו מההערות הנמצאות בחלק הראשון, לחלק השני שהוא "בירורי הלכה".[6]

    הבה נראה דוגמה נוספת שהיא מלמדת על עניין נוסף. בחלק הבירורים סוף סימן ה, עמ' שנו, נאמר: "בספרי [7] ציינתי בהערות שישנן גם דעות אחרות... והבאתי כאן את הדברים למען יראה הקורא דישנן כמה דעות בנושא". הקורא מבין מדבריו שבחלק הראשון של הספר קיצר המחבר בהערות, ואילו כאן הביא את הדברים בהרחבה. אלא שהבנה זו שלנו בדבריו אינה נכונה, שהרי כל האמור כאן בחלק הבירורים, נמצא ככתבו וכלשונו בחלק הראשון, בסוף הערה לד, בעמ' קסא-קסב. אם כן, כבר הובאו הדברים קודם, וכבר ראה אותם הקורא, ואין זה נכון לומר "והבאתי כאן את הדברים למען יראה הקורא", שמשתמע שרק כאן הם הובאו, ורק כאן יראה אותם הקורא לראשונה. נראה שהיה לו לומר: והבאתי כאן שוב את הדברים.

    4. הפניות שאינן מעודכנות

    מכיון שאנו נמצאים בבירור ה, נוסיף בו עוד עניין. בפתח בירור ה, עמ' שנה, נאמר: "בספרי [8] סימן ה' סעיף ט' אות כ"ד הבאנו דעה" וכו'. אלא שהמחפש את העניין, אליו רומז כאן המחבר, לא ימצאנה בהערה כד. זאת משום שעניין זה אכן נמצא בהערה כד במהדורת תשנ"ח, אבל במהדורת תשס"א, ולאחריה במהדורת תשס"ח, עניין זה נמצא בהערה לד. לפי דרכנו למדנו מדוגמה זו, כי לא כל ההפניות עודכנו ממהדורה למהדורה.

    בהקשר לכך אנו יכולים להוסיף, כי את הבירורים אשר השמיט במעבר ממהדורת תשנ"ח למהדורת תשס"א, הלא הם בירורים ו, כח, וכבר הזכרנו השמטה זו לעיל, המשיך להשמיט גם במהדורה זו. אבל גם כאן המשיך לציין אליהם, וכפי שעשה כן גם במהדורת תשס"א. כך כתב בחלק ראשון, סי' ה, סוף הערה ה: "וראה עוד אריכות דברים בח"ב מספרינו זה סימן ו' וסימן כ"ח". מובן שהמעיין באותם סימנים במהדורת תשס"ח, לא ימצא קשר בינם לבין האמור בהערה זו. היינו, חוסר העידכון ממהדורת תשס"א, נמשך גם כאן.

    אכן ידוע הוא, שעידכון של הפניות ממהדורה למהדורה, כרוך בטירחה יתירה ובבדיקת כל מראי המקומות, ולכן כמעט אין לך ספר שיצא במספר מהדורות, שלא ימצאו בו הפניות שאינן מעודכנות.

    אסיים במה שפתחתי. כל האמור כאן לא בא אלא להצביע על מספר עניינים של צורה, מבנה וסגנון בספר הנדון, שנראה לי כי מן הראוי לתת עליהם את הדעת. אכן ברור לכל, שחשיבותו של הספר אינה נגרעת במאומה מכל האמור.

    [1] ראה עוד י"ש שפיגל, 'משהו על כיווני היצירה התורנית בדורינו', סיני, קז (תשנ"א), עמ' צב-צד.

    [2] ר"ג ציננער, שפירסם ספרים רבים בשם "נטעי גבריאל", כשכל אחד מהם מוקדש לנושא הלכתי מסוים, כתב בספרו המוקדש לפורים המשולש, וערב פסח שחל בשבת, ירושלים, תשס"ה, בהקדמה עמ' כג: "בשנת תשנ"ד, בהיותי בארה"ק בשלהי חודש אדר, והבאתי ספרי על ער"פ שחל בשבת לגאון ישראל הגרש"ז אויערבאך זצ"ל... ואז גם מסר לי איזה הלכות והנהגות, כאשר הובא בפנים הספר. ובנו הרה"ג רבי ברוך זצ"ל מסר לי בשעתו שאביו עיין רבות בספרי הנ"ל ונהנה מזה". אם זכרוני אינו מכזב לי, דומני גם שראיתי באחד מהספרים מסוג זה, שמחברו כתב בשם אחד מגדולי הדור שאמר שיש לעיין בספר מסוג זה, כי רבה בו התועלת, משום שהמחבר הקדיש עצמו לנושא אחד, ומסתמא הקיף את כל האמור בזה.

    [3] אנו רואים כי קיים אי שויון בעימוד שבין שתי המהדורות. הרי הסיבה לכך: כפי שאמרנו הגופן של ההלכות במהדורת תשס"ח גדול במעט יותר מזה של מהדורת תשס"א. לכן בתחילת החלק הראשון ההשפעה עדיין אינה ניכרת כל כך, ומספרי העמודים של שתי המהדורות תואמים זה לזה. אבל בהמשך נוצר לאט לאט הבדל, ואנו רואים כי מספרי העמודים של ההערה המתאימה לבירור ג, אינם מתאימים בשתי המהדורות. בספרנו.

    [4] במהדורת תשס"ח זהה מיספור ההערות למיספור שהיה במהדורת תשס"א. השמירה על המיספור הקודם גם במהדורה זו, יצרה למחבר בעיה בכל מקום שבו הכניס בירור חדש. ברוב המקרים הוכנסו הבירורים החדשים לתוך הערות קיימות. אבל יש מקרים שבהם נאלץ המחבר ליצור הערה חדשה, כמו בדוגמה זו. נמצא כי הערה טז, שהיתה במהדורה תשס"א, נשארה כפי שהיא גם במהדורת תשס"ח, ואילו הערה טז*, נוצרה במיוחד רק כדי להכניס בתוכה את כל הבירור החדש - בירור כח.

    [5] היינו: בספרנו.

    [6] אם כי ההפניה לספר "מצות נר איש וביתו" עדיין אינה מובנת, שהרי בספר זה קיימינן.

    [7] נראה לי שהיה עדיף לנסח: בספר, או: בספר זה, או: בחלק ראשון של הספר. והניסוח שלפנינו אולי יכול להטעות שכוונתו על ספר אחר, וכפי שאראה כן בהמשך.

    [8] ראה הערה קודמת על הניסוח הזה.

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    The Customs Associated with Joy on Chanukah and Their More Obscure Sources
    by: Eliezer Brodt

    In previous posts we have discussed some of the customs relating to Chanukah, in this post I wanted to address those customs connected to Simcha (joy) and do so by highlighting some rather unknown sources. Amongst the topics I will discuss are eating a seudah, dairy products, sefuganiot, playing cards and dreidel.

    1. Seudah

    R. Eliezer Ashkenazi (1512-85) writes in the introduction to his classic work on Megliat Esther, Yosef Lekakh (first printed in Cremona, 1576), the reason that only on Purim do we celebrate with a seudah and not on Chanukah is because
    שעם היות שהמלחמה חשמונאי נצחה, ועל ידו היתה הרוחה אף גם זאת בהיותה על ידי מיתת כמה מישראל לא נס יגון ואנחה. מה שאין כן בזמן מרדכי ואסתר ובימיהם היתה נח מאויבהם והרוג בשונאיהם ואין שטן ואין פגע במחניהם ואיש לא עמד בפניהם

    What R. Eliezer Ashkenazi is saying is that since on Chanukah we suffered many causalities so we do not celebrate with a seudah as opposed to Purim where there were no casualties.

    The R. Mordechi Yaffa (1530-1612) in his Levush gives a different reason why there is no seudah on Chanukah:
    ומפני שלא נמסרו ישראל באותו זמן ביד מושל אחד שהיה מושל עליהם להריגה כמו שהיה בימי המן אלא שבא האויבים עליהם למלחמה ואל בקשו אלא הכנעה ולהיות ידם תקופה על ישראל ולהבערים על דתם כידוע ממעשה אנטיוכס שלא גזר עליהם להרוג ולהשמיד רק צרות ושמדות כדי להמיר דתם
    Meaning that since on Purim there was no option to convert as opposed to Chanukah so therefore Chanukah was not as bad as Purim and we do not celebrate with a seudah. [Much has been written on this Levush but we will have to deal with this on a different occasion.]

    Many Rishonom hold there is no obligation to eat a seudah and that is what the Mechaber in Shulchan Orach writes ריבו הסעודות שמרבים בהם הם סעודת הרשות שלא קבעום למשתה ושמחה

    The Rambam (Hilcos Chanukah Perek Gimel Halacha gimel), however, writes:
    ומפני זה התקינו חכמים שבאותו הדור שיהיו שמונת הימים האלו שתחלתן מליל חמשה ועשרים בכסלו ימי שמחה והלל
    At first glance it does not appear that the Rambam is saying one has to eat a seudah rather its just days of "simcha and joy." However, R. Zev Boskowitz (1740-1809) in his work Seder Hamishana (recently printed from manuscript in 1989) writes the Rambam in fact means a seudah is required and furthermore such a seudah would considered a seudas mitzvah.

    While until now, we have been parsing the words of the Rambam to locate an authority that holds there is an obligation to have a seuda, other Rishonim write straight out that there is an obligation to eat a seudah on Chanukah amongst them, Rashaba (vol 1, Siman 699) Tosofos (Tanis 18b), Marshal and Chanukas Habayis (p. 71). Additionally, R. Yeshuah Ibn Shu’eib, a talmid of the Rashaba, in Ibn Shu'eib's Derashot al HaTorah (first printed in Istanbul, 1523 - end of parsha Meketz) also writes ותקנו ז"ל... ולעשותן כמועדים שהם ימי שמחה this could imply a seudah.[1]

    Some have used the Megilas Antioches [2] to adduce a seudah obligation on Chanukah. The Megilas Antioches (first printed in Mantau 1557 and typically dated sometime between the 2nd and 5th centuries of the Common Era, for more see the sources in note 2) describes Chanukah as ימי משתה ושמחה thus, according to some, the "משתה" would obligate a meal. But, this line in Megilas Antioches is only found in the Hebrew translations, whereas in the older Aramaic versions it only says שמחה and is lacking the key word משתה

    2. Instruments and Jokes.

    As far as other aspects of Simcha on Chanukah in the Sefer Hamaskil (end of the 13th century) from the nephew of the Rosh, writes that although during the rest of the year it is prohibited to tell jokes (pg 12) or play musical instruments (pg. 22) on Chanukah it is permitted. This implies that Chanukah is days of joy, a joy on some level more than rest of the year.

    3. Maseh Yehudis and eating Dairy products.

    Rabenu Bechayu (lived at the end of the 13th century) writes in his work Kad haKemach (first printed in Istanbul, 1515) that וכן דרשו ז"ל בנס חנוכה שהיה על ידי משתה. It is unclear, however, what the source in Chazal for this statement is. R. Chaim Bright in his pirish on the Kad haKemach called Tzipchas Hasheman (first published in the Lvov, 1880 edition of the Kad haKemach) brings that the source for Rabenu Bachayu is the sefer Maseh Yehudis (Book of Judith) [3] as part of what she did was tied to food. Specifically, Yehudis gave the enemy General Holofernes food and then proceeded to cut off his head.(p. 92) All this could be another possible source to make a seudah on Chanukah. The truth is the story of Yehudis is the source for another Halacha related to Chanukah and food. The Ramah writes some eat milchig (dairy) products as the miracle (of Yehudis) came about thru dairy products. Much has been gathered on this topic just to add one more source, R. Avrohom Saba (1440-1508) in his work on Megilas Esther, Eshkol Hakofer, (p. 40) writes
    כמו שאמרו בירושלמי על בתו של ר' יוחנן שהי' בימי היונים וגזרו על כל בתולה שתבעל להגמון תחלה... ויהי כאשר נתפסה בתו של ר' יוחנן להבעל להגמון אמרה לו שקודם שישכב עמה היא רוצית שיאכלו וישתו ביחד והאכילתו תבשיל של גבינה... ונרדם והוציאה סכין... ונעשה נס לישראל... ולכן תקנו לאכול תבשיל גבינה בחנוכה זכר לאותו נס.
    The Chanukas haBayis also writes to eat Milchigs (p. 136). Chaim Chemerinsky [early 1900’s] also writes that in his home they specifically ate dairy products during their seudah on Chanukah (Eiyuriti Motele p. 181). [4]

    However, it is not so clear if one can use the sefer Maseh Yehudis as a source because many write the event in question did not even happen during Chanukah. The Meor Eynaim (end of ch 51), R. Yehudah Aryeh Modena (Shulchan Orach, p. 83), R. Yakov Emden (Meor Uketziah beginning of Hal. Chanukah) and the Orach Hashulchan (siman 670, 8) all write the event was not on Chanukah.

    4. Seufgoniot

    Another food eaten by Jews on Chanukah is Seufgoniot (doughnuts). In Eretz Yisroel they start selling them a month before Chanukah and incredible amounts of these sefgoniot are sold each year. This custom also has very early sources just to mention two of them. R. Mamion the father of the Rambam writes[5]
    אין להקל בשום מנהג ואפילו מנהג קל. ויתחייב כל נכון לו עשית משתה ושמחה ומאכל לפרסם הנס שעשה השם יתברך עמנו באותם הימים. ופשט המנהג לעשות סופגנין, בערבי אלספינג, והם הצפחיות בדבש ובתרגום האיסקריטין הוא מנהג הקדמונים משום שהם קלויים בשמן לזכר ברכתו - כלומר לנס שבפך שמן
    [Additionally, from this source, it appears from this that R. Mamion holds one should make a seudah on Chanukah.] Another early source who writes that people used to eat these סופגנין on Chanukah is R. Kalnomus Ben Kolumnus (1286 - died after 1328) in his Even Habochen (p. 30) [more on him in a future post].

    5. Latkes

    Based on the words of R, Mamion it’s easy to understand how the minhag of eating latkes came about as they are fried in oil as R. Maimon's highlights that the sufganiyot are "fried in oil."

    Pauline Wengeroff records in her excellent memoir, Rememberings: "On the fifth night my mother invited all our friends and relatives…. The Invitation read, 'You are invited for latkes.'" It’s very likely that this is the food described by R. D. Sassoon in his travels that people in Baghdad ate on Chanukah (Maseh Bavel p. 183).

    6. Getting drunk and Cross-dressing

    Besides for eating elaborate seudos and special foods we find other methods of entertainment that Jews did on Chanukah. R. Kalnomus Ben Kolumnus writes in his Even Habochen (p. 30) that people used to get drunk. The Sefer Hamaskil (end of the 13th century) [6] indicates that although he strongly disapproves of the customs, there was a custom to cross-dress on Chanukah. He writes:
    טובה תנחל ושלוה תירש אם תשמור מלאו דלא ילבש גבר שמלת אשה כגון בחורים הנותנים צעיך בראשיהם ולובשים בגדי נשים בחנוכה... ואל תהיה כאחד מהם בדבר הרע הזה ואפילו אם תעשהו לשם מצוה יצא השכר בהפסד

    Meaning do not this terrible sin of cross dressing on Chanukah. [7]

    7. Card Playing

    Another pastime observed on Chanukah was card playing. [8] Professor M. Breuer brings early sources for card playing on Chanukah (Ohelei Torah p. 355). R. Yehudah Aryeh Modena writes about himself in his autobiography how "during Chanukah of the year 5355 (1594) Satan fooled me into playing games of chance causing me no small amount of damage.” (The Autobiography of a Seventeenth Century Venetian Rabbi, p. 97). R. Yakov Emden writes against this custom in his Meor Uketziah which he says people used to do on Chanukah [introduction to hilchos Chanukah and end of siman 670].

    Eliezer Friedman [1870’s] describes in his memoirs (Zikhronos, Tel Aviv, 1926) how his grandfather, an old litvack taught him one Chanukah exactly how to play cards (p. 61).

    Both Chaim Chemerinsky (Eiyruti Motele pp. 43, 178) and Pauline Wengeroff (op. cit., pp. 65-6) elaborately describe the card games that used to take place in their homes on Chanukah. R.M. Braver describes in his autobiography [mid 1800’s] how in Galicia the yeshiva boys used to waste their whole Chanukah playing cards (Zecronot Av U'beno p. 67). His son, R. A. Braver in his autobiography also describes the card games that used to take place in Galicia on Chanukah (pp. 244-45). Elsewhere in his book he describes when the month of Kislev began how the boys started getting their cards ready for card playing on Chanukah (p. 352).

    8. Dreidel

    Another game played by Jews until today is Dreidel although it’s unclear from where it came from but some sources of playing this game are: M. Zlotkin printed an autobiography from a Litvish Rav (available here) who supposedly lived in the time of the Vilna Goan who writes how how in an effort to try to connect to the children on Chanukah he used to give them Dreidels (pp. 244- 245). In 1824 an extremely cynical parody work was printed called Sefer Kundes [in a future post I hope to write an elaborate post on this work] it describes things found in the pocket of a kundes – a trickster one of the items is a dreidel [In 1997, M. Zalkin thru the Dinur Center printed a critical edition of this very rare work, see p. 48].

    R. Y. Weiss brings that the Chasam Sofer used to play dreidel on the first night (Eleph Kesav p. 145) Pauline Wengeroff writes that another popular game on Chanukah was dreidel (op. cit., p. 66). R. A. Braver in his autobiography writes before Chanukah they used to prepare their dreidels (p. 231) Later on he describes exactly how the game was played (p. 244).

    R. Y. Falk in his Choshvei Machshovos (printed in 1970), an excellent unknown work on minhaghim writes a few reasons for playing dreidel on Chanukah at the end he writes
    מה שמשחקין בחנוכה בדרעדרל כי אי' בספרים שהאותיות נגה"ש שכותבים עליו הוא ר"ת נס גדול הי' שם וי"ל משום שראו חכמים שבאותו דור שהנס של חנוכה התחיל להתמעט בעיני העולם על כל קבעו מסמרות והנהיגו לעשות דרעדרל ולכתוב עליו נגה"ש שהוא ר"ת... להזכיר ולעורר בני ישראל שלא יוקטן בעיניהם הנס של חנוכה שהי' באמת נס גדול
    (p. 160)

    Some recent sources on these topics [just to whet ones appetite]:

    [1] On eating a Seudah on Chanukah See; R. S. Shick, Seder Haminhagim p. 32b; Eleph Kesav, 1, p. 37 ; M. Rafeld in Minhaghei Yisroel, vol. 5, pp. 85-101; R. Nosson D. Rabinowitz, Benue Shnos Dor Vdor pp. 47-48; Moadim Lisimcha pp. 230-252; Pardes Eliezer pp. 463- 556; Chazon Ovadiah pp. 15-18.

    [2] On this point see: R. Nosson D. Rabinowitz, Benue Shnos Dor Vdor pp.140-142 :M. Rafeld in Minhaghei Yisroel, vol. 5, pp. 85-86; Moadim Lisimcha pp 258- 259; R. M. Leiter, Mamlechet Kohanim pp. 56,117-19.

    On this Megilah in general see R. M. Strashun, Mivchar Kesavim p. 144; N. Fried in Minhaghei Yisroel, vol. 5, pp. 102-20; Areshet vol.4 p. 166; R. Nosson D. Rabinowitz, Benue Shnos Dor Vdor pp. 121- 151; R. M. Leiter, Mamlechet Kohanim pp. 40-159.

    [3] On Maseh Yehudis in general see R. Nosson D. Rabinowitz, Benue Shnos Dor Vdor pp. 80-105 (especially p. 109); Moadim Lisimcha pp. 276-312; Chasmunu Ubobov pp. 114-129; R. M. Leiter, Mamlechet Kohanim pp. 359-442.

    [4] For more on eating Milchigs see Moadim Lisimcha, pp. 286-292; Pardes Eliezer, pp. 557-581.

    [5] On this statement of R. Mamion see S. Abramson, Rav Nissim Goan p. 328.

    [6] On the Sefer Hamaskil see the excellent article by R. M. M. Honig, Yerushcanu, 1, pp. 196-240.

    [7] On cross dressing and yom tovim see the excellent forthcoming article of Y. Speigel.

    [8] On card playing in general see; I. Davidson, Parody in Jewish Literature, pp.148-151;Y. Rivkind, Yiddishe Gelt; A. Shochet, Em Chelufei Tekufos (pp. 40-41) ; L. Landman J.Q.R.Vol. 57, No.4.(Apr.,1967) pp. 298-318 and J.Q.R.Vol. 58, No.1.(Jul.,1967) pp.34-62.

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    In addition to my work that will continue at the Seforim blog -- we've got some great posts going up soon -- I have recently started a new blog, the Michtavim blog, an affiliate of the Seforim blog, where I hope to provide interested readers with up-to-date references and discussions of the latest scholarship from the world of academic Jewish studies and Orthodox Judaism.

    Over the next weeks, in addition to posting my musings on a daily basis, I will be adapting a selection of my previous posts from my AJHistory blog (a"h) and the Seforim blog and placing them at the Michtavim blog.

    For now, see the following few links for my new posts at the Michtavim blog.

    -- "From the Archives of the Royal Library in Metz" (link)
    -- "305th yahrzeit of R. Yair Hayyim Bacharach (1638-1702)" (link)
    -- "The Sermons and Yeshivot of R. Aharon Kotler" (link)
    -- "When a Rabbi is Accused of Heresy: The Latest in the Emden-Eybeschütz Controversy" (link)

    I hope that you enjoy and I appreciate your feedback.

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