Wednesday, August 31, 2005

New Book Censored

R. Elijah haBahur's Sefer haTishbi has just been republished. The Sefer haTishbi is a dictionary devoted to words that do not appear in R. Nathan of Rome's Orukh. This particular reprint contains many important additions. It contains Solomon Buber's biography on R. Elijah as well as an extensive introduction on the various editions and the importance of the Sefer haTishbi. Furthermore, it contains several commentaries, some published for the first time. It contains the commentary of R. Menhem Shmuel Hirschtik, Ragle Mevaser originally published in 1910. However, it also contains the commentary of R. Jacob Emden and that of R. Yeshya Pick, the author of the Mesorat haShas. While R. Emden's commentary had been published in part in two journals, for the first time both those are collected together. R. Pick's commentary had never been published, although there had been some who alluded to it.

This book also contains an index as well as the Iggeret Pri Megadim from R. Yosef Teomim. This letter is typically published at the beginning of his commentary to Orakh Hayyim, however, due to the fact that he a) advocates for the study of R. Elijah's books; and b) has numerous comments on the Sefer haTishbi, this was included here. There is also an index of just these letters.

Now, on to the controversial portion of the book. This book also contains the critique of R. Shlomo Schick on the Sefer haTishbi. R. Schick, in his commentary on the Torah, Torah Shelmah (1909, Satmar) takes issue with many of R. Elijah's statements, not just his Sefer haTishbi. However, the editors of this edition of the Sefer haTishbi have collected R. Schick's comments that relate to the Sefer haTishbi. The editors have also included a rebuttal of R. Schick titled Tzidkat haTzadik.

While this may seem rather innocuous, R. Schick is considered in some circles to be unacceptable. This is especially true amongst the Hungarian Haredim. R. Schick, who was a Rabbi of what was known as a Status Quo community in Hungary, was himself a Haredi. However, he felt that instead of alienating his community and many others in Hungary he would take a more reconciliatory stance. This put him in conflict with the majority of the Haredim in Hungary. They wanted to cut off all the non-Haredim. In fact, they issued an edict that all shecita by members that considered themselves Status Quo, was to be considered non-kosher. Importantly, many in the Status Quo community kept Torah and mitzvot a fact R. Schick pointed out in many of his teshuvot. This placed Schick outside the camp of the "frum" and thus among some his writings are unacceptable.

Therefore, there are two editions of this newly reprinted Sefer haTishbi. One that contains an actual photocopy of the haskama of the Betaz of Jerusalem and a second version that does not. In the edition that contains the haskama both the comments of R. Schick as well as the rebuttal does not appear. In the edition that does not contain the haskama you get what I described above, the comments of R. Schick and the editor's rebuttal.

The editors even note this in the edition that contains R. Schick's comments. They explain that the Betaz gave them a haskama (they even quote it but do not reproduce the actual letter, so they get to say they got the haskama without offending the Betaz) but that the Betaz told them they found R. Schick to be unacceptable and thus would not want to give a haskama to such a work.

Therefore, one now has a choice between the Betaz haskama or the comments and rebuttal of R. Schick.

I obtained both editions from Beigeleisen in Brooklyn.

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