Friday, March 10, 2006

Dei'ah veDibur Fabrication - Dr. Leiman

As I noted previously, the Haredi mouthpiece Dei'ah veDibur had a rather insightful piece on the falicy of the Golem of Prauge. However, although the article ended with the hope that after bringing this fabrication to the readers attention people will only tell true stories. Shnayer Z. Leiman, however, notes that the story itself in Dei'ah veDibur contains a rather glaring inaccuracy.
The March 1, 2006 issue of _Dei'ah Ve-Dibur_ -- a haredi journal -- includes an essay entitled: "The Golem of Prague -- Fact or Fiction?." Adducing evidence from a variety of sources, the essay concludes that "it is unclear whether or not the Maharal ever made a golem."

Much of the blame for leading people to think that the Maharal had made a golem, the essay suggests, rests with Y.Y. Rosenberg [sic: while all the other rabbis mentioned in the essay are entitled "Rav" or "Rabbi," only Y.Y. Rosenberg, who was a distinguished rabbi with ordination from the greatest rabbis in Poland, is defrocked], whose 1909 volume on the Golem of the Maharal (Sefer Nifla'ot Maharal) is identified as a forgery. The essay concludes with appropriate warnings that one should rely only on literature that is "historically reliable."

Such a critical reading of Jewish literature -- and concern with Historical truth -- is certainly a welcome breath of fresh air from a circle that has not always covered itself with glory regarding such matters. Alas, the essay fell into the very trap about which it was warning others: beware! One paragraph reads:

"At one point the author [Y.Y. Rosenberg] of the book actually admitted that he had invented the story. In _Halelu Avdei Hashem_, which contains stories in Yiddish about HaRavMoshe Aryeh Freund zt"l, av beis din of the Eida HaChareidis, Rav Yechezkel Halberstam zt"l of Shineveh, author of _Divrei Yechezkel_, is quoted as having made the following comment. "A shochet ubodek from Antwerp heard from the Rov z"l, who heard from his father the Rov of Honiad (an important Jewish community in Hungary), who heard from the Rov of Shineveh (eldest son of the Divrei Chaim zt"l of Sanz). The Shinever Rov said that whenever he sees the book _Niflo'os Maharal_ it pierces him because the author of the stories personally admitted to him that he fabricated the whole thing."

Leaving aside significant errors of translation, the Shinever Rov -- Rav Yechezkel Halberstam, author of _Divrei Yechezkel_ and eldest son of the Divrei Chaim -- died on 6 Teveth, 1898. Rabbi Yehudah Yudl Rosenberg published his _Nifla'ot Maharal_ for the first time in Warsaw, 1909. It can easily be proven that the book did not exist until shortly before it was published in 1909. The Shinever Rov never heard of the book, never saw it, and was not "pierced" by its content.

Indeed, one should rely only on literature that is "historically reliable."

1 comment:

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