Thursday, March 23, 2006

Plagiarism II (Talmudic Terminology)

In 1988, Rabbi Nosson Dovid Rabinowich published a book titled Talmudic Terminology. However, as was noted in brief by Dr. Marc Shapiro, this was plagiarized from Moses Mielziner's Introduction to the Talmud, first published in 1894. This omission, however, has been corrected in Rabinowich's reprints of his Talmudic Terminology where the title now reads that Rabinowich's work is "adapted" from Mielziner's.

While this would appear to be the end of the matter it is not. Dr. Shapiro has investigated this issue further and has sent the following:
After I published my book on Saul Lieberman and the Orthodox a number of people pointed out to me that Nosson Rabinowich's plagiarism of Mielziner is more extensive than what I point out. I didn't know what they were referring to since I had the first edition of his book M. Mielziner's Talmudic Terminology, published in 1988 (in my kuntres there is a typo, as it says 1998). Or so I thought. I succeeded in locating another copy by interlibrary loan, and lo and behold, the title page does not say M. Mielziners Talmudic Terminology adapted by N. Rabinowich but it identifies him as the author. What's even more fascinating is that the other edition has haskamot of Rabbis Ovadiah Yosef and Aharon Feldman. Obviously when the scandal broke, Rabinowich quickly produced a new title page and took out the haskamot (and also added a note on p. xv and made a slight change in note 2 on. p. xv (replacing "some" with "most".) It is obvious why the haskamot were taken out, since they praise Rabinowich for producing a book which he didn't write. In fact, Rabinowich is responsible for something very interesting. We find here the first example in history where gedolim put a haskamah on a work written by a Reform rabbi! Unknowingly Rabbis Yosef and Feldman gave a haskamah to Mielziner. You can be sure this is not something that makes them happy.
Additionally, in an effort to keep the two "editions" the same, Rabinowich did not alter the pagination, this is so, even though he removed the haskamot. Consequently, the "new" edition is missing those pages. I have provided both title pages as well as Rabbis Yosef's and Feldman's haskamot (as one can no longer get them).


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