Tuesday, May 30, 2006

An Example of Women & Learning Removed from the Bavli?

There is what appears at first glance to be a technical passage (although some may find it of interest on its own) in the Talmud dealing with the issue of which types of impurity bars one from Torah study. The Talmud states "הזבים והמצורעים ובעולי נדות קורין בתורה ושונין מדרש הלכות והגדות ובעלי קרי אסור בכולן" "A zav, a metzorah, boli niddot, are permitted to read from the Torah, study Midrash, Laws, and 'agadot, however a ba'al keri can study none of these." So according to this all these types of men, as this is in the masculine, are able to study these things even though they have some level of impurity. This is how it appears in the Talmud Bavli.

However, the Jerusalem Talmud and the Tosefta preserve a different reading. They have both men and women in the list. Hence "זבין וזבות נדות וילדות קורין בתורה וכו" "zavim and zavot (the feminine) and menstruating women, and a women who just gave birth can read from the Torah etc." according to this reading women would need to know whether they could engage in study of Midrash and Law etc. So what happened?

Lieberman states "I think that the women would intentionally removed [from the Munich manuscript of the Talmud Bavli and hence our corrupted texts] and were replaced with men." So the menstruating women were replaced with a man who had marital relations with a menstruating woman. And instead of a woman who gave birth we have a metzorah. The reason is obvious to have the Talmud discussing whether women in this state of impurity could study these texts assumes that they regularly studied them, something that for some may not have been accepted.

Sources: Saul Lieberman, Tosefet Rishonim vol. 1, 15; Jerusalem Talmud, Berakhot, 3:4; Talmud Bavli Berakhot 22, a; Tosefota, Berakhot 2 :12; Lieberman, Tosefta K'Peshuto p. 20.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Errors in Seder Olam?

When one discusses the "Jewish" date of the world, the source used is the book Seder Olam. In fact, this is the source where we get to our counting of this being the 5766 year of the world. There was a rather intriguing controversy about whether the edition we have of Seder Olam is a corrupted edition or not.

R. Moshe Hagiz, pehaps most well know for his campaign against R. Moshe Hayyim Luzzato, had a very interesting correspondence with R. Jacob Emden. R. Hagiz was incensed when a published siddur by R. Uri Lipmann in Sulzbach.

This siddur offered an explaination for the recitation of Tzedkaska (צדקתך) at Shabbat mincha. "As Moshe died on Friday, King David on Shabbat were therefore recite tzeduk hadin at Shabbat mincha." R. Hagiz took issue with the statement that Moshe died on Friday. R. Hagiz first attacked this siddur in an wholly unrelated book. R. Hagiz added his comments to the book Birkat Eliyahu, Wandsbeck 1728. There, R. Hagiz claims that the publisher altered the death date of Moshe from the Shabbat to Friday in an effort to answer how Moshe could have written on the Shabbat. Thus, according to R. Hagiz, the publisher had Moshe die on Friday when writting is permitted.

This justification enraged R. Hagiz. He says
who is this person in todays day and age who calls himself a Jew . . . how terrible is it to change, to change even the dot of the letter yud of our perfect Torah. . . and this type of diesease which spreads among those lacking in faith and lacking in wisdom . . . god should pay back these comesurate with thier wickedness.
But R. Hagiz did not stop there. Instead, he wrote a long letter to R. Emden highlighting this terrible deed to have Moshe die on Friday. We now come to the issue of the book Seder Olam. R. Hagiz was faced with a problem. While it is correct that some sources have Moshe dying on Shabbat, others - specifically the Seder Olam - have Moshe dying on Friday.

R. Hagiz therefore decided that the Seder Olam must have been corrupted. "A wise person can see that is some places a later person . . . put in his own thoughts . . . as is common when persons write their notes on the side eventually printers incorporated these personal notes into the actual text of the book." Thus, according to R. Hagiz, the statement that Moshe died on Friday is one that was not from the actual Seder Olam but was inserted erronously into the book.

R. Emden takes issue with this explanation of the Seder Olam. He first notes this idea that later additions were incorporated into the Seder Olam is really from R. Azariah de Rossi the author of the controversial Me'or Einayim. R. Emden then continues and notes that while it is true that numerous additions to our texts by later persons have been incorporated into the text, including even in Nach (he cites R. Kimchi (RaDaK) on Joshua 21:7). R. Emden says that the Seder Olam did not suffer such a fate and is "clean and pure."

In the end R. Emden is satisified in admitting that there is a controversy amongst the midrashim about Moshe's death date, and therefore R. Hagiz should accept that there are those who disagree with him.

This debate regarding the Seder Olam was not only between R. Emden and R. Hagiz but continues to today. Among most scholars the concensous is that although portions of the Seder Olam date to at least Talmudic times there were later insertions. Among others, the entirety of Seder Olam is attributed to the tanna R. Yose ben Halfta.

Sources: First, if one wishes to read more about marginalia which have become part of the text, see R. Yitzhak Zilber excellent article "Yedi maTikim Shaltu Bo" in Ohr Yisrael 41, 201-222. Additionally, Zilber discusses the above controversy and also includes an extensive discussion regarding R. Emden's views on R. Azariah de Rossi and his Me'or Einayim. On the controversy discussed above see R. Eliyahu ben Yaakov, Birkat Eliayhu (Wandsbeck, 1728), 56b-57a; R. Jacob Emden, She'elot Ya'avetz, vol. 1 no. 33; see also the Ratner edition of Seder Olam.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Kehati Revision

Menachem Mendel has posted about a very interesting revision to the English Kehati edition of the Mishna.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Kuntress Ha-Teshuvot Review

I have previously briefly mentioned a couple of problems with the new work Kuntress Ha-Teshuvot haHadash, now I would like to give a full review. First, I am no expert in the teshuva literature, that being said I was somewhat disappointed with this book.

The book first contains a long introduction into the teshuva literature in general. It discusses such topics as the importance of the literature, the pervasiveness or lack there of, as well as censorship in the teshuvot and different bibliographic topics. On this last point, the introduction discusses how, at the advent of printing, teshuvot do not seem to have been that important. They come do this conclusion by comparing amounts of other types of books printed during the same period with that of teshuvot. Books on other topics were printed in mass, while teshuvot made up only a very small portion of the books printed.

The introduction is fairly informative, although for much of this ground there are far better works out there (documented in the extensive footnotes), this does provide a basic understanding. Finally, there is a discussion about the book itself and what Boaz Cohen’s work (the predecessor to this one) is out to accomplish. This last topic is also covered in an English translation of the introduction, however, all the rest of the introduction is not translated.

The bulk of the book is devoted to the actual bibliographical entries of the teshuva books. This volume covers books with titles between aleph and lamed. But it is far from clear what exactly the standard for these entries are. If I had to categorize my main complaint with this, it would unevenness. That is, for some entries there is a significant amount of information such as some important teshuvot from that book, what other books discuss this one, and other points of interest. For other books with equally important and interesting teshuvot there is nothing.

So for Luach Eres by R. Jacob Emden (no. 1950) there is a long entry dealing with all the content of the work as well as others who he discusses and those who discuss the work as well. They also include articles on the book as well. This runs over three densely packed columns. The same is true for Eleh Divrei HaBrit (no. 222) as well as many, many others.

But for the book Har Tabor (no. 1129) which discusses the proper place of the bimah in the center of the synagogue there is no mention of any other books which discuss this topic, or any other books which disagree with this book either.

Another example, the book Be’ar Esek (no. 406) contains a teshuva about the R. Menacham of Fano and whether he had a beard. This teshuva was highly controversial and R. Yosef Erges, R. Moshe Sofer, and R. Eliazer of Munkatz all wrote about it. There is no mention of this teshuva in the entry nor is there any mention of the literature this teshuva spawned.

This last point, that at times they fail to reference other books about the one entered happens time and time again. Perhaps the most egregious example of this is the Divrei Iggeret by R. Menhem Steinhardt (no. 759). Although the entry does note this book contains a teshuva on kitnyot (he permits it) it doesn’t mention any of the books discussing this topic, e.g. Ashro Hametz (which has no entry at all), nor does it mention the teshuva from R. Moses Sofer against R. Steinhardt’s permitting kitnyot. Additionally, it doesn’t mention an article devoted to the book itself. Professor Judith Bleich wrote an article titled “Menahem Mendel Steinhardt’s "Divrei Iggeret", Harbinger of reform” in the Proceedings for the World Congress of Jewish Studies 10 (1990): 207-214.

The next problem with the work is incompleteness. This is apparent in the entries as well as the bibliography provided. So some of the problems mentioned above are the worst, in that they don’t list anything about the book, at times even when they do they do a shoddy job. Already in my previous post I mentioned the poor entry on the organ. But there are numerous others. For instance, they have a fairly comprehensive entry on the book Hayi Olam (no. 1456) which deals with the issue of cremation. They discuss the content of the book as well as others who disagree with the author. They list other books dealing with the same subject matter as well. However, they fail to mention Michael Higger’s coverage (perhaps the most comprehensive) on this topic. (This appears in his Halakhot ve’Aggadot, 1933).

Or we have the entry for Modena’s works. Perhaps it is worthwhile to compare this entry with another. We first have the entry for the Zakan Ahron by R. Ahron Walken. As each entry includes biographical information and sources this entry reads “על המחבר ראה: דור רבניו וסופריו, ו, עמ' 31-32; אהלי שם, עמ' 201; אנציקלופדיה של הציונות הדתית, ב, עמ' 175-177. וראה לאחרונה, אליעזר הכהן כ"צמאן, "נעימות התורה- הג"ר אהרן וואלקין אב"ד פינסק בעל בית אהרן, זקן אהרן, וכו'", ישורון יא (תשס"ב), עמ' תתצא-תתקד; יב (תשם"ג) עמ' תשכז-תשלט." So, for this we have three entries plus a recent article discussing the biographical details. Now we turn to Modena. For Modena we have the following: “על המחבר ראה "אריה ישאג – ר' יהודה אריה מודינה ועולמו” and then provides the detail for that book. So we have one entry for Modena biography. So was Modena unknown? No, far from it, he wrote his own autobiography. There have been numerous articles on him as well as a full lengthy doctoral dissertation by Adelman. His autobiography is available in both Hebrew and English. The English version contain articles on him as well. But none of these are mentioned.

Now we get to omissions. The book Avot ‘Atrarah L’Banin (no. 4) contains, as the entry notes, an extensive teshuva on the permissibility of being photographed. It includes a list of Rabbis who had their photograph or more likely, their portrait done. This is all well and good. However, the entry leaves out perhaps the most interesting part, the author of Avot included a photograph (loose) of himself in the first edition. Thus, his teshuva was in a sense to justify his own practice.

There is no entry for the book Hadrat Panin Zakan which is a collection of teshuvot on beards. Nor is there an entry for the book Da’as HaRabanim which is two long teshuvot from R. Menachem Mendal Kasher and R. D. Polonski (Kli Hemdah) discussing women’s suffrage.

The editors claim this list only goes up to the year 2000. However, for some entries they include editions even after the year 2000. For R. Yehudah Herzl Henkin’s Beni Banim (no. 555) they include his fourth volume printed in 2004. However, for R. Teichtel’s Em HaBanim Semacha (no. 239) where there have been two recent translations which are different they do not include this. But again for R. Menachem Kasher’s Hatekufa haGedolah (no. 1144) (how this even qualifies as a teshuvah book is left unanswered) they include his 2001 edition.

Or we have the entry for the Helkat Ya’akov (no. 1496) where they note the first edition date and then the rest they claim are photo-offsets of the original. This is wrong. In the subsequent editions R. Herzog’s approbation was removed and thus they are not just copies of the original.

However, perhaps the answer to some of these shortcomings comes from the introduction itself. The editors explain how this work came to be. They explain that this was initially an "auxiliary tool for another project" a project on "Jewish education in the halakhic literature." This is perhaps most telling. They are explaining to the reader that (a) they are not bilbiographers; (b) they did not initially set out to do this; (c) they are not experts in teshuvot. These shortcomings are apparent. This being said, it is important to recognize that this is a vast improvement over Cohen's work and a welcome entry for Jewish biliography.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

R. Y. Emden, Hassidim & the Vilna Shas

The Vilna edition of the Shas printed by the Romm Press has become the standard edition of the Shas. This Shas had many important additions and corrections that prior ones did not. One of those was the inclusion of the comments of R. Jacob Emden.

However, it appears that one comment, a rather important one was left out. R. Emden in Gitten page 60 made a comment regarding the Hassidim, this does not appear in the Vilna Shas. In the Mozonim edition they partially rectified this by providing a partial transcription of the passage. But it seems they were unable to reproduce the entire passage and thus, even in their edition it contains numerous ellipses. Now, in the most recent volume of the journal Ohr Yisrael, R. M.M. Goldstein has provided the complete passage. As will be apparent, this is a very important passage. R. Goldstein got this from the manuscript of R. Emden's comments which is now housed in the Oxford Library. In the article, R. Goldstein provides of copy of the original manuscript.

In it R. Emden discusses Kabbalah and that this subject is really only for a select few. (He also explains the term aggadah in relation to kabbalah). He then continues to explicate the limited distrubution of kabbalah and says
ואינו מתגלה אלא ליחידי סגולה לא עמוד איש בליעל ורע בסודה, ולהוציא גם ממה שנהגו מתחסדים חדשים מקרוב באו לעסוק בספר הזוהר ואר"י בקבע, ועשו תלמוד והלכות עראי וטפל, אין חפץ ה' בהם, הלא מזקנים נתבונן שעיקר למודם ותורתם לא היה אלא בנגלה בלבד, וסתרי תורה לא היה נמסרים אלא ליחיד עמוד בחצי ימיו על פי תנאי פרישות הרבה כמו שאמרו פרק אין דורשין, ואף זה לא אשכח ותני רק למבין מדעתו וחכם, והללו עשו פומבי לדבר פתאים בל ידעו מה, כסילים נעדרי דעת, השה אלוה חכמה ולא חלק להם בבינה

[kabbalah] should only be given to a limited set of person, one who can understand its secrets, this excludes the new hassidim who spend their time reading the Zohar and the works of the AR"I, but only spend amount of time on the Talmud and the laws, God does not want them, from our ancestors we have learnt that the majority of ones time should be only in the revealed Torah, the seceret Torah was only for special ones, who where older [at the mid point in life] with conditions of ascetism as is described in the Talmud Haggiah, it is only given to those who can understand by themselves, however, these [the hassidim] they make public things which should be private to those who don't know anything, idiots totally lacking in knowledge, God who gives wisdom did not give them understanding.
While this is not the only critique R. Emden had of Hassidim it is curious that the Romm printers did not inlcude it. Unfortunatly we don't know why. It was not as if the Romm press was considered particularly friendly with Hassidim. In fact, one of the reasons Hassidim used the Shapira press was they viewed the Romm one as not in line with Hassidic values. This was so, as the Romm press printed works of maskilim. But, now that this passage has been printed one can hope that in future editions of the Shas this will be included, in it entirety.

Sources: R. M.M. Goldstein, Iyunim u'Biurim b'Mishnato shel Rabbenu haYavetz, in Ohr Yisrael vol. 43 (Nissan 5766) 203-215; for another passage in R. Emden's writings discussing Hassidim see Wilensky, Hassidim u'Mistnagdim, p. 380; for more on what the Romm edition included see their Achrit Davar at the end of Niddah.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Note to Email subscribers

Those who subscribe via email, the prior service, bloglet, appears to be dead. I have now switched to feedblitz. If you have already subscribed you need not do anything you have been automatically switched. However, if you would like to subscribe it is on the left side of the page.

The Meshumad Hazzan

As some of you know I have an interest in meshumdim and their wide affect on modern day Judaism. Thus, Yehoshua Mondshine's latest installment in his series on corrupted stories is especially good. Some may recall our earlier post on Mondshine's earlier piece about the "classic" ba'al teshuva story and its root in a Shai Agnon story, I think this one is equally as good.

This story is a Habad story and it basically goes like this. There was a Hazzan in Habad known as Reb Yechiel the Meshumad. His story was that as a young boy his entire village was wiped out by a progrom. The Poritz kept him as his own son and did not tell him that he was Jewish. The boy had no idea who his true ancestors were. As the boy grew up it became appearent he had a talent for music and was sent to a music school. At school some kids taunt him for being Jewish (there are slightly different variations here) and he has no idea why. He goes back to his "father" and he is then told what happened and eventually hooks up with Habad and becomes the Hazzan.

This entire story is not in the least bit true. First, they have letters from the Hazzan Yechiel to his (real Jewish) father. Second, in those letters he discusses his lineage so he was well aware where he came from. Third, he was never a meshumad. Instead, it seems he was the meshulach for Yeshivat Tomkhei Torah. It seems that meshulach and meshumad are close enough that people got them mixed up!? However, once the meshulach became a meshumad it was only a small leap to create an entire legend surrounding his childhood.

The full article is available here.

Additionally, it seems the niggun which the story revolves around - the one for hu' 'elokanu in the mussaf of Shabbat is based upon a non-Jewish one.

R. Reuven Margulies II

I have already discussed the most recent book of R. Margulies and provided a bibliography of his works, I now want to turn to a brief biography of him.

R. Margulies was born in 1889 and was known, from the time of his youth, as extremly erudite. Although he recieved ordination, he did not become a Rabbi and instead opened a bookstore in Lemberg. It is said that although his store was always full of talmidi hakhmim it was unclear if he actually sold anything. During his time in Lemberg he began publishing his own books. Many of his early books focus on hassidim. One of his early works, a biography on R. Hayyim ben Attar (Ohr haHayyim haKodesh) included comments by R. Dan Polonski, the author of the Kli Hemdah. In 1935 R. Margulies moved to Israel and became the librarian at the Rambam Library in Tel Aviv.

After moving to Israel he produced some of his most well known works. He began to focus on the Zohar literature and produced a fully annotated version of the Zohar, Zohar Hadash, Tikkunei Zohar and the Bahir. Additionally, during this time, he was involved in a controversy with Gershon Scholem over the R. Jacob Emden/R. Jonathan Eybeshuetz controversy. R. Margulies produced a pamphlet defending R. Eybeshuetz and in response Scholem produced his own disagreeing with R. Marguleis's conclusions.

R. Margulies also produced an annotated Shulhan Orach, Nefesh Hayiah which he lists, in his typical encyclopedic manner, other books which deal with the same issues. It was this book that some in the comments to a previous post have raised questions about plagerism. The source for this accuasation comes for R. Wolf Leiter. He cites to sixty-one examples from R. Margulies's book Nefesh Hayiah where R. Leiter notes others have said the same thing prior to R. Margulies. In fact, R. Leiter says these are just the tip of the iceberg. He says "there are hundreds of other examples which I have written on the side of my copy, there is no end I have only provided some examples." R. Leiter's examples include citations to articles and other books.

It is important to note, however, that R. Margulies wrote this during World War I. R. Margulies himself notes that this was written during a particular trying time "I remember the long winter nights when I was closed up, alone, lacking everything . . . I wrote and studied from the light of the oven fire, laying upon the floor." Thus, it is a possiblity that during this time he neglected to look up everything and produced much from memory. In turn, the result may have been to include what he had seen before without attribution.

Additionally, some accuse him of plagerizing from R. Yosef Engel and R. Engel's comments to the Zohar. I have never seen this in print (aside from the comment).

That being said, to accuse R. Margulies of not being extremely well read and very, very, erudite is wrong. If one looks to R. Yosef HaKohen Schwartz, who himself was one of the biggest bikeim of his day. He corresponded with R. Margulies and among other notes that R. Margulies's "praises are known to all" that he is "an amazingly sharp mind." Furhter, if one looks at his bibliography in three parts in the journal Areshet is very apparent R. Margulies's breath of knowledge. Finally, as evidenced by the bibliography below, R. Margulies produced many, many books and if in one or two he may have been sloppy in attribution it is equally clear that the vast majority of his works he was not.

R. Margulies passed away in 1971.

Sources: Sefer Margolios, ed. Dr. Y. Refael; R. Z.W. Leiter, Tzion l'Nefesh Hayyiah no. 109; R. Y. Schwartz, Ginzei Yosef.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

R. Reuven Margulies I

First, I want to post a bibliography of R. Margulies's works and then I shall discuss some biogrpahical details in the next post. This bibliography is not a scientific one in that I do not attempt to list every edition. Rather, I am listing just the works and some bibliogrpahical information as I see fit. Most of this information comes from Naftali Ben Menachem's bibliogprahy of R. Margulies's books which was printed in Sefer Margolious.

1) Toldot Adam (Lemberg 1912) on R. Shmuel Edels
2) Kav Besamim (Lemberg 1913) 102 notes on Tosefot
3) Drush l'yom 'alot 'al kesi moshlim 'adonanu haKeiser Karal haRishon (Lemberg 1918)
4) Kavi Ohr (Lemberg, 1921) laws pertianing to Israel as well as articles on history, including yesod hamishna among others
5) Yesod HaMishna V'Arikachto (Lemberg, 1933) on the creation of the Mishna
6) Sefer Hassidim with his notes (multiple printings)
7) Tolodot Rabenu Hayyim ben Atar (Lemberg, 1925), biography on the Ohr Hayyim includes the notes of R. Meir Dan Plotzki (Kli Hemdah)
8) Ohr Meir (Lemberg, 1926), biography of R. Meir from Perlmishiya
9) Margenuta d'Reb Meir (Lemberg, 1926), sayings of the above R. Meir
10) Shealot u'Teshuvot min HaShamyim, R. Margulies's extensive notes on the teshuvot as well as a comprehensive introduction discussing Torah lo' Bashmyim and other related topics (multiple printings)
11) Yalkut Margolious ([Lemberg], 1927), derashot of R. Margulies
12) Imrei Kodesh haShalem (Lemberg, 1928)
13) Vikuach Rabbanu Yehiel m'Paris (Lemberg, 1928), with biography of R. Yehiel
14) Shemot v'Kinuim B'Talmud, discussing names in the Talmud, including when two names started, (multiple printings)
15) Helulua d'Tzadika (Lemberg 1929), lifespan and death dates of Tzadikim
16) Vikuach HaRamban (Lemberg, 1928)
17) Yalkut Peninim (Lemberg, 1929), derashot
18) Butzna d'Nehora HaShalem (Lemberg, 1930), about R. Barukh of Metzerich
19) Gevurot Ari (Lemberg, 1930), biography of R. Leib Srhson
20) Toldot Rabbenu Avrohom Mimoni, biography of Rambam's son, (multiple printings)
21) Rishimah (Lemberg, 193-) list of books in his bookstore
22) Mekor Barukh (Lemberg, 1931), biography of R. Barukh of Metzerich and other historical documents
23) Shem Olam, to reveal the anonymous people in hazal (multiple printings)
24) HaModiah journal
25) Nefesh Hayyia, on Shulchan Orakh multiple printings
26) Hagadah shel Pesach (Tel Aviv, 1937)
27) Shichot Chakhamim
28) Mekor haBerakha discussing blessing and why and when before one does something (recently reprinted)
29) Zohar with his extensive notes (multiple printings)
30) Sibah hisnaguto discussing R. Emden/R. Eybeschitz controversy (very controversial Scholem wrote a pamphelet against this) Tel Aviv 1941
31) Reb Saul Levin M'Ziaf haSefer Besamim Rosh, in Aresehet 1944
32) Malechi Elyon on angels in Hazel (multiple printings)
33) Ollalot various articles (multiple printings)
34) Tikunei Zohar notes, multiple printings
35) Sefer haBahir same as above
36) Zohar Hadash same
37) L'Toldot Anshei Shem b'Lvov, Jerusalem 1952
38) Milchmot HaShem (R. Avrohom ben HaRambam) (including the biography on him) (multiple printings)
39) haRambam v'Hazohar now reprinted in Penini Margolios
40) Sha'ari Zohar collecting relvant passages from the Zohar to Hazal (multiple printings)
41) Margolios HaYam on Sanhedrin (multiple printings)
42) Divrarim b'Itam dershot
43) L'Heker haMisparam beTalmud, Sinai 44
44) Tzioyunim Bibliographim a comprehensive biobibliography in Areshet 1-2,4
45) Tziyunim l'Ha'arot l'Seder haDorot, Sinai 46
46) HaMikrah v'Hamesorah multiple printings
47) Mekharim b'Darkei haTalmud v'Hidosov multiple printings

"New" R. Reuven Margoliyot Book

Mossad HaRav Kook has published Peninem u-Margoliyot which is a collection of articles by R. Reuven Margoliyot. These articles originally appeared in the journal Sinai and are now republished in a single volume. It seems that the impetus to collect and publish these was not so that people could have access to them (although perhaps this played a small role). Instead, Mossad HaRav Kook was forced, as it was, to publish these.

In the last few years, in honor of someone's child's wedding, someone published some of R. Margoliyot's articles and books, including the articles which appeared in Sinai. Now, this seems to have upset Mossad HaRav Kook as they note in the introduction where they explain these articles are not that well known "with the exception of one publisher in America, who stole, without first obtaining permission, and Jews will not have a stumbling block in their homes." While it may be the case that many are unaware of the journal Sinai or where to find R. Margoliyot's writings it seems that Mossad HaRav Kook who had these for years, some for 30 years, they would have been content to let them langiush had it not been for this violation of copyright.

In fact, Mossad HaRav Kook has only published those articles which appeared in Sinai, they did not, as the American publisher did, republish other works (long out of copyright) of R. Margoliyot. The American publications include Toledot Ohr Hayyim haKadosh and Toledot Maharsha. The latter was originally published in Lemberg in 1932 it contains a portrait of the Maharsah (R. Shmuel Edels) as well as a discussion by R. Margoliyot of other Rabbis who had their portraits done (the picture of him in the chair is from the 1814 Vienna edition of the Maharsha and the frontal picture is from R. Margulies's book).

The articles in these books include among others: Ha-Rambam v'HaZohar, Defusi haShulhan Arukh, Defusi haShulahan Ohrah haRishonim, Zionunei HaPesukim b'Talmud u-Midrashim, and Toledot Rebbi Yehuda HaNassi.

I purchased both the American and the Mossad HaRav Kook versions at Beigeleisen Books.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Eruv Controversy and Website

There is an excellent site discussing various issues with eruvin, many of them contemporary (especially in light of the seforim which have been published on the topic in the last couple of years, many dealing with the Brooklyn controversy). Today, he has the second part of his series on the St. Louis eruv controversy which includes a rather fascinating discussion regarding two seforim printed at the turn of the 20th century.

Both of those seforim are available online, if one is interested in reading further.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Hatikvah, Shir HaMa'alot, & Censorship

There is a rather interesting teshuva which appears in R. Avrohom Weinfeld's Lev Avrohom. In it he discusses whether one can recite Shir HaMa'alot to the tune of Hatikvah.


He first explains that this question involves the question of whether a tune from an impure source is appropriate to use. He begins by discussing the two well-known teshuvot (the Teshuvot haBakh and the Krach shel Romi) dealing with using non-Jewish tunes for Jewish songs.




However, without getting into all of his halakhic discusion, I would like to focus on his final proof that using a tune or the like for an impure source is inappropriate. He finishes with a quote from the book Shivchei Rav Hayyim Vital. This quote demonstrates, for him, that it does matter what the source of something is. The quote is as follows:
אמת הוא שהפזמונים שחיבר הם בעצמם טובים, אבל הוא בעצמו אסור לדבר עמו, ומי שמוציא מפיו הפזמונים שחיבר רע לו. כי תמיד פיו דובר נבלה וכל ימיו שיכור While it is true that the songs he composed are themselves good, he [the composer] it is not permitted to speak with him, and whomever sings the songs he [the composer] wrote, it is bad. Because [the composer] is always speaking profanities and spends his days drunk.

Thus, according to R. Weinfeld, this shows that R. Hayyim held it is very important to know who the source is and if that source is bad, one should not use it even if it is a nice song. In fact, R. Hayyim continues (although this does not appear in the Lev Avrohom) with other rather serious allegations against this person. However, this proof is premised on the fact that we accept this. That is, if we were to figure out who this person was and we in fact do sing his songs, obviously we would not follow R. Hayyim's understanding.


Now, as is apparent, in the Shivchei this person is anonymous. But all is not lost. The Shivchei is in fact an abriged version of a longer work. That work, Sefer Hezyonot the Book of Visions, is in fact published.

The Sefer Hezyonot was first published in 1954 by Mossad HaRav Kook. Admittedly, this book contains rather shocking material and was therefore claimed that it was not in fact from R. Hayyim. R. Reuvan Margolios, among others, protested outside of Mossad HaRav Kook after this was published. Needless to say Mossad HaRav Kook never republished this. Now in truth it seems the manuscript which was used to print this book was actually from R. Hayyim's own hand. And therefore this book has actually been republished recently in three different editions.

The first was in 1999 in an English edition "Jewish Mystical Autobiographies, Book of Visions." The second was in 2002 by a Yeshiva in Jerusalem and was edited and includes a commentary by R. Nesonel Monsor. However, as we shall see, this was not a complete edition. And then finally, this year Mochon Yad Ben Tzvi put out a critical edition of this book.

So to return to our question, who was this unnamed composer, one just needs to open a Sefer Hezyonot to find out. There the very same passage as was in the Shivchei appears, however, it includes the name of the person. That person is the composer R. Yisrael Nagara. R. Yisrael was not unknown, in fact he authored a very well-known zemer which is sung universally, kah rebon 'olam.

Now that we know who this is, we now see that it would appear we do not hold like R. Hayyim, in that we sing this song, even though R. Hayyim declared it was improper to do so. Thus, R. Weinfeld's proof is no longer a proof, but if R. Hayyim is correct in his claims of drunkeness etc. it actually demonstrates that we do not care that the source may be impure as it was.

But, as we alluded to before, not every edition of Sefer Hazyonot contains the name. The Jerusalem edition in the place of the name has an ellipse. Now one can say perhaps the manuscript they used had that. That is wrong. There is only one manuscript in existance today and that manscript contains the name. Therefore, it seems the Jerusalem edition was censored. One can see on the side themselves the passages in question. The page which has the legend on the top Sefer Hezyonot/Darkehi Hayyim is the Jerusalem edition while the other Hebrew one is the Ben Zvi and I have supplied the English as well.

Sources: Teshuvot Lev Avrohom no. 134 (if one is interested in a rather nuanced view of R. Weinfeld on the State of Israel one should also see nos. 139-141); Faierstein, "Jewish Mystical Autobiographies" introduction; Catalog of Gershon Scholem in Kabbalah no. 4331

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Errors in New Kuntras HaTeshuvot

As some have already noted, there is a completely new edition of Boaz Cohen's Kuntras HaTeshuvot. This edition edited by Shmuel Glick totally reworks Cohen's work. Supposedly this new work benefited from many subsequent bibliographies as well as the Institute for Jewish Bibliography.

While this is an vast improvement in my quick read (I only received it today) I was amazed at what this lacked and in my mind errors.

The first is for the entry for the Besamim Rosh the famed possible forgery attributed to R. Asher b. Yecheil. In their entry they first note that examined the Krakow 1881 edition. Now aside from not looking at the first edition which is not hard to come by there is a greater error here. Specifically, they do not note that this edition is missing two teshuvot. So while they provide a bibliography listing articles discussing the Besamim Rosh they fail to mention the most important thing that if one gets the wrong edition they will not have the full text. Even though they comment there are 392 teshuvot they did not bother to count or to even read the articles they cite (which note this absence). This are not minor teshuvot either, in fact, the one on suicide which this edition leaves out is perhaps the most well-known and cited one from the entire volume.

The next error is in regards to the Hatam Sofer. Again they have a long entry about the various editions and then list the various editions. But here they totally missed out on the first edition of this work. The first time teshuvot from the Hatam Sofer appeared was not as a separate work but as part of another work. In Prague 1826 edition of the Ri Megash from pages 31b until 42a there is Kuntras Hiddushi Torah v'Gam She'alot v'Teshuvot m'admu HaRav HaGaon . . . R. Moshe Sofer. In fact, on the title pages it even notes that this includes teshuvot from Hatam Sofer. This is listed in the Bibliography of the Hebrew Book and a simple computer search would have revealed this information.

Additionally, the sources which are provided are rather uneven. Again, this is only from my limited viewing of it and I may revise but if one looks at the entry for Eleh Divrei HaBrit which deals with, among other things, the controversy regarding placing an organ in shul. In that entry they provide Haberman's article on the topic but not Binayahu's article or Samet's which both appeared in Asuphot vol. 1 and 5 respectively. In fact, the book Ohr Nogeh which is Liberman's book on the topic does not have an entry. While perhaps they considered this part of the work Nogeah HaTzedek there doesn't seem to be a reason to do so. Also, they do not include the book Tzror Hayyim which was published a year after Eleh and is devote to the very same topics in their list of books and articles discussing the organ. This is so eventhough the first teshuva discussed the organ exclusively.

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