Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Look at Makhon Moreshet Ashkenaz's New Journal: Yerushateinu

A Look at Makhon Moreshet Ashkenaz’s New Journal: Yerushateinu
By Eliezer Brodt

There is a new journal published by מכון מורשת אשכנז titled ירושתנו. This מכון is well known for producing some excellent works, amongst them זכרונות ומסורות על החת"ם סופר and the four volumes ofשרשי מנהג אשכנז . This journal they promise to put out once a year but only time will tell, as anyone familiar with this מכון knows; they do great work but it takes forever for the seforim to come out. Many reasons have been given as to why that is so (money amongst them) however, the main reason I feel is because they strive for perfection – which is the biggest mistake many make as the משנה in אבות says לא עליך המלאכה לגמור.

With this in mind I would like to review this work (not in-depth so as to keep your interest). There are articles on all topics – basically whatever your interest you’re sure to find something there.

This sefer has about thirty articles including many articles which include hereto unpublished Torah from the great גדולים of אשכנז.

Amongst them from the בעל חינוך בית יהודא ,ערוך לנר ,רב הירש ,רב עזריאל הילדסהימר ,ר' יונה מרצבך and ר' דוד הקשר. There is an in-depth discussion as to the שיעור מיל according to the קליר between ר' יצחק אדלר and ר' יונה מרצבך. For those interested in poetry there is a great piece from the מהר"ם מרוטנברג on חנוכה which includes many interesting things about חנוכה. There is another article on the זמר of דרור יקרא and a piece on שירה during davening in general.

There are a few articles on contemporary halakhic issues such as הגעלת כלים from the בעל שמירת שבת כהלכתה and on יארצהייט when it’s a leap year.

Besides this there are about six articles on מנהגים all of the articles just whet one’s appetite – leaving one feeling that suddenly they took the משנה of שלא עליך המלאכה לגמור too far. For instance, one article discusses the custom of waiting between milk and meat is an extreme example of having too little information. I and many others were waiting for an exhaustive article on the topic – this is not it. Even the article from the generally great ר' בנימן שלמה המבורגר (the author of the works שרשי מנהג אשכנז), discussing קדיש after קריאת התורה, leaves us feeling teased. We are used to much more from such an expert on מנהגים. He probably wants to save it for his own works שרשי מנהג אשכנז - which we are anyway long overdue for another one.

There are, however a few stand out articles. There is an important article from Professor יעקב שפיגל, whose articles and books are consistently excellent, discussing the בית יוסף’s usage of ראשונים - specifically which editions the בית יוסף had in front of him. שפיגל covers, among others, the שבלי הלקט and the sefer אגור. This is very important in fully understanding the בית יוסף in general and his sources.

After שפיגל’s article there is a much talked about article from ר' מרדכי הוניג. This article is a review of a recent printing of the ספר חסידים החדש from the nephew of the רא"ש, sometimes referred to as the ספר המשכיל. This sefer has many many interesting things on many topics many of whichר' הוניג is kind enough to point out – he has extensive comments from a wide range of sources. One can only hope that one day he puts out this sefer with all his notes and the many more I am sure he could have put in this article of 45 pages. Perhaps he was keeping with the above themeלא עליך המלאכה לגמור.

After that there is an article, from ר' יחיאל גולדהבר, on ר' עזריאל הילדסהיימר during his time in אייזנשטט. Although the article is good, it appears he missed out on one important source from ר' עזריאל הילדסהיימר’s daughter all about her father. See Gertrude Hirschler and Shnayer Z. Leiman, “Esther Hildesheimer Calvary: The Hildesheimers in Eisenstadt,” Tradition 26:3 (1992): 87-92.

After that there is an extensive article on the life of ר' יוסף אלטמאן including many items from rare German newspapers.

The articles conclude with a short piece from ר' אברהם סולומון about a future edition of דברי קהלת from שלמה גייגר that he plans on publishing. דברי קהלת is, of course, an extremely important source for מנהגים and anyone familiar with the sefer will definitely understand the great necessity for such a job as it’s a very hard sefer to use but one could only hope that the authors dream comes true and he is able to put out the work as he intends to.

Finally, the inaugural issue of ירושתנו also includes a לוח השנה של מנהגי בית הכנסת לבני אשכנז בארץ ישראל and two articles in English.

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