Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Pesach Journals, Had Gadyah, Plagiarism & Bibliographical Errors

Two journals have put out special collections devoted to Pesach. The first, Moriah, has continued their holiday specific journals and collected their third volume of articles devoted to Pesach. Yeshurun, for the first time has also collected choice articles related to a specific holiday and published a volume devoted to Pesach as well.

Yeshurun’s effort, being their first, is the focus of this post. This volume is much smaller than their typical volumes. Usually, each volume of Yeshurun is huge – over 700+ pages – with this volume, however, the articles comprise a “mere” 300+ pages. Aside from articles related to Pesach, this volume contains an index to the first 10 volumes of Yeshurun. [1] The index contains indexes of persons, books, topics, and sources (Bible verse, Mishna, Talmud etc.). Although any index is most welcome (especially in light of how large the volumes are) and this index is pretty comprehensive but I am unsure why they decided to leave out an index of authors. That is, the index of persons is limited to persons discussed in articles, not those who actually wrote the articles. So if one wants to look up all the articles written by person X, they are out of luck for now.

Aside from the issue of lack of an author index I found a much more glaring problem in this volume. The volume includes an article discussing the song Had Gadyah. This article has numerous flaws. First, the author of the article is Tuvia Fruend. Tuvia Fruend has authored a series of books on the holidays “Mo’adim l’Simcha.” These books contain articles related to the holidays. Fruend’s modus operandi for Mo’adim l’Simcha is to find a good article on the topic and then repackage it – or at times – just plagiarize it. What is particularly surprising in this context is that one article he is clearly guilty of plagiarizing is one which appeared in Yeshurun – by one of the editors of Yeshurun! As I have previously shown, Fruend copied it verbatim, without citation, and even repeated typographical errors. Why then, Yeshurun would give Fruend a forum is difficult to understand.

Second, the article itself is problematic. This article appears in Fruend’s Mo’adim l’Simcha and this is a reprint of that article. [2] This time, however, all the footnotes are removed. Additionally, even though there are no footnotes, there are also almost no citations in this article. Instead, we have statements such as this “according to many scholars” [3] – without saying who those scholars are or where they can be found. Further, Fruend, in one of the few actual citations, says “in the journal Machnim issue 54, 1961 there appears” where he notes the article in Machnim records a different version of this song. Fruend doesn’t tell us who the author of the article was – A. M. Habermann. Additionally, Fruend makes it appear that the only value of this article is the alternative language. But, if one looks up the article, the article discusses not only the alternative reading but includes other sources which shed light on Had Gadyah, sources which Fruend uses in his article.

Further, Fruend’s reliance on Habermann’s article are apparent in the last part of Fruend’s article. Fruend lists (and discusses some) of the books devoted to explaining Had Gadyah. Fruend, although never notes that Habermann had complied a list previously – in an article that Fruend had already noted he had seen.

Finally, there are some bibliographical errors which appear in the article. First, while minor, Fruend, for the number of Haggadah published uses Ya’ari’s bibliography. Although Ya’ari’s bibliography of the Haggadah is a fine bibliography it is significantly incomplete. Yudlov’s, more recent, bibliography ("The Haggadah Thesaurus") contains almost double the amount of Haggadahs. Second, the bibliographical information Fruend provides for some of the books devoted to Had Gadyah are in error. The first book on the list is Mogen David by R. David b. Meshulam. Fruend gives the date 1745, this, however, is incorrect. The actual printing date is 1755. [4] The second bibliographical error is according to Fruend the commentary on Had Gadyah, Pesach Tikvah, was published in Frankfort in 1785. Again this is incorrect. The London edition was published in 1785, however, this was not the first edition. Instead, the first edition, which was published in Frankfort, was published in 1727. [5] All of these errors could have been easily corrected by looking in Yudlov or even Ya’ari, or even copying from Habermann correctly. Finally, if Fruend had actually used Yudlov he would have found an additional commentary on Had Gadyah unlisted by Habermann. Although Yudolov did not see it, he records a commentary Milas Even, Fuerth, 1730. [6]

[1] The editors note that the index to the balance of the volumes is in process and will be published in due time.

[2] It may be that Fruend also previously published this article in Yeshurun as well, but as they have no author index I was unable to confirm that this article appeared in Yeshurun before. Even if this the first time he published in Yeshurun, I don’t understand why some of the errors below were not corrected by any of the editors of Yeshurun.

[3] This statement also appears in the original article in Mo’adim l’Simcha without citation there either.

[4] In order to figure out the date one must add up the bold letters which appear in the legend בשנת ליל שמורים הוא לה' which adds up to 515 i.e. the year 5, 515 which converts to 1755. Perhaps Fruend’s date was due to a mathematical error.

[5] The date of publication may not actually be this date. This is so as included on the title page is a legend which reads “to know the week and the year [of the printing of this book] when it was finished completely.” Yudolov admits that he is unable to figure out what the publisher meant by this line. Yudolov, however, bases his dating on C.D. Friedberg. Although there may be some question about the exact date, the date offered by Freund is impossible. This is so, as the printer was Johann Kelner. Kelner printed between the years 1708-1730. Thus, Fruend’s date of 1785 is impossible – at least if Kelner printed this book.

[6] In truth there is a more troubling error to the whole article. Fruend fails to discuss the significant evidence that Had Gadyah is merely a popular folksong which was borrowed and converted for use at the Seder. While Fruend does discuss those who downplay this assertion, he doesn’t discuss any of the counter-evidence or fully explain the issue.

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