Monday, April 23, 2007

Eliezer Brodt: A Behind The Scenes Look at Two New Editions: Part One

A Behind The Scenes Look at Two New Editions: Part One
by Rabbi Eliezer Brodt

A few weeks ago, while perusing through the new Seforim at the Girsa Seforim store in Jerusalem, I noticed a new מנחת פתים from ר' מאיר אריק. At first I thought it was another plain old reprint of the original one. But a few friends tipped me off to it being much more than a reprint. So off I went to purchase the seforim. This is a short review what this version is exactly.

It's a well known fact that, ר' מאיר אריק left over a great deal of written works; as opposed to his brother ר' פישל who was also a great gaon, but wrote nothing. One of his more famous works is the מנחת פתים on ד' חלקי שלחן ערוך. The concept behind the sefer is a published listing of his comments on שלחן ערוך, some lengthy with the expected back and forth, others short with only references. Many of these citations are to rare seforim, or other not-usually available sources, all locally annotated with his tremendous בקיאות. One point of interest is his usage of new ראשונים such as the מאירי and אור זרוע. Anyone learning הלכה knows how valuable this work is- it does not require my personal הסכמה (who am I to even dare give it one!) as the work speaks for itself! The work on אורח חיים was reprinted a few times, most recently a few years ago by מכון עוז והדר. The part on יורה דעה חושן משפט ואבן העזר was also reprinted a few years ago in a photo-mechanical reproduction of the 5658 (1898). This new version only came out with two volumes so far – on אורח חיים ויורה דעה. The individuals responsible for its publishing have already proven themselves with the טל תורה החדש and שו"ת אמרי יושר (both the original editions as well as a new volume compiled from manuscripts and responsa published in rare journals) that they put out 10 years ago.

There are many great additions to this new version of the מנחת פתים. Firstly, over the years ר' מאיר אריק had many additions to his מנחת פתים which he planned on printing. He never got around to it but right before WWII, two of his תלמידם gathered everything together including many manuscripts of his and they printed it, in Krakow in 1938. Being that it was right before the war it seems no copies survived the war – to the extant that no one seemed to even know about this edition. Miraculously, Rabbi Zweibel's own Rosh Yeshivah had found a copy of this print from Krakow, and gave it to his student for reproduction! Aside from this, Rabbi Zweibel was privileged to see the actual שלחן ערוך thatר' מאיר אריק used, which had many notes written in the margins. Further, he continued to track down other notes and novellas that ר' מאיר אריק had written related to שלחן ערוך. All of this was included in this new edition. In addition, the editors did the kind favor of letting one know before each piece from where it comes from a manuscript or the Krakow edition etc. Almost every page contains a few new pieces so one can easily see how much exactly was added to this new printing. Along with all additions, the publisher included notes from two of his talmidim ר' יהודה הורביץ andר' צבי פרומר , famous for his work שו"ת ארץ צבי. They also separated all the תשובות that ר' מאיר brings throughout the מנחת פתים from the body text, and put them in the back - so as not to confuse the user. In the back they include a תשובה from ר' מאיר אריק to his תלמיד, הגאון ר' משולם ראהט. Also included is an index of his other seforim, שו"ת אמרי יושר, ואמרי יושר חלק ג' collating the topics relating to אורח חיים ויורה דעה (each index in its specific volume). All in all, this is a beautiful job and a good buy for those whose interests include these kind of seforim.

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