The book, as the title implies, discusses the Shabbat following ones wedding know as Shabbat HaChanutah or Shabbat haHatan. It was customary in many communities, mainly Sefardic but there is also evidence for some Ashkenazi as well, on this Shabbat, aside from the regular reading from the Torah, the parsha of V’Avrahom Zakan Bo B’Yamim was read for the groom. One may be asking so what could have possibly have been the controversy? In one community,
The question is whether as part of the seven obligatory aliyot can you read a parsha that is merely a custom? To this, R. Supino said yes. Well, somewhere between 1735-36 on one such Shabbat, there was a vistor from another city,
R. Meldola didn’t stop at printing his own book on the topic, he wanted to make sure his book would be the only record of events. First, I must point out that R. Meldola published his book after R. Supanu (and other important figures) died so there was no one to dispute his events. Second, R. Supino, did not wait until anyone died, rather he published his version and the defense of his position in Kuntres ‘al Inyan Shabbat HaChatuna. Sometime around 1743, R. Supanu sent this to
Shmuel Glick, the editor of the new Kuntres haTeshuvot, was looking through all the libraries to find all the responsa literature, and in Schocken Library he found the only remaining copy in the world of this book. The copy he found also contains some annotations which Glick thinks are that of R. Supanu himself. In this republication, Glick has done a beautiful job (as well as Mossad HaRav Kook). First, he includes an extensive introduction where all the above is from. Second, as mentioned above, until now we had a one sided story of the events, now we have both sides. Glick discusses and highlights the various differences between R. Meldola’s and R. Supino’s versions of the events. Third, he has completely reset the type of the book and included notes as well. Fourth, he then includes a photo reproduction of the actual work. And, finally, he includes to letters from R. Supino which were in manuscript.
In part, the reason this work is important aside from the actual question is its broader implications for the force of custom. R. Supino’s basic argument is the additional reading for the groom is a custom – but as a custom has the same status as the rest of the regular parsha. R. Meldola disputes this understanding of custom.
While this edition is excellent, I want to point out two small things, one is typographical error and the other not an error but an elaboration. The main footnote (which is terrific in scope) which discusses the custom of the special reading for the groom is in the Introduction, footnote 6. But, the references to it in the actual Kuntres (e.g. footnote 2, 62, 158) it refers to it as footnote 2. The second minor point is in a footnote (p. 28 n. 146), Glick discusses the usage of the saying מנהג ישראל תורה, but left off perhaps the most comprehensive discussion of this usage in R. Shmuel Ashkenazi’s Alfa beta kadmita, pp. 210-18.
In all, Shmuel Glick should be commended for an excellent work of a fascinating book. The book is printed by Mossad HaRav Kook and should be available wherever finer seforim are sold.