Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Shavuah HaSefer: A Recommended Reading List

Shavuah HaSefer: A Recommended Reading List

by Eliezer Brodt

Every year in Israel, around Shavous time, there is a period of around ten days called Shavuah Hasefer-book week. Shavuah HaSefer is a sale which takes place all across the country in stores, malls and special places rented out for the sale. There are places where strictly “frum” seforim are sold other places have most of the secular publishing houses. Every year we witness the publishing of hundreds of new seforim and books by the various publishing houses. Many publishing houses release new titles specifically at this time. In this post I would just like to mention to some of the very recent titles from the various publishing houses which are available at this years Shavuah HaSefer.

Magnes Press did not put out anything special in the past few months and their prices are quite high in comparison to other years. The one exception is the very reasonable price for the set of Machzorim of Professor Daniel Goldschmidt on the Yom Tovim. Of course, one must get the Shivrei Luchos from Professor Simcha Emanuel released earlier this year. However, an older title worthy of mention is the Sefer Toseftas Targum Le’nevim it is basically a collection of lost pieces on targum on niviem (some pieces were printed over a hundred years ago). The Rishonim such as the Radak quote from it numerous times. To just to list one example of a more famous point quoted by the Radak from this Tosefta: In the discussion of the miracle of Chanukah a statement is attributed to R’ Chaim Solevetchick and others (see Making of a Godal pp. 727-729) that the oil in the original miracle was not technically shemn zeis rather it was shemn ness (miracle oil). As part of this statement a Radak is quoted by various achronim such as the Klei Chemda that the oil from the miracle of Elisha was patur from masser. This statement the Radak comes from a tosefta until recently we did not know the source of this tosefta it was assumed to be a lost tosefta now we know that its from a completely different work as it appears in the Tosefta Targum Le’nevim.

The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities has advertised, in their catalog, that the long awaited Yerushalmi on Seder Nizkin is available. However, it seems that it will take another month or two for it actually to be released. Another older title by offered by them for a very reasonable price is the two volume set of the Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts in The British Isles by Bezalel Narkiss.

Merkaz Zalman Shazar has released some new titles among them a Sefer Chasidim. This work is an anonymous work written in 1819 which is virulently against Chasidim. This is the first time this work has been printed. Another new title is a work on R’ Yehudha Hanasiah. This is another book which is part of their recent series on the great leaders throughout the generations (previously they have done on Rashi and R. Yehuda HaChasid among others). Another point of possible interest which is worth mentioning is they reprinted a few titles of Professor Jacob Katz that had not been available for some time.

Reuvan Mass recently began a new series called Reshoot. They began the series with R Moshe Feinstein Teshuvot on the hot topic of Chaluv Akum. It includes an overview of the topic and a brief history of R’ Moshe life. They plan on releasing a few more in the near future such as from R’ Herzog. Another new release is from Professor Daniel Sperber called Darka Shel Halacha it deals with the sensitive topic of woman getting aliyos. One of the main points of the sefer is to discuss the halacha process more generally. Amongst the other topics in Professor Sperber’s work are Kovod Habriyos, Darkei Naom, and mitseios (reality) changing. As always there is a wealth of sources on a wide ranging amount of topics in the notes.

The Bialik Institute has a very impressive new book, the second part of the Livyat Chain. This sefer was written in the era of the Rashba. The Rashba did not allow it to be released as it uses allegorical interpretations for some of the Aggdah. It remained in manuscripts for centuries. At the turn of the century small parts were printed. But, a few years ago Professor Howard Kreisel printed one part of this work - on the creation -which is sold by Magnes Press. Recently he released another part of this work. This new volume is a massive volume of over 1000 pages on many topics. Also worth mentioning is the Sefer Hasagah from R’ Yonah Ibn Ganach it’s a critical edition translated from the Arabic for the first time. An older title that had not been around for some time is Professor Robert Brodie’s Book on the Shiltos.

Meketzei Nerdamim has released a new title - a collection of poetry from the father of the Aruch- R’ Yechiel it contains an extensive introduction about the author.

Bar Ilan University did not put out all that much this year although there catalog shows some interesting titles in press such as another volume on the Gra. But they did put out one thing special, a pirish from the fourteenth century on the Sefer Kuzari from a R’ Shlomo Mluniel it’s a nice size work around 500 pages. Besides for this there is yet another study on the works of R’ Ovadiah Yosef.

Mechon Ben Zvi has released some new titles such as a book on marriage in Italy called Nissuin Nusach Italia. Besides for that they have not released much new. But its worth mentioning the Index of the Cario Geneziah From N. Allony looks excellent for more on this book see Manuscript Boy's post here. Also the price on the recently released Pirish of R’ Matisyhu Hayesari on Avos (from Professor Y Spiegel) has dropped a bit.

Mechon Yerushalim promises a new volume to their critical edition of the Teshuvos of the Rishonim the Shut Harif but its not out yet. They also advertise a new volume of the Kovetz Zecor Leavrohm on the topic of Marriage.

Beis El released another volume from R’ Eliyahu ben Amzug called Mussar Yehudi Lumos Mussar Notsri. This is a critical edition of the work edited by Professor Eliyhu Zeini. It has been retranslated from the French as a while back it had been printed by Mossad Rav Kook. This is the second in the series of R’ Eliyahu ben Amzug works, the editor promises the rest of the works in the future.

Another interesting new title, by Shalem Press, is called Hashevah Le'yerushalaim from Professor Aryeh Morgenstern. This book seems to have generated some interest in the political circles in Israel session will be devoted to it in Ben Zvi Institute. I have gotten a look at this book - it is massive some 596 pages which discuss Jewish resettlement of the land 1800-1860.

The Hamodiah book sale is nice as well, they even have separate hours for men and women. There one sees many people just staring at the Otzar Hachoma and Otzar Hatorah programs watching their search engines. Of course none of these people intend to buy it. Feldheim and Oz Vhadar are there in full force. Worthy of mentioning is the great price of Feldheim on the set of Rodleheim Machzorim. However the main highlight of this sale at least for me are the displays of the Shem Olam Mechon. This publishing house prints many interesting seforim every year but for some reason most of it is never sold in stores. For example, they recently printed a two volume collection of letters of the S'dei Chemed which was virtually not sold anywhere. Another highlight is the booth of Otsros Hatorah where they sell old reprints of rare seforim for great prices. One is bound to find something good there.

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