Monday, July 09, 2007

Printing of the Arukh HaShulhan: The Missing Line About Rabbi Epstein's Daughter

In the prior post, R. Brodt discussed the new work of R. Yechiel Michal Epstein. R. Epstein is most famous for his Arukh HaShulhan a comprehensive halakhic work. Although the work itself is very well-known there is one point about the work that is not as well known.

Today, the Arukh HaShulhan is sold as a set, a set which covers most of Shulhan Arukh. However, when it was orignally published, R. Epstein did not put out all the volumes at once, rather it was published piecemeal. The first volume, on Hoshen Mishpat, was published in 1884. The volume on Orach Hayyim wasn't completed until 1909 after R. Epstein had died (he died in 1908). Even after a portion of Shulhan Arukh was completed, in most cases, the Arukh HaShulhan continued to be published in small volumes comprising a few simamin and not more. [It was first published in a "full set" in 1950.]

After R. Epstein died, his children took over publication. Although, today, for the most part, the Arukh HaShulhan is merely a photo-mechanical reproduction of the earlier editions, one line is typically missing - which child was the publisher. That is, the title page of the orginally posthumously published editions contain the following legend (reproduced below - you can click for a larger version):
Printed by the well-known Rabbanit Mrs.
Brina Walbrinska
the daughter and legal successor [inheritor] of the Goan, the author of all the volumes of the above mentioned Arukh HaShulhan

So the person who ended up publishing the bulk of the Arukh HaShulhan was R. Epstein's daughter. While this is not all that remarkable, there were many notable women publishers (most well-known, the Widow Romm), it is interesting that it was not R. Epstein's famous son, R. Barukh, but instead, this task fell to his daughter. This line no longer appears in today's copies of the Arukh HaShulhan.

Additionally, some of the volumes contain important genological information (reproduced below - you can click for a larger image) on the Epstein family. For instance, as you can see below, Brina discussses the fact that (a) she is strapped for money and looking for someone to help defray the printing costs; and (b) that her son Dovid, died young in "New York, the Bronx, in America." Further, she discusses her husband. Additionally, she notes that she has "published 15 volumes [of the Arukh HaShulhan] and four more volumes remain in manuscript." Finally, she notes that there is a second volume of R. Epstein's work, Or L'Yisharim which also remained in manuscript.

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