Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Of Tahanun and Yarhrzeit bukhs

A fascinating anecdote in a recently published biography of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel struck me as very worthy of sharing with the readers of the Seforim blog:
[Heschel] confided to Samuel Dresner that in his daily devotions he did not recite the Tahanun prayer, a confession of sin and supplication that was usually omitted only on the Sabbath and festivals. Heschel explained that it was a Hasidic custom to omit these woeful entreaties on the Yahrzeit (anniversary of death) of a rebbe, for such was not a day of sorrow but a mark of renewal and celebration. Because almost every day after the war was the Yahrzeit of a rebbe, Heschel did not say Tahanun at all. By means of his silence, each day he memorialized another leader, acknowledging his heartbreak before God alone. Publicly, however, Heschel would sing, literally and figuratively. He loved nigunim, and he wrote English essays in musical prose that praised - and idealized - East European Jewry.[1]
Within the non-Hasidic world, today is the yahrzeit of, among others, Rabbi David Oppenheimer(er), renowned throughout the rabbinic world as the Chief Rabbi of Nikolsburg from 1689-1702 and of Prague from 1702-1736.[2] Since 1829, his great rabbinic library of thousands of seforim and manuscripts -- until recently unmatched within the rabbinic world -- has formed the Oppenheimer Collection at the Bodleian Library at Oxford University with nearly 4,350 volumes
covering the entire range of Hebrew literature from the Bible up to early 18th cent. Particularly strong in Bible editions with commentaries, rabbinics, service-books. c60 Hebrew incunabula. Includes c70 per cent of all products of the first century of Yiddish printing, say from the 1530s to 1650. A set of the first edition of the Talmud printed by Daniel Bomberg in Venice, and a complete Talmud on vellum in 24 v (Berlin and Frankfurt a O, 1715-21).[3]
For Rabbi Reuven Margoliyot's yarhrzeit bukh, see here (PDF).

[1] Edward K. Kaplan, Spiritual Radical: Abraham Joshua Heschel in America, 1940-1972 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007), 99.
[2] On Rabbi Rabbi Oppenheim, see Charles Duschinsky, "Rabbi David Oppenheimer: Glimpses of His Life and Activity, Derived from His Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library," Jewish Quarterly Review (n.s.) 20:3 (January, 1930): 217-247.
[3] See here (scroll down)

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