Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Where's Shai Agnon Revisited

You may recall that in a prior post we noted that in the Reinetz edition of the Pirush Ba'al HaTurim al HaTorah is a victim of censorship. Specifically, Reinetz quotes a story about how quickly the Tur wrote his commentary on the Torah. In the early edition of Reinetz's work, Shai Agnon is cited as the source while in later editions Agnon is removed.

In the comments, however, some took issue with the need to cite to Agnon as Agnon was ultimately citing to another work, Kol Dodi, and thus, according to some commentators, so long as Reinetz cites to the Kol Dodi it is ok. These commentators' opinion is premised on the notion that Kol Dodi is another work. As was noted in the comments there is no such published work. Although there is no published work with that name that contains this story, there is still some abiguity as it could be Agnon was cited to an earlier work in manuscript. Now, however, we can put that all to rest and conclusively show that the only source is Agnon.

As mentioned previously, we hope to provide comprehensive reviews of Y.S. Spiegel's Tolodot Sefer HaIvri, in that vein, we came across the following footnote (vol. 1, p. 29 n.8) where Spiegel discusses Agnon's Kol Dodi:

יש לציין לדברי ש"י עגנון בספרו ספר סופר וסיפור, ירושלים, תשל"ח, עמ' ק, בשם ספר קול דודי:"בשעה שהיו ישראל עולין לרגל היו מביאין עמהם ספרי תורה שלהם והיו מגיהין אותם מספר עזרא הסופר שהיה מונח בעזרה." פירוש מעניין שלא מצאתיו במפרשים. אמנם כפי שכתבה לי בטובה בתו גב' אמונה ירון, ותודתי נתונה לה בזה, כינה אביה בשם קול דודי את חידושיו עצמו (וראה שם ברשימת המקורות, עמ' תנט, שנאמר על ספר קול דודי שהוא כת"י המחבר.) וכן אמר עגנון עצמו לדוד כנעני, כפי שכתב האחרון בספרו ש"י עגנון בעל פה, תל אביב, תשל"ב, עמ' 34-35

I wish to cite to Shai Agnon's statement in his work Sefer Sofer v'Sippur where he cites in the name of the work Kol Dodi . . . this statement in the name of Kol Dodi is very nice, however I have not found it in any other commentaries. But, according to what Emunah Yaron, Agnon's daughter told me, her father used the title Kol Dodi for stories of his [Agnon's] own creation . . . Furthermore, Agnon himself told David Kenanin as much . . . .

Thus, there is no doubt that in fact the only source for this story regarding the Ba'al HaTurim is Agnon and Reinetz cannot be absolved removing Agnon's name and citing to Kol Dodi, a fictitious work.

In the comments to this post Professor Lawrence Kaplan kindly brought to our attention a great article by G. Scholem that appeared in Commentary Magazine titled 'Reflections On S.Y. Agnon' (Commentary Dec. 1967 44:6) where Scholem reviews Agnon the person and his works.
Scholem refers to Agnon's famous anthology, Yamim Noraim and writes "With his caustic sense of humor he [Agnon] included a number of highly imaginative (and imaginary) passages, cullled from his own vineyard, a nonexistent book, Kol Dodi ('The Voice of my Beloved'), innocently mentioned in the bibliography as 'a manuscript in possession of the author.'''

Professor Kaplan then adds: It also follows that one cannot excuse Agnon for this (in my view rather innocent) deception on the grounds that he only referred to Kol Dodi in Sefer, Sofer, ve-Sippur, which he did not prepare for publication.

The truth is that Scholem made a mistake as in the bibliography of both Sefer, Sofer, ve-Sippur and Yamim Noraim, Kol Dodi is listed and described as "כת"י המחבר" meaning a manuscript of the author - himself not as Scholem translates it "a manuscript in possession of the author." Scholem's description of Kol Dodi is based on the English version translation! Addtionally, in the three places which Agnon quotes from this work in his Sefer, Sofer, ve-Sippur it appears to be a collection of stuff he heard from people on topics similar to the Sefer, Sofer, ve-Sippur. But it do not appear that Agnon was trying to fool anyone to a nonexistent book

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