Monday, June 02, 2008

Shavuah ha-Sefer 2008: A Recommended Reading List

Shavuah ha-Sefer 2008: A Recommended Reading List

by Eliezer Brodt

Book week just began in Eretz Yisroel. As I wrote last year Every year in Israel, around Shavous time, there is a period of about 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 and other places have most of the secular publishing houses. Many publishing houses release new titles specifically at this time. Just as in last year's post on Shavuah HaSefer, 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. As to regular seforim that have come out in the past few months since my last seforim list a new list is being composed of the past few months.

Bar Ilan University Press had a big awakening compared to last year. Amongst their new titles is Mechkarim be-Toldos Yehudi Ashkenaz which is a sefer ha-Yovel in honor of Professor Eric Zimmer. There are many excellent articles in this volume (see here for the table of contents). As the title indicates, these articles are related to Ashkenaz. Another important book, published in conjunction with Oxford University Press, is from the extremely prolific author Professor Sperber, The Jewish Life Cycle – Custom, Lore and Iconography. The book covers Jewish customs from the cradle to the grave. This book is based on his previous work Minhaghei Yisroel but as Sperber notes in the introduction, Minhagei Yisrael is not in any order and is eight volumes and thus is not the most user friendly when it comes to locating in a systematic fashion the topics covered. This volume is an attempt to organize some of that material, specifically, materials relating to the Jewish life cycle. Additionally, it includes many updates, corrections, and is the case with Sperber's past works, many interesting illustrations and diagrams. The much awaited volume two of the Keter Mikros Gedolos Chumash on Shemot was printed. (Volume one was not printed yet.) With this volume, Bar Ilan is trying something new as they released this volume in two sizes – big (the previous size) as well as a smaller size version. Only time will tell if they will continue to print both sizes. [The Keter series now has Berashit Vol. 1 and 2, Yehosuha, Shoftim, Shmuel alef and beis, Melachim alef and beis, Yeshaya, Yehezkiel, and Tehilim Vol 1 and 2.]

Iyunei Hamikra volume eight was printed this volume looks like it contains an excellent collection of articles. Another important work reissued (which unfortunately if you have the first edition you are stuck as I am) with many important additions to the first edition was their scientific version of Yesod Moreh of the Ibn Ezra. Amongst the many topics the Yesod Moreh deals with, one in particular around Shavout is worth noting. In this work, the Ibn Ezra takes issue with the "Miztvot counters" those you claim a set 613 mitzvot (see here for our discussion regarding mitzvot counts and the Azharot custom for Shavout.)

Another issue of Badad was printed (#20). Another important title is Am Levodod which collected pieces all about Mesctas Avodah Zorah by Professor Z. Steinfeld.

Another excellent looking volume is the Olam Nistar be-Maddei ha-Zeman from R. Shuchat. This volume contains in-depth studies on the Gra and his opinions in regard to the geulah. It also deals abit with the Ramchal and Rav Kook. There is an interesting chapter discussing the highly controversial work attributed to the Gra the Kol ha-Tohar. Just to add in a source the author seems to have missed Reb. Wolbe writes in his letters (vol 1 pg 227) that:

בענין קול התוהר: הגר"י הוטנר שליט"א אומר, שבעל הלשם שהוא הבר סמכא בענין כתבי הגר"א בקבלה, אינו מזכיר את הספר בכלל. הוא גם השתדל להוציא לאור ספרי הגר"א, ואילו הי' בדעה שזה ספר שיצא מבית מדרשו של הגר"א- לא יתכן שלא הי' משתדל להוציאו או לכל הפחות היה מזכיר אותו. לעומת זאת אמר לי הגר"י קלופט שליט"א שהוא מאמין שזה ספר אוטנטי, ומה שישנם בו דברים המפלאים אותנו, אין בזה כל ראי' שלא נישנו הדברים בבית מדרשו של הגר"א

Reuvan Mass has a few good titles, two of which pertain to the holocaust era. One is called Zikhron be-Sefer from a few authors - E. Farbstein, N. Cohen and A. Yedidya. This book deals with Gedolim that wrote, in their introductions to their works, accounts of their experiences in the Holocaust. The second book, Tenous be-Chrovos by Y. Fund, is about the Agudah Yisroel before and during the war how they dealt with the issues at hand to save the Jews. Aside from these two Holocaust books, Reuvan Mass also has D. Sperber's Nisviat Piskah already reviewed here. Another work is mi-Sinai le-LisKhat ha-Gazis by S. Kassierer and S. Glicksberg. This work deals with Torah she-Bal Peh in the writings of the Rambam and Ramban it looks like a very professional job.

The Jewish Theological Seminary Press has reprinted Saul Lieberman classic, Yerushalmi Kifshuto with a few pages of additions. Also printed this year is volume two of the Kuntres hatushuvos Hachdash already reviewed here. Additionally, one should keep an eye out in their "cheap section" as there are always some good titles.

The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities finally released the much awaited volume of Yerushalmi Nizkin with many additions from the Italian Gneziah.

Machlekes Herzog advertises that they have a new book form Professor Grossman on Rashi called Emunah Vedoes Bolamo shel Rashi but this title will not be printed for another few months.

Beis El has a new title from R. Reuven Margolis called Tal Techeyah. This work was very rare and has not been reprinted since 1922 it’s a collection of six pieces of his in his typical excellent style.

Mechon Ben Zvi has a new volume in there set of critical editions of classics of Sefer Hamakabim and other works - the Chayeh Yosef from Yosef ben matisyhu. Another important work just printed is the Chemas Hachemdah (from 1285)on chumash Breishes. One should keep an eye out on there cheap section as there are some great titles for really cheap prices.

Yediois Hachronis reprinted an old work of Shadal called Yesodei Hatorah. This new edition of theirs has a new name - Al he-Chemlah ve-Haskakha.

Merkaz Zalman Shazar has released some new titles among them a book in there about Shai Agnon. This is another book which is part of their recent series on the great leaders throughout the generations. Another title is from E. Shoham- Steiner called Charigim Bal Charcahim which deals with crazy people, leprosy, and people who had physical problems how they were looked at in the Middle Ages. Kiyum Beidan Shel Temuras a collection of articles about life in Germany from 1618-1945 – 647 pages these are articles from the English and German parts translated into Hebrew. Another title is Histography be-Mivchan which is a collection on Jacob Katz. Another very important title which they printed is ha-Yayin be-Yemei ha-Benayaim. This volume is the much awaited part two of Professor C. Solovetick book Yaynam printed by Am Oved a few years back. This volume is 480 pages and looks incredible. Here again, one should keep an eye out on there cheap section as there are some great titles for really cheap prices.

The Bialik Institute printed a very important work on Canonaztion of The Zohar from Boaz Huss. This book contains very valuable information on this controversial and senstive topic. [This title was printed with Ben Zvi and is a little cheaper by them]. An older title of theirs just reprinted is Y. Libeis book called Sod Hemunah Hashebatous.

Meketzei Nerdamim released two important new titles one is a critical edition of Rashi on Meschtos Megilah. Another is Shiriei R Aron Al-ammani from twelfth century Egypt.

Magnes Press this year has issued a few nice titles amongst them: Simchat Haregel be-Talmudum Shel Tananim by D. Henshke, Min ha-Rambam le-Shmuel Ibn Tibbon from C. Fraenkel. They also reprinted a few older titles amongst them E. Fleischer classic Shirat Hakodesh Byemi Habnayim, Rashi by S. Kamin and the Rashbam on Kohles by S.Japhet and R. Salters.

Mechon Yerushalim promised last year a new volume to their critical edition of the Teshuvos of the Rishonim the Shut Harif well it is out and looks great. They did not edit out the important notes and haskomos of Rav Kook on one of the editions they printed in this volume as other people would do these days. This volume is only part one and looks well done hopefulay part two will be printed shortly. They used the works of R. Dovid Rothestein and R. Leiter. Some other new tiles of there are: volume three of the Ramban on chumash Vayikra, Mordechai on Pesachim, volume five to their Nodah Beyuhadh set. Seder Parshyious of the Adres on Shemois and Ginas Veradim of the Prei Megadim.

Kibutz Hamechuad has put out many nice titles this year. One is a beautiful critical edtion of Mishnayis Shevies from professors S. and Z. Safrai. Other works of note include ha-Mavad Atzmos la-Daat by Y. Lichtenstein all about suicide. Another book from the same author put out earlier this year is called me-Tumah le-Kedusah which deals with going to Kevrei Tzadkim. Another title is a new study On the Jews in Germany in the middle ages called ha-Ashkenazim ha-Rishonim by A. Frischman. (reviewed here)


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