Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Was Avraham a Lamdan?

Was Avraham a Lamdan?
By Ezra Brand
I would like to thank Eliezer Brodt for reviewing this article and discussing it with me, and my father for editing this article.

Some time ago there was a discussion in cyberspace regarding whether the Avos kept all of the mitzvos. The discussion was started when a video on Youtube made fun of the idea, and a response to the video was published on the Hirhurim blog (here), as well as counter-response (here). I'd like to discuss some of the basic issues involved.

The Mishnah at the end of Kiddushin says that Avraham kept the whole Torah.[1] The Rambam (Hil. Melachim 9:1) brings down the mitzvos that each of the Avos innovated. Many laws are learned from the stories in Bereishis even though they happened before the giving of the Torah.[2]

However, Chazal do not discuss any of the questions arising from the statement that the Avos “kept the Torah.”[3] Here and there, the commentators discussed some of the more obvious questions. For example, the Ramban in his commentary on the Torah (Gen. 26:5) famously asks how Ya'akov could have married two sisters, something prohibited by the Torah. This question in particular seemed to have intrigued many commentators.

The later commentators discussed whether the Avos and their children had the status of Jews or non-Jews, since they lived before Matan Torah. This question is discussed extensively by the author of the Mishneh L'melech in his sefer P'rashas D'rachim. Later, this was discussed at length by R' Yosef Engel in the first volume of the encyclopedia he started to write, called Beis Ha'otzar, under the entry “Avos.” An interesting question that was first posed by R' Pinchas Horowitz, one of the rebbeim of the Chasam Sofer, in his commentary on the Torah, Panim Yafos, is the following: According to the opinion that the Avos were inherently non-Jews, how could they keep the whole Torah, which includes keeping Shabbos? We know that a non-Jew is prohibited from keeping Shabbos, so what did they do? Many ingenious answers are given to this question.[4]

A few hundred years ago, a popular method of learning was the “pilpul” method. In short, this method consisted of explaining difficult passages in the Gemara by connecting the passage under discussion with other seemingly unconnected passages of Gemara in other places. This style was not limited to Gemara, but was also used when explaining the Chumash. This method was attacked by R' Yair Chaim Bachrach, author of the Chavos Yair, as well as by others.[5] In any case, in these seforim pilpul was used to answer questions on the Avos's actions.[6] To quote the Encyclopedia Judaica (1st edition, Volume 13, entry “Pilpul,” pg. 527): “Criticism was much more lenient regarding the application of pilpul to the exposition of the Bible and the homiletic literature, since this was considered irrelevant to a true understanding of halakhah. Consequentially, popular preachers used to strain their imagination by adducing the most complicated talmudic passages and controversies in order to throw new light on a story from the Bible or the Midrash.”

In the past 150 years, literature on the attempted synthesis of the Torah Shebichsav (Written Torah) and the Torah Shebal Peh (Oral Torah) has exploded. This literature was meant to show that the explanations of Chazal, Torah Shebaal Peh, are in truth hinted to in the Torah Shebichsav itself. Originally, the reason for this was the attacks of the maskilim on the tradition of Torah Shebaal Peh. This led to the commentaries of R' Shamshon Rephael Hirsch, the Malbim, the sefer Haksav V'Hakabbalah, and the sefer Meshech Chochma. In addition, many anthologies of the words of Chazal regarding the written Torah were collected and put in the order of the Torah. Examples of this include the sefer Torah Temimah, as well as the still-incomplete Torah Shleimah. [7]

However, these commentaries, in their comments on Sefer Bereishis, do not systematically try to harmonize the actions of the Avos with the accepted halachah.[8] This is somewhat surprising, since the point of their commentaries is to harmonize the Torah Shebichsav with the Torah Shebaal Peh, and this would seem to be a part of that job description.

With the contemporary stress in the yeshivos on the learning of Gemara to the exclusion of almost everything else (excluding perhaps mussar seforim), and the great stress on “lomdus”, some recent seforim have followed the trend of harmonizing Torah Shebichsav with Torah Shebaal Peh to the extreme. (Lomdus is an expression used in yeshivos to refer to the Brisk analytic-style of identifying and analyzing concepts. The Yiddish term reid is also used to mean the same thing.) These modern seforim will treat the possuk like a piece of Gemara, ignoring possible theological or philological explanations, and only answer using lomdus. This lomdus can be taken to such extremes that it is often very similar to the pilpul commentaries on the Torah of the 17th century. These seforim basically spend a long time trying to answer a question in any possible way, without trying to actually fit the explanation into the passuk in any way.

The sefer Chavatzeles Hasharon by R' Mordechai Carlebach (on Bereishis, Yerushalayim 5765) is the most popular of this genre. This sefer essentially contains essays of lomdus based on the parshah, including many questions on the halachic acceptability of the Avos's actions. Even more recently, the sefer Arugas Habosem by R' Menachem Ben Yakov (on Bereishis and Shemos, Yerushalayim 5772) is almost an exact copy of Chavatzeles Hasharon, not only in content but also in the physical layout. A sefer by a nephew of R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, R' Baruch Rakovski, called Birchas Avos (Yerushalayim 5750), is completely devoted to questions on the Avos's actions, as is the sefer Mili D'Avos (by R' Shmuel Yaffah, Lakewood 5770).

Recently, seforim which collect divrei torah on the parshah from different sources have gained popularity.[9] One of the first of this genre is the Pardes Yosef (by R' Yosef Pazanavski, incomplete, Bereishis, Piotrkow 5690, Shmos and Vayikra, Lodz 5697).[10] This was followed many years later by R' Yisachar Rubin's very popular Talelei Oros (10 volumes, Bnei Brak 5753-5757). Another sefer of this genre is K'motzei Shallal Rav, which collects divrei torah on the parshah from places one would normally not expect to find them, such as in introductions to a halachic works. Since these divrei torah are in the context of a halachic work, many times they are very halachically oriented. Hence, these divrei torah also fall into the category of trying to synthesize. Pilpula Charifta, by R' Natan Margolis (on Bereshis, volume 1, Yerushalayim 5755, volume 2, Yerushalayim 5750), also collects divrei torah in the same manner.

Are these kinds of explanations part of the “Seventy Faces of Torah”? Do the authors of these explanations themselves think there is any truth to the explanations they are presenting? The author of the Klei Chemda writes in his introduction that much of what he wrote in the sefer is "לחדודי בעלמא”, to sharpen the mind. This idea comes from the Gemara, which says that sometimes teachers who say a false din in order to get their students thinking, and ultimately to correct them.[11]

I think that a similar question has to be asked on many Chassidic explanations, as well as the common “vort.” Did the authors of these explanations really think this was a possible explanation of the text? I think not. In fact, many times authors will write that their explanation is “בדרך צחות". So why do they bother writing them? There are two possible explanations. First of all, even if the explanation is not true, the parts leading up to it are. (Assuming there is more than one part to the explanation.) The vort is a fun way to teach people the intermediate parts. In addition, they will be able to remember the intermediate parts more easily, since they are logically connected to an interesting end.[12] A second possible explanation for why the authors wrote such explanations is that there is an underlying moral message (assuming there is an underlying moral message). As with the first explanation, the vort is an enjoyable, and therefore effective, way of getting across a moral lesson.

Would a Chassidic Rebbe admit that his “Toyreh” is not the true explanation of the verse? That is a question that I cannot answer.[13]

[1] also Yoma 28b; Yerushalmi Kiddushin Perek 2 Halacha 12; Vayikra Rabbah 50:10; Tanchuma Lech L'cha 11; and many more places. See Encylopedia Talmudit, Volume 1, entry "אבות”, pg. 36-37.

[2] See Encylopedia Talmudit, Volume 1, entry “אין למדין מקודם מתן תורה”, pg. 635ff. However, see the Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid. that quotes the Yerushalmi that says that we don't learn laws from stories of events that happened before the giving of the Torah. See Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid. for various attempted explanations.

[3] See Sanhedrin 58b where the Gemara discusses some of the marriages of the Avos in the context of discussing the laws of incest for b'nei no'ach. However, the laws of b'nei no'ach are far less than what a Jew must keep. The Gemara in Yoma (referenced in note 1) says that Avraham even kept rabbinically mandated laws.

[4] Regarding all this see Encyclopedia Talmudit referenced in note 1. See also Maharatz Chayes in Toras Hanevi'im, Chapter 11, pg. 63-72; Nefesh Hachaim, Sha'ar 1, Chapter 21; Leket Yosef (available here); Steven Wilf, The Law Before The Law, Lexington Books, 2008 (here).

[5] R' Bachrach attacked the pilpul method in Shu”t Chavos Ya'ir, siman 123, and at length in an unpublished sefer of his called Ya'ir Nesiv. Parts of it were published by Jellenik in the journal Bikurim, Vienna 5624, pg. 4. Pilpul was also attacked by the Maharal and the Shelah. See also the ostensibly anonymous K'sav Yosher, published in 5544, pg. 9b, (here). It's author was Saul Berlin of Besomim Rosh infamy.

[6] I'd like to point out at this point that much of what I will write also applies to the Jews after matan torah. There are many questions on how their actions fit with the commonly accepted halacha. However, I am mainly focusing here on the actions of the Avos. As for the actions of the Bnei Yisroel after matan torah, the Gemara discusses these questions in many places. Many times the answer of the Gemara is that the action was a hora'as sha'ah, i.e. a temporary waiver of the prohibition. See at length Encyclopedia Talmudit, Volume 8, entry “הוראת שעה”. R' Yitzchok Halevy in his monumental Doros Harishonim, in the volume discussing Tanach and aimed at refuting the Bible Critics, tries to answer many of the questions of the maskilim on the Torah Shebaal Peh based on Tanach. Another sefer that I am aware of that discusses these questions is the commentary Mussar Hanevi'im, on Nevi'im Rishonim (by R' Yehuda Leib Ginzburg, Volume 1, St. Louis 5705, Volume 2, Yerushalayim 5736, available here and here).

[7] Interestingly, a hundred years before the publishing of the Torah Temimah, R' Dov Ber Treves, who was on the beis din of Vilna at the time of the Gra, also wrote a commentary on the Torah bringing down many of the saying of the Gemara in order of the Torah. In fact, the Torah Temimah was accused of plagiarizing from the Revid Hazahav. Another little known work of this sort is the Be'er Heiteiv (Vayikra, Vilna 5627), available here. The Chazon Ish writes on this workוראיתי להגאון האדיר ר' אריה ממינסק בספרו באר היטב... (חזון איש, קדשים ס' כו אות טז).

[8] They do, however, discuss these questions in many places, especially the Meshech Chochma. The Netziv in his commentary on the Torah, Ha'amek Davar, also incorporates much from Torah Sheba'al Peh, and answers questions on the Avos's actions.

[9] There is a similar phenomenon of seforim collecting the different explanations of the commentators on the Talmud, such as Machon Yerushalayim's Otzar Mefarshei HaTalmud, Frankel's Mafte'ach, and many others.

[10] For a description of the Pardes Yosef, see an earlier post on the Seforim Blog here.

[11] Eiruvin 13a, and other places. This is one of the contexts in which it is permitted to lie. See R' Yosef Chaim, Shu"t Torah Lishmah, siman 364, Yerushalayim 5736, pg. 250 s.v. ובגמרא דעירובין. R' Yosef Chaim in that response collects all the places in which it is permitted to lie. Contrary to popular belief, it permitted to lie in far more than the three places the Gemara in Bava Metzia 23b says. One of the most surprising cases in which it is permitted to lie, is the following: If a person knows that a certain halacha is true, but because of his low standing in people's eyes, when he says it, it will not be accepted, he is permitted to say that a certain gadol said that halacha, even if that gadol never said such a thing! See at least four examples of this in Torah Lishmah there (pg. 250, s.v. ובגמרא דשבת; ibid. s.v. עוד שם בדף נא; pg. 251. s.v. ובגמרא דפסחים; pg. 252, s.v. עוד שם בדף כ. This would seem to cause problems for the mesorah of Torah Shebaal Peh, and was in fact one of the maskilim's questions on the veracity of the mesorah. See I.H. Weiss, Dor Dor V'Dorshov, Part 1, Chapter 1, pg. 4.

[12] This is similar to what the Rambam writes in the introduction to his Peirush Hamishnah (Mossad HaRav Kook edition pg. 10) regarding asmachtos. He writes that the Gemara never intended to to say that asmachtos are true explanations of the verse. Rather, the asmachta is a formula to help people remember the halacha, as in the times of Chazal it was prohibited to write Torah Shebaal Peh. This view is atacked harshly by the Ritva, Rosh Hashonoh 17a. See Encyclopedia Talmudit, Volume 2, entry "אסמכתא”, pg. 106, footnote 16 and 28.

[13] A possible nafkah minah (halachic ramification) is whether it is permitted to learn the explanation in the bathroom, where learning Torah is generally prohibited. However, this nafkah minah is mostly theoretical, because, as was pointed out, even if the explanation itself is not true, many times the constituent steps are Torah. See Yisroel Bazenson, Messilat Hak'sharim (Tel Aviv 5766), (this sefer is written by a follower of Breslov and attempts to formulate “rules” for learning Likutei Moharan) pg. 153, where the author asks this question regarding the teachings of R' Nachman of Breslov; he points out that many times R' Nachman's explanations even go so far as to contradict the simple meaning of the phrase he is coming to explain. Bazenson answers:

ברוב הפסוקים ומאמרי חז"ל שהוא שהוא מפרש על פי דרכו הפנימית , לאף שנראה כמשנה או אפילו כסותר הפירוש הרגיל , אם יזגה המעיין ישיג את המקום שבו שני הפירושים מתחברים ועולים בקנה אחד. ואז הפירוש הרגיל יקבל, כתוצאה מחיבור זה, תוספת בהירות שמעולם לא היתה לו.

Bazenson then goes on to bring three examples of such places in Likutei Moharan, and attempts to show how in fact the nistar complements the nigleh. (I would like to thank Eliezer Shore for pointing out this source to me.) I have not studied his explanations in depth to see if they are convincing.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Review: Daniel Sperber, On Changes in Jewish Liturgy

Review: Daniel Sperber, On Changes in Jewish Liturgy

By Dan Rabinowtiz and Eliezer Brodt

Daniel Sperber, On Changes in Jewish Liturgy, Options & Limitations, Urim Publications, Israel: 2010, 221, [1] pp.

The ever prolific Professor Daniel Sperber's most recent book focuses on Tefillah. This book, as some of his others, has drawn some sharp criticism, most notably from Professor Aryeh Frimer in Hakirah (available here). To be sure, this post does not attempt to defend Professor Sperber or the feminist movement with regard to these issues, but, in the course of our review we hope to offer some relevant comments that will further this important discussion. Our main interest remains the substance of the book on this important topic - changes to the Jewish liturgy.

This book grew out of a lecture given at the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance. Professor Sperber then decided to revisit the broader issue of the parameters of acceptable changes to the liturgy.

The prayerbook has become - and this is not a new trend - a battleground. In 19th century, the battle lines were drawn between Reform and Orthodox movements. Of course, earlier heterodox movements had also created their own prayerbooks, such as the Karaites, but in those instance, the praybook was more a reflection and outgrowth of the movement and was not, in and of itself, one of the wedge issues. In the modern period, however, the advent of the Reform movement argued for a variety of changes to the prayerbook to account and adjust for modernity. In this instance, it was both the substance of the prayers as well as their execution (Hebrew or not) that was at issue See generally, Jacob J. Petuchowski, Prayerbook Reform in Europe, New York, 1968.

Earlier examples of prayerbook controversy touched upon other theological debates; for example, some questioned the inclusion of Machnesi Rachamim as it can be read as a request for assistance from angels and not God (see here). Others questioned the inclusion of piyutim generally. Ibn Ezra’s critical comments regarding this topic are well-known. Sometimes prayer itself was employed for polemical purposes. Naftali Weider discusses a version of the blessing over the Friday night candles that incorporated a polemic against Karaism (see N. Weider, Hisgavshos Nusach HaTefillah B'Mizrach U'BeMaariv, Jerusalem, 1998, 329). And, of course, one must mention the oft-discussed blessing against heretics [in some versions] in the Shemoneh Esrei (see, most recently, Ruth Langer, Cursing the Christians?: A History of the Birkat HaMinim, Oxford Univ. Press: 2011).

Thus, it is scarcely surprising that discussing changes to the prayerbook might arouse controversy. That said, we must note - and this is the essential point of this book - the texts of the prayers have never been static, and they have been constantly evolving. At times this evolution was controversial while at other times the evolution and changes to the liturgy appears to have passed almost without notice.

Dr. Sperber focuses in this book on historic changes in an effort to support change today, mainly changes that are more sensitive to women. Sperber discusses a variety of changes to the prayerbook that are non-standard. For example, we have added whole sections, a liturgy for Kabbalat Shabbat (essentially created in the 16th century), abbreviated others - yotzrot, piyutim - and changed texts for a variety of reasons - grammatical, Kabbalah, and nationalist. For the most part, to those familiar with the history of the prayerbook, as well as Sperber’s prior works, much of this book is well-tread territory. Moreover, as Sperber notes, the notion of a a fixed nusach is absurd insofar as a large segment for those professing orthodoxy regarding the siddur, themselves pray in an entirely new nusach, one developed in the the past 200 years, namely the rite known as nusach Sefard. While this nusach may have antecedents in the Sefad Kabbalistic movement, that only moves it back to the 16th centruy, a veritable spring chicken vis-a-vis the purported codifiers of tefilah, Anshe Kenneset ha-Gedolah.

Sperber’s focus is on changes that incorporate women more directly into the tefilot as well as adapting the tefilot to be more sensitive to women. He then discusses exactly what the acceptable parameters for change are and discusses specific examples of historical change. He provides detailed discussions both in the body of the work as well as the numerous appendixes.

Sperber does an admirable job distinguishing between permanently fixed language to which change is prohibited, and the lesser fixed portions for which change is permissible. Sperber notes that even is quasi-fixed prayers, like those appearing in the first three and last three blessing in Shemonei Esreh, historically, we have altered those blessings. On this point Professor Frimer takes issue with some of Sperber’s conclusions, but some of Frimer’s criticism is rather weak. Rather than directly addressing the issue, Frimer attempts to delegitimitize and discredit the manuscripts that Sperber relies upon. (p. 76 note 38) Frimer merely states that we know little about those manuscripts that Sperber relies upon, or, in other words, Frimer, without any compelling argument or proof doubts the veracity of the manuscripts. This argument has been used by many in what has been coined the Chazon Ish’s Shitta about new manuscripts and the like. In this case the attempt is really to go further and dismiss much of the Geonic literature that has been discovered in the past century and, and Frimer’s reliance upon this argument demonstrates a serious lack of awareness of the scholarship in the area of manuscript authentication (a topic which we hope to return to at length in a future post).

Indeed, independently of the manuscript sources, Sperber goes even further showing that during the Ten Days of Repentance, we add and alter the first and last (supposedly immutable) blessing, but those alterations cannot be dated to Hazel or the Anshei Kenest ha-Gedola but date rather to the Geonim. Some, however, have argued that changes by the Geonim or Rishonim proves nothing, as they are special but we are not. Their argument goes (and Frimer is an ardent supporter of this) that somehow those persons were allowed to change prayer. Unfortunately, this argument is unsatisfying. Simply put, that rationale begs the question of what power did those persons use to make changes? Was it based upon their own view that they were worthy of changing the prayers? That is, if the only rule is “great people can change prayer” who told them at the time that they qualified as “great people?” Or, is this entirely post-hoc rationale just the tautology that because they changed the prayers and only special people can change prayer they must be special people? Sperber, however, has surveyed the literature and offered concrete rules of when and how to change the prayers that do not fall prey to these logical infirmities. Indeed, he would concede that certain prayers are immutable.

Sperber’s also takes a more reasonable view of which prayers are ripe for change. His view is that if some find it offensive, we should, if we can, attempt to appease those persons. Others, have taken the somewhat counter-intuitive position that even if some find a prayer offensive, if there is a non-offensive explanation for the prayer, that is satisfactory. Of course, this position ignores the very real fact that some may be offended by those prayers, no matter how many explanations are offered. Sperber’s position is that insofar as there is no prohibition to change, why not attempt to remove the offensive text entirely?

One of the changes that Sperber suggests is related to the שלא עשני אשה controversy, and concerns the suggestion to remove it completely as it is offensive toward woman. This suggestion has been discussed in numerous articles, and Sperber cites many of them. Everyone feels they can add their two cents on the suggestion, so we will too. I will begin by saying that having davened in many shuls of all kinds in my life, I have almost never even heard them say this berachah out loud in the first place. While many woman, especially today, find this Beracha offensive and for this alone there might be grounds to remove it (as other berachos were removed over the ages for similar reasons - see Tzvi Groner's excellent book for a good list) I (EB) personally do not understand why this issue is so contentious.

I will just quote three ideas from others on the topic which I honestly believe is not apologetic but, of course, some may disagree.

R. Yaakov Emden writes:

מה ששמעו אזני בשבוע זו... כי ערל אחד חרש רעה על היהודים שמברכים בכל יום ברוך שלא עשני גוי, אמר היהודים אינם מחשיבים לגוי אלא כבהמה מפקירים דמו וקנינו רוכושו, אמרתי אני שגם זה הבל זה הערל לא לבד ערל בשר אלא גם ערל לב הוא, ושלא היה לו לב לדעת מה שאנו אומרים עוד שתי ברכות הסמכות לזו ברוך שלא עשני עבד, ברוך שלא עשני אשה, הלא בודאי אין אנו נוהגין מנהג הפקר לא אפילו בעבד כנעני שחייב במצות שאשה חייבת בהן, ואמר איוב אם אמאס משפט עבדי כו’, אצ”ל באשה שלנו שאנו חייבים בכבודה וכבדה יותר מגופינו, הלא יראה מזה שנשתבש אותו המוציא דבה עלינו בעבור זה, אבל הענין ברכה זו לפי שהגוי אינו מצווה בתרי”ג מצות כמונו יוצאי מצרים ולכן אינו מצווה גם כן על שביתת שבת ויום טוב כמונו, כמו שהוא ענין בברכותינו על ,שלא עשנו עבד ושלא עשנו אשה שהעבד גם כן אינו מחוייב במצות רק כאשה, ואשה אינה חייבת רק במצות עשה שאין הזמן גרמא, ונכנעת תחת בעלה והוא ימשול בה, מ”מ חביבין עלינו כגופותינו כן הוא הענין בגוי [הקשורים ליעקב, עמ’ ריט].

R. Reuven Margolios writes:

ולאשר האשה אינה נענשת על בטול המצות עשה שהזמן גרמא וחלקה בעולם הבא כחלק האיש הי’ מקום למי אשר לא הגיע לחזות בנועם ה’ לומר מי יתן והייתי אשה שאז

נפטרתי מעול כל מצות אלו לכן תקנו חכמינו ע”ה שימסור כל איש מודעה כי המצות האלו כן תקנו גם הודאה כוללת לכל זרע ישראל שנתחייבו במצות הרבה בכדי להגיע לחיי עולם הבא בעוד אשר הנכרי המקיים מצותיו השבע הוא בן עולם הבא והי’ מקום להמתרשל לומר מי יתן והייתי בן לאחד מגוי הארצות ולא נתחייבתי בכל אלו, לשלול זה יודה כל בן או בת ישראל לה’ על שלא עשהו גוי להורות שעושה המצות מאהבה (טל תחייה, עמ’ מז).

In regard to the topic of feminism in general see the Kesav ve-ha-Kabbalah who writes an important insight in his work on the Siddur:

והתבונן עוד כי מצות התורה יש להם סדר מיוחד לאיש איש כפי כח הכנתו הנפשית, יש מן המצות הערוכים ושמורים לכל נפשות זרע ישראל, ומהם נערכים במשקל ובמדה נאמנה לנפש זולת נפש, כי מהן המחוייבות רק לכהנים לבדם, ומהן ללויים לבדן ומהן לכהן גדול לבדו, ומהן לזכרים לבדם ולא לנקבות, כי לפי

שהתורה מאת אדון כל היוצר רוח האדם בקרבו לא יפלא ממנו דבר, לחקוק חקים ומפשטים לפי ערך ומדרגת כל נפש, עד שיהיו מקובלים על לב כל אחד מהם, והם אפשרי הקיום לפי הכנת נפשו, עד”מ שאין ספק כי זרע אהרן הכהן מוכשרים הנפשות שנאצלו בהן כחות יקרות בשיעור רב מה שאין שאר זרע ישראל מוכשרים אליהן, וכן משפחות הלוי, וכפי הבדל נפשותיהן נבדלו בענין המעשים והעבודות המקבילות נגד נפשותיהן המעולות. וכן הכהן הגדול בעבור היות נפשו עוד נבדלת מכל אחיו הכהנים בכחות יקרות פנימיות הנודעות ליוצר כל ית’ , לכן מוכשר לקבל עוד מצות היתרות על שאר הכהנים, וכן הבדל כחות הנפש שבין זכרים לנקבות, הוא המסבב הבדל חיוביהן במצות, כי המצות הערכים במשקל ובמדה נאותה לפי הכנת על נפש ונפש, עד שאין מצות ממצותיה וחוק מחקותיה יוצא מגדר באפשרי משום נפש, לפי חלוף מצבי הנפשות בכחותיהן , ועל זה אמר ומתקן ומקבל. התורה במצותיה מתקנת ומסודרת, עד שהיא מתקבלת בלב כל איש ואיש לפי מצב נפשו וכח הכנתו, ואין אחד מהם יוכל לומר קיום דבר זה אצלי מסוג הנמנעות (עיון תפילה, דף נ ע”ב-נא ע”א).

Another offending passage Sperber discusses (pp. 46-47) is found in the Ve-hu Rachum tefilah where it says ושקצונו כטומאת הנדה. Sperber brings versions that did not have these words and suggests that we take it out. He then concludes (p. 50) that maybe this whole tefilah of Ve-hu Rachum should be made into a private tefilah and not obligatory, as its a late addition to the liturgy in the first place. Now it should be noted that although this sounds radical, in reality it is not. The omission of this prayer is common amongst Chassidm for far weaker reasons. Many omit it for any and all yarzheits of anyone who ever wore the mantel of “Rebbi.” Thus, Sperber appears to be in good company.

In regard to Sperber’s suggested change to add in the Imahot in the first bracha of Shemonah Esrei, although he does provide evidence that changes were made even in these berachos, I (EB) find it hard to accept these suggestions and I would have to agree with the issues Frimer raises in this regard.

One last point: while this study definitely shows that many changes were made in our liturgy, it is still not clear as to when and how and why. Exact guidelines, if there are any, need to be defined more clearly it is buried in a mass of amazing historical and bibliographical notes. Summaries and more exact conclusions should be written out more clearly, as this is such a dangerous topic as Sperber himself is well aware (see p. 129 and 124).

Here are some general notes and sources to add to Sperber's plethora of sources. We would just like to mention that today, because of the internet, the study of Siddur has and will greatly change. Many rare and early printed siddurim and manuscripts related to Siddur are available for viewing in ones's own home instead of being only available in far-flung libraries, available to professional scholars. Using these sources alone can revolutionize the study of the development of the Siddur.

Suggested Additions

p.9 on the Prayer for State of Israel see Joel Rappel, "The Identity of the Author of the Prayer for the State of Israel," in Shulamit Eliash, Itamar Warhaftig, Uri Desberg, eds., Masuah Le-Yitzhak: Rabbi Yitzhak Isaac ha-Levi Herzog Memorial Volume (Jerusalem: Yad ha-Rav Herzog, 2008; Hebrew), 594-620, and his "The Convergence of Politics and Prayer: Jewish Prayers for the Government and the State of Israel," (PhD dissertation, Boston University, 2008).

p. 23. regarding studies on Kabbalat Shabbat: to date the most comprehensive study on this topic is from Rabbi Y. Goldhaber, Kovetz Beis Aron V’Yisroel, 64: 119-138; 70: 125-146; 73: 119-13. Hopefully he will collect and update all this into a full length book in the near future.

p. 32 note 2 there is a typo it should read Shmuel Askenazi.

p. 36 see also D. Rabinowitz, “Rayna Batya and other Learned Women: A Reevaluation of Rabbi Barukh Halevi Epstein’s Sources,” Tradition 35 (2001).

p. 33-39:On the Shelo Asani Ishah controversy see E. Fram, My Dear Daughter, HUCP 2007, pp.37-41.

p. 34. On Rabbi Aaron Worms of Metz see the important article from Y. Speigel, Yerushasnu, 3, 2009, pp. 269-309; R. Dovid Tzvi Hillman, Yeshurun, 25, 2011, pp. 619-621.

p.40 and onwards; related to the שלא עשני אשה controversy see Yoel Kahn, The Three blessings Boundaries, Censorship, and Identity in Jewish Liturgy, Oxford 2010.

p. 41-42: On R Abraham Farissol see David B. Ruderman, The World of a Renaissance Jew, the life and thought of Avrhom Ben Mordechai Farissol, HUCP, 1981.

p. 52 D. Rabinowitz, “Is the Modern Placement of Bameh Madlikin A Polemic Against Hassidim?” Or Yisrael, 2007, 180-84.

p. 73 note 4 there is a typo, it should say R. Dovid Cohen.

p. 80 see D. Rabinowitz, “The Pitfalls of Changing the Liturgy: On Changes to the Nikkud of Kaddish,” Or Yisrael, 158-62, 2007.

p.100 See E. Brodt, The Avudraham and his usage of the Tur and Pirush of R Yehudah Ben Yakar (In print).

pp. 108-109: In regard to R. Emanuel Hai Ricchi see: B. Naor, Post Sabbatian Sabbatianism, pp. 53-57: Yeshurun, 24, p. 444.

p. 109: Darchei Noam is worth mentioning as this work is one of the only works that received a Haskamah from the Gra, see Eliach, Hagaon 3, p. 1257.

p. 133: It should say the brother of the Ketzot Ha-choshen, R. Yehudah author of the Terumot Ha-Kerei.

p. 157: On R. Yakov Emden's Siddur and additions from others over the years. It is worth mentioning that a few years ago the printing house Eshkol printed a new version of the siddur including many new additions of R. Emden himself, from a manuscript of the siddur. One of the important features in this edition is they put all the material that was not R. Emden's in different fonts so one can see exactly what was added by others over the years. Additionally, they provided a photo reproduction of the original siddur at the end of volume two.

p. 177: Sperber brings the special work of the Aderes on Tefilah. Sperber notes this books is full of textual changes, some based on manuscript but mostly on his own. To be more exact and correct, what Sperber writes about this work a very small part was printed in the Journal, Knesset Hagedolah. Many years later a few pieces of this work was printed in the journal Yeshurun. In 2002, Y. Amechi printed this work from manuscripts with many notes. In 2004 Ahavat Sholom printed this work again based on even more manuscripts. They also included other articles of his printed elsewhere related to Tefilah. The main thing worth noting is that this is a very special work related to Tefilah.

p. 179 on the well-known reason why during the week we say Magdil and on Shabbat we say Migdol, see: Shut Lev Shlomo, Siman 23; Noam Megidim, p. 13b; R. Reuven Margolios, Haggadah Shel Pesach p. 60; Y. Speigel, Yeshurun 6, 1999, pp. 759-762.

p. 189: A wealth of sources on the topic worthy of mention, regarding adding Zachrenu Lechaim during Aseret Yemei Teshuvah can be found in R. Dovid Zvi Rothstein, Sefer Torah Menukod, in Kovetz Ohel Sarah Leah, 1999, pp.632-771. See also the important article on this from U. Fuchs, Tarbitz 75 (2006), pp. 129-154.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Review of a Recent work of Rav Zvi Hirsch Grodzinsky

Review of a Recent work of Rav Zvi Hirsch Grodzinsky

By: Eliezer Brodt

בית היין, על הלכות יין נסך עם ביאור קונדיטון, יצא לאור לראשונה מכתב יד, מאת הגאון רבי צבי הירש גראדזענסקי זצ"ל, מאנסי ניו יורק תשע"א, ש"ט עמודים.

In this post I would like to discuss an unknown Gaon - Rav Zvi Hirsch Grodzinsky, and a recently published manuscript of his on Hilchos Yayin Nessech. Not much is known about him except for what has been collected in a very nice article about him written by Jonathan Rosenbaum and Myron Wakschlag, “Maintaining Tradition: A survey of the Life and Writings of Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Grodzinsky,” AJH 82:1\4 (1994), pp. 263-288 which was of help to me when writing this post.

R. Hirsch Grodzinsky was born in Lithuania in the year 1857. He was an older cousin of the famous Gadol Hador, Rabbi Chaim Ozer, and he learned by R. Chaim Ozer's father for a few years. It is interesting to see what he writes about his younger cousin R’ Chaim Ozer:

ואת הגאון ר' חיים עוזר ז"ל הייתי מכיר אותו מימי ילדותו... וכבר הכרנו אז הכשרונות של הילד הזה ר' חיים עוזר ז"ל שעתיד להיות גדול בשיראל... (מקראי קודש, ג, הקדמה עמ' 6).

In 1891 he moved to Omaha, Nebraska where he served as the Rav until he died in 1947 (and was known as Rabbi Henry Grodzinski). It is unclear why he chose to move so far out in the US rather than to a major Jewish center like New York City; perhaps it was so that he would be able to devote most of his time to his own learning rather than the pastoral duties of a rabbi in a large Jewish community. Evidently this great gaon moved to the United States for parnassah, and is it perhaps due to this move he is basically unknown today. Had he remained in Europe he would likely have been better known and appreciated (but, of course, probably not with a peaceful end).

R. Grodzinsky was a prolific writer who authored many works on numerous topics. His first work, printed in 1898 was called Mikvei Yisrael, an in-depth work on Hilchos Mikvaos. He received haskamahs on this first work from various gedolim, among them R. Yitzchack Elchanan Spektor, (it is not established with certainty, but he might have even had semicha from him. According to one report R. Ephraim Oshry said that it was accepted as fact in the Litvishe yeshivos that R. Zvi Hirsch Grodzinsky had semicha from R. Yitzchak Elchanan). Either way, he was a great admirer of R. Yitzchak Elchanan, as he writes an incredible description about him in the introduction of his work on Hilchos Kriyas Hatorah, Mikroei Kodesh

לא כן רבותינו הרבנים והגאונים שהיו בדור שלפני דור זה, המה היו... ודעתם וסרותיהם הרחבה היה להלכה ברורה בכל מקצועות התורה בכל חלקי השלחן ערוך, כמו מרן הגאון האמתי רשכבה"ג מהרי"א זצ"ל אבד"ק קאוונא, שהיה ראשית דבר רב... בעל הוראה בכל ד' חלקי השלחן ערוך, כבח"מ ואה"ע, כן בש"ע או"ח וי"ד כבש"ך וסמ"ע כן במג"א ופרמ"ג כבקצות ונתיבות, כן בחו"ד ודה"ח וח"א, כל רז לא אנס ליה, ומי כמוהו מורה ממנו יצא אורה בכל מקצועת התורה דבר קטן ודבר גדול, כמו בעניני עגונה כן בה' ציצית ותפלין וקה"ת כו', הכל גלוי וידוע לפני כסא כבודו מראשונים עד אחרון שבאחרונים, הוא היה בר סמכא, לסמוך על הוראותיו האמתי בכל הפרטים... פנו אליו בשאלות וספיקות לדינא בכל מקצעות התורה, ועל כולם השיב כהלכה לקטן ולגדולן גם לעת זקנותו... (מקראי קודש, ג, הקדמה עמ' 5).

In 1916 he printed another work called Likutei Tzvi. In 1923 he printed another work called Mili Debrochos which is on part of Masseches Berachos (part two of this work was printed later). In 1936 he began printing his massive, three volume Mikraei Kodesh on Hilchos Kriyas Hatorah which he completed in 1941. This work is exceptional in both its breadth and depth. There are other important books on this topic from great gedolim such as the Chida and R. Ephraim Zalman Margolis, but none compare to this work. His later works do not have haskamos, as he writes against them in the introduction to the third volume of his Mikraei Kodesh.

ועתה בעו"ה נוהגין המחברים באמעריקא מנהג יפה מאד... לקבל הסכמה על חיבוריהם מהאי הדיוט בעל הלשון... דמיום שחרב בית המקדש גברו בעלי הלשון, ואל תהי הסכמת ההדיוט קלה בעינך ובדין הוא משום דלפנים היו מחברים ספרים בשביל ת"ח והיו צריכין להסכמת ת"ח הגדול בדורו, אך עתה במדינתנו שרוב המחברים מחברים ספריהם בשביל הדיוטים, לכן צריכין ליקח הסכמה ג"כ מהדיוט גדול, ובזכות זה יזכו שההדיוטים יקפצו לקנות חבוריהם ויראו שכר לעמלם, אשרי שככה לו, ואשרי הדור שיפתח בדורו כשמואל בדורו.

He left behind many complete manuscripts on different topics. After he died in 1947 his manuscripts were taken to Mechon Otzar Haposkim in Eretz Yisrael. Unfortunately almost nothing of his was printed except for a few teshuvos of his in various Torah Journals.[1]

A few months ago a complete manuscript was printed, the Beis Hayayin, a complete work on Hilchos Yayin Nessech. This volume was published by Shalom Jacob, who has put out important and special works in the past (see here). The production of this work was a truly beautiful job. The work consists of two parts; the top is the Halachos in short, and the bottom part is called Kunditon. In the Kunditon, R. Grodzinsky goes through all the sources of each Halacha, starting from the Gemarah and going forward through the sugyos with the Rishonim and Acharonim. A small section was added by the editor at the bottom of each page called Mekorei Habayis which adds some additional sources and quotes related to the topics in the Kunditon section. The print and paper is beautiful, including small summaries on the side of each piece, making it a pleasure to use. Besides for these, there is an extremely thorough index of the work.

To mention some of the interesting side points in this work; R. Grodzinski has a nice discussion of the way wine was made in the U.S. in his time (p. 42-43), as he was a rav hamachshir, he traveled to wine companies in California, to check out the exact way they made the wine.

Another important piece is a lengthy discussion of the various levels of Mechalelei Shabbos in the U.S. (pp. 31-32, 190) in his time. This discussion gives us a sad but realistic glimpse of the level of American Jewish observance in those times. He writes that there were three categories; one group that came with the full intention of remaining frum, but due to the parnassah problem were forced to work on Shabbos, virtually having no other choice. This group he says, was very disturbed about having to be mechalel shabbos and whatever was not related to parnassah they were careful to observe the prohibitions. This group has a din of an oness. A second category were people who though initially forced to work on Shabbos due to parnassah issues kept on working on even when they became wealthy. Though they kept Shabbos in their homes, they do not have a din of an oness. The third category were people who besides for working on Shabbos for parnassah never bothered to keep anything of Shabbos in their homes. These people, he writes, are the worst level of the three.

Another piece of interest to me was how he suggests a textual change in the girsa of a Yerushlami (p. 155). He is not one that is fast to do so in general, as a bit later where he quotes the Shach saying that there was a printing mistake, he goes out of his way to show that there is no need to suggest such a thing (p. 162).

Another particular piece of interest for me was his using a piece of Rabbenu Chananel, from the fairly recently (in his time) printed manuscript on Avoda Zara (p. 54). There are two reasons why I found this interesting. One, in the journal Yeshurun (v. 2, pp. 202-205) there is a teshuva of his in regard to the custom of standing when the ba'al keriah recites the Aseres Hadibros (see here for more on this minhag). Someone had shown him a newly printed manuscript of the Shu"t Ha-Rambam who said it is improper to stand. R. Grodzinsky writes:

כי תשובות המיוחס להרמב"ם ז"ל לא נמצא אצלי ומעולם לא ראיתיו. רק פעם אחד הביא אלי השו"ב מק"ב את תשובות הנ"ל וראיתי כי נמצא שם כמה דברים הסותרים למ"ש הרמב"ם בספרו הגדול משנה תורה. ולבי אומר לי כי כמה דברים הנמצא שם ע"ש הרמב"ם הוא לא אמת רק איזה תלמיד טועה כתבם ויחסו ע"ש הרמב"ם ע"ד שאמרו חז"ל אם בקשת וכו' התלה באילן גדול...

From this piece I generalized that he was opposed to "new rishonim" and the like. However, from this work I see it was not the case, or so simple, as he used the newly printed Rach.

It is important to note that the Chazon Ish was against using the Rach[2] as he writes:

"וכן ראיתי בל' ר"ח הנדפס בדפוס ראם, אבל לא ידענא אם אפשר לסמוך על הנדפסין מחדש שכבר הפסיקה המסורה בינינו, ואין אנו יודעין מי המה המעתיקים, שמלאכת ההעתקה כבדה מאד, ואף על ידי זריזין ומדקדקים מצוי ט"ס הרבה, ואם יעבור הדבר ע"י איזה רפיון בדקדוק הדברים יכול הדבר להשתנות לגמרי, ולכן הפוסקים שלא הפסיקה המסורה בינם ובינינו בכל הדורות, ששקדו עליהם חכמי דור דור, לשמרם ולנקותם, צריכים אנו לחשוב את ספריהם ליותר דוקנית, וכש"כ במקום שאין ללמוד מכונת הדברים אלא מדקדוק לשונם, שקשה לסמוך על החדשים..." (חזון איש, הל' עירובין סי' ס"ז, אות י"ב).

The Mishna Berurah argues, as we find numerous times he brings from the

ר"ח הנדפס מחדש [ביאור הלכה, סי' ש"ב, ד"ה עליה; סי' שט"ו, ד"ה טפח; סי' תרכ"ו, ד"ה צריך; סי' תרמ"ח, ד"ה מיהו, ועוד].

One thing I was rather surprised about was that there was no mention of the famous teshuva of the Rema on yayin nessech anywhere in this work. I was hoping to see his take on it.

To summarize, this work is extremely important for anyone learning the complicated laws of yayin nessech and it is well worth the money.[3] The sefer is available for purchase at Biegeleisen in the U.S., and at Girsa and Otzar Haseforim in Jerusalem.

I would just like to end by wishing Rabbi Jacob much success in printing the rest of the Rav Grodzinsky's wonderful works from manuscripts.[4]

[1] Worth noting is the teshuvos printed in the Sefer Zicrhon Iyunim Beta'anis, pp. 174-183 regarding the fast that the Rabbonyim made during World War Two.

[2] For more on this topic see what I wrote in the Yeshurun 24 (2011), pp. 430-431

[3] I cannot neglect to mention that besides for this new work on YN, one's understanding of the sugyos of YN, in the rishonim and the realia of their time would be greatly enhanced by using the special works of Professor Haym Soloveitchik on the topic (which will hopefully be translated into English in the future).

[4] Some of the notebooks have gone "missing" in recent years. If anyone knows their whereabouts it would be greatly appreciated if they would let me know.

Monday, January 02, 2012

"Rabbi David Hoffmann, ZL" by Eliezer M. Lipschuetz - A Translation

Rabbi David Hoffmann, ZL
By Eliezer M. Lipschuetz
Introduction, Translation, and Notes by David S. Zinberg
David S. Zinberg blogs at Realia Judaica.


Rabbi Dr. David Zvi Hoffmann was a unique figure in the history of both German Jewish Orthodoxy and academic Jewish Studies.[1] He was widely regarded by contemporaries as an unequaled master of Halakha and Wissenschaft, and as a major leader in both communities. The biographical essay below by Eliezer Meir Lipschuetz, translated from Hebrew, was attached to the Hebrew translation (by Eliezer Barishansky) of Re’ayot Makhri’ot Neged Velhoizen, Hoffmann’s critique of the Documentary Hypothesis (Jerusalem, 1928 and available on HebrewBooks.org). Hoffmann’s original version, Die Wichtigsten Instanzen gegen die Graf-Wellhausensche Hypothese, was published in Berlin in 1904 (available on archive.org). Carla Sulzbach's English translation, an MA thesis titled David Zvi Hoffmann's . . . main arguments against the Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis, can be downloaded here.

Lipschuetz’s brief but rich portrait is notable for its first-hand account of Hoffmann, as a scholar, teacher, writer, and as a pious Jew. While clearly enamored of his subject, Lipschuetz expresses some gentle criticism of Hoffmann. He laments the fact that Hoffmann wrote in German rather than Hebrew, and harshly criticizes the general neglect of Hebrew by both Wissenschaft and German Orthodox writers. Lipschuetz also faults Hoffman for not proposing an alternative theory to the Documentary Hypothesis to reconcile inconsistencies in the Torah, even if Hoffmann successfully – in Lipschuetz’s estimation – negated the theory by demolishing its assumptions. Following the latter critique, Lipschuetz offers a somewhat tentative defense of Hoffmann.
For a brief biography of Lipschuetz, see the entry here in David Tidhar’s Entziklopedia Le-Halutze Ha-Yishuv U-Vonav.

The translation is non-literal, but I have tried to preserve the tone and style of the original. Where Lipschuetz’s Hebrew terminology adds value to the translation, I include it in square brackets. Common dates have been added alongside, or substituted for, Hebrew dates. In the notes, I include links to online versions of works cited.

The story of his life – the properly developed life of a Torah scholar – was not eventful. His birthplace, Jewish Hungary, was unique; she experienced a late spiritual awakening, and for generations lacked any great Torah scholar or spiritual leader. But from the very moment her Torah began to shine, she was granted a short-lived daybreak full of light and vitality. She influenced much of the Diaspora, in many fields of study, both within and beyond the Jewish domain. He was born in the community of Verbó (Nitra province) in Hungary,[2] on 1 Kislev 5604 (November 24, 1843). His father was a local religious arbitrator [dayan]. He received the standard cheder education, though it included personal attention and supervision. From the time of Rabbi Moses Sofer, Hungary was blessed with yeshivot whose curricula differed from those of Lithuanian yeshivot. Even as a young man, he earned a reputation as a Talmudic prodigy [ilui]. He studied at the yeshivot of Verbó and Pupa[3] and later at the yeshiva of that generation’s most prominent rabbi [gadol ha-dor], Rabbi Moses Schick, in Sankta Georgen[4] near Pressburg,[5] where he was his teacher’s absolute favorite.

Around this time, a notable event took place in Hungary: Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer, a German Torah scholar who served as rabbi of Eisenstadt, founded a yeshiva for both Torah and secular studies during a period of extremist agitation. The two opposing camps had separated angrily, and the Jewish community was split in two. At this inopportune time, the life of this yeshiva was cut short, as was the residence of its founder in Eisenstadt, due to the shrill protests of the ultra-conservative camp. It was feared that an extremist war would be waged against Rabbi Hildesheimer or, even worse, that he would mount a counter-offensive against the Torah leadership. Purity and Torah were in danger of becoming apostasy; alas, such is the power of communal dissension. He escaped the place of expected misfortune and returned to his native Germany where he became a rabbi and innovative leader of the Orthodox community.

Rabbi Hoffmann was Rabbi Hildesheimer’s student at his yeshiva in Eisenstadt and when his teacher departed, he did as well, arriving at the Pressburg Yeshiva, the central yeshiva in Hungary. Later, he studied at the University of Vienna and from there moved to Germany where he taught at the preparatory school of the Jewish Teachers Institute at Höchberg, near Würzburg. There, he was a colleague of Rabbi Seligman Baer Bamberger, another German Orthodox rabbi, whose goal was to safeguard the light of Torah within daily life. Rabbi Bamberger was a old-school scholar; he was mild mannered in ideological controversies and viewed the Jewish community as single entity which should not easily be split.

In 1875 [sic], Rabbi Hoffmann composed a dissertation, A Biography of Mar Shmuel,[6] and received a doctorate from the University of Tübingen.[7] He then married a woman from a prominent family, who survived him, and was invited by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch to teach at the high school he had founded. This was the first modern school for Orthodox students. Rabbi Hirsch fought the battle for Torah with the weapons of modern Enlightenment. He strove to consciously combine Enlightenment and Jewish ideology, but he viewed himself as a wartime general, and was inclined to separate and confine the Orthodox community. Rabbi Hoffmann served for a number of years as a teacher in Rabbi Hirsch’s school, and was close to him. After only a short time, Rabbi Hoffmann became closely connected with three of the spiritual leaders of the new Orthodox movement in Germany. At that time, Orthodox Judaism was aroused to defend itself, to establish relations with the new culture, and to create a Torah lifestyle within a foreign society. These three great leaders, though they had different personalities and goals, stood at the vanguard of the movement, to organize and dig in the troops. Rabbi Seligman Baer Bamberger continued to support earlier developments, disapproved of separatism, and strove to preserve an ideal of perfection untarnished by current fads. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch understood the full extent of the battle; he felt obligated to pursue total, uncompromising Enlightenment, and a Judaism that included full intellectual awareness. He established an ideological basis for Judaism, founded on intellect, and created a rationalist system based on principles of faith. He considered his age one of creating boundaries and he preferred separatism. Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer believed that his mission was to advance the scientific understanding of Judaism and to preserve its image in the eyes of science. He desired that Torah should never be forgotten in Israel, and although he too believed at the time in the need for separation, he maintained his sense of responsibility towards the wider community. The leadership of German Orthodoxy succeeded, then and forever, to create the type of Jew who combines within himself involvement in daily life [derekh eretz] and the fear of God, and to create a modern Orthodox lifestyle, including an Orthodox literature and science, though not on a large scale. These were transitional years, and immersion in transitional conflicts did not cause Rabbi Hoffmann mental anguish or psychological trauma; “he came and he left in peace.”[8] He was close with all three leaders at a formative period of his life; he was influenced by all three, but his approach was primarily that of his original teacher, Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer. Together, they set themselves a goal, and worked towards it jointly throughout their entire lives.

When Rabbi Hildesheimer founded the Rabbinical Seminary in Berlin, as a center of Torah and Science in our time, he called on his student to teach Talmud. Rabbi Hoffmann taught Talmud and halakhic works [posekim] at that institution for forty-eight years. After the founder’s passing, he was appointed Rector of the Rabbinical Seminary (1899). The government and the University granted him the title of Professor (1918) and through old age he never left the Beit Midrash; he taught Talmud and posekim to the students and held a class on Talmud for lay members of the community.

Those who knew him while he was still alive know that his personality was as great as his Torah. One would have to return to the medieval period to witness such a persona among the German or French Hasidim. He was a man with no sense of his own greatness. He exuded humility and everything about him was simplicity. His words, in writing and in speech, were always to the point; he never spoke extravagantly, or used ornate speech, or showed off his knowledge. Truth was the expression of his personality. A measure of spirituality, piety, and modesty resided within his diminutive, silent frame, which was crowned by a brilliant mind. This is exactly how he appeared to me just weeks before his passing. He had attained a sort of calm, an equanimity, contentment, and clarity, which bestowed on him a peaceful beauty. He was always willing to serve even the most minor student; he was never indignant and no one could insult him. This man, who was as diligent in religious observance as one of the ancient righteous [tzadikim ha-rishonim], was shy by nature and humble before God and man. His integrity guided his relationships, without making him bitter or prickly. He had a sense of humor, was pleasant with everyone he met, and could even poke fun occasionally without ever hurting a soul. While his teacher Rabbi Hildesheimer was an activist, he was a “dweller in tents,” inclined to quiet research and study.

As much as he rarely left the “four cubits of Halakha,” he was not removed from daily life. He was well versed in the ways of the world and sensitive to life’s problems. There was no human or Jewish issue with which he was unfamiliar. Although not a political person, he participated in the movements of our people, joined in Orthodox undertakings, and had an appreciation for activism and political movements. In spirit, he was close to Mizrahi, but was an executive member of Agudath Israel, a member of the Aguda’s Council of Torah Sages, and a president of the Orthodox rabbinic association.[9] (The latter group was ideologically close to the Berlin Rabbinical Seminary and was not radically secessionist. There is another rabbinical association based in Frankfurt[10] which is completely secessionist, and yet another general union[11] for rabbis of all camps). He valued equally the undertakings of all those loyal to Torah, and did not exclude even those Jews who rejected separatism. In general, it was not his nature to stand apart, create divisions, or engage in weeding out opponents. He was a true pursuer of peace [rodef shalom]; he endeavored to abstain from conflict and was not combative in matters of Torah. He debated, but would not attack or behave triumphantly. The very essence of his being was peace [hotamo hayya ha-shalom].

His German style is clear and simple, without excessive use of flowery expressions. It is the fine language of a scientist, suitable for scientific material; there is gentleness in such simplicity. His Hebrew style is rabbinic, and it too is not weighed down by flowery expression (though occasionally it does show the influence of Haskalah writing). But his Hebrew style is plodding, apparently unable to express modern ideas. Hebrew’s major effort in recent times has been the adaptation of the language to modern concepts, the expansion of word usages, and the substitution of archaic usages with modern ones. He never acquired this level of Hebrew (though we should not think that he opposed the recent effort towards linguistic adaptation). He did not write much in Hebrew. For the most part, he wrote in Hebrew only when he composed halakhic responsa, notes, and a handful of commentaries. For the sake of being recognized by Gentile scholars, Wissenschaft Des Judentums sacrificed Hebrew on the altar of foreign language. German Orthodoxy committed a comparable sin by abandoning Hebrew in order to level the playing field between Orthodox Judaism and Liberal Judaism. It is a pity that Rabbi Hoffmann’s works were written in a foreign tongue, and were thus destined to have limited influence or value.[12] In any language, his ideas are properly organized and clearly stated, the ordering and contents are lucid and plain, and there is no strain or drag in his writing. His method is to offer a theory, accompanied by evidence, in a convincing and logical manner.

Rabbi Hoffmann had an extensive, multi-faceted grasp of European learning. He knew classical languages thoroughly, studied Semitic languages, and mastered several European languages. His knowledge spanned the entire range of Enlightenment learning and science.

He was also a great Torah scholar [gadol ba-Torah], without equal in Germany. We tend to measure a gadol by both erudition and intellect. Rabbi Hoffmann was great in both senses, in the sense of the term as used by elite Torah scholars [lamdanim]. His erudition covered all areas of Torah learning. Unlike those modern scholars who consider the Talmud a subject for antiquarian study, he studied the early and late Talmud commentaries. Talmud was not only fit for historical research; it was a living subject that had never died, whose past could only be explained by its continuity through the ages. He would clarify and simplify, and remove later embellishments. During the course of his teaching and his analysis, complexities became clear. He disliked artificial Talmudic sophistry [pilpul shel hidud],[13] but valued Talmudic analysis based on true notions [pilpul shel emet], which he practiced his entire life. He taught Torah publicly throughout his life; his teaching style was plain and clear. He would explain the topic under discussion in the simplest manner, and those who understood him realized that there was a thesis underlying this simplicity that could resolve halakhic disputes, determine the correct interpretation, and might even refute the opinion of an early or late Talmudic authority. Most scholars who teach Talmud disregard fundamental, introductory principles, relying on previously acquired knowledge; Rabbi Hoffmann did not. He would explain fundamental ideas that could be easily understood. These included synthetic words, popular expressions, halakhic issues, archeology, Talmudic methodology, the structure of Talmudic passages, and their textual context. He would explain all of these matters logically and lucidly.

His responsa[14] were published posthumously; others edited them for publication. He never intended to publicize them[15] and most were products of their time [le-tzorekh sha’a]. For decades, critical issues and complex questions from every corner of Germany were sent to him, by laymen as well as rabbis, who considered themselves his disciples and relied completely on his wisdom. Sometimes, a village rabbi would be confounded by a halakhic question and would travel that day to Berlin to consult with his teacher, or else send a telegram, or write a letter with his halakhic query. He was like the Great Sanhedrin for all German Jewry. Most questions were on contemporary matters that remain of practical interest. Essentially, these were questions on the Jew’s relationship to daily phenomena and technology: Issues related to manufacturing and commerce; social and communal matters; prayer and synagogue practices; questions on electricity and the telephone pertaining to Sabbath law; attending non-Jewish schools on the Sabbath; business arrangements with non-Jewish partners with regard to the Sabbath; laws pertaining to medication on Passover; the question of an Orthodox rabbi presiding over a Liberal congregation; the law on taking an oath bare-headed; shaving for medical reasons; Torah education for girls (he permitted it); women’s suffrage. In his responsa, he determined the halakha in a straightforward manner, by reference to the early and late authorities; he categorized their positions, and arrived at a halakhic decision. There were times when he utilized modern science or critical methods to clarify Talmudic issues. He may cite the writings of natural scientists, quote the opinion of medical experts, refer to scientific works, and then reply with his halakhic ruling. He only rarely engaged in the lengthy give-and-take of halakhic argumentation. For the most part, he simply cited his sources and outlined his halakhic ruling. He did not hesitate to reference halakhic abridgements, which most great Torah scholars normally ignore. In this transitional period, circumstances required setting patterns of daily life and social norms for Judaism within the modern world which, willy nilly, impacted the Jew. An important creation of German Orthodoxy was this model of modern life within which the Orthodox Jew could live without conflict. Rabbi Hoffmann was involved in all of these questions. He helped establish Halakha’s attitude to modern life and set parameters for permitted and prohibited behavior. Some of the questions he was asked by laymen display a real integrity that bring honor to the questioner.

The secular courts regularly consulted with him to clarify points of Jewish Law. He was often called as an expert witness in court at infamous trials, i.e., trials of anti-Semites. These events affected him deeply. When the survival of the German Empire hung in the balance,[16] I heard him say that this was divine punishment, measure for measure, for the monarchy’s lack of intervention in the trial of Fritsch,[17] who blasphemed against Heaven. As he said this, his voice shook with emotion. As a result of such trials, he composed his work on the Shulhan Arukh (first edition, 1885; second edition, 1895),[18] in which he outlined the role of posekim in our tradition – even though Rabbi Joseph Karo [ha-Mehaber] is the normative posek – and he clarified many details of the laws pertaining to Gentiles. Based on first editions of printed works, he explained the halakhic distinctions between Christians and other Gentiles. This work contains much detailed knowledge and explanations derived from his deep understanding.

The Wissenschaft establishment considered him one of its architects. Wissenschaft is primarily concerned with reconstituting the past from literary remnants, employing an historical-philological method, and embracing all aspects of Judaism. It is conservative by nature. Its originators held traditional beliefs but, over time, it became fundamentally antagonistic to Orthodox Judaism. The Orthodox were distressed over the inability of this heritage to strengthen tradition. The goal of Rabbi Hoffman and his teacher Rabbi Hildesheimer was to fortify the borders of Wissenschaft so that it could not harm tradition, and so that traditional ideology would not be harmed by Wissenschaft scholarship. They were determined to analyze the sources using the scientific method, and were confident that the Torah could not be damaged by true science. He demanded extreme caution, both from himself and from others. Whenever he discovered a conflict between scholarship and Torah he suspected that the conflict stemmed from a lack of precision, from flawed science or from superficial disregard of the sources. He was not narrowly constrained within his field; all of Jewish scholarship and all fields of Torah study were within his purview. Aside from the books he wrote, he published numerous articles. He stood constant guard, responding to every scientific discovery in his fields from the standpoint of both scientific criticism and traditional ideology. The truth of tradition was part of his consciousness. There was no boundary between his Talmudic analyses and his scientific research. He did not employ two methodologies, even if he was a master of two methodologies. He might clarify a halakha using textual variants or historical considerations, and he would employ all the tools of a Torah scholar to confirm details of critical study. For the benefit of critical scholarship, he made available a vast quantity of Talmudic and rabbinic material previously inaccessible to scholars.

In his book The First Mishna (1882, and translated into Hebrew by Dr. Samuel Greenberg),[19] he cast new light on the history of the Oral Law, and laid a foundation for the new field of Mishna criticism. Previously, most scholars believed that prior to our Holy Teacher, Rabbi Judah the Prince, there were only scattered, disorganized, and disjointed halakhot, until Rabbi Judah compiled them. It was considered groundbreaking when someone tried to show that compilations of halakhot were available in the Beit Midrash in Rabbi Akiva’s day. Had this issue come up earlier, many scholars may have hesitated to address it; but the question with its full implications had not yet arisen. Rabbi Hoffmann came forward and proved – with proofs withstanding critical evaluation – that at the time of the elders of the Shamai and Hillel schools there existed a First Mishna, fully complied and having a fixed text. Major mishnayot and basic halakhot in our Mishna derive from the First Mishna, and the very expression mishna rishona found in the sources is not only meant in contrast to a late Mishna on a particular halakha, but that this was the title of a compilation of halakhot used in the Beit Midrash during this period. He adduced proofs from mishnayot which, he showed, were from the Second Temple period; from common terminology; from the internal arrangement of the halakhot; and, primarily, from Tannaitic disputes. He believed that for the most part, these disputes were based on disagreements about the original wording and interpretation of the First Mishna, and that the relationship of the later Tannaim to the First Mishna was like that of the Amoraim to the Mishna as a whole. From the time the First Mishna was compiled, it was subject to much editing and came out in several revisions, comprising layer upon layer, until it was finalized in Rabbi Judah’s time. He then attempted to determine, by precise criticism, the makeup of the First Mishna, using internal signs as well as statements of Amoraim who were familiar with the Tannaitic world (though he did not employ enough of the latter method).
As examples he used Tractate Avot, in which he identified three revisions, and chapters in Pesahim and Yoma in which he identified multiple layers. He believed that mishnayot containing halakhic midrash were the oldest. He was of the opinion that prior to the compilation of the Mishna, the Soferim and the Tannaim studied the Oral Law in the format of halakhic midrash, accompanying Scripture. Associated with each verse they transmitted any relevant halakha, accepted interpretation, popular custom, and contemporary statute. These were attached to the biblical words and verses. The Soferim and early Tannaim proceeded from one verse to the next, interpreting each word, and associating halakhot with each and every letter. Mishnayot surviving from this early midrash are embedded in our Mishna, a clear sign that they derive from the First Mishna. Rabbi Yitzhak Isaac Halevy[20] succeeded him and followed his method (without mentioning his name[21]), though he disagreed with some of the details of Rabbi Hoffmann’s thesis. Rabbi Halevy dated the compilation of the First Mishna (which he termed the “Foundational Mishna” [yesod ha-mishna]) earlier, to the period of the late Soferim, the last members of the Great Assembly. This theory is reasonable, but must be considered speculative, while Rabbi Hoffmann’s dating is supported by evidence and can withstand serious critical appraisal. Still, one should not dismiss Rabbi Halevy’s opinion as mere reasonable speculation. One may criticize Rabbi Hoffmann for underemphasizing the notion of gradual, anonymous, literary evolution, which could account for the Mishna’s creation from an historical perspective. Rabbi Halevy also disagreed with Rabbi Hoffmann’s view – a view shared by Rabbi Zechariah Frankel – that halakhic midrash preceded the Mishna. Rabbi Halevy took the opposite position, that the apodictic Mishnayot preceded halakhic midrash, and that the latter defined and restricted the apodictic halakhot. I believe that Rabbi Halevy was unsuccessful in shaking the foundations of Rabbi Hoffmann’s thesis. I believe one must distinguish between the midrash of the Soferim – which derives Halakha from Scripture, and for each new question applies exegesis to Scripture as an halakhic source – and the midrash of the Tannaim, which attempts to support and define previously compiled halakhot.[22] In one fell swoop, Rabbi Hoffmann illuminated the entire process of the Mishna’s creation, explicated the Tannaitic period, and laid the foundation for the field of scientific criticism of the Mishna, a field whose future is bright. This discipline does not damage traditional belief. On the contrary, it pushes back the date of the Oral Law’s compilation, and thus bolsters the antiquity of tradition.

There is obvious scientific value to his book An Introduction to Halakhic Midrashim (Berlin, 1887),[23] in which he defined the evolutionary pathways of halakhic midrash. He discovered two trends or styles within halakhic midrash: One of the school of Rabbi Akiva and the other of Rabbi Ishmael. He identified the signs by which one may distinguish between these two schools: Variations in exegetical style; differences in the names of Tannaim cited; differences in linguistic expression and exegetical structure. He demonstrated that there were once two parallel sets of halakhic midrashim on four books of the Pentateuch, written according to each method. His thesis was validated when it helped discover remnants of Tannaitic midrash. He published these in edited and annotated versions:

1. “On a Mekhilta to Deuteronomy,” in Shai la-Moreh (Berlin, 1890)[24]
2. Likutei Batar Likute mi-Mekhilta le-Sefer Devarim (Berlin, 1897)[25]
3. Midrash Tannaim al Sefer Devarim (Berlin, 1908)[26]
4. Mekhilta de-Rabbi Shimon al Sefer Shemot (Frankfurt, 1905)[27]
5. Midrash ha-Gadol al Sefer Shemot, two volumes (Berlin, 1913-1921)[28]

Two of these books[29] were published by the author in complete form; their conclusions are straightforward and they are clear and well-organized. When I discussed these two books with him, he admitted that with respect to his ideas, he was preceded by Rabbi Israel Lewy of Breslau, in the latter’s books The Mishna of Abba Shaul[30] and Mekhilta De-Rabbi Shimon.[31] However, it must be noted that Rabbi Lewy – an unequaled scholar – wrote obliquely, whereas Rabbi Hoffmann constructed fully developed systems. Rabbi Hoffmann also translated and wrote a commentary on Mishna Nezikin and began work on Taharot. [32] He calmly expressed doubt about completing the commentary on Taharot in his lifetime. Although the translation was intended mainly for laypeople, the commentary includes notes and explanations of lasting value, especially on Taharot.

Scattered among his articles and responsa are studies on Talmudic philology and Jewish History. He was among the first to use the Samaritan Aramaic translation of the Bible for linguistic study of the Mishna and Talmud. He made emendations to the Talmud; interpreted obscure passages; attempted to reconcile conflicting chronologies; researched the history of the Sanhedrin; resolved difficulties in the writings of Josephus; utilized Jewish Hellenistic literature to explain Talmudic passages; analyzed etymologies of loanwords from Greek and Latin; tried his hand at comparing Hebrew and Aramaic to other Semitic languages; interpreted difficult chapters in Tractate Midot; elucidated Talmudic archeology; wrote commentaries on liturgy and piyyutim; and, he founded a scholarly journal which he edited for several years (1876-1893), the Magazin für die Wissenschaft des Judentums.[33] He achieved his self-imposed goal: To study Judaism by the scientific-critical method, and to bring respectability to scholarship that is loyal to tradition. His spoke with equanimity and conducted himself with humility. No opponent could act presumptuously toward him, and no one could cast doubt on his commitment to scientific scholarship.

In the end, he crossed over the boundary he had originally set for himself, and engaged in biblical studies. At most rabbinical seminaries in the West, there was no study of the Written Law except for some instruction on medieval commentaries. Wissenschaft scholars did not study Bible out of fear of taking a stand on fundamental principles concerning the Torah. They did not have the courage to challenge the prevailing opinions of Gentile scholars. Chumash was studied at two Berlin seminaries – at Maybaum’s Liberal seminary,[34] and also at the Orthodox seminary founded by Rabbi Hildesheimer – since both academies recognized the challenges posed by modern biblical studies, and each had its own unique approach to Torah study. Teaching Chumash at the seminary led him to study exegesis and to analyze the conclusions of biblical criticism. He then wrote his book against Wellhausen, the most prominent biblical critic, The Principle Arguments Against Wellhausen [Re’ayot Makhr’iot Neged Velhoizen],[35] published in 1904, in which he sanctified God’s name by his critique of criticism. He critically assessed the proofs employed by criticism, and highlighted the flaws in its arguments. In this way he attempted to destroy Wellhausen’s structure, removing each level, brick by brick. He especially fought the Documentary Hypothesis, refuting its assumption of multiple textual layers. He revealed its artificiality and its lack of foundation, as well as its internal inconsistencies, using proofs based on the methods and principles of the critics themselves. He refuted their proofs for the existence of separate biblical source-documents, based on the notion of distinctive terminology, by listing parallels between expressions used in the Prophets and in the Torah, thus negating the belief that the Prophets were unaware of sections of the Torah. He cited ironclad evidence regarding internal connections between the sources, showing how they were indeed parallel according to the critics’ own methodology.

After this fundamental work, he devoted himself to publishing his commentaries on Leviticus[36] and Deuteronomy.[37] Here he battled the destructive criticism on behalf of Scripture, using every available scientific and deductive weapon. At the same time, by citing a vast quantity of Talmudic and rabbinic material, he demonstrated the contribution of the Oral Law to understanding the simple meaning of Scripture. From one chapter to the next, he pursued critical theory, contradicted each of its conclusions, and made sense of the verses.

He also made an effort, in which he was preceded by several Jewish scholars (Rabbis Naftali H. Wesseley, Meir L. Malbim, J. Z. Mecklenberg), to demonstrate the unity of the Written and Oral Laws, both in the long introduction to Leviticus and within the commentary. He investigated the division and ordering of biblical paragraphs [parshiyot], and even addressed matters of philosophy and the rational justification of the commandments [ta’ame ha-mitzvot]. One might consider his commentary the “Orthodox version” of scientific exegesis. Before his time, Orthodox Judaism was resigned not to respond to criticism, choosing silence instead. He blazed a new path which, however, is not suited for the general public. It is a pity that he did not write his commentaries in Hebrew, but we can rejoice at the fact that his fundamental work against Wellhausen has now been translated.

One might fault him for responding to biblical criticism by negation only; for demonstrating the emptiness of the critics’ proofs but not offering a positive resolution to the problems they raise; for not confronting speculation with certitude; for not proposing a positive theory to resolve inconsistencies in the Torah. It is possible that he intended only to negate, and left the positive response to faith and tradition.[38]

Six years ago today, on 19 Marheshvan 5682 (November 20, 1921), he passed away at the age of 78. At the time, we all felt that he had no replacement, and that the generation had been orphaned. He was accorded much honor by his students and by all of German Orthodoxy; an honor that cultured people confer on their teachers; an honor that brings honor to those who give it.

There is no replacement for a giant, but there is comfort in his teaching.

May his soul be bound in the bond of life.

19 Marheshvan 5688 (November 14, 1927)

[1] For an introductory bibliography on Hoffmann, see the note here on a Seforim Blog post by Dr. Shnayer Leiman. The following sources can be found online on archive.org: Marx, Essays in Jewish Biography; Ginzberg, Students, Scholars and Saints.
[2] Today: Vrbové, Slovakia
[3] Today: Pápa, Hungary
[4] Today: Svätý Jur, Slovakia
[5] Today: Bratislava, Slovakia
[6] Mar Samuel, Rector der jüdischen Akademie zu Nehardea in Babylonien (Leipzig, 1873); available on Google Books.
[7] The dating of Hoffmann’s doctorate to 1875 is either a mistake or a typographical error, as the date on the published version of Mar Samuel (see previous note) is 1873. In Essays in Jewish Biography, p. 204 (see note 1), Alexander Marx dates Hoffman’s doctoral diploma to December 17, 1870.
[8] A reference to Rabbi Akiva’s return from the pardes (“orchard”) of secret mystical learning, free of physical, psychological, or religious injury; cf. Hagiga 13a. Hayyim Tchernowitz (Rav Tzair) uses the same expression with regard to Hoffmann in his biographical essay; cf. “R. David Zvi Hoffmann: Le-Partzufo Haruhani,Ha-Tekufah, v. 13 (1922), p. 479.
[9] Vereinigung Traditionell-Gezetzestreuer Rabbiner
[10] Verband Orthodoxer Rabbiner. Thanks go to Dr. Marc B. Shapiro for this identification.
[11] Allgemeiner Rabbiner Verband in Deutschland. On the history of these organizations, see Matthias Morgenstern, From Frankfurt to Jerusalem: Isaac Breuer and the History of the Secession Dispute in Modern Jewish Orthodoxy (Leiden, 2002) pp. 38ff.
[12] Lipschuetz echoes Hoffmann's own fear about the legacy of his German writings (see his introduction to Melamed Le-Ho'il and see note 15). Nearly a century later, we can state that Hoffmann's major German works have had and will continue to have lasting influence, as nearly all of his published monographs have appeared in Hebrew translation. His commentary on Exodus was recently published in Hebrew from a German manuscript (trans. Asher Wasserteil, Jerusalem, 2010).
[13] Hoffmann appears to have changed his attitude to this type of pipul in his later years. In his introduction to Melamed Le-Ho’il (p. 2), he states that pilpul designed to sharpen the minds of students, even if it disregards logic, is more desirable in Germany than it once was. Since Torah scholarship and appreciation for Torah scholars has waned, pilpul shel harifut may help endear Torah learning to students. Hoffmann makes this point to justify the inclusion of his own pipul-style writings in Melamed Le-Ho’il.
[14] Melamed Le-Ho’il (Frankfurt, 1926); available on HebrewBooks.org.
[15] Melamed Le-Ho’il was edited by Hoffmann's son Moses and published posthumously in 1926. But there is evidence to suggest that Hoffmann wished to publish the manuscript in some form; see Moses Hoffmann’s testimony here in his introduction to the printed version: וידוע למקורביו כי היה בדעתו בימי זקנותו להוציאם לאור הדפוס. In his own introduction to the manuscript, the senior Hoffmann expresses the hope that his children and his students benefit from its contents. He also states clearly his desire that Melamed Le-Ho’il becomes part of his permanent legacy – ויהיה לי לזכרון לדור אחרון – compared to his German writings which, he says, may soon be forgotten.
[16] Presumably near or at the conclusion of World War I.
[17] Theodor Fritsch (1852-1933), German anti-Semitic writer and publisher. See Richard S. Levy, Antisemitism: A Historical Encyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution, v. 1 (Santa Barbara, 2005), pp. 249ff; link here.
[18] Der Schulchan-Aruch und die Rabbinen über das Verhältniss der Juden zu Andersgläubigen (Berlin, 1885); available on Google Books.
[19] Die erste Mischna und die Controversen der Tannaim (Berlin, 1882); Hebrew translation, Ha-Mishna Ha-Rishona U-Felugta De-Tanna’ei (trans. Samuel Greenberg, Berlin, 1914); available on HebrewBooks.org.
[20] Yitzhak Isaac Halevy Rabinowitz (1847-1914), author of Dorot Ha-Rishonim (Frankfurt, 1906ff.); available on HebrewBooks.org.
[21] Tchernowitz (p. 485) makes the same accusation against Halevy.
[22] I.e., Hoffmann was correct in saying that the earliest midrash, of the Soferim, was written as an interpretive layer attached directly to Scripture, and that it preceded the compilation of the First Mishna. However, Tannaitic midrash was indeed written as a subsequent elaboration of the First Mishna.
[23] Zur Einleitung in die halachischen Midraschim
[24]Uber eine Mekhilta zu Deuteronomium,” in Jubelschrift zum Siebzigsten Geburgstag des Dr. Israel Hildesheimer (Shai la-Moreh) p. 83ff.; available on Google Books.
[25] Available on archive.org.
[26] Available on HebrewBooks.org.
[27] Available on HebrewBooks.org.
[28] Available on HebrewBooks.org, here (v. 1) and here (v. 2).
[29] Presumably nos. 3 and 4.
[30] Uber Einige Fragmente aus der Mischna des Abba Saul (Berlin, 1876).
[31] Ein Wort über die Mechilta des R. Simon(Breslau, 1889); available on Google Books.
[32] Mishnayot : Shishah Sidre Mishnah Be-Nikud Ha-Otiyot Uve-Haʻataḳah Ashkenazit (Berlin, 1893-1897).
[33] Began publication in 1874 as Magazin für Jüdische Geschichte und Literatur, edited by Abraham Berliner. From 1876, was renamed and published under the joint editorship of Berliner and Hoffmann.
[34] Siegmund Maybaum (1844-1919), lecturer at the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums.
[35] Original version, Die Wichtigsten Instanzen Gegen die Graf-Wellhausensche Hypothese (Berlin, 1904); available on archive.org. Hebrew translation by Eliezer Barishansky (Jerusalem, 1928); available on HebrewBooks.org.
[36] Original version, Das Buch Leviticus (Berlin, 1905-1906); available on Google Books, here (v. 1) and here (v. 2). Hebrew version, Sefer Vayikra (trans. Zvi Har-Sheffer and Aharon Lieberman, Jerusalem, 1976).
[37] Original version, Das Buch Deuteronomium (Berlin, 1913-1922). Hebrew version, Sefer Devarim (trans. Zvi Har-Sheffer, Tel Aviv, 1961); available on the Daat website. Hoffmann’s commentary on Genesis, Sefer Bereshit, was published in Hebrew from a German manuscript (trans. Asher Wasserteil, Bnei Brak, 1969) and is available on Daat.
[38] Tchernowitz (pp. 489ff.) makes the same observation regarding Hoffmann’s sole focus on negating Wellhausen and offers a similar, though more vigorous, defense of Hoffmann. He says that “negating the negation” [shelilat ha-shelila] was sufficient for his purpose, since the burden of proof lies on one who questions the traditional view of the Torah. He adds that many had tried, but failed, in their attempt to prove the traditional view. Thus, the negative approach was preferable, by which Hoffmann could show that science does not contradict tradition. Moreover, Tchernowitz says, Hoffmann’s main objective was to show that the Documentary Hypothesis, though widespread, was merely a belief – and an unsupportable one at that – lacking scientific merit.

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