Tuesday, May 31, 2016

As The Kohen Exits The Sancta: A New Edition of Reb Zadok ha-Kohen of Lublin’s Tzidkat ha-Tzadik

:As The Kohen Exits The Sancta
A New Edition of Reb Zadok ha-Kohen of Lublin’s Tzidkat ha-Tzadik
By Josh Rosenfeld
Josh Rosenfeld is the Assistant Rabbi at Lincoln Square Synagogue and on the Judaic Studies Faculty at SAR High School. 
This is his fourth contribution to the Seforim Blog.
Tzidkat ha-Tzaddik
Commentary, Notes, & Excurses Ne’imot Netzah by R. Aharon Moseson
2 Vols. 532 + 564 pp.
Arad: Makhon Ne’imot ha-Tzedek, 2015

"The Books of the ‘Kohen’, written by the very own hand of our Master, the Holy man of God, the Kohen Gadol, without peer, Reb Zadok ha-Kohen of Lublin, may his merit protect us… have taken an important place amongst the works of Jewish thought and Hasidut amongst the legions of those who seek God in every place. They serve as a magnet for all those who desire [to know] God, who find in it a veritable treasury of general instruction and guidance in the service of God - especially in the area of refining one’s character traits, and [his words] contain entire frameworks for understanding verses in Tanakh and sections of Rabbinic stories in the Talmud and Midrashic literature.”

With these words, R. Aharon Moseson introduces his impressive new edition of what is arguably the central work of the “Kohen,” Reb Zadok ha-Kohen of Lublin (1823-1900), Tzidkat ha-Tzadik.[1] There is much already written on Reb Zadok and various different aspects of his thought, such that it would be redundant for me to recapitulate here,[2] although before we discuss this particular work and it’s advantages over previous editions, it behooves us to spend a moment on the book Tzidkat ha-Tzadik itself.

If the rest of Reb Zadok’s writings can be described as a sort of “Beit Yosef for Hasidut” (language of R. Moseson in the preface, on page 11), Tzidkat ha-Tzadik can be said to be a Shulhan Arukh, a type of concentrated version of Reb Zadok’s general ideas. R. Moseson categorizes Reb Zadok’s chief concerns into the following eight general categories, into which almost every single section of Tzidkat ha-Tzadik fall: (1) Divine Foreknowledge and Free Will (2) Repentance (3) Prayer (4) ‘Guarding the Covenant’ and Rectifying the Failure to do so (5) Human Inability to Fully Overcome Desire (=Yetzer) (6) The Interplay Between Physical Desire and Anger (7) The Trials of Desire (8) Positive Hutzpah. The reader is directed to the end of the second volume, where a number of short essays deal with some of these topics more fully.

Tzidkat ha-Tzadik was first published by the son-in-law of Reb Zadok, R. Barukh Dovid ha-Kohen in Lublin, 1902. Since then, a number of different editions of the Sefer have appeared, some of them notably censored in a number of piska’ot, or sections.[3] Beginning with the Lublin, 1913 edition,[4] a Hasid by the name of R. Yisrael b. R. Yosef Yozel of Lublin added in source references that Reb Zadok omitted from the manuscript. Later, R. Abba Zvi Naiman of Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore published an index of the works of Reb Zadok, Mafte’ah Kitve Rebbe Zadok ha-Kohen mi-Lublin (2nd ed. Jerusalem, 2006), which aided locating particular topics and sources cited in Tzidkat ha-Tzadik along with many of Reb Zadok’s numerous other works. The most widely-used and available edition I know of today is the red-covered, anonymously printed Jerusalem, 1998 edition. This printing has a square (as opposed to “Rashi” script) typesetting and also contains a well done topical and source index in the back put together by one R. Chaim Hirsch.

About thirty years ago, Yeshivat Beit El began to publish editions of the Reb Zadok’s major works, with major additions of full quotations of the sources cited in the works, and limited indices and additional works cited for comparison and further study under the imprint of Yeshivat Har Bracha. According to the title page, their edition of Tzidkat ha-Tzadik was based off of the 1968 Jerusalem printing of R. Oded Kitov, which itself was based off of manuscript. The reason the printings are important to us, as we shall see, is because of the following statement in the Har Bracha Edition: “printed… with the addition of deleted sections copied from the very handwriting [of Reb Zadok] that have previously not been published” (Emphasis mine). All previous printings have omitted several passages from the text of Tzidkat ha-Tzadik save for the Har Bracha, 1987 Yad Eliyahu KiTov, and now, the Ne’imot Netzah editions. In the chart below, I have outlined the various censored passages, and their omissions across four printings.[5]

One of the central reasons R. Moseson cites in the preface for the decision to include the various passages that were censored in many previous editions is borne of necessity due to the misinterpretation and danger inherent in an untrained and loopy presentation of these potentially explosive passages by neophytes or worse, deliberate misrepresentation of the Kohen’s words.[7] It is for this reason that R. Moseson prints these passages in an edition that enjoys the approbations of venerable Haredi authorities, although only the first two previously censored sections (nos. 54, 69) enjoy the introductions and cautionary words discussed in the preface in this new volume.

All told, this new edition of Tzidkat ha-Tzadik truly pulls back the parokhet from what for many was previously a “closed book.” The explanations section, entitled Ne’imos Tzedek presents each section in a lucid, ArtScroll-esque manner, with the words of Reb Zadok bolded, and regular text filling in the various lacunae that typify this work, especially in the earlier sections. Footnotes and cross-references lead the reader to the parallel discussions in Reb Zadok’s other works. The often obscure references to Rabbinic, Zoharic, Halakhic, and Hasidic literature that underlie Reb Zadok’s writing are often presented in full, allowing the learner to fully grasp the paroxysm of religious revelation, the concentrated bursts of wisdom, founded upon a lifetime of deep Torah engagement that I believe is represented in each of Reb Zadok’s short passages in Tzidkat ha-Tzadik, as opposed to the protracted thematic presentations that are to be seen in some of Reb Zadok’s other works. Particularly helpful, especially for the latter sections of Tzidkat ha-Tzadik in which the passages become much longer, are paragraph headers containing short precis of the topic under discussion, and side notes that helpfully summarize key turns and points in the text of the elucidation. For whatever a neophyte dabbler in Reb Zadok’s works’ recommendation is worth, I enthusiastically encourage all those who desire to embrace and engage with the wisdom of the Kohen to explore this new, valuable edition of Tzidkat ha-Tzadik, and remain in tremendous appreciation of R. Moseson and Makhon Ne’imot Netzah’s scholarly efforts.
I am deeply indebted and grateful to yedid nafshi Reb Menachem Butler and the editors of the Seforim Blog for the fantastic platform the blog serves as a virtual beis va’ad l’hakhamim and for their willingness to consider this and my previous short pieces for publication on it.

[1] While Reb Zadok’s written corpus is quite large, consisting of several original works written in his own hand, some point to the Torah she-Ba’al Peh (oral Tradition) of Peri Tzadik, a monumental 5 volume collection of Reb Zadok’s discourses on the Torah and Jewish calendar written by his students as the most comprehensive presentation of Reb Zadok’s thought. The Peri Tzadik is known as a “closed” book, due to the length and obscurity of the presentation of Reb Zadok’s discourses. Last February, a Talmid Hakham from Ashdod by the name of Y. Yakob began to release high-quality PDFs on the Otzar ha-Hokhmah forums with experimental, but extremely detailed and meticulously footnoted sections of Peri Tzadik, online here. To date, only a few sections of the discourses have received this treatment, and there is no indication from the representative of the author that there is a larger work in progress.
[2]  I am in full agreement with what yedidi Dovid Bashevkin, “Perpetual Prophecy: An Intellectual Tribute to Reb Zadok ha-Kohen of Lublin on his 110th Yahrzeit,” the Seforim blog (18 August 2010), available here, writes that “[t]he academic study of Reb Zadok is surely in debt to Prof. Yaakov Elman, who brought the thought of Reb Zadok to the English speaking academic world in a series of articles published over the past twenty-five years. His analysis of many of the central themes simultaneously charted new grounds in Hasidic scholarship and remain the standard from which subsequent scholarship on Reb Zadok is measured.” See Yaakov Elman, “R. Zadok Hakohen on the History of Halakah,” Tradition 21:4 (Fall 1985): 1-26; Yaakov Elman, “Reb Zadok Hakohen of Lublin on Prophecy in the Halakhic Process,” Jewish Law Association Studies 1 (1985): 1-16; Yaakov Elman, “The History of Gentile Wisdom According to R. Zadok ha-Kohen of Lublin,” Journal of Jewish Thought & Philosophy 3:1 (1993): 153-187; Yaakov Elman, “Progressive Derash and Retrospective Peshat: Nonhalakhic Considerations in Talmud Torah,” in Shalom Carmy, ed., Modern Scholarship in the Study of Torah: Contributions and Limitations (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1996), 227-87; and Yaakov Elman, “The Rebirth of Omnisignificant Biblical Exegesis in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries,” Jewish Studies Internet Journal 2 (2003): 199-249; and also Alan Brill, Thinking God: The Mysticism of Rabbi Zadok of Lublin (Jersey City, NJ: Ktav Publishing House, 2002). More recently, see Dovid Bashevkin, “Perpetual Prophecy: An Intellectual Tribute to Reb Zadok ha-Kohen of Lublin on his 110th Yahrzeit,” the Seforim blog (18 August 2010), available here; and Dovid Bashevkin, “A Radical Theology and a Traditional Community: On the Contemporary Application of Izbica-Lublin Hasidut in the Jewish Community," Torah Musings (20 August 2015), available online here here. See, as well, the important work in Amira Liwer, “Oral Torah in the Writings of Reb Zadok ha-Kohen of Lublin,” (PhD dissertation, Hebrew University, 2006; Hebrew), and see, as well, her earlier work in Amira Liwer, “Paradoxical Themes in the Writings of Reb Zadok ha-Kohen of Lublin,” (MA thesis, Touro College, 1992; Hebrew), as well as in Me'At Latzadik: Anthology of Reb Zadok ha-Kohen, ed. Gershon Kitzis (Bayit Publishing, 2005), which contains essays from various Torah and Academic personalities in Israel on aspects of Reb Zadok Torah, including from R. R. Shimon Gershon Rosenberg (ShaGaR) and R. Yeshayahu Hadari.
Finally, for an attempt at a systematic presentation of Reb Zadok’s thinking on particular topics across his written corpus, see R. Hanokh Ben-Arza, Tevel be-Tzedek (2 vols.; Jerusalem: Yad Eliyahu Kitov, 1999). This attractive work culls from all of Reb Zadok’s works and weaves disparate statements into short, heavily footnoted essays in a clear presentation. There is also a beautiful approbation from R. Mordechai Eliyahu in the first volume.
[3] Contrary to the longer, essay-like format of some of Reb Zadok’s other works (exceptions include shorter expositions like Divre Halomot, which are usually printed along with one of the more expansive works), Tzidkat ha-Tzadik is written in an almost aphoristic form, consisting of paragraph-length Torah ideas, usually prefaced with an opening line that encapsulates the Teaching. There are 264 such sections in the Sefer.
[4] Photomechanical offset reproduction, B’nei Brak, 1973.
[5] In an expanded version of this short review I propose to compare and theorize the various reasons for the specific omissions. Most, but not all of the censored piska’ot and passages deal with the doctrine of determinism and sin, or matters related to p’gam ve-tikkun ha-berit. On the latter, see for example Brill, Thinking God, 181-184.
[6] R. Moseson cites, as he does in other instances “וכמה מדפיסים החזירוה ע״פ משהעתיק אחד ממקורבי רבינו מכב יד קדשו של רבינו זי״ע” and then refers the reader to Tzidkat ha-Tzadik ha-Malei (Yad Eliyahu Kitov, 1987) published by R. Avraham Eliyahu Mokotovsky (R. Eliyahu Kitov, 1912-1976, whose father was a close Hasid of Reb Zadok and), which I have been unable to locate a copy of, although it is cited by R. Moshe Wolfson in his Emunat Itekha vol. 1, p. 24 (Parshat Vayishlah) as his source for Tzidkat ha-Tzadik no. 54.

[7] Ne’imot Netzah ed., pp. 11-12. It seems that in note ב, R. Moseson perhaps casts shade on the Har Bracha edition in writing: אכן חדשים מקרוב באו והחזירו את השמטות אלו במהדורות שלהם ואכן בלי לבאר את יש מקום לסילוף גדול כאמור.

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