Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Dr. Shlomo Sprecher ז"ל: In Memoriam

Dr. Shlomo Sprecher ז"ל: In Memoriam

אין חכמת האדם מגעת אלא עד מקום שספריו מגיעין,
ולכן ימכור אדם כל מה שיש לו ויקנה ספרים, כי דרך
משל מי שאין לו ספרי התלמוד אי איפשר לו להיות
בקי בו, וכמו כן מי שאין לו ספרי הרפואה א"א להיות
בקי בה.

דרכי התלמוד לר' יצחק קנפאנטון

A person’s wisdom reaches only as far as his library. Therefore, a person should sell everything he owns and
acquire books. For example, one who doesn’t own a set of the Talmud cannot possibly master its content. Similarly, one who doesn’t own the basic medical books cannot possibly be expert in the field of medicine.

          It is with deep sadness that the Seforim Blog joins the thousands who mourn the death of our dear contributor and supporter, Dr. Shlomo Sprecher ז"ל. A distinguished תלמיד חכם and radiologist, R. Shlomo was a world renowned collector of books, who mastered their content, and spent a lifetime sharing his books and his knowledge freely with others. Doubtless, רבי יצחק קנפאנטון had the likes of R. Shlomo in mind, in the passage cited above.

          R. Shlomo was a מרביץ תורה and a מרביץ חכמה to a degree rarely seen in modern times. Despite a professional medical career that in and of itself would have exhausted others, he somehow found time ללמוד וללמד. He learned Torah incessantly, gave public שיעורים on a regular basis, and managed to arrange for others, often younger scholars, to give שיעורים and lectures in his neighborhood. He served with distinction on the editorial boards of ישורון and Hakirah, where he contributed his own studies and, and no less significantly, recruited, indeed cajoled others to publish the results of their research.

          R. Shlomo’s literary legacy includes such gems as:

1.   Introduction and table of contents for the reissue of R. Meir Dan Plotzki’s שאלו שלום ירושלים (New York, 1991).
2.   מבחר כתבי מו"ה מרדכי גומפל שנאבר הלוי לעווינזאהן ז"ל (Brooklyn, 1995). The  English section includes a lengthy introductory essay (by R. Shlomo and Mati Sprecher) on the life and times of Mordechai Gumpel Schnaber – not surprisingly, an eighteenth century rabbinic scholar and physician.
3.   בסתר בצל: קווים לדמותו הסמויה של הג"ר בצלאל בנו יחידו של המהר"ל מפראג זצ"ל” in
ישורון  2(1997), pp. 623-634.
4.   "הפולמוס על אמירת מכניסי רחמים" in ישורון 3(1997), pp. 706-729.
5.   Mezizah be-Peh – Therapeutic Touch or Hippocratic Vestige?”
in Hakirah 3(2006), pp. 15-66.
6.   A Gemeinde Gemeinheit,” (by R. Shlomo and Mati Sprecher), posted on the Seforim Blog, June 9, 2009. An earlier version appeared in a pamphlet distributed at the wedding of Uri and Rivi Sprecher on November 13, 2008.

    In common, all of R. Shlomo’s contributions are characterized by dazzling erudition, lucid presentation, and originality. They advanced discussion significantly. It will certainly be a measure of consolation – and an important contribution to Jewish scholarship – if the family will gather his published studies and publish them in a bound volume. 

Above and beyond R. Shlomo’s intellectual excellence was his excellence of character. Others, more talented than us, will have to write about it. For those of us who experienced it, no further descriptions are necessary. For those of us who never experienced it, we doubt that the breadth and depth of his excellence of character can be adequately described in mere words. R. Shlomo leaves a void that will not easily be filled.

חבל על דאבדין ולא משתכחין.

 Eliezer Katzman
 Shnayer Leiman 

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