Tuesday, December 18, 2007

An Attack and Defense of the ArtScroll Talmud and Addendum to the Dec. 2007 Book List

Ohr Yisrael no. 50 (Tevet, 5768); 256 pages.

The new issue of Ohr Yisrael, no. 50. has a couple of articles I wanted to highlight. First, they have a section devoted to essentially whether the ArtScroll Gemara is a good thing or not. While in the United States the English version has been around for awhile, only recently has the Hebrew edition been on the market and it appears that it is very popular. Thus, there are those who are questioning if this is a positive step or not. Many of the articles are highly negative towards Artscroll and some even claim that if a person cannot learn Gemara without such an aid they should not be doing so at all.

The final article in this section is by R. Chaim Rapoport, a frequent contributor at the Seforim blog, and is the most comprehensive of the bunch. R. Rapoport demonstrates that ArtScroll -- and he points out it is not only ArtScroll anymore but others have published Gemaras that explain the text -- is not new. Rather, in the late 19th and early 20th century a similar work, HaMadrich, was published with many outstanding approbations. [This portion of the article, as R. Rapoport notes, is heavily based upon R. Yehoshua Mondshein's article on HaMadrich that appears in Kovets Zekhor l'Avrohom, (2000-2001), 349.]

Thus, R. Rapoport argues if those gedolim gave approbations then, they would have no problem today with the ArtScroll.

R. Rapoport in the second half of the article does point out a few (according to him) deficiencies in ArtScroll Gemaras as well as the ArtScroll Siddur. R. Rapoport notes that ArtScroll Gemaras use an academic commentary to explain the half flesh/half dirt mouse discussed in the Mishnah in Hullin (9:6). Specifically, ArtScroll quotes approvingly R. Samson Raphael Hirsch's comments on how to understand such Aggadot. Additionally, R. Rapoport notes that, at times, ArtScroll appears to have selectively quoted Rishonim to "conform with modern sensibilities."

Second, this issue contains an article on the customs surrounding Brit Milah by R. Yaakov Hayyim Sofer. Additionally, there is a very comprehensive article on the publication of R. Wolf Boskowitz's works.

Finally, there is a section on Shemittah and "Amirah leAkum."

Menachem Mendel Krochmal, Zemer Na'ah l'Kovod haTorah, (Brooklyn, NY, 2007); 73 pages. This is a reprint of the Amsterdam, 1675 edition and includes an introduction that includes biographical information on R. Krochmal. Additionally, as this work is for Simchat torah and when dedicating a new Torah, included are R. Krochmal's teshuvot discussing hilchot sefer torah. The book can be purchased at Biegeleisen or by contacting Shmuel Stefansky at 718.437.4044

Dovid Felbarbaum, Halichot Kodesh (Brooklyn, NY, 2007), 20, 316 pages. A collection of customs, nusachei teffilah, and other daily acts by Chief Rabbi of Kassan, R. Yisrael Tzvi Rattonberg. To purchase this book, aside from Beigeleisen, the following are provided, 718.336.8971 or 718.972.4078.

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