Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Special Subscription Offer to Tradition

Special Subscription Offer to Tradition

In honor of the adoption of TraditionOnline Seforim Blog, Tradition Online is offering, for a limited time only, a reduced price of $15 for a 1-year, online-only subscription to Tradition. This will entitle you to complete online access to upcoming issues as well as all 50 years of the Tradition archives.

To subscribe, simply go to the Subscriptions link on the sidebar, choose the 1-year online-only subscription option at the bottom of the page, and when you get to your shopping cart, enter the promotional code: Seforim. The price will then be reduced to $15.

The TraditionOnline Seforim blog (TSB) is, of course, open to the public for free, and will always remain that way.

Also, for those of you who are already subscribed to Seforim Email Updates - you don't have to do anything to continue receiving your email updates. You will be automatically connected to TSB email updates. Anyone interested in signing up for TSB email updates can do so on the top left corner of the TSB home page.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Important Announcement

Dear Seforim Blog Readers,

It is with great pleasure that we announce today that Tradition Online ( will be adopting the Seforim blog onto its website.
We believe that the Seforim blog is a premiere source of online Jewish learning, and we hope that our resources and expanding website will help the newly-named Tradition Seforim Blog (TSB) continue to grow. TSB remains easily accessible at its new URL -, and can also be accessed through Tradition's website.

Allow me to assure you that the current Seforim editors will continue to exclusively direct the content and direction of the blog, and that TSB will continue to welcome your comments on the site. We salute Dan Rabinowitz for his excellent work, and look forward to helping him bring TSB to greater audiences.


Shlomo Brody
Online Editor, Tradition

Monday, June 23, 2008

Upcoming Auctions

There are two upcoming auctions. The first, Kestenbaum & Co. will take place this Thursday, June 26th, the catalog is available on their website. The auction includes R. S.R. Hirsch's copy of the Zohar, which is interesting in that R. Hirsch is not readily associated with Kabbalah. Of course, R. Hirsch and other German Jews had a more nuanced view of Kabbalah and were not antagonistic as some others (think certain groups of Yemenites).

Additionally, for those interested in incunabula, R. David Kimchi's (RaDaK) Sefer ha-Shorashim, Naples 1490 is for sale. It is worth noting that a tremendous amount of incunabula - by my count some 96 titles! - are available online at the JNUL Digitized Book Repository including this edition of the Sefer ha-Shorashim. To have access to so many rare titles is extrodinary. Even if one has access to a library that has a few incunabula it is difficult to view them let alone browse through and copy and print pages from these works.

This edition of the Sefer ha-Shorashim is also important in that it is different than the later editions. One of the readings this edition contains implicates the correct reading of Zekher Amalek. (See J. Penkower's excellent article on the topic, "Minhag u-Mesorah - 'Zekher Amalek' be-Hamesh or be-Shesh Nikkudot" in Iyun Mikrah u-Parshanut, vol. 4 (1997) 71-128, esp. pp. 82-3.)

Another work of interest, especially in light of some recent controversies, is Tuv Ta'am by R. Aron Tzvi Friedman, discussing various laws of Shehitah. As noted by Goldman, "according to a family legend, the English translation of this work convinced President Ulysses S. Grant to eat only kosher meat."

Other mentions include:

The first edition of R. Hutner's Torat ha-Nazir, that includes R. Kook's approbation (removed in some later versions).

Aneh Kesil, a polemic defending the authenticity of the Yerushalmi Kodshim.

Asufa has an auction coming up on July 3rd. Their catalog is available online here.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Note Regarding the Recitation of Brikh Shemei

A Note Regarding the Recitation of Brikh Shemei

by Rabbi Yechiel Goldhaber

Rabbi Yehiel Goldhaber of Jerusalem is the author of the (currently) two-volume authoritative work on the customs of the Mattersdorf Kehilla entitled Minhagei Ha-Kehillot (2004) and is at work on additional volumes, as well as on a complete history of the area and rabbonim of the Mattersdorf Kehilla. He is also completing a volume on coffee.

In addition to his authoritative articles on Kabbalat Shabbat in Beit Aharon ve-Yisrael, Rabbi Goldhaber has published many articles on the topics of halakha and minhagim in Yerushateinu, Yeshurun, Tzohar, Ohr Yisrael, and many more.
In addition to its wide readership amongst the followers of the Mattersdorf Kehilla, Minhagei Ha-Kehillot has been praised by leading scholars in the academic community for its wide-ranging and comprehensive footnotes relevant to kehillot beyond Mattersdorf.

In Rabbi Goldhaber's post at the Seforim blog below, he explores the origins of two seemingly independent customs relating to the Torah reading - Brikh Shemei and vaYehi Binso'a ha-Aron. An examination of their history reveals that the inclusion of one possibly impacted the placement of the other. The recitation of vaYehi Binso'a is a fairly old custom. But, in its original incarnation this verse, as a simple reading of its contents imply, was said as the Torah was removed from the ark. That is, while the torah is moving. Today, however, this verse is said while the Torah is firmly ensconced in the ark. R Goldhaber suggests that the much later inclusion of Brikh Shemei may have "bumped" vaYehi Binso'a to an earlier spot.

This is his first contribution to the Seforim blog.

בפרשיתנו נמצאת פרשה מיוחדת "פרשה בפני עצמה" והיא השמירה ללווית עם ישראל בעת מסעם במדבר.

פסוקים אלו נוהגים כהיום בתפוצות ישראל לאמרם עם הוצאת הס"ת מארון הקודש.

לרגע אדלג על פסוקים אלו, ואתמקד במנהג אמירת "בריך שמיה" עם הוצאת הספר.

תפלת "בריך שמיה" מקורו בזוהר הק', פרשת ויקהל, דף רו ע"א: "אמר רבי שמעון, כד מפקין ס"ת בצבורא למקרא ביה, מתפתחין תרעי שמייא דרחמין ומעוררין את אהבה לעילה ואבעיליה לבר נש למימר הכי: בריך שמיה דמארי עלמא...".

עם התפשטות הזוהר וכתבי האר"י החל להתפשט -כיתר מנהגי המקובלים- גם אמירת 'בריך שמיה' בקרב קהילות ישראל. לראשונה הודפס בספר 'תפלה לדוד', עותק יחיד בעולם נמצא בבית הספרים שבירושלים, מאת המחבר ר' דוד ב"ר יוסף קארקו, נדפס בקושטא שנת רצ"ה, עלה לארץ מטורקיה, ורשם לעצמו מנהג התפילה בירושלים [מהספרים החשובים למנהג המקורי בא"י!] כבר בהקדמה מצטט המחבר ארבע פעמים קטעים מדברי הזוהר. ואכן בדף 27 הובא "בקשה להוצאת הס"ת" ומעתיק לשון בריך שמיה.

לאחריו העתיקו ר' עמנואל ב"ר יקותיאל בניונטו, בסוף ספרו 'לוית חן' על כללי תורת הדקדוק, מנטובה שי"ז, בסוף הספר הוא מעתיק מספר הזוהר אזהרות ודברי מוסר בענין שמירת כבוד בה"כ. בין הקטעים הוא מעתיק גם לשון ה"בריך שמיה". לציין שר' עמנואל היה חכם וחסיד ומקובל, הוא אשר הגיה את דפוס ראשון של הזוהר, וכן ספר מערכות אלקות (חייט). לאחריו הביאו בספר 'סדר היום' לר"מ בן מכיר מצפת.

הסידור הראשון המביאו "הלכה למעשה" הוא דוקא בפולין, אצל המדקדק המפורסם רבי שבתי סופר מפרעמישלא, בלטימור תשנ"ד עמוד 359, לא רק שהוא מעתיקו אלא הוא גם מבאר פירוש מילותיו! סידור חשוב זה נערך בשנת שע"ז, לערך. ומאז והלאה, החל אט אט להתפשט ע"י סידורים שונים.

תפלה זו, משכה אליה שאלות שונות, לדוגמה: זמן אמירתו, האם רק בשבת, או שמא גם בחול. משמעות ביטויים תמוהים, כגון "בר אלהין" וכן מה פשר המילים "סגידנא מקמא דיקר אורייתא". תביעת צרכים בשבת, ובירור נוסחאותיו, על כל אלה האריך ידידי הרב בנימין שלמה המבורגר, בספרו הנפלא 'שרשי מנהגי אשכנז' ח"א.

באתי לדון בזה בפרט אחד, שלכאורה הוא שולי ביותר -ובגדר "דקדוקי עניות", אולם היות ולאחרונה דנים בזה השכם וערב, אענה אני חלקי גם בזה, והוא:

שעת המדויקת לאמירת בריך שמיה: אם לאומרו בפתיחת הארון לפני הוצאת הספר, או שמא רק לאחר שהוציאוהו כבר, והמוציא מחזיקו ביד, או שמא בשלב יותר מאוחר!

לכאורה מלשון הזוהר כד מפקין ס"ת בצבורא למקרי משמע שיש לאמרו תוך כדי הוצאת הספר מהארון.

ואחרי בירור הנושא באנו לידי ארבעה מנהגים שונים!

עקב אריכות הדברים אצטט רק למראה מקומות ולא אאריך בהם, על אף שמן הדין כן לבאר את הלשונות.

א] לאומרו רק אחרי הוצאת הספר, כן כתב: סידור רבי שבתי סופר, סידור רבי יעקב עמדין, סדר קריה"ת והלכותיה. ערוך השלחן בסימנים קלב, רפב ו-רצב. כן נוטה דעת רבי יוסף חיים הבבלי בשו"ת רב פעלים ח"ג, סוד ישרים סימן ח, על אף שבספרו "בן איש חי" פ' תולדות לא נגע בבעיה זו.

רבי אברהם יעקב זלזניק, ראש ישיבת עץ חיים, במשך חייו היה מעורר את העולם על דברין הטעון תיקון בסדר התפלה, לדעתו! בין הדברים היה גם שלפי דעתו יש לאמרו אחרי ההוצאה, וכפשטות לשון הזוהר. ועוד הוסיף לטעון, שאחרת נגרם חוסר כוונה למתפללים! [יש מקום לחלוק עליו בזה].

ב] לאמרו בעוד הספר באה"ק:

כן כתב החיד"א בספרו תורת השלמים סימן כב סעיף ב: כשפותח הארון להוציא ס"ת יאמר...

רבי חיים פאלאגי' בספרו 'כף החיים' סו"ס כח: "העושה פתיחת ההיכל לא יוציא הס"ת תכף שפותח, אלא ישהה מעט כדי שיוכלו לומר בריך שמיה... ואם יוציא תיכף הס"ת מתחיל גדלו, ולא יוכלו לאומרו כל אחד בכונה...". וכן משמעות המ"ב בסימן רפב וכה"ח (סופר) סימן קלג וכן מפורש בקצות השלחן סימן כה.

כן נהגו בקהילה עתיקה בארם צובה, שמעתי מאת הרב המקובל רבי מרדכי עטיה, ועוד.

וכן נוהגים אצל כל עדות החסידים לגזעיהם.

לגבי הנהגת העולם, כבר לפני כשלושים שנה התעניינתי אצל זקני ירושלים, הן מעדת החסידים והן מעדת האשכנזים, רובם ככולם ענו ואמרו ש"המנהג הישן" לאמרו כשהס"ת עדיין בהיכל!

ורק הודות לפעולותיו של הרב זלזניק ש"הרעיש" את העולם על כך, הוקבע בעולם הישיבות, להקפיד כדעתו [וכן ראיתי שרבי יצחק נתן קופרשטוק מזדעזע כראותו אחד הנוהג כמנהג זה].

ג] שאין נפק"מ מתי לאמרו, בהרבה קהלות בארופה לא דקדקו בכך, וכן כותב שו"ת אגרות משה, או"ח ח"ד סימן ע, והליכות שלמה (אוירבוך) פרק יב. וכן שמעתי מהרבה זקנים שעדיין מידת הזכירה פועמת בהם.

ד] לאמרו כשהספר כבר פתוח על הבימה, לפני הקריאה.

כן כתב פסקי מהרי"ץ, סדור כנסת הגדולה (צובירי), ח"א עמוד רי. ומצאתי מקור קדום ביותר לכך, והוא בספר אגודת אזוב לרבי יצחק האזובי, חכם מטורקיה שעלה לא"י תיכף אחרי גירוש ספרד, והוא כותב: בשעה שמראים הס"ת אל העם, שערי שמים נפתחין..., אגדת אזוב, נתניה תשנה, עמוד קסו.

הרי לנו על חודו של מחט מנהגים שונים בפרט קטן מאוד במנהג מחודש יחסית

איברא: אולי אפשר להסביר בדרך אפשר, היאך נוצר שינויי מנהגים דרסטיים כל כך!

כעת אפנה למנהג הנפוץ של אמירת פסוקי "ויהי בנסע הארן".

בסרי הראשונים הן מאשכנז והן מספרד, אין איכור לפסוקים שונים בעת הוצאת הספר, רק הש"ץ מכריז "גדלו" והקהל עונה "לך ה' הגדולה".

"ויהי בנסע" הוזכר לראשונה בספר "המחכים" לרבי יהודה, חי בספרד דור שלאחר הרשב"א, הכותב בספרו [עמוד 15] במנהגי קריאת התורה לימות החול, לומר "ויהי בנסוע" אחרי הוצאת הסםפר מהארון. משם הועתק לספרים ארחות חיים, תפילות שבת, סעיף טו, וכלבו הל' קריאת התורה לשבת, ז"א שבחול לא העתיקוהו! וכנראה שלא אמרו אלא בשבת.

אולם מפורש בדבריהם שעת האמירה היא רק אחרי הוצאת הספר, ואכן כך ההגיון שהמקום המתאים הוא עם הסעת הארון, היינו עם ליווי הספר!

וכך כתוב בשני הסידורים המדוקדקים ביותר: של רבי שבתי סופר, וכן של היעב"ץ!

ותמוה, שכהיום מנהג העולם אינו כך, אלא אומרים אותם עם פתיחת הארון!

חשבתי לומר שמא, המנהג התגלגל כך, עקב הכנסת "בריך שמיה" בין "ויהי בנסע" לליווי הספר, והוא גרם לצמצום הזמן בעת הליווי, ולכן הקדימוהו עם פתיחת ההיכל!!

ואכן מנהג בני תימן תואם את מה שבלבנו, את פסוקי ויהי בנסע, אורמים בעת הליווי, ורק בעמדו על הבימה, הוא העת ל'בריך שמיה'!

לאידך מצאתי בכמה סידורים קדומים נוסח פולין, משנת שי"ח, וש"ך ועוד מהתקופה ההיא, הכותבים בכותרת לפני "ויהי בנסע" : ווען דער חזן עפנט דאס ארון קודש זאגט ער דיז פסוקים!!

ומן הענין לעקוב אחרי סידורים יותר מאוחרים, כדי לעמוד האם אכן נוהג זה התאקלם בפולין.

היחידי שעמד על תמיה זו, למה שנו מהזמן הנקוב בכלבו, הוא מחותני הגאון רבי מנשה קליין, בשו"ת משנה הלכות חלק יא, סימן רכב, עי"ש.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Aryeh A. Frimer Review of Daniel Sperber’s Darka shel Halakha

Lo Zu haDerekh: A Review of
Rabbi Prof. Daniel Sperber’s Darka shel Halakha

by Aryeh A. Frimer

Rabbi Prof. Aryeh A. Frimer is the Ethel and David Resnick Professor of Active Oxygen Chemistry at Bar Ilan University. He has lectured and published widely on various aspects of “Women and Halakha.”

Among his many articles, Rabbi Frimer is the author of “Women and Minyan,” Tradition, 23:4 (Summer 1988): 54-77, available online here; “Women’s ‘Megilla’ Reading,” in Ora Wiskind Elper, ed., Traditions and Celebrations for the Bat Mitzvah (Urim Publications: Jerusalem, 2003), 281-304, available online here (PDF); “Guarding the Treasure: A Review of Tamar Ross, Expanding the Palace of Torah: Orthodoxy and Feminism,” BDD - Journal of Torah and Scholarship 18 (April 2007): 67-106 (English), available online here (PDF); “Feminist Innovations in Orthodoxy Today: Is Everything in Halakha - Halakhic?” JOFA Journal 5:2 (Summer 2004/Tammuz 5764): 3-5, available here (PDF).

Over a three year period, from 5758-5760 (Fall 1997-Summer 2000), Rabbi Frimer delivered in-depth high-level shiurim on "Women and Halakha" to the Women of Rehovot at the Tiferet Moshe Synagogue – Rabbi Jacob Berman Community Center. The basic sourcebook for these lectures was R. Elyakim Getsel Ellinson, haIsha ve-haMitsvot – Vol. I: Bein Isha leYotsra, and this series of classes were regularly recorded as MP3 files, and the source materials, handouts and lecture notes were converted into PDF files and these files are now available here.

Aryeh A. Frimer and Dov I. Frimer are the co-authors of "Women's Prayer Services - Theory and Practice," Tradition 32:2 (Winter 1998): 5-118, available online here (PDF); and of the forthcoming “Women, Kri’at haTorah and Aliyyot.”

This is his first contribution to the Seforim blog.

Allow me to begin my review of Rabbi Prof. Daniel Sperber’s new volume Darka shel Halakha, with a few words of introduction.[1] I have the greatest respect for Prof. Sperber both as a scholar par excellence and as a human being. Over the almost 35 years I have been at Bar-Ilan University, we have developed a warm friendship and mutual respect. He writes clearly and beautifully, with great knowledge, sensitivity and depth – and his book Darka shel Halakha is no exception. Nevertheless, I am forced to disagree with his analysis and conclusions. I strongly believe that we have to be sensitive to women’s spiritual needs or as Hazal say: לעשות נחת רוח לנשים (Sifra, Parsheta 2; Hagiga 16b). But at the same time, we have to be honest about what the halakha clearly states – so that, at the same time, we will not be guilty of האהבה מקלקלת את השורה.

The question of women receiving aliyyot, which lies at the center of Darka shel Halakha, is briefly discussed in a baraita cited in the Talmud Megilla (23a) which reads (Source 1):

(1) תלמוד בבלי מסכת מגילה דף כג עמוד א
תנו רבנן: הכל עולין למנין שבעה, ואפילו קטן ואפילו אשה. אבל אמרו חכמים: אשה לא תקרא בתורה, מפני כבוד צבור.

Despite the above negative ruling of the Talmud and, in its wake, of all subsequent codifiers,[2] within the last decade, there have been two major attempts to reopen this issue. One was penned by R. Mendel Shapiro[3] who argues that kevod ha-tsibbur is a social concept – and a woman’s general standing in society was lower than men’s. Nowadays when this is no longer true, a community can be mohel on its kavod – voluntarily set aside its honor. He errs, however, since the vast majority of rishonim and aharonim disagree with his analysis. Kevod ha-tsibbur has nothing to do with social standing. The vast majority of posekim maintain that kevod ha-tsibbur stems from women’s lack of obligation in keri’at haTorah, and expresses itself either in terms of tsniut or zilzul ha-mitsvah. The Tsniut School argues that women should not be at the center of communal ritual unnecessarily – and this is particularly true by keri’at haTorah, from which they are freed. The second school maintains that there is an issue of zilzul ha-mitsva in that the men who are duty-bound should fulfill the mitsva that is incumbent upon them – and not delegate it to those who are not obligated.[4]

The second attempt is that of R. Prof. Daniel Sperber,[5] in Darka shel Halakha, and I would like to focus on two major issues.

Kevod haTsibbur: Instruction or Recommendation?

Firstly, R. Sperber has suggested that the phrase in Megilla 23a “However, the Rabbis declared: a woman should not read from the Torah – because of kevod ha-tsibbur” describes what Hazal believed to be the preferred or recommended mode of conduct, the ideal way of performing keri’at haTorah.

Indeed, ke-darko ba-kodesh, Prof. Sperber surveys all the places where it states אבל אמרו חכמים and shows that some cases are merely expressions of the ideal, while others refer to things that are actually assur. Yet, he concludes [Note 19, p. 21] that that in the case of women’s aliyyot: "לא נראה שמדובר ... בתקנת חז"ל אלא שאינו ראוי"

This position is very problematic, particularly in this case of women’s aliyyot which is one of kevod ha-tsibbur.

(1) Firstly, Meiri, Kiryat Sefer, Ma’amar 5, sec. a, writes (Source 2):

(2) מאירי, קרית ספר, מאמר חמישי חלק א
נמצאת למד ...שהכל עולין למנין ז' אפילו אשה וקטן…, אלא שמיחו באשה מפני כבוד צבור...

The word “מיחו” appears many times in the Mishnaic and Tamudic literature and it refers to strongly verbalized objection and public reproof. See for example, Source 3.

(3) מסכת פסחים פרק ד משנה ח
משנה: ששה דברים עשו אנשי יריחו על שלשה מיחו בידם ועל שלשה לא מיחו בידם
רמב"ם: אלו הששה דברים כולם היו שלא ברצון חכמים, אלא שעל שלשה מהם - והם הראשונים - לא מיחו בידם חכמים, ושלשה המנויים באחרונה מיחו בידם.

Clearly, from the Meiri’s perspective, the statement אבל אמרו חכמים by women’s aliyyot is not a simple recommendation.

(2) Secondly, there is a group of rishonim and aharonim who maintain that in the specific case of women’s aliyyot, women cannot receive aliyyot, even in cases of she’at ha-dehak or be-diavad. This school includes the Rambam and Semag and many subsequent aharonim (R. Abraham Pinso; R. Matsli’ah Mazuz; R. Ben-Zion Lichtman, R. Zalman Nehemiah Goldberg and R. Isaac Zilberstein). For example, Rambam (Sources 4 and 5) writes without any qualification that women may not receive aliyyot:

(4) רמב"ם הלכות תפילה ונשיאת כפים פרק יב, הלכה יז
אשה לא תקרא בציבור מפני כבוד הציבור…

(5) הרב מסעוד חי רוקח, מעשה רוקח שם
ורבינו כתב קיצור הדין ד-"אשה לא תקרא מפני כבוד הציבור", א"כ נאסר לגמרי…

Semag (Source 6) records that minors may receive aliyyot, but makes no mention of women whatsoever. On the contrary, he maintains (Sources 7 and 8) that women cannot motsi men in megilla, even be-di-avad, just as they can’t receive aliyyot.

(6) הרב משה בן יעקב מקוצי, ספר מצוות גדול (סמ"ג), עשין סימן יט
כמה [הם] הקוראים, בשבת בשחרית שבעה .. וקטן היודע לקרות ויודע למי מברכים עולה בשבעה למניין.

(7) ספר מצוות גדול – מצוות מדרבנן, הלכות מגילה
…דאף על גב דנשים חייבות במקרא מגילה אינן מוציאות את הזכרים. ואל תשיבני נר חנוכה דאמרינן בפרק במה מדליקין (שבת כג, א) דאשה מדלקת משמע אף להוציא האיש. דשאני מקרא מגילה שהוא כמו קריאת התורה לכך אינה מוציאה את האיש.

(8) מגן אברהם סימן תרפט ס"ק ה
"וי"א שהנשים אינם מוציאות את האנשים "
אינם מוציאות - ול"ד לנרות חנוכה דשאני מגילה דהוי כמו קריאת התורה (סמ"ג) פי' ופסולה מפני כבוד הצבור ולכן אפי' ליחיד אין מוציאה דלא פלוג (רא"ם)

Clearly, according to these authorities, the statement אבל אמרו חכמים is not a simple recommendation.

(3) There is another very large group of posekim (perhaps the majority) led by the R. Yoel Sirkis (Ba”h; Sources 9 and 10) who maintain that one cannot be mohel on kevod ha-tsibbur – particularly in the case of women’s aliyyot. However, bi-she’at ha-dehak – where there is no alternative or no one else eligible - a woman can read, lest keri’at haTorah be cancelled. It is to such cases that the Gemara in Megilla was referring.

(9) הרב יואל סירקיס, בית חדש (ב"ח) טור או"ח סימן נ"ג ד"ה "ואין ממנין"
…אלא הדבר פשוט, כיון שכך תקנו חכמים דחששו לכבוד ציבור, אין ביד הציבור למחול.

(10) בית חדש, טור אורח חיים סימן קמ"ד
... מה שתיקנו חכמים .. משום כבוד הציבור לא תקנו מתחילה אלא היכא שאפשר

For example, in a case of a city with only kohanim cited by Rabbi Sperber himself, Maharam mi-Rothenburg (Source 11) permits women to receive the third through seventh aliya. Otherwise the Torah reading would not occur, for the lineage of the kohanim would be challenged were they to receive the remaining aliyyot. In the language of the Maharam:

(11) שו"ת מהר"ם מרוטנברג חלק ד (דפוס פראג) סימן קח
...ועיר שכולה כהנים ואין בה [אפי'] ישראל אחד נראה לי דכהן קורא פעמיים ושוב יקראו נשים דהכל משלימי' למנין ז' אפי' עבד ושפחה וקטן (מגילה כ"ג ע"א). ונהי דמסיק עלה אבל אמרו חכמי' לא תקרא אשה בתורה מפני כבוד הצבור, היכא דלא אפשר ידחה כבוד הצבור מפני פגם כהנים הקוראים שלא יאמרו בני גרושות.

Maharam mi-Rothenburg was only willing to permit bi-she’at ha-dehak. This certainly doesn’t sound like a recommendation המלצה. Rather it is permission given only bi-she’at ha-dehak.

It would seem to me that in Darka shel Halakha there is a blurring of the difference between le-khathila and be-di-avad. For example, Hazal say that one should not use a milchig spoon שאינו בן יומו (not used in last 24 hours) to stir hot chicken soup. Similarly, Hazal indicate that one shouldn’t eat out of utensils that haven’t been immersed in a mikva. In both cases, be-di-avad, the food remains perfectly kosher. Hazal’s ruling in both these cases is not a recommendation - but rather a clear directive how one is required to act; under normative conditions, it is assur to act otherwise. This is also true regarding women’s aliyyot Hazal forbade it le-khathila, even though be-di-avad or bi-she’at ha-dehak the aliyya may be valid.

Now it should be appreciated that from Prof. Sperber’s perspective it is important that אבל אמרו חכמים be only a המלצה. Prof. Sperber wants to maintain that there really is no “down side” to women getting aliyyot. However, to my mind, he errs – kevod ha-tsibbur is a takana le-khathila, not a recommendation.

In this regard, I would also like to briefly mention one further crucial point, relevant to both the papers of R. Mendel Shapiro and R. Daniel Sperber – but which we will not be able to develop fully here at the Seforim blog.[6] When Hazal talked about women getting aliyyot, they were referring to a system in which the oleh made the berakhot and read aloud - for himself and the community. However, nowadays, the job of the oleh is bifurcated: the oleh makes the berakhot and ba’al korei reads aloud. This raises a fundamental question: how can one person make berakhot, while another does the ma’aseh ha-mitsva. For there not to be a berakha le-vatalah there must be a mechanism to transfer the reading from the ba’al korei to the oleh. That mechanism is either shom’eah ke-oneh or shelihut. But both mechanisms require that both the oleh and ba’al korei be obligated – otherwise there is no areivut. Since women are not obligated in keri’at haTorah, they can serve neither as the oleh nor as the ba’al korei - me-ikkar ha-din – because the birkhot haTorah of the oleh will be berakhot levatalah. Note that all this has nothing to do with kevod haTsibbur. The only case in which the issue of kevod haTsibbur begins is in the uncommon case where a woman makes the berakhot and reads for herself.[7] Hence, under a bifurcated system, there is a clear downside in allowing women to read or serve as olot – a proliferation of berakhot le-vatala!

Does Kevod haBeriyyot Defer Kevod haTsibbur –
The Rules of Kevod haBeriyyot

Lets now turn to the second issue – and this is Prof. Sperber’s major hiddush in this book. Briefly, Prof. Sperber notes that there is a concept in halakha called kevod ha-beriyyot which refers to shame or embarrassment (בושה או בזיון) which would result from the fulfillment of a religious obligation. The view of the halakha is that kevod ha-beriyyot can defer rabbinic obligations and prohibitions. Hence, Prof. Sperber maintains that if there is a community of women who are offended by their not receiving aliyyot – because of the rabbinic rule of kevod hatsibbur, then kevod ha-beriyyot should defer kevod ha-tsibbur.

Professor Sperber’s book is devoted to describing the use of kevod ha-beriyyot in the halakhic literature. He is by no means the first to do this and the subject is extensively reviewed and analyzed by Rabbis Rakover,[8] Blidstein,[9] Lichtenstein,[10] Feldman,[11] and many others.[12]

Let’s begin with the Gemara in Berakhot 19b:

(12) תלמוד בבלי מסכת ברכות דף יט עמוד ב
(א) אמר רב יהודה אמר רב: המוצא כלאים בבגדו פושטן אפילו בשוק, מאי טעמא (משלי כ"א) "אין חכמה ואין תבונה ואין עצה לנגד ה'" - כל מקום שיש חלול השם אין חולקין כבוד לרב.
(ב) מתיבי: קברו את המת וחזרו, ולפניהם שתי דרכים, אחת טהורה ואחת טמאה, בא בטהורה - באין עמו בטהורה, בא בטמאה - באין עמו בטמאה, משום כבודו. [רוב הראשונים גורסים: באים בטמאה, בא עמהם משום כבודם] אמאי? לימא: אין חכמה ואין תבונה לנגד ה'. תרגמה רבי אבא בבית הפרס דרבנן
(ג)...תא שמע: גדול כבוד הבריות שדוחה [את] לא תעשה שבתורה. ואמאי? לימא: אין חכמה ואין תבונה ואין עצה לנגד ה'! - תרגמה רב בר שבא קמיה דרב כהנא בלאו (דברים י"ז, יא) דלא תסור [מן הדבר אשר יגידו לך ימין ושמאל[ ...כל מילי דרבנן אסמכינהו על לאו דלא תסור, ומשום כבודו שרו רבנן.
(ד) רש"י: כל מילי דרבנן וכו' - והכי קאמר להו: דבר שהוא מדברי סופרים נדחה מפני כבוד הבריות, וקרי ליה לא תעשה - משום דכתיב לא תסור, ודקא קשיא לכו דאורייתא הוא, רבנן אחלוה ליקרייהו לעבור על דבריהם היכא דאיכא כבוד הבריות.

The upshot of this Gemara is that if one is wearing sha’atnez – the wearer is obligated to remove it even in the marketplace, despite any possible embarrassment. The Gemara explains that G-d’s honor/dignity takes priority over that of Man. However, if the garment is only rabbinically forbidden, one can wait until they return home to change. The reason is that kevod ha-beriyyot, the honor of the individual, can defer rabbinic prohibitions.

Prof. Sperber adequately shows that kevod ha-beriyyot has always been an important consideration in pesak. However, an in-depth survey of the responsa literature over the past 1000 years makes it clear that it cannot be invoked indiscriminately. Indeed, as the gedolei ha-posekim make apparent, there are clearly defined parameters which Prof. Sperber seems to ignore. Hence, R. Sperber’s application of kevod ha-beriyyot to the issue of women’s aliyyot is seriously flawed. In this brief presentation, we will discuss nine of the aforementioned principles.

(1) Firstly, kevod ha-tsibbur is merely the kevod ha-beriyyot of the tsibbur.[13] Hence it makes no sense that the honor of the individual should have priority over the honor of a large collection of individuals. Indeed, this is explicitly stated by the 13th century Meiri. [Source 13; Meiri is referring to Source 12ב]
(13) מאירי, בית הבחירה, ברכות דף יט עמוד ב:
{יש גורסים בא בטומאה באין עמו. ואין הדברים נראין} שאין כבוד רבים נדחה מפני יחיד או יחידים, [וכן הוא] באבל רבתי...ואף בתלמוד המערב...

(2) Secondly, The Meiri (Source 14) also emphatically states:
(14) מאירי, בית הבחירה, ברכות דף יט עמוד ב:
...שלא אמרה תורה כבד אחרים בקלון עצמך...

Giving women aliyyot by overriding kevod ha-tsibbur with kevod ha-beriyyot would effectively be honoring women by dishonoring the community – and, hence, cannot be done.

(3) R. Sperber’s suggestion would ask us to uproot completely the rabbinic ban on women’s aliyyot. However, kevod ha-beriyyot can only temporarily set aside a rabbinic ordinance. As stated in the Jerusalem Talmud (Source 15):

(15) תלמוד ירושלמי כלאים פ"ט ה"א, לב ע"א
הרי שהיה מהלך בשוק ונמצא לבוש כלאים, תרין אמוראין (שני אמוראים חולקים בדבר): חד אמר אסור; וחרנה (ואחר) אמר מותר. מאן דאמר אסור - דבר תורה; מאן דאמר מותר - כההיא דאמר רבי זעירא: גדול כבוד הרבים שהוא דוחה את המצוה בלא תעשה שעה אחת.

Many of the commentaries on the Yerushlami and posekim hold that this proviso of sha’ah ahat applies to Rabbinic mitsvot as well – including: Tosafot, Ketubot 103b, end of s.v. “Oto”; Or Zarua, Hilkhot Erev Shabbat, sec. 6; Penei Moshe; Vilna Gaon; R. David Pardo; Arukh haShulhan (Source 16); and others.

(16) ערוך השולחן, יו"ד סימן ש"ג, סעיף ב:
שאני הכא [בכלאים] דהוא לשעה קלה, דכשיבא לביתו יגידו לו ויפשוט. ..ואפי' באיסור דרבנן תמידי נ"ל דמחוייב להגיד לו, ואין למנוע מצד כבוד הבריות

(4) Next, many posekim including R. Yair Hayyim Bachrach, R. Meir Simha of Dvinsk (Source 17), R. Jeroham Perlow, R. Moses Feinstein, R. Chaim Zev Reines indicate that the “dishonor” that is engendered must result from an act of disgrace - not from refraining to give honor. As Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk writes:

(17) אור שמח (הרב מאיר שמחה הכהן מדווינסק) הלכות יו"ט פרק ו, הלכה י"ד
גדול כבוד הבריות...זה דווקא במידי דבזיונא הוא לבריות, אבל...ענין של כבוד...מי שרי?

Only in cases where kavod is obligatory (e.g., for a King or mourner) is the absence of kavod considered embarrassing, as indicated by R. Isaac Blazer (Source 18),

(18) שו"ת פרי יצחק, נד (הרב יצחק בלזר)
צריך לומר דסבירא להו לגמרא במקום שהכבוד מחוייב גם העדר כבוד הוא בכלל כבוד הבריות, דהעדר כבוד הוא כמו גנאי... ועיין בכתובות (דף סט) מניין שאבל יושב בראש....

Prof. Yaakov Blidstein discusses burial on Yom Tov sheini shel galuyot, which is permitted because Yom Tov sheni is de-rabbanan, while not burying is kevod ha-beriyyot.[14] However, a long list of posekim will not permit 20 individuals to violate Yom Tov sheni to attend to a burial, when only 10 are required to bury the deceased and the additional 10 would be coming along out of honor. Only the first 10 are permitted.

Similarly, in the case of aliyyot, no act of shame has been performed to all those not called to the Torah (both men and women); they are simply not honored. Kevod ha-beriyyot cannot be activated under such conditions.

R. Daniel Sperber in his book Darka shel Halakha (p. 77, note 104) attempts to challenge this principle - that kevod ha-beriyyot is inapplicable when no act of shame has been performed. He cites the fact that a bride is permitted to wash her face on Yom Kippur (Source 19).

(19) מסכת יומא פרק ח משנה א
משנה: יום הכפורים אסור באכילה ובשתיה וברחיצה ובסיכה ובנעילת הסנדל ובתשמיש המטה והמלך והכלה ירחצו את פניהם והחיה תנעול את הסנדל דברי רבי אליעזר וחכמים אוסרין:
רשי והכלה - צריכה נוי עד שתחבב על בעלה, וכל שלשים יום לחופתה היא קרויה כלה.
ר' עובדיה מברטנורא: והכלה - צריכה נוי כדי לחבבה על בעלה. וכל שלשים יום קרויה כלה:

R. Sperber assumes that the prohibition against washing on Yom Kippur is rabbinic (when many authorities hold it is biblical) and that the permission to wash stems from kevod ha-beriyyot. Based on this, he wants to demonstrate that the shame here results from something that was not done.

This analysis is in error because the leniency for a bride has nothing to do with kevod ha-beriyyot. What was forbidden was rehitsa shel ta’anug, but not washing of necessity, e.g., for cleanliness. A bride is permitted to wash her face on Yom Kippur, so that her face would not be displeasing in her new grooms eyes – and this is considered laving of necessity. As Rashi and Rav write (Source 19 above), a bride requires beauty.

R. Sperber (p. 83) further cites a responsum of R. Isaiah of Trani, Resp. haRid, sec. 21 which permits the lighting of candles in the synagogue on Yom Tov because of “kevod ha-beriyyot.” R. Sperber attempts to use this example to demonstrate that kevod ha-beriyyot can set aside prohibitions even if it is only to honor those who are attending synagogue.

Unfortunately, he errs in his analysis here as well. Similar teshuvot are found from the Rid, Rosh and Maharam of Rothenburg.[15] And their goal is to show that lighting candles in the synagogue come under the rubric of tsorekh okhel nefesh because they honor people (Rid), the synagogue (Maharam) or the holiday (Rosh). Once it its tsorekh okhel nefesh, it is the tsorekh okhel nefesh which defers the prohibition.

(5) Nearly all authorities – including, inter alia, R. Naftali Amsterdam (Source 20), R. Elhanan Bunim Wasserman, R. Makiel Tsvi haLevi Tannenbaum, Rav Yitzchak Nissim (Source 21), R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, R. Elijah Bakshi Doron (Source 22), R. Israel Shepansky - maintain that kevod ha-beriyyot requires an objective standard that affects or is appreciated by all.

(20) שו"ת פרי יצחק, נג
הרב נפתלי אמשטרדם: כי הנה כבוד הבריות לא נאמר רק על דבר שהוא גנאי לכל מין האנושי יהיה מאיזה מין שיהיה, כמו מת מצוה או לילך ערום שרוב בני האדם מתביישים מזה. אבל בדבר שהבזיון מתייחס רק לאדם הזה לפי תכונתו, כמו לישא שק או קופה, בזה לא שייך כלל לפטור מטעם כבוד הבריות.

(21) הרב יצחק ניסים, תשובה כתב יד, מרחשון תשכ"ד (יד הרב ניסים)
וכמובן שתלך [הבת מצווה] לפני כן לבית הכנסת להתפלל, אבל לא לעלות לתורה. הלכה מפורשת היא שאין אשה קוראת בתורה בציבור, ואין משנים את ההלכה לפי הרגשות של בני אדם.

(22) הרב אליהו בקשי דורון, שו"ת בנין אב, ח"ב, סימן נ"ה, אות ג'
...כבוד האבל דין הוא שיש לכבד כל האבלים, ובכגון זה כבוד הבריות שיכבדו האבל... אבל אדם פרטי שמחליט לכבד את עצמו...כבודו משיקולים פרטיים אינו יכול לפטור אותו, או לדחות איסור דרבנן.

This view explicitly rejects subjective standards - in which what is embarrassing results from the idiosyncrasies or hypersensitivities of an individual or small group. The vast majority of religiously committed women are not offended when they do not receive an aliyya. Indeed, they understand and accept the halakhic given, although some might clearly have preferred it to be otherwise.

More importantly, does it make halakhic sense that if a group of women – nay, any group, says: “this Rabbinic halakha offends me” – be it mehitsa, tsni’ut, kashrut, stam yeynam, many aspects of taharat ha-mishpahah, who counts for a minyan, and who can serve as a hazzan - then we should have a carte blanche to go about abrogating it. Such a position is untenable, if not unthinkable.[16]

(6) Many leading scholars[17] emphasize that, as in the cases of kevod ha-beriyyot discussed in Berakhot 19b and elsewhere, the shame must result from extraneous factors. Thus, removing the kilayyim garment per se’ is not what causes the shame. Rather, it is that one has no other garment underneath and, hence, remains naked. In such cases, kevod ha-beriyyot can be invoked to nullify the rabbinic commandment which leads to the dishonor. However, kevod ha-beroyyot cannot be invoked to nullify a rabbinic commandment, where the shame comes from the very fulfillment of the rabbinic injunction itself.

Take for example one who is invited to dine with his colleagues or clients, would we allow him to avoid embarrassment by eating fruit and vegetables from which terumot and ma’asrot (which nowadays is Rabbinic) have not been removed, or by consuming hamets she-avar alav haPesah, or by drinking stam yeynam (wine touched or poured by a non-Jew). Or alternatively, suppose someone is at a meeting and is ashamed to walk out in order to daven Minha. And what about prayers at the airport in between flights. Would we allow him to forgo his rabbinic prayer obligation because of this embarrassment?

The answer is that in those cases where acting according to halakha - be it to not eat terumot and ma’asrot, or to not drink stam yeynam, or to fulfill ones prayer obligation – creates the embarrassment, then kevod ha-beriyyot cannot set aside the Rabbinic prohibition. One should be proud to be fulfilling the halakha. Similarly, kevod ha-beriyyot cannot be invoked to uproot the rabbinic consideration of kevod ha-tsibbur which prevents women’s aliyyot. This is because the dishonor stems directly from the very fact that women are not given aliyyot in accordance with the rabbinic guidelines.

(7) That the rabbis of the Talmud were sensitive to women’s spiritual needs is evident from the rabbinic concept of nahat ru’ah (spiritual satisfaction), which was invoked in a variety of instances to permit certain special dispensations for women.[18] R. Sperber maintains that this concept is an expression of kevod ha-beriyyot.[19] Yet, despite this admitted sensitivity, Hazal themselves were not concerned about kevod ha-beriyyot when they ruled that, because of kevod ha-tsibbur, women should not le-khathila receive aliyyot. Hence, how can we?

This argument is all the more true according to the explanation of Rashi on the mechanism of kevod ha-beriyyot deferments. Rashi (Source 12ד cited above) explains that in instances of kevod ha-beriyyot the Rabbis “forgo their honor to allow their edict to be violated.”

(12) תלמוד בבלי מסכת ברכות דף יט עמוד ב
..... כל מילי דרבנן אסמכינהו על לאו דלא תסור, ומשום כבודו שרו רבנן.
(ד) רש"י כל מילי דרבנן וכו' - והכי קאמר להו: דבר שהוא מדברי סופרים נדחה מפני כבוד הבריות, וקרי ליה לא תעשה - משום דכתיב לא תסור, ודקא קשיא לכו דאורייתא הוא, רבנן אחלוה ליקרייהו לעבור על דבריהם היכא דאיכא כבוד הבריות.

It is one thing if the clash is unexpected, unanticipated and accidental. But in the case of keri’at haTorah, it was Hazal themselves who knowingly set up the rule of kevod ha-tsibbur which precludes women from aliyyot. Why would we expect them to forgo their honor in such a case?

(8) The Rivash (Resp. Rivash, sec 226) forbade sewing baby clothes during hol ha-moed for a newborn’s circumcision despite the parents’ desire to dress him properly and festively for the event. One of Rivash’s rationales is that since all understand that new clothes cannot be sewn on hol ha-moed - because Hazal forbade it, kevod ha-beriyyot cannot be invoked to circumvent this rabbinic prohibition. Similarly, one cannot invoke kevod ha-beriyyot to allow women to receive aliyyot, because all understand that this has been synagogue procedure for two millennia and that the Rabbis of the Talmud themselves prohibited it.

(9) Rivash (ibid.) and Havot Yair (sec. 95) and others rule against extending the leniency of kevod ha-beriyyot beyond those instances explicitly discussed by Hazal - honor of the deceased (כבוד המת), personal hygiene dealing with excrement, undress, and the wholeness of the family unit. New cases may not be comparable in their nature or severity to the original examples. Indeed, as noted by Prof. Blidstein and R. Aharon Lichtenstein,[20] throughout the two millennia of post-Talmudic responsa literature, kevod ha-beriyyot is rarely if ever cited as the sole or even major grounds for overriding a bona fide rabbinic ordinance. It always appears as one of many additional reasons to be lenient (snif le-hakel). This is indeed the case in nearly all the instances cited at length by R. Daniel Sperber in his book Darka shel Halakha.

What’s more, in those instances where kevod ha-beriyyot is invoked essentially alone, it is because the matter being deferred is a mere, often unbased, stringency (humra be-alma). For example, the custom in some communities prohibiting menstruants to enter the synagogue – which Prof. Sperber has returned to repeatedly (Sperber, pp. 74) - is what the posekim call a humra ve-silsul be-alma. Hence, the fact that even in such stringent communities, menstruants visited the sanctuary on the High Holidays - would be a classic example of kevod ha-beriyyot overruling a humra be-alma.

Now Prof. Sperber will respond, that he too would only invoke kevod ha-beriyyot in the case of women’s aliyyot. After all, there is no real down side - at most we have only violated a recommendation. However, as we have argued above, “aval amru hakhamim” is not a recommendation by women’s aliyyot - but a prohibition le-khathilla. What’s more, a woman who gets an aliyya without reading for herself or who is only the ba’alat keria is responsible for generating berakhot levatala. We have also argued that Prof. Sperber has improperly invoked kevod ha-beriyyot for the case of women’s aliyyot because he has not taken into consideration the kelalim of the gedolei ha-posekim.

I would like to close with one last point. Despite the fact that we strongly disagree with Prof. Sperber’s conclusion, he after all did what a Torah scholar is bidden to do. He made a creative suggestion, documented his arguments, published his suggestion in the rabbinic literature for all to examine, and awaits criticism or approval. After thrashing out the issue, back and forth - one hopefully will be able to discern where the truth lies.[21]

However, we take issue with those who would enact women’s aliyyot in practice, hastily undoing more than two millennia of halakhic precedent - simply because an article or two has appeared on the subject. Considering the novelty of this innovation, religious integrity and sensitivity requires serious consultation with renowned halakhic authorities of recognized stature - prior to acting on such a significant departure from normative halakha. It often takes several years time before a final determination can be reached as to whether or not a suggested innovation meets these standards. But that cannot provide adequate justification for haste.

The halakhic process has always been about the honest search for truth – Divine truth.[22] To adopt one particular approach - simply because it yields the desired result, lacks intellectual honesty and religious integrity. It is equivalent to shooting the arrows and then drawing the bull’s-eye. To paraphrase Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz: we must always ask ourselves whether we are in reality serving the Divine will or our own.[23]

[1] R. Daniel Sperber, Darka shel Halakha – Keri’at Nashim baTorah: Perakim biMediniyyut Pesikah (Jerusalem: Reuven Mass, 2007). The phrase “lo zu ha-derekh” used in the title of this book review appears in Bava Metsi’a 37b and Kalla Rabati 9:19. This critique is essentially the combined text of two lectures given at Bar-Ilan University (17 March 2008) and at Lander Institute, Jerusalem (4 May 2008), and is based on a forthcoming article by Aryeh A. Frimer and Dov I. Frimer, “Women, Kri’at haTorah and Aliyyot” (in review). A complete list of sources and references will be fully delineated therein. The author would like to acknowledge the kind and gracious support of this research afforded by The Bellows Family Foundation. The author also wishes to express heartfelt thanks to Prof. Dov I. Frimer for reviewing the manuscript and for his many valuable and insightful comments.
[2] See, for example, Maimonides, Yad, Hil. Tefilla, sec. 12, parag. 17; R. Joseph Karo, Shulhan Arukh, O.H., sec. 282, parag. 3.
[3] R. Mendel Shapiro, “Qeri’at ha-Torah by Women: A Halakhic Analysis,” The Edah Journal 1:2 (Sivan 5761): 1-55 – available online here; R. Mendel Shapiro and R. Yehuda Herzl Henkin, “Concluding Responses to Qeri’at ha-Torah for Women,” ibid., 1-4 – available online; R. Mendel Shapiro, “Communications,” Tradition 40:1 (Spring 2007): 107-116.
[4] See Aryeh A. Frimer and Dov I. Frimer, “Women, Kri’at haTorah and Aliyyot,” (forthcoming).
[5] (a) R. Daniel Sperber, “Congregational Dignity and Human Dignity: Women and Public Torah Reading,” The Edah Journal 3:2 (Elul 5763): 1-14 – available online; (b) R. Daniel Sperber, “kevod ha-tsibbur uKhevod haBeriyyot,” De’ot 16 (Sivan 5763, June 2003): 17-20 and 44 – available online; (c) R. Daniel Sperber, Darka shel Halakha – Keri’at Nashim baTorah: Perakim biMediniyyut Pesikah (Jerusalem: Reuven Mass, 2007). (d) See also a recording of a lecture given by R. Sperber in Modi’in, Israel, July 3, 2006 - available online.
[6] See note 4, supra.
[7] See, inter alia, R. Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, miBeit Midrasho shel ha-Rav, Hilkhot Keri’at haTorah, p. 31; Shiurei haRav haGaon Rabbi Yosef Dov haLevi Soloveitchik zatsa”l al Inyanei Tsitsit, Inyanei Tefillen veHilkhot Keri’at haTorah, p. 154.
[8] (a) R. Nahum Rakover, haHagana al Kevod haAdam (Jerusalem: Misrad haMishpatim, 5738); (b) R. Nahum Rakover, “Kevod haBeriyyot,” Shana beShana (5742): 221-233; (c) R. Nahum Rakover, Gadol Kevod haBeriyyot: Kevod ha-Adam ke-Erekh-Al (Jerusalem: Sifriyat ha-Mishpat ha-Ivri, 1998).
[9] (a) R. Ya’akov (Gerald J.) Blidstein, “Gadol Kevod haBeriyyot – Iyyunom beGilguleha shel Halakha,” Shenaton ha-Mishpat ha-Ivri 9-10 (5742-5743): 127-185; (b) R. Ya’akov (Gerald J.) Blidstein, “Kevod ha-Beriyyot uKevod haAdam,” in Joseph David, ed., She’eila shel Kavod – Kevod haAdam keErekh Mussari Elyyon baHevra haModernit (haMakhon haYisraeli leDemokratiya and Magnes Press: Jerusalem, 2006), 97-138 – available online.
[10] (a) R. Aharon Lichtenstein, “Kevod haBeriyyot,” Mahanayim 5 (Iyar 5753): 8-15; (b) R. Aharon Lichtenstein, “Kevod Ha-beriyyot: Human Dignity in Halakha” – this is an English translation of reference 10a - available online; (c) R. Aharon Lichtenstein, “Kevod haBeriyyot” – available online; (d) R. Aharon Lichtenstein, “‘Mah Enosh’: Reflections on the Relation between Judaism and Humanism,” Torah u-Madda Journal 14 (2006-2007): 1-61, p. 30ff – available online.
[11] (a) R. Daniel Z. Feldman, The Right and the Good: Halakha and Human Relations (Brooklyn, NY: Yashar Books, 2005 – Expanded edition), 197-214 (chapter 14); (b) R. Daniel Z. Feldman, “K’vod haBeriyyot – Human Dignity,” shiur (18 March 2005) available online; (c) R. Daniel Z. Feldman, “Kavod haBeriyos,” audio shiur (26 June 2007) available online.
[12] (a) “Kevod haBeriyyot,” Encyclopedia Talmudit 27, pp. 477-542; (b) R. Chaim Zev (Wolf) Reines, “Kevod haBeriyyot,” Sinai 27:7-12 (159-164; Nisan-Elul 5710): 157-168; (c) R. Israel Shepansky, “Gadol Kevod haBeriyyot,” Or haMizrah 33:3-4 (118-119; Nisan-Tammuz, 5745): 217-228; (d) Danny Eivers, "Kevod haBeriyyot," Talelei Orot 7 (5757): 125-135 – available online; (e) R. Benayahu Broner, "Kevod haBeriyyot keBitui leHofesh haPerat," Talelei Orot 8 (5758-5759) – available online. (f) R. Mark Dratch, “The Divine Honor Roll: Kevod ha-Beriyyot (Human Dignity) in Jewish Law and Thought,” (2001; revised 2006) - available online; (g) R. Hershel Schachter, “Kavod haBriyot,” audio shiur available online; (h) R. Mosheh Lichtenstein, “G-d’s Handiwork: Human Dignity as a Halakhic Factor (Part 2)” - available online; (i) Hershey H. Friedman, “Human Dignity in Jewish Law,” 2005 – available online; (j) R. Daniel Sperber, supra, note 5; (k) Eliezer ben-Shlomo, “kevod haAdam mul Shelom haTsibbur beHashpalat Asir,” Tehumin 17 (5754): 136-144.
[13] Rabbi Judah ben Isaac Ayash, Resp. Bet Yehuda, O.H. 58, s.v. “veKhi teima”; R. Israel Shepansky, supra, note 12c based on Rabbenu Nissim and R. Eliezer ben Nathan (Ra’avan).
[14] Rabbi Judah ben Isaac Ayash, Resp. Bet Yehuda, O.H. 58, s.v. “veKhi teima”; R. Israel Shepansky, supra, note 12c based on Rabbenu Nissim and R. Eliezer ben Nathan (Ra’avan)
[15] Resp. Rosh, Kelal 5, Din 8; Resp. Maharam ben Barukh, III, sec. 387.
[16] See the comments on point of R. Aharon Lichtenstein, supra note 10a and b.
[17] R. Meir Simha of Dvinsk, Or Same’ah, Bava Metsia 32b; Resp. Mishpitei Ouziel, I, Y.D., sec. 28, s.v. “Ulam ma she-katav” – reprinted in Piskei Ouziel biShe’eilot haZeman, sec. 32, s.v. “Ulam ma she-katav,” pp. 175-176; R. Joseph B. Soloveitchick, Divrei Hashkafa, pp. 234-235; R. Joseph B. Soloveitchick cited by R. Zvi (Hershel) Schachter, “miPeninei Rabbenu,” Beit Yitshak 36 (5764): 320ff; R. Jacob Israel Kanievsky, Karaina deIggarta, I, secs. 162 and 163; R. Avigdor Nebenzahl, “Without Fear of G-d there is nothing,” Parsha Values (Yeshiva Netiv Aryeh) – vaYera 5762, available online; R. Yehudah Herzl Henkin, “Amirat sheLo Asani Isha beLahash,” mi-Peirot ha-Kerem: An Anniversary Book for Yeshivat Kerem BeYavneh (5764): 75-81, sec. B.1, s.v. “laAharona”; R. Yehudah Herzl Henkin, Resp. Bnai Vanim, IV, sec. 1, no. 3, “laAharona”; R. Yehudah Herzl Henkin, personal communication to Aryeh A. Frimer (26 November 2007); R. Ari Friedman, Kavod haBerios, Parsha Encounters (Chicago Community Kollel), 8 Tammuz 5765 (15 July 2005) - available online.
[18] Sifra, Parsheta 2; Hagiga 16b.
[19] R. Daniel Sperber, Darka shel Halakha, supra, note 5, pp. 72-74 and note 98 therein.
[20] See: R. Ya’akov (Gerald J.) Blidstein, supra, note 9a, pp. 170-172; R. Aharon Lichtenstein, supra, note 10a, pp. 14-15 and note 10b.
[21] A series of critiques of the analyses of R. Shapiro and R. Sperber have recently been published; see: (a) R. Eliav Shochetman, “Aliyyat Nashim leTorah,” Sinai 135-136 (2005): 271-349; (b) R. Gidon G. Rothstein, ”Women’s Aliyyot in Contemporary Synagogues,” Tradition 39:2 (Summer 2005): 36-58, and R. Gidon Rothstein, “Communications,” Tradition 40:1 (Spring 2007): 118-121. (c) R. Ephraim Bezalel Halivni, Bein haIsh laIsha (Jerusalem: Shai Publishers, 5767): 58-71, 102-105, and in the English section, 12-21. In addition, two prominent religious Zionist rabbis have published responsa highly critical of the practices of Jerusalem’s Kehillat Shira Hadasha in which women are given aliyyot. See: R. Jacob Ariel, “Bet Kenesset Shira Hadasha” available online; R. Jacob Ariel, “Aliyyat Nashim laTorah: Hillul haKodesh,” Hatsofe (12 July 2007) - available online; R. Dov Lior, “Minyanim Mehudashim beHishtatfut Nashim” available online. See also the recent responsa of R. Ahiyya Shlomo Amitai (rabbi of Kibbutz Sedei Eliyahu), “Madu’a Nashim Lo Olot laTorah,” available online; R. Rami Rahamim Berakhyahu (rabbi of Yishuv Talmon), Resp. Tel Talmon, II, sec. 91, note 1, p. 113.
[22] See: R. Aryeh A. Frimer, "Feminist Innovations in Orthodoxy Today: Is Everything in Halakha - Halakhic?" JOFA Journal, 5:2 (Summer 2004/Tammuz 5764): 3-5 - available online.
[23] R. Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz, “On Faith and Science,” Rabbi Moshe Zev Kahn - Mr. Samuel G. Bellows Memorial Lecture, Rabbi Jacob Berman Community Center – Tiferet Moshe Synagogue, Rehovot Israel (April 1986).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


The Otzrot HaTorah (AKA "The Morgenstern Library") is now ON SALE thru June 30.
The library contains 13,000 volumes in the "regular" version and 14,000 volumes in the "expanded" edition.
The SALE prices are as follows:
Expanded edition: Reg. price $1990 SALE price: $1480.
Standard edition: Reg. price $1480 SALE price: $1160.
There is a payment plan of (up to) 20 monthly payments. Payments can be made by cash, check or credit card.
For those making a one time payment by either cash or check there will be an additional $200 discount (i.e. $1280) for the Expanded version and a $165 discount (i.e. $995) for the regular version.
Please note: The Otzrot HaTorah program includes the 13,000 - 14,000 volumes (scanned originals, categorized but without search) as well as the Otzrot HaShut from Otzar HaPoskim (topic search) plus a few hundred digitized seforim (search, copy-paste, etc.). It also comes with the "" collection (AKA Bayis Molay Seforim).
Purchasers will be entitled to the soon-to-be-released update which will include another 2,000 volumes as well as an update to the Otzrot HaShut as well as an update to the program itself.
Also, Bar Ilan version 16 is now IN STOCK.
Prices are as follows:
Version 16 is $469
Version 16 "plus" (inc. Encyclopedia Talmudis) is $569
Upgrades for previous owners are available as well.
Also, DBS version 14 has arrived! Updates from previous versions are available. (You can also purchase "older" versions for less).
Prices are as follows:
version 10 = $170
version 11 = $210
version 12 = $270
version 13 = $330
version 14 = $420
AND FINALLY, Otzar HaChochma 33% off SALE is still going on until June 22.
BONUS: Purchase any TWO of these Seforim programs (i.e. Otzar HaChochma, Otzrot HaTorah, Bar Ilan, or DBS) and receive a FREE all-in-one photo printer (print, copy, scan). A $100 vailue!
Please contact:
Moishe Flohr
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cell: 917-456-7855

Monday, June 02, 2008

Shavuah ha-Sefer 2008: A Recommended Reading List

Shavuah ha-Sefer 2008: A Recommended Reading List

by Eliezer Brodt

Book week just began in Eretz Yisroel. As I wrote last year Every year in Israel, around Shavous time, there is a period of about ten days called Shavuah Hasefer-book week. Shavuah HaSefer is a sale which takes place all across the country in stores, malls and special places rented out for the sale. There are places where strictly “frum” seforim are sold and other places have most of the secular publishing houses. Many publishing houses release new titles specifically at this time. Just as in last year's post on Shavuah HaSefer, in this post I would just like to mention to some of the very recent titles from the various publishing houses which are available at this years Shavuah HaSefer. As to regular seforim that have come out in the past few months since my last seforim list a new list is being composed of the past few months.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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