Thursday, May 27, 2010

Censorship: The Autobiography of R. Eliyahu David Rabinowitz, ADeReT

Censorship: The Autobiography of R. Eliyahu David Rabinowitz, ADeReT

There are a handful of rabbinic autobiographies, R. Yehuda Areyeh of Modena, Hayyei Yehudah, R. Yaakov Emden, Megillat Sefer, and a few others.[1]  One of the more recent rabbinic autobiographies is that of R. Eliyahu David Rabinowitz, otherwise known as Aderet.  This work, was first published in the journal, Ha-Peles edited by Aderet's nephew, Eliyahu Akiva Rabinowitz.  Only a portion of the autobiography appears in Ha-Peles. However, the editor did give us the title of this work for posterity.  Although Aderet did not title the work, in Ha-Peles it appears under the title, Seder Eliyahu, this title remains today.[1a] In reality, Seder Eliyahu is one part of three part work, the second part, Nefesh David, records various customs (and has been reprinted a few times), and the third part, regarding how to handle Aderet's body after his death, Achar Eliyahu or Acharei David, apparently was never written. 

Aderet's autobiography was first published in its entirety in 1983 by Mossad ha-Rav Kook.   The Mossad received the manuscript from Aderet's grandson.  As will become apparent, much of what was written, prior to 1983, regarding Aderet is lacking because  prior to its publication in 1983,  his autobiography was virtually unknown.  As an aside, the New Encyclopaedia Judaica reuses the article on Aderet from the original Encyclopaedia Judaica and is but one example of the shortcomings of the New Encyclopaedia, for more examples see Dr. Leiman's critique here, and Dr. Havlin's critique here, and Dr. Richler's critique here of the New Encyclopaedia Judaica. 

The 1983 edition, however, has been out-of-print for years, and this year, some of Aderet's desendents republished Seder Eliyahu (additionally, they also reprint Nefesh David in this volume).  The editors of this new edition thank Mossad ha-Rav Kook for allowing them to reprint this work.  But, in their introduction, they argue that Aderet "never intended to publish this work and allow others to read it, instead, it was meant for his family." Seder Eliyahu, Jerusalem, 2010, at 7 ("Jer. ed." or "New Edition").  Based upon this assertion, the editors of this edition justify "removing various passages that were never intended for outsiders to read."  Id. at 9.  They explain that whenever they removed text "three lines (- - -) serve to indicate missing text."  Id.  As we shall see they are inconsistent at best at using the three dash device and many instances of removal are not noted. 

Regarding the claim that Aderet never intended this book to be published. The original publication in 1983 includes the entire text with no omissions.  Recall that this text was obtained by Mossad ha-Rav Kook from Aderet's grandson, we have no indication that he objected to publishing the entire text.  Moreover, the first time the autobiography (partially) appeared in Ha-Peles much of the "offensive" material was included. Recall that Aderet's nephew was the editor of Ha-Peles  and he saw no need to censore anything. Finally, although there may be some indications that an autobiography was merely written for family members and not intended for broader publication, this device is common in autobiographies.  R. Emden also implies that he didn't intend his autobiography to be widely distributed, but as Dr. Schacter demonstrates, Emden wanted others to read it.[2]  Indeed, according to Schacter, R. Emden's autobiography can be classified as "that of 'autobiography as polemic.'"  As Emden writes of his purpose, "[i]n order that the sun of my righteousness should shine forth . . . [and because] many of [my enemies] libelous writings will certainly remain extant in the world for some time.  Therefore, necessity has compelled me to clarify my case before God and man. . . . Behold [this autobiography] will serve as a vindication for me, for my children and my descendants."[3] Thus, "there is equally no question that the overriding primary impetus behind Megillat sefer was a desire on the part of Emden to clear his name and vindicate himself in his controversy with Eybeschutz," and "[t]here is no doubt that it is the Emden-Eybeschutz controversy that serves as the 'center of gravity' for" Megillat Sefer.[4]  Of course, for R. Emden to be publicly vindicated, presumably the public would need to be aware of the work.[5]

With Emden's motives in mind, it is important to distinguish Aderet's work.  While Aderet includes descriptions of others in his work, and, at times, some of these descriptions are far from flattering, it does not appear that Aderet was looking for vindication or had a polemic motive in mind.  While Aderet did not get along with his constituents in Ponovitch, that dispute was mainly surrounding Aderet's salary and how the community treated him.  Aderet wasn't involved in any global disputes like the Emden-Eybeschutz controversy and thus Aderet wasn't required to vindicate himself.  Moreover, Aderet ultimately came out on top, becoming Chief Rabbi of the Ashkenazim in Jerusalem.  Thus, he was well-respected and had no reason to resurrect his image - his image was already good.

Perhaps a better understanding of some of the material as it relates to others in Seder Eliyahu may be better understood by looking at Marcus Mosley's comments[6] and quote from Rousseau: 
Autobiography operates upon an entirely different set of criteria. For the autobiographer, the significance of the other is determined solely by the role that he or she plays in the formation of the self, regardless of social standing. Thus Rousseau, in the "Neuchatel" variant of the preamble to the Confeinddow: "The relationships I have had with several people compel me to speak as freely of them as of myself. I can only succeed in making myself known by making them known also." Many of the more decisive encounters with the other in the shaping of the autobiographer's self occur in the years of childhood and adolescence. Parents, teachers, schoolmates, and domestic staff may thus achieve a prominence in the autobiography that would, in the memoir, be reserved for generals and prime ministers, renowned men of letters, and so on. This is not to say that the formative encounters with the other in an autobiography are restricted to the historically obscure. But when the great do drift in and out of the pages of an autobiography, it is often not on account of the qualities that granted them this status that they are recalled.
Thus, Aderet's comments about others, most notably regarding R. Yitzhak Elchonon Spector, may be understood as merely providing insight into Aderet's own life rather than commenting on R. Spector, for example.

The new edition of Seder Eliyahu, however, leaves out much of Aderet's comments about others, depriving the reader of fully understanding the Aderet as well as distorting history.  We will provide all the examples of where the new edition has altered or removed material from the 1983 edition. 

Biography of Aderet

The basic outlines of Aderet's biography are not in dispute.  Here are the highlights.  Aderet was born, with his twin, on the first day of Shavout in 1843.  His father was a rabbi and Aderet's family were descendant from famous rabbinic figures from both his father's and mother's side.  When he was five, his mother died and his father remarried.  At twelve, Aderet began writing his first sefer, and began wearing tefflin for his entire twelth year.  At thirteen, he had his bar mitzvah and, contrary to the custom, was allowed to read the haftorah for the first day of Shavout. This haftorah is typically reserved for the rabbi or a talmid hakham due to the content of the haftorah.  But, Aderet's father argued that it was appropriate for his son to read the haftorah.  Soon after his bar mitzvah he completed his first work with his twin brother, Shevet Achim.  At fifteen he became engaged to girl, and soon after was appointed rabbi of Ragali.  The engagement didn't end well. His fiancee's mother died and the step-mother was lax in her observance and the marriage was called off.  But, in due course, Aderet was engaged again to the daughter of a prominent family in Ponovitch.  This time, Aderet went through with the wedding.  He remained in Ponovitch, supported by his in-laws, and studied in a small bet midrash.  In 1875, Aderet was selected to be the rabbi of Ponovitch.  In 1893, the town of Mir approached Aderet to become its rabbi.  Aderet accepted.  Ponovitch, however, wanted its rabbi to remain, but, after receiving advice from various rabbis, eventually, Aderet left and went to Mir.  In 1901 he was invited and accepted to become Chief Rabbi of the Ashkenazim in Jerusalem.  On the 3rd of Adar I, 1905, Aderet died in Jerusalem.

Aderet is known as having a phenomenal memory.  He was also a prolific author, but much of his writings remained in manuscript.  In the last decade or so, many of his books have been published, a bibliography of which will appear soon. 

The above provides a basic outline of Aderet's biography, but a close examination of his autobiography provides additional detail.    

Autobiography of Aderet

There are a few important gaps in Aderet's biography that can be filled only by utilizing his autobiography.  For example, Aderet's father's second wife.  If one reads some of the biographies, she is mentioned only in passing.  But, Aderet explains she was no minor figure.  To the contrary, it appears that Aderet's step-mother and his father had a horrible marriage.  Indeed, Aderet couldn't stand her and he was especially bothered the way she treated his father.  After Aderet's father died, Aderet immediately left town as he couldn't bear remaining with her.  He turned down his father's position as rabbi of Vilkomer because that would mean he would have to live in the same city as his step-mother.  Aderet recalls bitterly how he sped home once and therefore missed out on meeting various rabbis only to find out that his step-mother hadn't told anyone he was coming and no one was there when Aderet returned causing him to miss meeting the rabbis and not seeing family.

Some biographies make it appear that Aderet had a great relationship with the people of Ponovitch.  These biographies point to the fact that when Mir approached him, Ponovitch tried its hardest to keep Aderet. But, in his autobiography Aderet explains how horrible the people of Ponovich were to him.  They paid him almost nothing and even that little amount wasn't always timely.  He was so poor that he didn't have his own bed and had to sleep on a few chairs.  Although Aderet had some of his children die and others were sick, for the most part, the people of Ponovitch made his life even more difficult.  The town didn't help when he had sick children.  One particularly shocking incident was one of the Ponovitch community members became gabbi.  Aderet didn't like waiting between Kabbalat Shabbat and Ma'ariv because waiting only meant that people ended up talking and not acting as one should in Shul.  The gabbi, however, wanted to talk and wanted a break.  Thus, when Aderet asked the hazzan to immediately begin ma'ariv, the gabbi told the hazzan "it's not time yet."  This type of maltreatment by the Ponovitch community members was not uncommon.  Therefore, when Mir came knocking, and, although Mir was a significantly smaller community, Aderet wanted to get out of Ponovitch and accepted Mir's offer.

As Aderet was almost always looking to leave Ponovitch, he competed for a job in Riga.  And, although he was the most qualified candidate, the position was given to someone else. Aderet lost out on the position because R. Yitzhak Elchonon Spector backed Aderet's rival.  Aderet was extremely upset at R. Yitzhak Elchonon and even sent a very nasty letter to R. Yitzhak Elchonon.  R. Yitzhak Elchonon's reaction was that "the letter was so disrespectful that but for Aderet's reputation as a talmid hakham, he [R. Yitzhak Elchonon] would see to it that Aderet couldn't even get a job a beadle in a bet midrash."  Aderet was so embittered by this episode he remarks that he never forgave R. Yitzhak Elchonon. This was not the only time Aderet had a falling out with R. Yitzhak Elchonon.  At a rabbinic conference, led by R. Yitzhak Elchonon, there was a miscommunication which R. Yitzhak Elchonon took personally.  As such, R. Yitzhak Elchonon refused to entertain anything else during the conference and the conference was totally unsuccessful. Aderet was appalled that R. Yitzhak Elchonon's personal feelings didn't allow the conference to produce anything of value. 

Aside from making Aderet's life miserable, the treatment of the town of Ponovitch also forced Aderet to allow his son-in-law, R. Abraham Isaac Kook, to leave and take up his own rabbinic position.  Although Ponovitch had promised Aderet a higher salary, the town never came through and thus Aderet couldn't support his daughter and son-in-law.  In his autobiography, he describes how heartbroken he was when his son-in-law and daughter left. 

Comparison of the New Edition and 1983 Edition of Aderet's Autobiography

As noted above, the editors of the New Edition provide that they have removed material from Seder Eliyahu, and that they have noted any time anything is removed.  This is false.  Although it is true that the editors have removed material but they have not always noted when they did so.  At times removed material is noted by "- - - " in the text, many times there is no indication that anything is missing.  Moreover, the editors are inconsistent when they alter the text.  That is, in correcting typos or when removing abbreviation, sometimes they note they are altering the text and other times they do not.  Of course, this omission is less serious than wholesale removal of text, but consistency is still important.  For example, in the 1983 edition many persons are only referred to in abbreviated form, while in the New Edition their full name is used; thus the original reads "my uncle רפ"ק" while in the New Edition it reads "my uncle Rabbi Pinchus Cantor."  The editors don't note that they have inserted his full name; however, whenever the text uses an abbreviation to refer to R. Shmuel Mohilever - "הגרש"מ" in the New Edition they provide his full name but do so in brackets indicating an insertion into the text. Compare 1983 ed. pp. 84 &  92 & Jer. ed. at 71 & 76. It is unclear why they decided to consistently indicate this insertion and not others.

Turning the censored materials. These materials can roughly be divided into three categories.  (1) materials that mention Zionism or are related to Zionism; (2)  in this category we include what is best described as negative comments about women and marriage; and (3) personal attacks or observations about other Rabbis.  We must note that many of these omissions have been cataloged here as well.

First Category - Zionism

Items from this category include material that appears in the footnotes to the 1983 edition as well as items in the text itself.  The New Edition resuses almost all the footnotes that appear in the 1983 edition but leave out information when that information relates to Zionism.  Thus:

1983 ed. (p. 17 n.5) provides a footnote when the text mentions R. Moshe Telsher "for more information see Sefer Zikhron le-[Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook] 1945"  Jer. Ed. (p. 15) doesn't include this note at all. 
1983 ed.  (p. 28 n.14) contains a citation to Maimon's Sa'arei ha-Meah, Jer. ed. (p. 26 n. 17) removes citation no notation anything is missing.
1983 ed. (p. 29 n.16) explains that R. Mordechai Gimpel Yaffo "was one who espoused emigration to Israel and himself emigrated in 1888", Jer. ed. (p. 23 n.19) removes this text without notation.
1983 ed. (p. 59 n.46) regarding R. Mordechai Elisberg, the note explains "one of the leaders of the Hovvei Tzion movement," Jer. ed. (p. 57 n.55), removes this text, no notation.
1983 ed. (p. 72 n.57) regarding R. Shmuel Mohliver "was the head and founder of the Hovvei Tzion movement," Jer. ed. (p. 69 n.68) removes this text, no notation.
1983 ed. (p. 102 n.78) explaining that the author of Chavush Pe'ar "is R. Kook," Jer. ed. (p. 96) the note is missing.

We should noted that the editors of the Jerusalem edition didn't excise every Zionistic mention.  Instead, they retain the sentence "the Hovvei Tzion chapter in Bialystok requested that I [Aderet] give a derasha."  Jer. ed. at 81.  Similarly, Aderet describes how heart broken he was when his son-in-law and daughter had to leave because Aderet couldn't support them and how happy Aderet was when he met up with his son-in-law later that year and spent time together.  In the text, however, Aderet doesn't identify by name his son-in-law.  The New Edition retains the footnote from the 1983 edition which identifies the son-in-law as "The Gaon R. Abraham Isaac Kook ZT"L."  Jer. ed. at 60 n.57.

Second Category - comments about women

The vast majority of these changes relate to women, and specifically, when there was martial discord or divorce.  There are essentially two women whose mention is censored, Adert's step-mother and Aderet's nephew's first wife.  As mentioned above, Aderet had serious issues with his step-mother and he is very vocal about those problems in his autobiography.  Additionally, Aderet's nephew's first marriage didn't work out.  The first wife was the daughter of R Eliezer the chief rabbi of Anchin but she was uninterested in leading a religious life and thus this marraige ended in divorce.  Whenever mention of either of these two women occurs in Seder Eliyahu the Jerusalem edition leaves them out.  Thus, there is no mention in the Jerusalem edition that Aderet didn't get along with his step-mother and that the nephew's first wife wasn't religious. Rather than explain what is missing each time, as the excised portions are generally similar, we have indicated where a passage relating to Aderet's feelings about his step-mother is missing and where the excised passage relates to the non-religious first wife of Aderet's nephew.  We will, however, indicate where there is missing text and the editors of the new edition fail to note that they have removed text.

1983 ed. (18-19) lacking in Jer. ed. (16) noted with - - -
1983 ed. (23) lacking in Jer. ed. (21) no notation
1983 ed. (35) lacking in Jer. ed. (33) noted with - - -
1983 ed. (37) lacking in Jer. ed. (35) noted with - - -
1983 ed. (46) lacking in Jer. ed. (44) noted with - - -
Non-religious wife
1983 ed. (64) lacking in Jer. ed. (60) no notation
1983 ed. (71) lacking in Jer. ed. (68) noted with - - -

There is one final example that arguably fits in this category although it relates to neither of the above mentioned women.  Instead, this instance relates to Aderet spening time in Vienna and meet R. Shlomo Netar.  As part of their conversation R. Netar related some of his problems to Aderet.  One related to his wife who is described - in the 1983 ed. (42)- as "the really horrible woman, may God save us, who is the granddaughter of R. Simcha Bunim Peshischa (or so I [Aderet] recall)." This quote is lacking in the Jer. ed. but is noted with - - -.

We should note that much of the material regarding Aderet's step-mother appears, in toto, in a separate biography of Aderet that is appended to the beginning of Hiddushei ha-Gaon ha-Aderet, Machon Kitvei Yad ha-Aderet be-Artzot ha-Brit, Israel, 2003.  This is somewhat ironic in that this biography is very careful what it mentions, or doesn't mention.  Specifically, although Aderet's son-in-law (and, ultimately, after the untimely death of Aderet's daughter and remarrying Aderet's niece, became Aderet's nephew), R. Abraham Isaac Kook, wrote a fine biography of Aderet, Adar ha-Yakar, and Kook's biography is used in the biography appearing in Hiddushei, R. Kook's name is never mentioned.  That is, the mention of R. Kook was controversial (this may be related to the fact that the publisher of this volume is a member of the Satamar sect).[7]  But, regarding Aderet's step-mother, all that material appears in the biography in HiddusheiSee Hiddushei, at pp. 4, 6, 8 and 10 almost all of which are taken, almost verbatim, from the autobiography. Thus, even without access to the autobiography, any reader can find the relevant passages. 

Third Category - personal observations or attacks on other rabbis

Some of these negative assesments relate to R. Yitzhak Elchonon although comments about other rabbis are also censored. 

1983 ed. (60-61) discussing Aderet's failed bid to become Riga's chief rabbi, and, specifically, how R. Yitzhak Elchonon sunk Aderet's bid.  Additionally, Aderet notes that he sent R. Yitzhak Elchonon a very nasty letter explaining how disappointed Aderet was with R. Yitzhak Elchonon's involvement and decision to pick someone else.  Jer. ed. (68) the entire story is missing and there is no notation anything was removed.  
1983 ed. (62) Aderet expresses his displeasure with some Ponovitch residents regarding salary negotiations and essentially calls them animals.  Jer. ed. (69) lacking the name calling, no notation anything is missing.
1983 ed. (78) Aderet records the comments of a beadle who questioned R. Yitzhak Elchonon's authority.  Jer. ed. lacking but noted with - - - .
1983 ed. (79) Aderet meets someone who is wearing two pairs of teffilin neither of which are in their proper place.  Aderet goes on to explain while this person passed himself off as a miracle worker, in reality he was a fraud.  Aderet says the person "is the author of the book Kav Chen."  This must be incorrect.  The author of Kav Chen, R. Noach mi-Koruv, died in 1855, but Aderet says this meeting took place in 1890. What is more likely is that Aderet was referring to the publisher of Kav Chen, R. Noach's grandson, R. Hayyim Moshe Ze'ev.  In all events, rather than attempting to correct or ascertain who Aderet is referring to, the Jer. ed. (75) "solves" the problem by removing the passage "the author of the book Kav Chen" and replace it with - - -. 
1983 ed. (83) Aderet mentions "Leib Grabman" who involved the secular authorities in a communal dispute.  Jer. ed. removes "Leib Grabman" and replaced with - - -.  
1983 ed. (87-88) Aderet discusses a rabbinic conference he attended.  In attendence was also R. Yitzhak Elchonon who became personally insulted after a miscommunication.  As such, R. Yitzhak Elchonon refused to allow passage of any of the many "good ideas" the conference attendees offered.  To add insult to injury, in the Jewish press, R. Yitzhak Elchonon blamed the poor result on everyone else.  Jer. ed. (84) removes the entire story and replaced it with - - -.  
1983 ed. (91) Aderet describes some rather insulting behavior directed at him by members of the Ponovitch community, including the gabbi ignoring Aderet.  Jer. ed. (85) leaves out these stories and replaces them with - - -.
1983 ed. (93) after the Aderet leaves Ponovitch a very prominent member of the Ponovitch community died suddenly and "some people said his death was because he failed to show Aderet proper respect and to pay Aderet on time.  As such Aderet is said to have cursed the dead man and his family."  Jer. ed. (86) removed and replaced with - - -.  
1983 ed. (98) discusses a plan, by persons unconnected to Aderet, to trick R. Yitzhak Elchonon that was ultimately unsucessful. Jer. ed. (91) removed and replaced with - - - .
1983 ed. (99) Aderet details how various rabbis/roshei Yeshiva of Mir weren't completely honest with Aderet.  Aderet refers to these persons by name.  Jer. ed. (92) removed entirely and replaced with - - -.
1983 ed. (103-04) Aderet details attempts at thwarting him from becoming a teacher at Yeshivat Mir.  Jer. ed. (97) removed and replaced with - - -.  Inetrestingly, much of the background and history of this incident is found in Pinchus Lipschutz's - the editor of Ya'ated Ne'eman - book Peneni Chen, Monsey, 2000, p. 17 (thanks to a Seforim Blog reader for this citation).  

Additional Comments Regarding Aderet's Autobiography

Aside from the issues raised above, it should be noted that Aderet's biography is full of facinating information both about him and his contemporaries as well as of general interest to students of Jewish history, custom, and law. While we intend to devote an entire post to the full contents of Seder Eliyahu we wanted to provide a few particularly interesting passages from Seder Eliyahu.  All of the following examples appear in both editions of Seder Eliyahu.  As mentioned above, Aderet, when he was in Vienna, met R. Shlomo Netar, who was also bookseller and who studied in the Yeshiva of Hatam Sofer.  R. Netar related that he was in class with Hatam Sofer's son, R. Shimon Sofer (eventual author of Michtav Sofer), was in the same class.  R. Shimon Sofer "was often hit with sticks [by the teacher] and this was at the request of R. Shimon's father," Hatam Sofer.  1983 ed. at 42; Jer. ed. at 40.

A few halacha/custom related items.  Aderet records that when he travelled by ship, once the gangplank was lifted and the ship was underway he recited tefillat ha-derekh.  Someone on board the ship questioned this practice arguing that since the ship hadn't left the city limits, one cannot recite teffilat ha-derekh.  Aderet, however, responded by distinguishing between normal overland transport and ships (and presumably airplanes).  Aderet explained that when going overland there is a fear that one may decide to return home thus one needs to wait until leaving the city limits, the point of no return.  But, once one is onboard a ship and the gangplank is removed one can't leave and therefore one can immediately recite teffilat ha-derekh. 1983 ed. at 42; Jer. ed. at 40.

Another time, Aderet also advocated for a novel halachic position.  In this case, Aderet wanted to personally perform the circumcision of his son. But, the circumcision fell on Saturday, and, as Aderet hadn't ever performed a circumcision previously, the rule is that one cannot perform their first circumcision on Saturday.  Aderet, however, argued that the prohibition on performing one's first circumcision on Saturday applies if one is circumcising someone other than their own child. That is, as there is a unique obligation to circumcise one's child that trumps the prohibition against performing the first circumcision on Saturday.  Aderet marshalled various sources that supported his position and presented his argument to R. Yosef Zechariah Stern (an equally impressive contemporary) who rejected Aderet's argument.  Aderet concludes that he "decided to refrain from deciding law in way that runs counter to Shulchan Orach and thus would appear strange to the public."  1983 ed. 52; Jer. ed. at 51.  

On one Saturday, there was a communal rift which resulted in the secular authorities confiscating the shul's sefer torah.  Thus, the shul didn't complete the weekly mandatory reading.  Although Aderet ended up hearing the reading in another shul, Aderet argued that the shul whose sefer torah was confiscated was required the next week to make up the reading it missed.  He argued this position to R. Aaron Halberstam, son of R. Hayyim Halberstam, the Sanzer Rav.  R. Aaron disagreed.  He explained that the torah reading obligation is communal in nature and so long as a community shul recited the proper reading, those in the community that missed it need not repeat it.  Aderet, however, argued that while one needs a minyan and thus is communal in nature, there is an individual obligation to read the weekly portion and if one shul didn't hear the weekly portion then they need to recite it the next week.  [Hida in his diary/travelouge seems to support Aderet's postion, see Ma'agel Tov ha-Shalem when he too missed the torah reading].  1983 ed. at 80; Jer. ed. at 77.

One final story relating to custom.  Aderet spends some time on why he picked particular names for his children. One name, however, is particularly noteworthy.  Aderet named one of his sons Mordechai Yonah.  Aderet explains that he picked Yonah because "of [his] mother's name" Tova which is the Yiddish equivalent of Yonah.  This practice indicates that Aderet wasn't bothered giving a boy a woman's name or that naming for someone does not necessarly means using the same form as the original name.  1983 ed. at 51; Jer. ed. at 50.

Post Script Regarding Aderet's Works & Works About Aderet

Besides for not using the Aderet's autobiography at all or enough. It is worth pointing out that in the past recent years there has been a virtual explosion of the Aderet's works which, until now, have remained in manuscript.  The Aderet authored over one hundred works although most still remain in manuscript and are scatered all over the world in various collections.

A few notable works of Aderet that have recently been published.  Mechon Ahavat Shalom has printed eight volumes of Aderet's works, and, in addition, have published many shorter pieces  in their journal Mekabziel. Worth noting is the recent lengthy correspondence which Machon Ahavat Shalom printed between the Aderet and Yakov Reifman. Mechon Yerushalayim has printed three volumes of the Aderet's comments on Humash aside from the many pieces they have printed in their journal Moriah. Additionally, there are some other volumes that have been printed from manuscripts. One worth mentioning is the Over Orach which was printed by Mechon Me'or the editor of this work proudly told me how he took out many pieces from this manuscript before printing it for the public as he felt it was not "kovod" for the Aderet. Now this censorship isn't mentioned anywhere in the work.  Besides for the significance of the Torah found in these works which will be the subject of its own post including a in depth bibliography and description of the works. There is also much important material about Aderet's life that can be gleaned from these recently published works. 

Below is a (non-comprehensive) list of articles discussing Aderet's biography, although some are better than others:

Ehad be-Doro, vol. 1, 191-202
Seder Parsheyot le-Aderet, vol. 1, Machon Yerushalyim, Jerusalem, 2004, 329-99 (includes bibliography)
Shlomo Albert, Aderet Eliyahu, Jerusalem, 2003
Hiddushei ha-Gaon ha-Aderet, Machon Kitvei Yad ha-Aderet be-Artzot ha-Brit, Israel, 2003, Katzman 1-42.
Moshe Tzinovitz, Ishim u-Kehilot, Tel Aviv, 1990 128-30
Moshe Tzinovitz, Mir, Tolodot Yeshivat Mir, Tel Aviv, 1981, 175-83
Rabbotenu she-beGoleh, Jerusalem, 1996, vol. 1, 121-28
Asher Yetzaveh, Mechon Ahavat Shalom, Jerusalem, 2004, vol. 1, pp. 395-425 (Nefesh David is reprinted in this work, however, the editors fail to mention that they copied it from the 1983 ed.). 
[1]  See Jacob J. Schacter, "History & Memory of Self:  The Autobiography of Rabbi Jacob Emden," in Jewish History & Jewish Memory, Essays in Honor of Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, eds. E. Carlebach, J. Efron, D. Myers, Brandeis University Press, 1998, 429 and nn. 6-8 discussing these autobiographies and providing additional examples. Emden's autobiography, the Kahana edition is available online at here, and here with Gershom Scholem's notes. Scholem penned his own autobiography (although it only covers a small portion of his life), Gershom Scholem, From Berlin to Jerusalem, tr. Harry Zohn, New York, 1980. Elliot Horowitz discusses Scholem's autobiography in Horowitz's article, "Confessions of a Jewish Autobiography Reader," in JQR (n.s.), 95 (1), Winter 2005, pp. 74-80 & Saverio Campanini, "A Case for Sainte-Beuve, Some Remarks on Gershom Scholem's Autobiography," in Creation & Re-Creation in Jewish Thought, eds. R. Elior & P. Schafer, Paul Mohr Verlag, 2005, pp. 363-400.  More recently, Scholem's diaries have also been published, Lamentations of Youth:  The Diaries of Gershom Scholem 1913-1919, ed. & tr. A.D. Skinner, Cambridge, Mass, 2007, a review appears here.   
Returning to Emden's autobiography aside from the Kahana edition linked to above, there is another edition published by Abraham Bick-Shauli in Jerusalem in 1979, however, Schacter has serious reservations about this edition.  Schacter's assesment of Bick-Shauli's edition is that it "is absolutely and totally worthless."  Schacter, id. at 446 n.13.  Of late, someone attempted to question the authenticity of Emden's autobiography, Schacter's comments are equally appropriate regarding this work as well.
Regarding Modena's autobiography, see also Ariel Rathaus, "Leon Modena's Autobiography & His Realistic Poetics," in Italia, ed. Robert Bonfil, Conference Supplement Series, 1, Magnes Press, Jerusalem, 2003, 131-42. Of course, regarding Modena one should always consult Howard Ernest Adelman, Success & Failure in the Seventeenth Century Ghetto of Venice:  The Life of Leon Modena, 1571-1643, unpublished doctoral dissertation, Brandeis Univ., 1985, and this post by Yitzhak and this follow-up post on Ishim ve-Shitos. Modena's autobiography is available in excellent editions in both Hebrew and English (part of which is online at Google books here), The Autobiography of a Seventeenth-Century Venetian Rabbi: Leon Modena's Life of Judah, ed. Mark R. Cohen, Princeton Univ. Press, 1998 (English) & Sefer Hayyi Yehuda, ed. Daniel Carpi, Tel Aviv Univ., Tel Aviv, 1985. 
Additionally, regarding Jewish autobiography generally this discussion here, and see  M. Stanislawski, Autobiographical Jews, Essays in Jewish Self- Fashioning, Univ. Washington Press, 2004.  Thanks to both Menachem Butler and Eliezer Brodt for providing many of these sources.
[1a] The Ha-Peles piece has a very nice footnote where Aderet's sister's erudition is described.  "She knew Hebrew and the Talmudic language. During the winter, on Friday nights, she would sit by the fire and study the responsa literature of the rishonim, such as the responsa of Rashi, Rambam, Rosh and similar titles that don't contain pilpul. She was fluent in many responsa.  She also studied the Sefer Hassidim daily."  She was so well-versed in Sefer Hassidim that her father, when he was unsure of a citation in Sefer Hassidim would ask her. Eliyahu Akiva Rabinowitz also records that after Aderet published an article in Yagdil Torah she read it and asked an insightful question, which Aderet subsequently published, in her name, in Yagdil TorahSee ha-Peles, 720 n.2.
[2]  See id. at 438 and nn. 58-59 (Schacter offers citations to other similar works who employ this device).
[3] Id. at 431 quoting Megillat Sefer, Kahana ed. ("with slight corrections from the manuscript") pp. 54-55. 
[4] Id. at 433.  
[5] Assuming that Schacter is correct regarding Emden's motives, the lingering question is why wasn't Megillat Sefer published during Emden's lifetime or soon after? Emden had his own press and was not shy about publishing his own works that defended his position, no matter how controversial those works were.  Why didn't Emden do the same with his autobiography?  Unfortunately, Schacter doesn't address this question, perhaps in his forthcoming translation of Megillat Sefer, he will provide more background regarding the publication of Megillat Sefer.
[6] Marcus Mosley, "Jewish Autobiography:  The Elusive Subject," in JQR (n.s.), 95, 1 (Winter 2005), 25.   
[7] The author of this biography, however, is not Satmar.  The author of the biography portion is R. Eliezer Katzman who is perhaps the only person who has demonstrated the similarities between various positions of R. Abraham Isaac Kook and the Satmar Rebbi.  See Eliezer Katzman,  in Ketonet Yosef, ed. D. Gotlieb et. al. New York, 2002.   

Monday, May 17, 2010

Review: Bekurim with the Gra's Commentary

Review: Bekurim with Gra's Commentary
by: Eliezer Brodt
One of the most famous gedolim who lived in the past few hundred years was R. Eliyahu of Vilna, the Vilna goan, or Gra. Gra was known for his expertise in all areas of Torah literature including all of Tanach, Bavli, Yerushlami and the rest of Chazal. Additionally, he was an expert in dikduk, Kabbalah and Halacha. Gra did not print anything in his lifetime; however, shortly after his death, his works began to be printed and have been and continue to be until today. Not only has an incredible amounts of his own material been printed but dozens of seforim, books, and articles have been devoted to him, some devoted to his torah others to his life. Bibliographies have been written collecting everything related to Gra. The most recent listing of his work's was from Yeshayahu Vinograd in his Otzar Sifrei ha-Gra. This bibliography was printed in 2003 and contains 1,630 entries of materials related to Gra.From 2003 until today, many more could be added to this collection. Many people have worked on different aspects of Gra's works specifically explaining what he meant etc. As is well known Gra wrote very concisely and many of his manuscripts were his personal notes not intended to be published making it very hard to understand what he was getting at. This is true for most of what he had written such as his Biur ha-Gra on Shulchan Orach which has been worked on by many like the Demsek Eliezer, as well as R. Kook and more recently R. Rakover. These works are extensive commentary to explain exactly what Gra meant. His notes on Shas have been worked on and collected by many different people as has been many of his other works. In this post I would like to focus on recent project and organization called Mechon Maatikei Hashemua. This project is devoted to printing all Gra's Torah on Seder Zeraim. Recently this Mechon released their first publication, the works of Gra on the first Perek of Yerushalmi Bikurim. 

Many years ago, a small team of people headed by R. Yedidah Frankel, began studying Seder Zeraim. There is no Bavli devoted to Seder Zeraim only Yerushalmi which makes studying this seder more difficult as we are accustom to the Bavli.  [Regarding the question of if a Bavli on Zeraim existed but is no longer extant, see the  incredible doctorate of Yakov Zussman.] One of the reasons why Yerushalmi in general is very hard to learn is because our printed editions contain numerous textual errors. Aside from lacking the Bavli, Zeraim is more difficult to study because it has only a handful of the commentaries of the Rishonim and Achronim. One of the reasons for it not having some many commentaries was because Seder Zeraim contains little in the way of practical halacha. During the Middle Ages, the main focus of learning was on practical halacha. Thus, Seder Zeraim, among othes, was rarely studied during this period.  Another reason for the dearth of commentaries is that the Yerushalmi was simply not available - many cities during Middle Ages did not have even a single copy. However, in the past century aside from the Yerushalmi becoming more available, this part of Torah became much more relevant in light of it becoming practical halacha. Thus, many more people are studying the Yerushalmi today.
Just to cite a simple example demonstrating this phenomena.  Two hundred years ago there was almost no works devoted to Shevius  (Shmitah), today with each shmitah dozens of works have been written perhaps in the hundreds already. Now that Zeraim is more relevant and more are studying it, the periush of anyone, and more so a super star like Gra, is extremely important. This organization took upon themselves to print Gra's commentary on Zeraim. This work is not merely a reprint Gra's commentary on Zeraim, rather it contains much more. Frist, they found the Yerushalmi that the Gra actually used and wrote notes in when learning Yerushalmi! After carefully going through it they mapped out a plan how to go about printing it. In the past few years both the methods and benefits of this find have been written up in various Torah publications amongst them Yeshurun and Moriea. A very in-depth article was printed in the book released from Bar Ilan on the Gra a few years back, HaGra Ubeis Medraso. In each of these articles R. Frankel shows the importance of this find and how it enlightens our understanding of complex Sugyos in Seder Zeraim.

The manuscript was authenticated by experts in Gra's handwriting. The significance of this is we now more material to help us understand this complex seder which lacks seforim compared to other areas of Torah.

This beautiful edition is composed of many parts. First, they printed the Mishana with the Pirushim of the Rambam's Pirish Lemishna, Rash mi-Shantz, and Rosh. To ensure accuracy of these texts, all known manuscripts of these commentaries were used, in a critical edition, with many excellent and useful footnotes. Additionally, in this section they also included the perush of Gra on Zeraim - Shenoes Eliyahu reworking it with new additions from manuscripts including notes.

For the second section they use the type from the Yerushalmi printed in Amsterdam that contains R. Eliyhu Mifulda's work because this is the edition of the Yerushalmi that Gra used and wrote his notes on. In the footnotes, the editors compared this text of the Yerushalmi to other manuscripts. They also reworked the commentary of R. Eliyhu Mifulda adding in many notes to the text. This section also includes a commentary, Biurei ha-Gra. This commentary is from notes of students of Gra which had been printed before. Again, as with the other sections, there exists a few manuscripts of this work, all of which were used for this section. The editors also include many notes to explain this part. Additionally, this section also includes the complete version of Gra's notes based on the manuscript of his Yerushalmi. These notes were printed a few times but only partially. However, in this edition each one is put in its proper place with different fonts to make it less confusing. This part also has notes to explain what Gra meant. However, not to confuse the user, Gra's notes appear on the page in their proper places and an in-depth explanation is included after each daf.

After this section they have a part which is composed of in-depth discussion of Gra. For example, Gra, as mentioned above, wrote rather crypitically, and at times, at first glance when one looks at it you no idea what he was trying to say. This is especially true in Gra's own notes as they was not meant for anyone other than himself. At times, the commentary contains no words just lines, circles, dashes which, as one would imagine, are especially difficult to decipher. The only way one can properly understand  Gra is to have a great understanding of the whole sugyah. Now the whole sugyah means the comparative texts of  other sifrei chazal such as Bavli, Sifra, Sifri, and Mechilta. One also has to have a command of all the Rishonim on the particular Sugyah. This team spent a very long time going through each sugyah with great depth they presented their finds in this section. They did a excellent job of presenting the material they found in a clear and concise manner. The use charts at times and as many works as necessary to get to the bottom of the issues whether it means consulting critical editions or manuscripts of Chazal or Rishonim, dictionaries for the meaning of a word, rishonim and the works of the main achronim. After reading through each chapter in this section they explain exactly what Gra was trying to do, when one sees it one is just amazed to see what Gra meant with just a few words or dashes.

To explain what drives Gra to write in such a cryptic manner. The only reason why one is allowed to write Torah is because of a heter of עת לעשות לה'  that one will forget. Gra was not scared that he would forget so he just wrote very shorthand to remind him of what how he understand the Sugyah. I also assumed this was yet another legend that they say about Gra, but when one looks at this Yerushalmi where they reproduced the pages with Gra's notes one can see this very clearly its no legend. The pages are full of dots, cross outs, circles, dashes and one word here and there. To the untrained eye it looks like nothing. This Mechon has shown the incredible wisdom behind each one of those markings. Another Godol who used this style of Gra was R. Nosson Adler. R. Auerbach famous for the Eshkol printed these notes also they were one word here and there lines dashes and he explained them. People accused Auerbach of forging this work too but I believe it has been proven that it is an Authentic work. See Hurowitz, Rabbanei Frankfurt (pp. 151-152). R. Chanoach Erentru brings from his Rebbe,  R. Fevel Palut, a student of the Chasam Sofer the following:

ר' נתן אדלר אמר שהתירו לכתוב את התורה שבעל פה רק מפני החשש שמא תשכח התורה מישראל לפי זה אמר אין הוא רשאי להשתמש בהתיר זה כי אין הוא שוכח דבר. ואמר עליו שלא רק  שידע את כל התלמוד בעל פה אלא גם מעולם לא שכח דבר מכל ספרות הראשונים (עיונים בדברי חז"ל ובלשונם, עמ' סו).

In the last section of this work they show exactly what Gra wrote and each of Gra's notes, big or small, are reproduced in a high quality picture and blown up they than write underneath each photo exactly what they believe Gra was doing. This section at times due to spilling of ink and other problems they could not read some of the writing in the orginal manuscript they than consulted with the the Israeli police department to read some of the comments with infrared magnifiers. They even were helped by NASA to read some particularly difficult parts! I would assume this is the first time they were consulted for help in printing a rabbinical text.

This work is a labor of love as it is obvious from going through it. In the past bunch of years I do not recall any sefer that shows such meticulous preparation for publication. One can see how much the editor R. Frankel believes in the importance of his project. It is printed on beautiful paper, the the size of the volume is very tall making it very usable. The fonts and print of each page are also very well done making it not only beautiful in content but matching in looks. The editor was helped by a very small team of people who mastered Seder Zeraim over years of learning through it as did he. It took many years for this volume to be printed and it is a small part of the whole seder Zeraim very large sums of money were spent to get the project going but it still requires more to complete the project. For more information on purchasing this volume or helping with this project contact them at See also here.    

I wish them much luck in completing this very special important project. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Woman's Place Is In The Home

A Woman's Place Is In The Home

by: Yitzhak, of בין דין לדין

The Sons of Korah declare:

כָּל-כְּבוּדָּה בַת-מֶלֶךְ פְּנִימָה; מִמִּשְׁבְּצוֹת זָהָב לְבוּשָׁהּ.[1]

[And see here for various nineteenth and twentieth century references to our titular aphorism, and see this essay.]

But is the verse indeed a normative injunction toward modesty, for women in general, or at least Jewish women in particular, as it is commonly understood? And if so, exactly what standard of behavior is being enjoined?

Cultural Norms – Twelfth Century Egypt, Twentieth Century Jerusalem and Twenty First Century Kabul

Rambam's rather extreme (by contemporary Western standards) formulation, directing a husband to "prevent his wife" from being a gadabout, and instructing him to "only allow her out around once or twice a month, as necessary", is well known:

מקום שדרכן שלא תצא אשה לשוק בכפה שעל ראשה בלבד עד שיהיה עליה רדיד החופה את כל גופה כמו טלית נותן לה בכלל הכסות רדיד הפחות מכל הרדידין. ואם היה עשיר נותן לה לפי עשרו כדי שתצא בו לבית אביה או לבית האבל או לבית המשתה. לפי שכל אשה יש לה לצאת ולילך לבית אביה לבקרו ולבית האבל ולבית המשתה לגמול חסד לרעותיה או לקרובותיה כדי שיבואו הם לה. שאינה בבית הסוהר עד שלא תצא ולא תבוא. אבל גנאי הוא לאשה שתהיה יוצאה תמיד פעם בחוץ פעם ברחובות. ויש לבעל למנוע אשתו מזה ולא יניחנה לצאת אלא כמו פעם אחת בחודש או כמו פעמים בחודש לפי הצורך. שאין יופי לאשה אלא לישב בזוית ביתה שכך כתוב כל כבודה בת מלך פנימה:[2]

Of course, this passage must be placed within the context of its author's milieu, a rigidly traditional Islamic society. Indeed, this attitude is still present in some modern day Muslim societies:

KABUL -- On a recent day when the sun was finally strong enough to dry the Afghan capital's muddy streets, Habiba Sarwe sought her husband's permission to visit a spot that her daughter and all the neighborhood wives were talking about: a park, with swings, benches, flowers and a gazebo. A park for women only.

"Please, let me go," begged Sarwe, who is 44 but whose tired eyes make her look far older. "It's a good place."

Her husband decided it would be okay. So that afternoon, Sarwe put on her favorite fitted gray wool suit under her shapeless, head-to-toe burqa and set out with three of her children for the dusty park on the edge of Kabul.

"This is the one place that's ours," said an out-of-breath Fardia Azizmay, 19, Sarwe's older daughter, as she jumped off a swing and looked over a pile of a dozen blue burqas, tossed off by women as they entered. "For us, home is so boring. Our streets and shops are not for women. But this place is our own."

The small park, protected by a half-dozen gun-toting guards, has become a favorite destination for Kabul women wanting a safe, quiet place to meet with friends, complain about their husbands, discuss their kids, line one another's eyes with black kohl or just shed their burqas and play, female activists here say. ...

Although women make up more than half of Afghanistan's population, fear of fundamentalist militant groups has caused them to nearly disappear from public life, especially in the rural south, where U.S.-led forces are trying to root out Taliban fighters. Some of those insurgents still pressure women to cover up and to avoid schools and workplaces, defying the Afghan constitution's guarantee of equal rights for both sexes.

"I get threatening calls almost every day asking why I think I am important enough to work in an office," said Fouzia Ahmed, 25, a government secretary in Kabul. "The truth is, no women feel safe here. We are always threatened. That's why we need the eyes of the world."

And the great Rav Ya'akov Yeshayah Blau gives us the not entirely dissimilar Yerushalmi perspective on women working outside the home. He takes a rather dim view of this modern trend, and maintains that the husband may not compel his wife to do so:

[רוב] נשים העושות מלאכה הוא בפקידות או בהוראה, ... דלא מסתבר שיוכל הבעל לכוף לאשתו לצאת לשוק בזמן שכל ההיתר לנשים לצאת לשוק אינו לפי רוח חכמים (עיין פרק ט הערה קכז מדברי הרמב"ם), ובפרט כשהרבה מלאכות כגון לעמוד בחנות או לעבוד בפקידות רחוק ממדת הצניעות, וידוע שבעוה"ר הרבה מכשולים יוצאים מזה, ובודאי שמצוה גדולה לאדם שלא יתן לאשתו להמצא בשוק כל כך, ודי לנו במה שהן מוכרחות (וזכורני שלפני עשרות שנים הרבה מנקיי הדעת בירושלים היו יוצאים בעצמם למכולת ולשאר דברים שהם צרכי הבית, וויתרו על כבודם וטרחתם משום צניעות), ועיין שו"ת רדב"ז ח"ג סימן תפ"א, ועל כן נלענ"ד שאין שום דין כפיה לאשה לצאת ולהרויח, ואדרבא, חייב למונעה מכך, ובעוה"ר נחשב הדבר כמעלה בשידוך שיש לאשה מקצוע, וכל שכן משרה שתוכל לצאת ולהרויח,[3]

There are at least three Talmudic invocations of our verse as a basis for modesty, but their exact import, and even their very normativeness, are not entirely clear, as we shall see.

Talmudic Sources


שאם ירצה שלא לזון כו': שמעת מינה יכול הרב לומר לעבד עשה עמי ואיני זנך הכא במאי עסקינן דא"ל צא מעשה ידיך למזונותיך דכוותה גבי אשה דאמר לה צאי מעשה ידיך במזונותיך אשה אמאי לא אשה בדלא ספקה עבד נמי בדלא ספיק עבדא דנהום כרסיה לא שויא למריה ולמרתיה למאי מיתבעי

תא שמע עבד שגלה לערי מקלט אין רבו חייב לזונו ולא עוד אלא שמעשה ידיו לרבו ש"מ יכול הרב לומר לעבד עשה עמי ואיני זנך הכא במאי עסקינן דאמר לו צא מעשה ידיך למזונותיך אי הכי מעשה ידיו אמאי לרבו להעדפה העדפה פשיטא מהו דתימא כיון דכי לית ליה לא יהיב ליה כי אית ליה נמי לא לישקול מיניה קמ"ל ומ"ש לערי מקלט סד"א (דברים ד) וחי עביד ליה חיותא טפי קמ"ל

והא מדקתני סיפא אבל אשה שגלתה לערי מקלט בעלה חייב במזונותיה מכלל דלא אמר לה דאי אמר לה בעלה אמאי חייב ומדסיפא דלא אמר לה רישא נמי דלא אמר ליה לעולם דאמר ליה ואשה בדלא ספקה והא מדקתני סיפא ואם אמר לה צאי מעשה ידיך במזונותיך רשאי מכלל דרישא דלא אמר לה ה"ק ואם מספקת ואמר לה צאי מעשה ידיך במזונותיך רשאי מספקת מאי למימרא מהו דתימא (תהילים מה) כל כבודה בת מלך פנימה קמ"ל[4]

The Gemara states that we might have thought that the principle of כל כבודה prevents a husband from declaring צאי מעשי ידיך במזונותיך and thereby requiring his wife to work, but then concludes "קא משמע לן" that this is not the case. Why, indeed, is this not the case? There are various theories offered, as we shall see.


א"ל דואג האדומי עד שאתה משאיל עליו אם הגון הוא למלכות אם לאו שאל עליו אם ראוי לבא בקהל אם לאו מ"ט דקאתי מרות המואביה

א"ל אבנר תנינא עמוני ולא עמונית מואבי ולא מואבית אלא מעתה ממזר ולא ממזרת ממזר כתיב מום זר מצרי ולא מצרית שאני הכא דמפרש טעמא דקרא (דברים כג) על אשר לא קדמו אתכם בלחם ובמים דרכו של איש לקדם ולא דרכה של אשה לקדם היה להם לקדם אנשים לקראת אנשים ונשים לקראת נשים אישתיק

מיד ויאמר המלך שאל אתה בן מי זה העלם התם קרי ליה נער הכא קרי ליה עלם הכי קא אמר ליה הלכה נתעלמה ממך צא ושאל בבית המדרש שאל אמרו ליה עמוני ולא עמונית מואבי ולא מואבית אקשי להו דואג כל הני קושייתא אישתיקו בעי לאכרוזי עליה מיד (שמואל ב יז) ועמשא בן איש ושמו יתרא הישראלי אשר בא אל אביגיל בת נחש וכתיב (דברי הימים א ב) יתר הישמעאלי אמר רבא מלמד שחגר חרבו כישמעאל ואמר כל מי שאינו שומע הלכה זו ידקר בחרב כך מקובלני מבית דינו של שמואל הרמתי עמוני ולא עמונית מואבי ולא מואבית ומי מהימן והאמר רבי אבא אמר רב כל תלמיד חכם שמורה הלכה ובא אם קודם מעשה אמרה שומעין לו ואם לאו אין שומעין לו שאני הכא דהא שמואל ובית דינו קיים

מכל מקום קשיא הכא תרגמו (תהילים מה) כל כבודה בת מלך פנימה

במערבא אמרי ואיתימא ר' יצחק אמר קרא (בראשית יח) ויאמרו אליו איה שרה אשתך וגו'[5]


תניא אידך ועמדו שני האנשים בעדים הכתוב מדבר אתה אומר בעדים או אינו אלא בבעלי דינין אמרת וכי אנשים באין לדין נשים אין באות לדין ואם נפשך לומר נאמר כאן שני ונאמר להלן שני מה להלן בעדים אף כאן בעדים מאי אם נפשך לומר וכי תימא אשה לאו אורחה משום (תהילים מה) כל כבודה בת מלך פנימה נאמר כאן שני ונאמר להלן שני מה להלן בעדים אף כאן בעדים[6]

Blaming the Victim

Hasam Sofer has a remarkable responsum in which he classifies a wife who hypothetically lets herself get kidnapped as an עוברת על דת or a מורדת, since the abduction would not have occurred had she behaved properly and not wandered off alone into dangerous regions:

שאלתו אודות איש א' אחר ב' שנים לנישואי אשתו ברחה מעמו ונעלמה מעין כל חי ולא מחמת קטטה כלל ... רק בפתע פתאום נעלמה וזה חמש שנים לא נודע מה היה לה אחר כמה חקירות ודרישות בכל אופן האפשרי ... על כן רוצה שנעיין בדינו למצוא היתר לישא אשה ...

תשובה. הנה אשה זו הנעלמה מעינינו יש להסתפק כמה ספיקות מה היה לה. א' אולי מתה כבר מדלא באה לביתה מקום חיותה ואם מתה הבעל מותר לישא אחרת בלי ספק:

ב' אולי המירה דתה ...

ג' אולי נשטית מחמת שטות ברחה ולא חזרה ...

ד' אולי מחמת מרד ומעל ברחה ולא חזרה ...

ומעתה נבוא אל העיון הנה יש כאן כמה ספיקות וספק ספיקא להתיר ורק ספק א' לאסור דלמא אשתבאית ... אלא שיש לומר נוקמא אחזקת חי ובחזקת צדקת שלא המירה ושלא תמרוד על בעלה בלי שום קטטה ובחזקת הגוף שלא נולד בה מום ובטלו כל הספיקות ונאמר אשתבאית בודאי ואף על גב דלכאורה שבויה על ידי אונס הוה מיעוטא דידיע הוא במדינתנו לא שכיחא שביה כלל ואפילו בשיש מלחמה בעולם ויש אלהים שופטים בארץ ואפילו באו קדרים מרחוק ונטלוה מכל מקום בעברה דרך עיירות ומקומות מדינתינו אם תזעק בחבליה יעשו לה דין ואם לא צוחה ושתקה היינו מומרת ברצון וכדאמרינן בגיטין כח: אין אנפרות בבבל ולא משכחת ליה אלא בדרך רחוקה ונפלאה וליכא אלא מיעוטא ומכל מקום נימא סמוך מיעוטא לחזקה ואיתרע ליה רובא והוה ליה פלגא ופלגא ומספיקא לא נתיר חרם רבינו גרשום:

לזה נאמר שהאי ספיקא דשביה אפילו מיעוטא דמיעוטא לא הוה דודאי אם יצאה מדעת למקום יערות ושכיחא שיירות ושוללים שלא מדעת הבעל ויצאה מחזקת בנות ישראל הכשרים אשר כר' בני כל כבודה בת מלך פנימה דאף על גב דאמרינן בגיטין (יב:) [צ"ל יב.] מהו דתימא כל כבודה בת מלך פנימה קמ"ל משמע דלא אמרינן הכי ויש לומר לזה כתב רש"י כל ישראל בני מלכים הם ור"ל דהא תליא בשיטה דכל ישראל בני מלכים בשבת קכח. ולא קיימא לן כשיטה אבל כד מעיינת שפיר הא ליתא דסתמא דתלמודא דיבמות עז. קיימא לן הלכתא הך חזקה אפילו בנשי א"י הדיוטות שאינם בני מלכים כל שכן בנות ישראל הצנועות ודאמרינן בגיטין קמ"ל ר"ל דאפילו הכי מצי למימר צאי מעשי ידיך אבל האמת דכל כבודה בת מלך פנימה ודברי רש"י דתליא בשיטה צ"ע

ולפי זה אם יצאה מדעת ונשתבאית אף על פי שעתה חזרה בה ורוצית לשוב לבעלה אלא שעומדת במאסרתה מכל מקום הוה ליה תחלתה בפשיעה ועדיין בתמרורתה עומדת ודינה כמורדת או כעוברת על דת

ולומר שבאו שבאים לביתה ושבוה היינו אונסא דלא שכיחא כלל שלא ידע אדם מזה דבר ולא צעקה בעיר ולא נודע מעולם שבאו שוללים לעיר ולוקחי נפשות במדינתנו ליכא ולומר שנשתטית ויצאה מדעתה והוציאה רוח רעה אל מקום לסטים ושבוה ועתה נתרפאית ועומדת בשביה אם כן היינו מיעוטא דמיעוטא דלא שכיחא כלל ...[7]

So Hasam Sofer, although initially suggesting that the Maskana in Gittin is that כל כבודה is not normative, ultimately concludes that it is, based on Yevamos, and explains the the former passage to mean merely that the כל כבודה imperative is not strong enough to deny the husband his right to say צאי מעשי ידיך במזונותיך.

Rav Avraham Ya'akov Ha'Levi Horowitz rejects this position of Hasam Sofer, that a woman who leaves the safety of her house has necessarily acted improperly, and he argues that this is exactly the point of the Maskana in Gittin, that a woman who has a reason to leave her home, such as the need to support herself, is not violating כל כבודה:

האמנם בשו"ת חת"ם סופר .. כתב דיצאה מחזקת כשרות במה שהרחיקה נדוד שאינה כבנות ישראל הכשרות דכל כבודה בת מלך פנימה לא כתב זה רק לסניף והערה בעלמא דאיך נוכל להוציאה מחזקת כשרות אולי יצאה לאיזה סבה ואפילו ביצאה לסבה לא טובה אולי אחר כך נולד לה אונס ודעתה לחזור.

ובש"ס גיטין ... הרי דמשום דצריכה לצאת למזונותיה לא שייך כל כבודה רק דסלקא דעתא דמשום דכל ישראל בני מלכים אפילו בכה"ג שייך כל כבודה כמו שכתב רש"י שם ולמסקנה קמ"ל דלא קיימא לן דכל ישראל בני מלכים דקיימא בשיטה בש"ס שבת (קכ"ח) ובש"ס יבמות (ע"ז) דאמרינן אפילו בעכו"ם כל כבודה כו' משום דשלא לצרכה אין דרכה לצאת ובחנם נתקשה בשו"ת חת"ם סופר שם בזה ולע"ד פשוט כמו שכתבתי: [ועיין שם עוד במה שהוכיח מעוד פוסקים שאין לדונה כמורדת בכה"ג.][8]

The Tosaphists as Pashtanim

Another application of כל כבודה appears in a number of commentaries of the Tosaphists, as well as that of the Tur, to Parshas Mishpatim, which explain the verse לא תצא כצאת העבדים, in the context of the אמה עבריה, to mean that it is inappropriate for her to work outside of her master's home, and that he may not demand that she do so:

לא תצא. פירש רבי אברהם אבן עזרא ז"ל שאין האדון יכול לכופה לעשות מלאכה הצריכה לצאת חוץ, אלא בתוך הבית:[9]

לא תצא כצאת העבדים. לפי פשוטו למדה תורה דרך ארץ שלא תהא יצאנית כמו העבד שרבו משגרו בשליחותו ביום ובלילה בעיר ובחוץ לעיר, וכל זה גנאי לאשה, רק שעבוד בית משום כל כבודה בת מלך פנימה, ועוד שהיא קטנה.[10]

לא תצא [כצאת] העבדים. הפשט שאינו יכול להכריחה לעשות מלאכתו בחוץ כמו שהעבדים יוצאים בחוץ לשאוב מים או לטחון. או שאר מלאכות בחוץ כי אם בבית כי כל כבודה בת מלך פנימה.[11]

לא תצא כצאת העבדים. ... אי נמי כפשטיה, לא תצא כצאת העבדים שלא ישלחנה בחוץ לעשות לו מלאכתו אלא תשמשנו בביתו:[12]

A correspondent of Rav David Menahem Manis Babad of Tarnipol was apparently bemused by this Tosaphist exegesis, presumably because the Talmud understands the verse differently, and does not mention such a restriction on the master of the אמה העבריה.  Rav Babad points out that this sort of thing is common enough for "the early commentators", and adds that this rule does actually have some basis in the standard Halachah:

ומה שפלא בעיניו דברי הרבי אברהם שהביא בדעת זקנים ... והוא פלא בעיניו. פליאות כאלה ימצא הרבה במפרשי התורה הקדמונים. אך באמת זה אינו פלא כל כך. כיון דהוזהרנו שלא לעבוד בעבד עברי עבודת פרך ועבודת עבד. וכיון דאשה כל כבודה בת מלך פנימה. אינו יכול לעבוד בה מלאכת חוץ שלא לרצונה:[13]

[On the issue of medieval atalmudic exegesis, I have elsewhere noted Rav Menahem Kasher's claim that it is actually Ibn Ezra, "the chief of the Pashtanim", who frequently insists that we explain Halachic Scriptural passages only in a manner consistent with the Talmud, while "the pillars of the Halachah", i.e., the Tosaphists, are often quite flexible in their exegesis - as we see here.]

Rav Yisrael of Bruna considers this Tosaphist idea to be normative Halachah, but he distinguishes between married and single women (similarly to Hizkuni above, who suggests that we may be particularly concerned about the אמה עבריה, since she is a minor):

נשאלתי השוכר משרתת אשה או נערה בתולה וראובן שולח אותה על השוק ובבתי הגויים יחידית והמשרתת אומרת השכרתני לשרת כדרך המשרתות בבית ולא כדרך האנשים היוצאים בחוץ:

והשבתי כן הנשים דוברות. אין ראובן יכול לכופן ליכנס יחידית בבתי הגויים ואף יש איסור בדבר משום יחוד, ואף במקום שרבים רגילים ליכנס שם נהי דאיסור ליכא מכל מקום אינו יכול לכופן, דיש נשים צנועות נוהגות בצניעות או יראות מרוב שנאה שלא יטילו עליה שם רע או כהאי גוונא.

אמנם על השוק בגילוי, רגילות הנשים לילך אבל הבתולות אין דרכן לצאת לשוק ואינו יכול לכוף, ונראה לי דאף איסור יש בדבר שנאמר לא תצא כצאת העבדים. וכתב בפירוש התורה לר' יעקב בן אשר ז"ל שנקרא נזיר[14] ... והתורה בבתולה קאי ובבתולה מיירי אבל נשים לא כדפרישית,

אף על גב דכתיב כל כבודה בת מלך פנימה מכל מקום אשכחן בפרק קמא דגיטין דשכיח כדאמרינן מהו דתימא כל כבודה בת מלך פנימה קמ"ל, ובפרק המוצא תפלין (ערובין ק:) אמר גבי יו"ד קללות שנתקללה חוה וחבושה בבית האסורים ואידך הנך שבח הוא לה דכתיב כל כבודה בת מלך פנימה, והטעם כל ישראל בני מלכים הם. ולית הלכתא הכי. דאמרינן בפרק המקבל (בבא מציעא קיג.) אמר אביי כולהו סבירא להו כל ישראל בני מלכים הם, וכל היכא דאמר אביי הכי כולהו בחד שיטה לית הלכתא כחד מינייהו, כדפסק האשירי בכמה דוכתין, ואף על גב דבפרק ח' שרצים (שבת קכו:) פסק רב הלכתא כרשב"ג דאמר הכי מפרש התם הלכתא כוותיה ולא מטעמיה ע"ש, וכן פסק האשירי בהדיא בפרק מפנין, נאם ישראל מברונא:[15]

So while the Ashkenazic Rishonim that we have seen might be construed as supporting Rav Blau's position that a husband may not compel his wife to work outside the home, Rav Yisrael of Bruna limits their rule to unmarried women.

Note that many of these sources are taken from a discussion of our topic by the erudite Rav Ze'ev Wolf Leiter in his מתורתן של ראשונים.‎[16]

Although apparently unknown to all the aforementioned Rishonim and Aharonim, there is actually Medrashic support this interpretation of the verse לא תצא כצאת העבדים the מכילתא דרבי שמעון בן יוחאי attributes such an explanation to R. Elazar (or Eliezer):

לא תצא כצאת העבדים שלא תהא נוטלת אחריו דלאים ובלוריות למרחץ דברי רבי אל<י>עזר

אמר לו רבי עקיבא מה אני צריך והלא כבר כבר נאסר לא תעבוד בו עבודת עבד מה תלמוד לומר לא תצא כצאת העבדים שלא שלא תהא יוצאת על השן ועל העין כעבדים [17]

Below we shall see another possible Medrashic basis for this interpretation.

Ibn Ezra

A perplexing point is the attribution of this idea to Ibn Ezra (in the first of the Tosaphist paragraphs above).  As has already been noted by R. Ya'akov Gellis,[18] no such exegesis is found in our editions of Ibn Ezra.  We do, however, have this not atypically cryptic passage:

וכי ימכור איש. זה האיש הישראלי. ואין משפט יציאתה לחופש כזכרים. ואין צורך לפירוש הגאון לא תצא לא תשב.[19]

The reference to the “explanation of the Gaon” is apparently to the first one in this passage of the commentary of רב סעדיה גאון:

ואחר זה נאמר שדיבורו לא תצא כצאת העבדים סובל שני פירושים: האחד לא תדור בהיותה אצל אדוניה במצב של עבדים. כי המלה יציאה פעמים משמשת בהוראת מגורים, כמו שאמר דויד למלך מואב יצא נא אבי ואמי אתכם (שמואל-א כב:ג), וכמו שיש לפרש ויצא בן אשה ישראלית (ויקרא כד:י).

הפירוש השני שלא תצא כצאת העבדים העברים, שנאמר עליהם ובשביעית יצא (כא:ב). אבל היא דרה אצל אדוניה עד שתגדל, בין בזמן קרוב ובין בזמן רחוק.[20]

This is still not very clear.  R. Yehudah Leib Krinsky understands the Gaon thus:

פירוש אם רעה היא בעיניו ואינו רוצה ליעדה אין ראוי שתשב בביתו להשתמשות לבד, כי אסור לו להניחה עוד ביד האדון מעת שיאמר לא חפצתי לקחתה:[21]

R. Yehudah Leib Fleischer finds this explanation baseless, and offers an alternative:

כתב בעל "מחוקקי יהודה" … ואין אני יודע מאין לקח את הפירוש הזה.

והנה בתרגומו הערבי של רבנו סעדיה גאון ז"ל (הוצאת דירינבורג, פאריס תרנ"ג) מצאתי: “פלא תכרג כאלעביד". ותרגומו: “לא תצא כעבדים". אבל הח' המו"ל מביא שם גרסא אחרת, מדפוס קונסטיטינא (שנת ה' אלפים ש"ו ליצירה) ושם הנוסחא: “לא תקים מקאם אלעביד". ותרגומו: “לא תשב במקום העבדים". ולזה שבים דברי ראב"ע ז"ל. ומזה ראיה כי הנוסחא של דפוס קונסטיטינא הנכונה.[22]

Still not very clear, but Rav Kasher understands this to mean that רב סעדיה is explaining the verse in the manner of the Tosaphists.[23]  He also suggests another Medrash in support of this exegesis:[24]

לא תצא כצאת העבדים, בת אחת היתה לי ומכרתיה להם [לאמה] שאין אתם מוציאין אותה אלא חבושה בארון [שנאמר] לא תצא כצאת העבדים, נהגו בה כבוד, ששביתם אותה מאצלי שנאמר עלית למרום שבית שבי וכו' (שמות רבה פ"ל ד.)

מובא בילהמ"כ ישעיה דף סג. ותהלים דף קסח. ובשינויים בכד הקמח אות האמונה: וכן אמרו במדרש וכי ימכור איש את בתו לאמה לא תצא כצאת העבדים, וכי ימכור איש זה הקב"ה שנאמר ד' איש מלחמה, את בתו לאמה זו התורה שמכרה לישראל, מוציאין אותה חבושה בארון, לא תצא כצאת העבדים הזהרו בה שלא תנהגו בה מנהג בזיון והפקר, …

ויש להעיר שבדברי חז"ל כאן: נהגו בה כבוד. וגירסת כד הקמח: שלא תנהגו בה מנהג בזיון והפקר, יש מקור למה שכתבו הרס"ג ושאר הראשונים בפשטא דקרא: לא תצא כצאת העבדים, כלומר שלא יכריחה לעשות מלאכתו בחוץ כמו עבדים ולא תשב במקום העבדים. ע"כ.[25]

Rav Kasher also notes that Rav Avraham Menahem b. Ya'akov Rapa of Porto (who later changed his name to 'Rapaport') also offers a similar interpretation of our verse, apparently independently:

לא תצא כצאת העבדים. לא תהא יצאנית לרוץ בשוק הנה והנה כדרך צאת העבדים והא צחות. וכל מקום שנאמר עבדים סתם בכנענים הכתוב מדבר שאין עבד עברי נקרא עבד סתם:[26]

Feminist and Feminine Perspectives

Rav Yehudah Herzl Henkin, always interesting on femininity and feminism, has a careful analysis of the contours of כל כבודה, of which we shall merely cite one brief excerpt, in which he argues that the loss of honor consequent to a woman's leaving her home is due to the fact that she may err and sin, and this is therefore only true in the general case, but a particular woman who can remain an אשת חיל and God-fearing is permitted to leave her home:

מכאן למה שהספדתי בענין מקומה של אשה שסיימתי בו הגם שהכתוב תאר וחכמים הזהירו על סתם נשים שתשארנה בבתיהן, כל זה אמור לגבי רוב נשים, אבל יחידה שיכולה להיות גם אשת חיל ואשה יראת ד' יכולה לצאת.

וכתבתי שהדבר נובע מן המציאות ומן הרגילות ומוסב על אזהרת חכמים שהאשה היוצאת מתקלקלת, וגם דברי הכתוב יש לפרש כן, שכיון שהמציאות כן ממילא כבודה של אשה היא פנימה כדי שלא תתבזה ביציאתה שהלא אם תכשל אין לה גנאי יותר מזה. ...[27]

We began this essay with Psalms; we give the last word to she who has been called "a psalmist for the 21st century", the incomparable אתי אנקרי, who used to insist, in the powerful, haunting, beautiful titular song of her breakout album, רואה לך בעינים, that confinement within walls and self-abnegation are just too high a price to pay, even for love:

אני רואה לך בעיניים
אני רואה את הכל
היית עוטף אותי בבית וחום

רואה לך בעיניים,
רואה את הכל
היית סוגר אותי, אם היית יכול

רואה לך בעיניים
שכלום לא חשוב
רק אתה, אני ואתה שוב ושוב

רואה לך בעיניים
שיותר מהכל -
היית סוגר אותי, אם היית יכול

היית בונה לי קירות
היית מתקין לי מנורות
שיהיה לי אור

רואה לך בעיניים,
זה כתוב בגדול
היית מרשה לי, מוחל על הכל

אני רואה לך בעיניים,
רואה את הכל
היית אוהב אותי כמו שאיש לא יכול

הייתי משוטטת בין הקירות
הייתי עושה בם צורות -
שיהיו לי שמיים

אני רואה לך בעיניים
אני רואה את הכל
היית עוטף אותי בבית וחום

אני רואה לך בעיניים
אני רואה את הכל -
רק אותי לא רואה בתוך הכחול

הלכתי לפני שעות
וטוב לי מחוץ לקירות
להתגעגע לבית

[Explanation and (feminist) analysis.]

I say “used to”, of course, since this is early Ankri, in her edgy, התרסה periodCurrent, tichel-wearing Ankri, who understands the great, paradoxical religious truth that real freedom requires discipline and subservience to a Higher law, has, indeed, explained that “it is sometimes difficult for me to to connect” to her great, early classics רואה לך בעינים and לך תתרגל איתה (although she insists that this is due to her personal maturation, rather than her religion).  And musical genius that she is, she apparently occasionally manages to nevertheless perform רואה לך בעינים, while investing it with an entirely new atmosphere:

"רואה לך בעיניים" כמו שלא נשמע מעולם

ואז אנקרי מפתיעה. היא אומרת: "לא תאמינו, אבל תאמינו", ומתחילה לנגן בגיטרה את "רואה לך בעיניים", שיר שטבוע עמוק עמוק בדי.אן.איי המוזיקלי הישראלי. גם הפעם הוא מרגש, אבל דרך הביצוע העכשווי שלו ניתן להבין את עוצמת השינוי שחל באנקרי. משיר שתמיד היה נשמע כעוס וכואב יוצאת פתאום אתי אנקרי אחרת - מפויסת, שלמה, שלווה, במשמעות הפוכה לביצוע המקורי.

[Note: this essay has its roots in a discussion that occurred on the Areivim and Avodah mailing lists; see this אישים ושיטות post, and my comment thereto.]

[1]              תהילים מה:יד - קשר

[2]              משנה תורה - יד החזקה אישות יג:יא - קשר

[3]              פתחי חושן ירושה ואישות פרק י' הערה ט' ד"ה ומהו שיעור המלאכות, ועיין לעיל שם הערה ג'

[4]              גיטין יב. - קשר

[5]              יבמות עו: - עז. - קשר

[6]              שבועות ל. - קשר

[7]              שו"ת חת"ם סופר אה"ע חלק ב' סימן צ"ט - קשר

[8]              שו"ת צור יעקב סימן ע"ה - קשר

[9]              דעת זקנים מבעלי התוספות שמות כא:ז, ועיין תוספות השלם (גליס) אותיות ט וי"ט

[10]              פירוש החזקוני שם

[11]              פירוש התוספות, נדפס בספר הדר זקנים (ליוורנו ת"ר), והובא בחומש אוצר הראשונים, שם - קשר

[12]              פירוש על התורה מרבינו יעקב בן כבוד מרנא ורבנא רבינו הרא"ש זלה"ה (הנובר תקצ"ט), שם - קשר [עמוד  19]‏

[13]              שו"ת חבצלת השרון, תנינא סימן י' - קשר

[14]              איני יודע פירוש מילים אלו

[15]              שו"ת מהר"י ברונא, סימן רמ"ב - קשר

[16]              גיטין שם - קשר

[17]              מכילתא דרבי שמעון בן יוחאי (מהדורת אפשטיין), שם, עמוד 165קשר, הובא בתורה שלמה אות קס"ג

[18]              תוספות השלם, שם, עמוד קע"ג. I am indebted to Andy for bringing this to my attention.

[19]              אבן עזרא (מהדורת וייזר), פירוש הקצר שם, עמוד רצא

[20]              פירושי רב סעדיה גאון לספר שמות (מהדורת רצהבי), שם, עמוד ק"י

[21]              מחוקקי יהודה, שם, יהל אור אות רי"ח - קשר

[22]              משנה לעזרא, שם, עמוד 161 - קשר

[23]              תורה שלמה, שם, אות קס"ג

[24]              I do not understand why Rav Kasher adduces this Medrash, since he himself has earlier cited the מכילתא דרשב"י which would seem to be much more directly supportive of the Tosaphist position.

[25]              שם, אות קס"ו

[26]              מנחה בלולה (ווירונה תשנ"ד), שם - קשר

[27]              שו"ת בני בנים, חלק א' סימן מ' ד"ה מכאן למה שהספדתי - קשר

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