Thursday, January 17, 2008

Defense of Torah Temimah- Response to Dr. Shapiro

Dr. Shapiro was kind enough to respond to my post I will include his response in brackets.

First I refer you to several of the posts I have already edited on this issue - Historical fraud, Introduction -here, and Plagiarism -here.

Dr. Shapiro in his latest post has again raised this issue. First, surprisingly Dr. Shapiro added some extra proof to my defense of the Torah Temimah's "Plagiarism". For in my earlier post (well before Dr. Shapiro's post) - I wrote -

"Dan Rabinowitz’s has a far more balanced discussion in Tradition (Rayna Batya…An evaluation of R’ Baruch Halevi’s sources). Lacking access to a Mayin Ganim I cannot refute his sole proof [3]. Still being as her son R’ Chaim Berlin (and presumably other people who would have know her well) alive, R’ Baruch could not have entirely recreated her personality. This holds good for many of R' Baruch's accounts."

Now compare this to Dr. Shapiro's post:

"When Mekor Barukh was published there were still plenty of people alive who had known her and it would have been impossible to entirely fabricate her personality. The same can be said about Epstein’s report of the Netziv reading newspapers on Shabbat. This is not the sort of thing that could be made up. Let’s not forget that the Netziv’s widow, son (R. Meir Bar-Ilan) and many other family members and close students were alive, and Epstein knew that they would not have permitted any improper portrayal. It is when recording private conversations that one must always be wary of what Epstein reports."

Obviously Dr. Shapiro- who is a busy man- read my post (see his comment there) then forgot and thought it was his own idea - Exactly as I claim about the Torah Temimah. Thus the accusation of Plagiarism really holds very little water.

[Yes, I read your post, but I have been saying the same thing for a lot longer than your post, that is, that the TT couldn't have made everything up since people were alive who knew her. That is why I didn't feel a need to refer to your post (that is my rule: if I thought of something beforehand, and then weרe someone else mention it, I see no need to cite it. However, if someone says something and then I discover it on my own, I usually cite it.]

(I have also already noted the Aruch Hashulchans reference to Sefei Tav in an earlier post - See here)

I have already linked to the JNUL site containing the Netziv's letters to HaMagid and his article in HaLevanon - See my earlier post. I do not see why Dr. Shapiro leave the matter as inconclusive ("This is not the sort of thing that could be made up") It was very clearly not made up.

[The fact that he read newspapers was no chiddush. I was referring to Epstein's report that he read them on Shabbat. ]

[My response: What's the chiddush that he read newspapers on Shabbos - the Magen Avrohom already permits - Taanug, It's that he read a Maskilish newspaper like Hamaggid that is in truth surprising.]

I have already deconstructed Mondshine's deeply flawed article. I will now add one more point. Mondshine is surprised that the Aruch Ha-Shulchan who knew R' Zevin would not have told him the stories about the Tzemach Tsedek. But in the K'sav Haskamah to R' Zevin that Shapiro refers to - we see that R' Zevin never met the Aruch HasShulchan. Rather the AS refers to their correspondance. Those familiar with the AS's letters know that he doesn't go into extra details.

Dr. Shapiro cites Sicha Temimah and refers us to Bezeks article.

Bezek writes קונטרסו של זקהיים כתוב בחריפות יתירה ובעוקתנותו מרובה, אכן דבריו בסיום הקונטרס מעידים כי לפנינו איש נרגן, בעל מחשבות גדולות שאין להתייחס להאשמותיו ברצינות יתירה, "ואלה דבריו - "ואתם הקוראים בספרו - דע כי אנחי נתתי לכם את הספר. כי אשר לי בספר - ךי הוא. וגם אשר לא לי הוא - נתתי לכם אנכי וכו"

Now as to Shapiros main point - "I can only say that the entire report of Rayna Batya discovering the relevant text in Ma’ayan Ganim was made up by Epstein. This book, which was published in Venice in 1553, is an extremely rare volume. There would have only been a few copies of this book in all of Lithuania. (In Torah Temimah Epstein also says that it is a rare book.) It is therefore impossible to imagine that the rebbetzin, sitting in Volozhin, would just so happen to come across this volume on her husband’s bookshelf"

Dr. Shapiro is clearly not very familiar with Mekor Baruch for if he was he would recall the story of the TT and the Maggid concerning a recipe to turn copper into gold [1] - The TT writes "and I went over to the Seforim Shelf and dug under and brought up an old Sepharadic Sefer ... "

I do not recall when and where that story took place but it at least demonstrates that some very rare strange seforim travelled around the Lithiuania of R' Baruch's youth. As for the article in Ha-Tazefirah- obviously when R' Baruch was writing Mekor Baruch he did not have access to a Mayin Ganim anymore and he therefore made use of the Ha-Tzefirah article. I fully agree that the TT had a faulty memory (hence the whole - אולי story) and that he did make use of some artistic license.

[I certainly do recall the alchemy story, and Epstein had access to all sorts of rare books. But Maayan Ganim was not one of them. Until modern times everyone who cites Maayan Ganim cites it from Epstein. The book was literally impossible to find.]

[My response:מי גילה לך רז זה Clearly who ever wrote the HaTzefirah article had it so why not Epstein]

[1] For those interested - (I make the sole request that if it works the would-be-alchemist should please inform me so that I can arrange some investments)- 1. Take six large eggs, 2. Place them under a garbage dumb for the course of two weeks. 3. There should appear large worms within the eggs - Burn these and rub the ashes on to the copper.

[I think what it comes down to is that you are inclined to judge favorably and I am not. The rest is commentary.]

[My response: Since very few of the complaints against the TT really hold up against strong light - I see no reason not to fullfil the Mishna in Avot - אל תדין את חבירך עד שתעמוד במקומו)]

17 comments:

Marc Shapiro said...

Yes, I read your post, but I have been saying the same thing for a lot longer than your post, that is, that the TT couldn't have made everything up since people were alive who knew her. That is why I didn't feel a need to refer to your post (that is my rule: if I thought of something beforehand, and then wee someone else mention it, I see no need to cite it. However, if someone says something and then I discover it on my own, I usually cite it. That is wy I cited Avraham Korman, even though I came to the Ha-Pardes on my own).

I actually was going to cite what you wrote about R. Chaim Kanievsky, but then decided to scrap it (because of kavod ha-Torah. What I was going to say might have appeared disrespectful).

Marc Shapiro said...

"I do not see why Dr. Shapiro leave the matter as inconclusive"

The fact that he read newspapers was no chiddush. I was referring to Epstein's report that he read them on Shabbat. Look at the post again.

Marc Shapiro said...

I think what it comes down to is that you are inclined to judge favorably and I am not. The rest is commentary.

I certainly do recall the alchemy story, and Epstein had access to all sorts of rare books. But Maayan Ganim was not one of them. Until modern times everyone who cites Maayan Ganim cites it from Epstein. The book was literally impossible to find.

Wolf2191 said...

Fair enough and I will include this in the post- but why don't you want to judge favorably??? The only thing you really have against Epstein is the Mayin Ganim story - nothing else.

And it would have been nice if you had pointed out what I wrote against Mondshine's article. And the same with the Plagiarism.

Marc Shapiro said...

I think that others (Don Seeman?) also make the point that the Mekor Barukh couldn't make things up since plenty of people were alive who knew Rayna Barya. But I believe that this doesn't apply to his private conversations, to which there were no witnesses.

Marc Shapiro said...

I didn't refer to your post since it would have taken away from my main point. And it is not only the Maayan Ganim thing that prejudices me against him.

Why not submit a post to the seforim blog on the issue? You can get a large audience there and take issue with Mondshine (and me).

Wolf2191 said...

True but if he would report in his conversations that she read - Mishna, Medrash, etc. then this must be true and this itself testifies in support of the rest of the conversation.

Marc Shapiro said...

"I didn't refer to your post since it would have taken away from my main point." I meant that it would have sidetracked me.

Wolf2191 said...

I appreciate the offer - I don't have much more to say then I already have.

I'll send you in email.

Fotheringay-Phipps said...

This whole "he couldn't make up stuff about anyone who is alive" thing is bogus, IMHO. Look around - there are people making stuff up about people who are alive all the time.

People seem to be imagining the world as a place in which everyone pays attention to everything published that they have knowledge of, and if something is false they immediately turn over heaven and earth to show the world the truth. That's not how things are. Most probably a lot of people who had first-hand knowledge didn't see his writings and those who did probably clucked their tongues a bit and probably told their friends and associates about it, when the topic came up. That's how things are done now and that's probably how things were done then.

Plus, I think R' Epstien was delusional (he is said to have had a hard life and was bitter over the fact that he did not become a distinguished rabbi) and probably believed what he wrote, assisted by a faulty memory.

Fotheringay-Phipps said...

If you do intend to address the veractiy of MB, you need to address the multiple "classic" stories of the Bais Halevy that all suposedly took place in one night that R' Epstien happened to share his room.

Also the classic story of the Noda Beyehuda (IIRC) as a child that R' Epstien told about himself.

And so on and so on.

Wolf2191 said...

I have no reason to doubt the veracity of the stories with the Beish HaLevi. (Your not dealing with stuff he would have wanted to make up)

The story also attributed to the NB is difficult. Fun A Kashe Shtorbt M' Nisht

Whats the- so on..?

Fotheringay-Phipps said...

He would have wanted to make (or, more accurately IMHO, dream) up the stories about the BHL because it put a spotlight on him and his memorable night with the BHL. Frankly I would not mind if I had shared a room with an adom gadol and a series of stories like that had taken place. I would talk about it for the rest of my life. Unfortunately nothing like that ever happened to me, though.

I don't remember the "so on" offhand. It's been a long time since I read MB. But I remember being struck at the time that it was full of this type of unbelievable stuff.

Also that R' Epstien clearly had some sort of complex (e.g. in the part where he tells a story about an anonymous brilliant young scholar, only to reveal at the climax in big bold letters: "ANI, ANI HU!")

Also the way he portrays his father as agreeing to all sorts of dubious textual emendations (though refusing to amend them as a practical matter).

Wolf2191 said...

I grant your third paragraph. That's why he gets on so many peoples nerves - hence all the harsh reviews. He had a theatrical sense and he liked to dramatically express himself.

His father did seem to read and discuss his stuff. He quotes his proof that Rashi on Temurah is not Rashi (but disagrees) in one of his letters.

The improbable Hagahos are for another post.

SBA said...

Where can one see the rest of pages of SICHA TEMIMAH?

Does anyone have a scan of the entire booklet?

Having read the 3 pages posted, it seems to me to be the work of an aggrieved sub-editor rather than serious criticism. (After all, he worked on the TT for several years - which means that even he accepted that it was a worthy undertaking.)

Aso, in cases like this can we accept R' Zakheim's version of matters - without hearing what RB Epstein would have said?

And who was this Zakehim anyway? Does anyone have any info?

Please also send scans and responses CC to my email sba@sba2.com (just in case I miss it amongst the hundreds of responses here). Thanks

Third Party said...

It is a gross misinterpretation and extremely misleading to say that Mondshines article is based on the omision of Rabbi Zevin. Here is the link, see for yourself that is brought paranthetically last as opposed to the 10 proven discrepancies explained and analyzed before.
Lander compromises his integrity to make his case, and this is inexcusable.
http://www.shturem.net/index.php...=artdays& id=785

Anonymous said...

re marc shapiro's initial comment, there is a halachik discussion as to whether one must quote a source in this case, tiferes ziv says no need, shu't meishiv devorim says you should quote source, see minhogei yisroel torah, sdei chemed, shu't afarkasta deanya, likutei sichos from LR, V 37 P 180

 
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