Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Update: I see Hershkowitz in his reply to Posen cites the Jewish Obserever article on Mendelssohn that I discussed here. Most of Hershkowitz's response is nonesense so I won't bother discussing it.
The Seforim She'Niskabel section has some particularly interesting stuff and includes a lengthy discussion of a new sefer of R' Y. Ratzhabi against Chacham Ovadiah.
It is interesting that Y. Laufer's "defense" of R' Zalman Hannau uses a similar argument as that which I used in connection to the Torah Temimah.
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שות יביע אומר חלק ו - אורח חיים סימן מח
מופע ראשון: ח"ג (ד"צ ע"ד) שהעולם טועים וחושבים שבנ"ר פוטרת הכל, וליתא, וכמבואר בראשונים הנ"ל. ע"ש. וכ"כ עוד הרבה פוסקים רוא"ח. וכמש"כ להעיר בפנים. וכעת נדפס ס' מענה לאגרות, וראיתי אליו (בסי' כז) שהשיג כן על האגרות משה, (אלא שהיה לו לדבר בלשון כבוד כלפי הגאון הנ"ל, ובכל ספרו מטיח דברים קשים...
שות יביע אומר חלק ח - אורח חיים סימן כג
מופע ראשון: ח"ד (סימן צד) שאף הוא הביא ראיה מפסחים (קו א) לנידונו כעין ראית החיד"א הנ"ל, ודחיתי ראיתו ע"פ דברי ספר המכתם ועוד. וכנ"ל. ושו"ר בספר מענה לאגרות. (סימן עג דף קמט ע"א) שהעיר כן מדנפשיה על דברי האגרות משה. ע"ש. ודו"ק). אשר על כן נראה דשב ואל תעשה עדיף, ולא...
שות יביע אומר חלק ח - אורח חיים סימן לא
מופע ראשון: לקדש תחלה, וכהוראת המשנה ברורה בביאור הלכה, אבל אם די לו במיני תרגימא ובמזון מבושל שאין עליו שם פת, לא יקדש, וכו'. ע"ש. אך בספר מענה לאגרות (סימן נז) כתב לחלוק עליו, ועל המשנה ברורה, ע"פ היסוד שקבע, שלא תיקנו חז"ל מעיקרא לקדש אלא לאחר התפלה, וכשם שהמשכים לקום קודם...
שות יביע אומר חלק ח - אורח חיים סימן לח
מופע ראשון: נוגע לו כלל, הו"ל כמבשל וקוצר שלא לצורך כלל אלא כדי לזרקם ולהשליכם אל הים, לכן נחשבת כמלאכה שאצל"ג וכו'. ע"ש. ובא רעהו וחקרו בשו"ת מענה לאגרות (סי' לו אות יג), וכ' לתמוה ע"ד מהריק"ו, והעלה ע"פ דברי התוס' (שבת צד א) דבכה"ג הואיל והישראל באשר הוא שם זקוק לאותו...
שות יחווה דעת חלק א סימן מה
מופע ראשון: אגרות משה (חאו"ח סי' קס"ו) שדחה ראית הב"ח דההיא דגרדאי מיירי ברגילים בכך וכו'. וזכה לכוין לדברי המהרש"ל בים של שלמה. ובחנם השיג עליו בספר מענה לאגרות (סי' מ"ז) ע"ש. ומ"מ לפ"ד רב האי גאון טעם אחר יש בדבר וכנ"ל. [וז"ל הארחות חיים (הל' ט' באב סי' י"ד): העוסק במלאכתו...
שות יחווה דעת חלק ב סימן כב
מופע ראשון: סימן ד' אות טו), שכשאינו יודע לברך מעין שלש, או כשמסופק, מברך בורא נפשות רבות. ע"כ. ואינו נכון להלכה, וכמו שביארנו. וגם הלום נדפס ספר מענה לאגרות, וראיתי אליו (בסימן כז) שהשיג לנכון על דברי האגרות משה הנ"ל, והעלה שאם אינו יודע לברך מעין שלש, אין לברך בורא נפשות רבות...
שות יחווה דעת חלק ה סימן ז
מופע ראשון: הרגיש מדברי הרמב"ם הנ"ל שמוכח להיפך, שאף באופן שרוב המנין לא התפללו, והמיעוט התפללו כבר, נחשבת תפלתם תפלה בצבור. והניח בצריך עיון. ע"ש. אולם בספר מענה לאגרות (סימן יב ויג) השיג לנכון על דברי האגרות משה הנ"ל, והעלה להלכה שגם כשיש רוב מנין שלא התפללו והמיעוט התפללו, רוב המנין ככולו...
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Maharam of Padua v. Giustiniani: The Sixteenth-Century Origins of the Jewish Law of Copyright (Looks interesting - FROM MAIMONIDES TO MICROSOFT; JEWISH COPYRIGHT LAW SINCE THE BIRTH OF PRINT, Neil W. Netanel and David Nimmer, eds., Oxford University Press, 2009)
Here are some interesting photo's from the Matson collection of the Library of Congress. The interested reader will no doubt be able to unearth many more interesting photos at that site.
Here is one of the Kotel at the beginning of the century:
As you can see, there is no Mechitza (they seem to be davening anyway), as the Arabs would not allow it. Attempts to build a Mechitza in 1928 lead to serious conflict.
This is a Samaritan (Kuti) high priest:
Presumably, he would have supervised the Korban Pesach at Har HaGrizim, like this one:
Finally , here are some "alte Yerushalyme Yidden" clearly posing for the Shaygetz:
Once can read a lot more about the Yishuv HaYashan in Nima Adlerblum's (Chaim Hirschenson's daughter) Memoirs of my Childhood, and probably in a lot of other places.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
If the Yerushalmi on that Mishna is in fact permitting the reading of Homer (ספר הומירוס as explained by S. Lieberman, Hellenism) one wonders what can possibly be forbidden?
See here on the Yaavetz's vast reading. R' Yaakov Kamenetsky is said to have commented that he "read a whole lot, perhaps more then was permitted" (MOAG) but in this he refers to the issue of Bittul Torah, while the issue under discussion is if there are books with forbidden content (obviously excluding דברי חשק).
I know of SA OC 307:17 (and see Mor U' Ketziah there) but even there the matter requires further study. For instance, I am inclined to wonder if the ban against the despised Sefer Immanuel is indeed because of questionable content (as argued by Mekor Baruch) or is it rather a reaction to the author's opposition to Kabbalah?
Comments welcome (For Hungarian posekim, as is obvious, the question doesn't start.)
At the end of a rather silly thread complaining of all the terrible stuff available on Otzar Hachochma, etc. ,etc, I saw a link to the following letter from an OC staff member:
I don't question Otzar HaChochma's decision, at that time, to remove the Seforim that their more close-minded customers would find problematic. But at this point, when we already have a Bnei-Torah and non-Bnei Torah (I would assume R' Yosef Zechariah Stern (and many others) was not a Ben Torah by their standards (see Sdei Chemed Pe'as - s.v. Aba Mezakeh)) versions, perhaps they could place the already scanned seforim back onto the program.
Parenthetically, Levinsohn (Rival - author of Teudah B'Yisroel) seems an odd person to pick as the arch-representative of the evil Maskilim. Levinsohn was highly respected by such famous scholars as R' Dovid Luria (Radal), and R' Mattisyahu Strashun as can be seen by their letters to him in Be'erot Yitzchok and R' Yisroel of Ruzhin even supported the publication of his works.
Monday, December 22, 2008
We are not concerned, however, with the truth of these allegations insofar as they refer to the Middle Ages in Europe, but with the possibility of its having existed during the Talmudic period, and in that respect the undeniable fact is that it has entered massively both into the Halacha and the Aggada. The outstanding example of its halachic aspect is found in the Talmud.
This mishnah attests different matrimonial practices in Galilee and Judea and suggests that premarital cohabitation was sometimes practiced in Judea, but certainly not in Galilee. The Palestinian Talmud interprets the mishnah, obviously apologetically, by assigning the Judean practice of premarital cohabitation to the aftermath of the Bar Kokhbah revolt, as a result of the imposition of the jus primae noctis ("the right of the first night"). The contract from the Babatha archive predates the Bar Kokhbah revolt, however, and thus attests a Judean practice of premarital cohabitation that is not connected to the Roman decree. In the article I shall suggest two possible interpretations for this practice. I shall conclude by arguing that the jus primae noctis in Jewish sources belongs, as has been shown for all other instances of the motif, to folklore and not to history.
Some sources suggest that after the Bar Kokhbah revolt the Romans introduced in Palestine the jus primae noctis, namely, the right of the local governor to deflower all maidens entering wedlock.34 The Palestinian Tamud refers to this "event" when it deals with the mishnah on the husband's residing at his father-in-law's house
This tradition connects the imposition of the jus primae noctis with the 'nr decrees, which are usually associated with the aftermath of the Bar Kokhbah revolt. As a result, the rabbis enacted an emergency measure (nMpn), which was intended to avert the danger of Jewish maidens' losing their virginity to Roman soldiers and possibly even conceiving by them. In such a case, the prospective couple was actually encouraged to practice sexual inter-course and cohabit out of wedlock in the very house of the bride's father. The quasi-historical justification for this Judean custom, the jus primae noctis, belongs, however, in my opinion, to the apologetics of the Galilean rabbis, because in the next sentence the talmudic commentators go on to claim that althought he destruction( '1n) was discontinued,t he custom was not. (y. Ketub. 1.5, 25c) This claim means that in Judea men and women continued to practice some sort of premarital cohabitation before the nuptials.
..question has been tackled by Raphel Patai,37 who formulated a remarkable theory. He was well aware of the fact that all medieval literature that evokes the custom of jus primae noctis has been proven to be folkloristic and has no historical basis.38 On the whole, Patai abided by these conclusions. He argued, however, that a special case should be made for the talmudic sources describing the same sort of custom. He claimed that since all the sources that are now considered legend and depict the practice in Christian medieval Europe were composed much later than the period they propose to describe, it is acceptable to discard them. In Judea, on the contrary, in the aftermath of the Bar Kokhbah revolt, the Romans actually put into practice such a law, as the "reliable" rabbinic sources claim. Patai, as a folklorist, should have known better. If a motif of this sort could have appeared in a sixteenth-century document and upset the entire history of medieval Europe for the next two centuries, the same motif likewise could have cropped up in the fourth- or fifth-century Palestinian Talmud, falsely describing events of the second century.39 In my opinion, the conclusions of the present article, which make the jus primae noctis narrative of the Palestinian Talmud nothing more than an apology for an inconvenient Judaic custom that is described cryptically in the Mishnah, undermine Patai's claim.40 From a large repository of folkloristic material circulating worldwide, the jus primae noctis was conveniently drawn in order to explain and justify a custom that seemed to the rabbis to under-mine their view of proper conduct in Jewish society.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I know Saul Lieberman has an edition of Midrash Rabbah published by Mossad R' Kook [? - or so I thought, actually by Harry Fischel] but I'ven never seen it [Found it on Otzar HaChochmo thanks to andy - introduction + notes , he is at his most useful when explaining an obscure Greek term] so I don't know what its about. There are critical editions of a few chapters of different Midrashim created as doctoral dissertation but I don't know if any of these have been published. From the traditional sphere, Midrashim are fodder for drash and so their p'shat aspect is very rarely explored. Is the notes to Kasher's Torah Sheleimah worth looking into? How about Ginzberg's Legends, there must be valuable material in the notes there?
So, has anyone got any recommendations?
See no. 2 of this post for a rather interesting comment of his. As I wrote then, I am [still] looking for a Kovetz Beis Halevi V. 3 which should contain R' Berlin's hagahot to Mitpachat Seforim. If anyone has seen this I would be interested to hear something of the nature of thes notes, as these should have important information concerning R' Berlin's Weltanschauung.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
More serious I think, is the attitude that insists that certain Rabbinic figures were so very great that any attempt to study and analyze their methodologies, sources, etc. is futile, or worse disrespectful.. First, nobody would protest against this mistaken notion as vehemently as these Rabbis themselves, as the Nodah B' Yehuda was fond of saying – דין (להקשות ולדון בדבריו) הניין לי ומסייע אין בו ממש. But even worse, is that the attitude that insists that great men are/were so very great that it is impossible to reach their level is the best way to stifle future greatness. See this very apt quote from G. K. Chesterton, and I once posted something similar from R Kook.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
Q. If one receives one of Maimon's books, such as Sarei HaMaios, for a Bar Mizvah gift, what shold be done with it?
A. It should be burned – these books are worse then “Chazir”.
I am not certain if Maimon's role as the propounder of the “Sanhedrin HaGedolah..” and subsequent controversy with the Brisker Rav (leading to the following “clever” retort by a prominent Rabbi – His name (his original name was Fishman) ought to be read with a Mapik.) Or if it is the very strong pro-Zionist bias in his books (for some reason all of the Rabbis he discusses were in some way favorable to Zionism).
In a short favorable review of Sarei HaMaios in Talpiot, Prof. S. Mirsky decries Maimon's decision t leave out the sources (and see note 3 here). My own opinion is that Maimon left out the source because he had none. In his books he writes that he had the custom when visiting any village of conversing with the older inhabitants for any village lore on the famous Rabbis that lived in them. As such, these stories are often unreliable (as anyone familiar with this genre knows, names of famous Rabbis tend to be switched around – the same story (Selling Olam Habah for an Esrog Mehudar, etc.) for instance is told in the names of the Baal Shem Tov, Kedushas Levi, and somewhat ironically, the Gra) but one cannot discount them entirely.
Friday, December 5, 2008
רש"י - קרקעית של אותו הנהר אין מגדל דגים טמאים
This is usually understood as eaning that the earth of the river under discussion isn't a suitable breeding enviroment for non-kosher fish but since Chazal seem to have believed that certain animals are "born" from their surrounding environment (bugs from fruit, worms from fish, etc.) I wonders if this might not be the correct interpretation here and well?
2 - Otzar haChochma has the sixth volume of Kobek's Yeshrun which contains a lengthy letter from Shir on the origins of the charity R' Meir Baal HaNes as well as the alleged ban of Beis Yosef against using money from RMBH for other charities. (See here (fn. 10) for an ingenious explanation on the origins of this term from RR Margolies.)