Sunday, March 28, 2010

Political theory of R Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld and hesped for him

From an editorial in the Jewish Chronicle June 9, '22


Various pictures of HaGaon R' Yitzchak Isaac HaLevi Herzog and part of a speech

and here is part of a speech from R' Herzog which gives you an idea of his style:

and another:
New issue of HaMayaan.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Of the Brisker Rav I do not have the ability to write

From "Fun Brisk biz Semyatitsh" by M. Weisman (It doesn't appear to be online yet)

Of the Brisker Rav I do not have the ability to write.

Every Brisker Jew carries the name R Chaim Solovetchik close to his heart and has his own memories of him. My words can certainly make him no greater then he was. All that I could wish to say of him, I will say in these words "May his like increase in Israel."

A most eloquent non-description which however tells us so much.

For a more wordy description, see S.'s great post and the Brisk Sefer Zikaron, Yaakov Mark B'Mechitzasum Shel Gedolei Torah pgs. 36-54, and R' Zevin's classic study of R' Chaim's methodology in Ishim V' Shittos. It is noteworthy that no comprehensive biography of R' Chaim exists to date.

Paula Wengeroff's Rememberings

I just finished reading Paula Wengeroff's fascinating Memoirs (see Eliezer's post here for an excerpt. A more complete edition seems to be scheduled for publication as well.)

Wengeroff describes the "Kosher Dance", aka the mitzvah tantz being performed at her sisters wedding, this despite the fact that her family were definite misnagdim (cousins of the Aruch HaShulchan). She also mentioned that their custom was for the women to shave their heads. Both of these customs have come to be associated exclusively with Chassdim today.

She mentions that her family would not eat Matzah after Pesach. There is no other record of such a minhag that I could find. Perhaps, they just didn't eat it because there is no obligation to and it doesn't taste that great and Mrs. Wengeroff mistook it for a halachic practice. She also mentions a custom to make Challah in the shape of a bird on Hoshana Rabbah, I have never of this either.

In addition to the wealth of information on minhagim, the book is a fascinating depiction of the period and well worth reading.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

For the sense of touch is an embarassment to us..

but sight isn't. I haven't seen this online but no worries, it can be yours for a mere 12,500$

(From A Carlebach- Men and Ideas)

The philosophical approach to detective movies

Here and some Pesach stories here (and see Marc's post here)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Volozhin before its closing

Report on "Volozhin before its closing" from HaHed 7,4

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Maskil reviews ShuT Chasam Sofer, and some Rabbinic autographs

Kerem Chemed 9 has a review of ShuT Chasam Sofer from the Hungarian reformer Leopold Low (Yavam is identified as Low in Shaul Chajes's useful Otzar Bduyei Sheimos in which he highlights the "critical" side of Chasam Sofer's work.

In HaAsif we also find a biographical sketch of Chasam Sofer that highlights the aspects of Chasam Sofer's thought that the Maskilim found attractive.

Followin is a great quote from L. Ginzberg, Students Saints and Scholars describing a necrology of Chasam Sofer written by I. H. Weiss ממזרח וממערב (unfortunately, only Vol. 4 is currently available online):

"Take, for instance, the last-mentioned scholar. R. Moses Sofer combined all the great virtues of the old Jewish scholar with fighting courage and determination, and therefore he was not only the head of a Yeshibah, but also the leader of a strong party, especially strong in Hungary, which opposed the new tendency in Judaism with success. It was not lack of comprehension of the new tendency that made Sofer its violent opponent; his keen vision gave him insight sooner than anyone else into the radicalism into which it would degenerate. And it was Weiss who, in his sketch of Sofer in the Hebrew monthly Mi-Misrah umi-Ma'arab (Vienna, 1896) meted out full justice to this great personality, although Weiss did not adopt Sofer's conception of Judaism as his own.

Moreover, Weiss did not descend to the manner of the so-called historians who are incapable of appreciating a great personality or a spiritual movement in its totality, but lose themselves in details and designate as characteristic the most insignificant points if they are bizarre, and the most unessential minutiae if they are curious. They judge accordingly, and as a result we hear opinions of the Jewish past and of certain tendencies in Judaism which, if the same logic were applied to the interpretation of general history, would give something like the following: Aristotle was a fool; he believed that the heavenly spheres were animated. Kepler understood nothing at all of physics, because he did not know so much as the law of gravitation, which is now known to every school-boy. And the fathers of the Dutch Republic were mischievous reactionaries, for in their political program they did not adopt universal suffrage"

I think this praise is overstated as Weiss throws in an attack on Chasam Sofer for being too pilpulistic in his Memoirs.

For those with an interest in Rabbinic graphology, I found an interesting collection of Rabbinic autographs from a periodical called Menorah (February 1927).

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Some questions re: Kashrus and hotels

[This post is for purpose of discussion only and should not be relied upon for practical halacha]

The Star-K's Kashrus Kurrents had a very useful article on the various halachic questions that arise when traveling (here). I do not understand some of his conclusions and wonder if any of my readers have additional information on this subject.

1 - "Pre-cut fruits or vegetables should be avoided, since they may have been cut with a knife that was used for non-kosher food"

He cites the Rema that permits lemons pieces because many are cut at once and it is batel, but says that this doesn't apply in the a hotel setting. Even if this "metzius" is correct, this should only apply to sharp/citrus fruits. Wouldn't apples or non-sharp vegetables be OK?

2 - Unfiltered water in NYC -

What is the final status of the water? I understand that R' Belsky permitted it. But even among those who are machmir, is this a chumra of מהיות טוב which might be permitted when traveling or an actual prohibition.

3 - it is recommended that one refrain from using the carafe.

I don't get this. It is almost certainly not a ben-yomo. Even if it is, a glass carafe should in any event be permitted (שיעי) and this concern should only apply to a metal vessel.

4 - If the hotel provides fruit juices without clearly specifying the brand name. Is it necessary to clarify this or can one rely on the fact that the majority of available juices are kosher (I believe that even those juices that contain grape juice and therefore do not have a kashrus symbol are at least b'dieved kosher.)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Menachem Porush and R' Kook!!

Seform V' Soferim has a thread on some teenagers from Meah Shearim (including the later MK Menachem Porush [Update: Rav Tzair send us to an interview with R' Porush in which he explains that he was an unwilling participant in this play)) who produced a play in which R' Kook was "sentenced to death". Following are some bad scans from HaHed of that year reporting on this awful story:

Thursday, March 4, 2010

R' Kook and the Chafetz Chaim

Y. Mirsky in his dissertation on R' Kook notes that - Rav Kook wrote an approbation to the Liqutei Halakhot, a volume by the celebrated sage and saint Israel Meir Kagan (a.k.a. Hafetz Hayim) on the laws of Temple sacrifices, understandably, a less-visited precinct of Talmudic study.

I noticed a first-hand report (based on a conversation with R' Kook) in HaHed (7:6) that states that the Chafetz Chaim has initially asked R' Kook to help him write the sefer:

[I see now that the story was also recorded in E. Tzoref's bio of R Kook here]

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I updated my Sdei Chemed post. I also noticed another letter in Igros Sdei Chemed to the Maskil Shmuel Abba Horodetsky protesting his citation of the Maharshal's harsh coments against Beis Yosef and others. I was surprised to learn that Horodetsky has a letter published in Sdei Chemed here (lower left column). There is also a letter in Sdei Chemed from the (later to be) Israeli Minister of Religious Affairs, Y. L Fishman (Maimon).

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sdei Chemed and the Haskalah periodicals

Awhile back, Onthemainline posted an interesting excerpt from HaMelitz that records what is supposed to be a conversation with Sdei Chemed. This report was spurious and in Igros Sdei Chemed V. 1 pg. 113 there is a letter from his students protesting this libel against their Rebbe.

I noticed the following piece in the memorial volume for Sdei Chemed, Chemdas Yisrael that state that Sdei Chemed would quote and argue with the writers of HaMelitz and HaTzvi (perhaps the cause of the libelous piece posted by S.). The writer claims that these pieces were removed in later editions.

Although I do not have access to a first-edition Sdei Chemed and cannot validate this claim. In a periodical of this same publisher (Sovalski) Knesses HaGedolah there are two very interesting Teshuvos of HaRav Sdei Chemed. On pg. 63 he writes:

הרב המו״ל יצ״ו אמר שכבר העיר ע׳׳ז הרחז״ס בהצפירה כי הכלים האלה דין כלי זכוכית להם עכ״ל ואני לא ראיתי דברי הצפירה בזה (כי אין נמצא בעיר הזאת רק אחת אצל תלמידי יחיו ושאלתים ולא נזכרו אס יש בזה בהצפירה ולא אוכל לידע איה מקום כבודם לעיין בזה)

and on pg. 44 he cites HaMagid and HaTzefirah so it seems that Sdei Chemed had no problem quoting the Haskalah writings in the context of his Teshuvos.

I also noticed a letter of Sdei Chemed in regards to Yishuv Eretz Yisroel here (I do not know if this was republished in Igros Sdei Chemed). This is likely why he was willing to permit his students to eulogize Herz'l (I cannot identify the opposing Ashkenazic R' SA)

Creative Commons License
Ishim V' Shittos by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at