Thursday, June 26, 2008

Defense of Torah Temimah Redux

Since Dan Rabinowitz's article on the TT has recently been made freely available on the site (see also the correspondence in the following issue), I'd like to revise one point of my own post on the subject. Essentially, my response to Dr. Shapiro was that it was in fact possible for the Rayna Batya to have found a copy of Mayin Ganim.

At the time I had overlooked D. Rabinowitz's argument (quoted by Dr. Shapiro) that:

"The entire famous Rayna Batya incident must now be called into serious question. Was Rayna Batya so ignorant as to confuse Ma’ayan Gannim with a legitimate book of halakha? How, then, do we reconcile this with her supposed profound learning? It cannot be that R. Epstein was unable to recognize the Ma’ayan Gannim for what it was, for he himself writes that he told his aunt of the true nature of Ma’ayan Gannim. But if he did know what it was, how is it that in his Torah Temima he refers to Ma’ayan Gannim as responsa—and yet in the same paragraph in the Torah Temima he seems to backtrack and wonder how it is that the Ma’ayan Gannim could innovate “new laws about women with reason alone?” The entire Rayna Batya episode is a highly problematic one, raising one perplexing question after another."

Before I begin, I think it is necessary to underscore the main point of my response. That is, that the main difficulty with the TT's seforim is his lack of attention to detail. Essentially, Mekor Baruch is the first "blog" - a string of "posts" on any subject that happened to have caught his mind. I doubt he set about writing it as an academic scholar would go about putting together a scholarly article.

To give another example, he discusses and evaluates (wrongly IMO) Shadal's view of Judaism as a means to develop "Chemlah" in MB citing Igrot Shadal 461 but (and I thank Dr. Shapiro for looking this up for me) the letter there is an entirely irrelevant to that subject, yet this is a main point of Shadal's philosophy and is actually the subject of an extensive dissertation. He cites a story involving the Knesset Yecheskel in the name of the Noda B'Yehuda, etc. ,etc.

Thus, it hardly seems surprising (to me at least) that he would refer to Mayin Ganim as if it were a regular teshuva sefer, even though he was well aware that it could hardly be called such. This is simply another of the type of carelessness that can be seen throughout his books.

"Never put down to evil intent, that which can be explained by..."

I'd also like to 1. point out the following article by Prof. Y. S. Spiegel -, 2. supplement Rabinowitz's footnote 4 with an article in Tesfunos containing the Admor M' Ozhorov's hagahot to Torah Temimah, as well as an article in Paamei Yaakov (no. 4 - published after Rabinowitz's article) containing the same. 3. interestingly, there is a letter in Malki BaKodesh in which the TT asked R' Hirschenson to read the manuscript of MB, not entirely clear for what purpose. 4. apologise for belabouring the subject and promise to let it rest.


MYG said...

Was the TT fluent in Roman numerals? In my edition, at least, letter 461 is CDLXI. Easy to mix up.
Also, I hope you said Bli Neder!

Anonymous said...

What is the problem with the Noda Biyehuda telling over a story about the Knesses Yechezkel?

Anonymous said...

I meant the story concerns the knesset yecheskel and the TT tells it about the NB

Anonymous said...

MYG - Good point. My "edition" also is in Roman numerals. R' S. sent me this link -

MYG said...

Yeah, I have that one, except that it was צולם והודפס מחדש ירושלים תשכ"ז.

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