Sunday, September 28, 2008

On Otzar Yisroel

I just saw the part of Prof. Y. S. Spiegel's article in the new Yerushaseinu relating to Otzar Yisroel. He decries the tendency to judge books by their author as opposed to what is written in them. I must say that there is one piece in Otzar Yisroel that almost justifies those who condemn it. I refer to the disgraceful entry on Ramchal where it is written - "לולא תעה בנסתרות כי אז היה למשורר גדול" (and cf. the hesped for Shadal in the next entry - but written by a different author). Otzar Yisroel was a collaborative effort (like JE - R' Eisenstein contributed there but decided to make his own because he felt that it was insufficient.) R' Chaim Hirschenson wrote many of the Halacha related articles and those are of course excellent. But it is clear that some more editorial oversight was in order.

Unfortunately, Menachem Butler's AJhistory blog in no longer online as he had a lot of information on R' Eisenstein.

(He mentions in the article the Beis Vaad that S. discussed in this post.)


Lion of Zion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lion of Zion said...

1) i don't have spiegel's article, but are you sure he is referring to the same beis vaad? there was another beis vaad that was published in america (which itself was a continuation of an earlier european journal)

2) is spiegel's article available online?

3) why the r. before eisenstein? as far as i know he did not have semikha (and he never claimed to have it)

4) i have a lot to say about otzar yisrael, but i will just say a few things.

a) eisenstein should get some slack as he was the publisher and printer, as well as an author and editor. this was a tremendous undertaking (10 vols.!). (he probably also took a loss, as he claimed that he was never paid for the 700 sets he sent to europe)

b) many leading maskilim and academics contributed and/or served as assistant editors.

c) he succeeded where other in europe had failed (e.g., ha-eshkol)

d) otzar yisrael, together with jastrow's dictionary et. al, marked a turning point whereby america emerged as a center of hebraic culture/scholarship

שנה טובה

Anonymous said...

1- Yup! (and another bais vaad in england that i posted about)

3 - to annoy the Karaites ;:

4a - Agreed! Still this was a bit overmuch (for me at least)!

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