Thursday, January 29, 2009

R S. R. Hirsch and [R.] A. Geiger - and [R.] Google

Thanks to a combination of Google books and Google Translate. I am sort of able to read some of the fascinating material on Geiger's relationship with R' Hirsch in his Leben in Breifen (also contains some letters to Shadal - and lots of other stuff). A coherent translation of some of this material can be found in Mordechai Breuer's article on R' Hirsch in L. Jung, Guardians of Heritage. Google translate is only somewhat useful as the "backwards I speak" German syntax is preserved but I will place this here anyways as it is very interesting.

First letter (from the Hirsch's Oldenburg period):

The correspondence from Chen R i s is he [p. 38 above],

you have probably read, if not, then yes you rush to read it, because it is a strong revival for the increasingly declining sense of community. Probably to his encouragement (as my friend from Frankfurt writes) "the Jews in Frankfurt, Karlsruhe, the Palatinate and other clubs have formed and are no less objective than the total Emancipation of Jews in Germany to win." Quick now was the message among local Jews and to Eskeles has to Frankfurt colleagues, to give them to collect customer and if the matter confirmed what no doubt is, will the local connection. Nor are the Jews of Baden Chen already at large with Dukes asking for complete equality eingekommen. - You, a stronghold of Israel and certainly not the last of the Jews eventual liberation from the oppressive shackles of desire, which is just only the intellectual development and the truly spiritual life may lead, you will not even the matter, at least, the effect of connecting your community so that the immoral usury ausgetilgt the perishable, that true education finally penetrate and that miserable, shallow nature, both by the indifference of all Higher trade with a merenational, as well as by lack of opportunity for dignified training arises, stop, and Israel is celebrating its determination could approach? Their communities have certainly little trouble with gaining their full rights, because the Grand Duke and a very liberal sense, but also a lot of sweetness against the Jews proves. Would the Jews but the whole of Germany finally scbmählichen their bondage by efforts of any kind to an end, and indeed they may, in the current liberal, is vigorously developing and advancing time! Do you think this matter is not for your professional and secular not appropriate, because is not mental and physical freedom precisely together and gave us not the story in its references to the flower of the Jews in Spain and to the medieval darkness that adequately taught in Germany? If you're a bit can help, what a reward awaits

Your! --

(apparently a postscript)
Excellent is a larger philosophical direction for now and look at all the things of this position from that which brought me this semester. It has thus a unity both in my Gemüthe, as in my work, which are not unlike fruitful can be. Not true, dearest Hirsch, you have me at our first meeting, because I still in the shackles philological Kleinigkeitsjagd was beaten quite often have to be ridiculed. Admittedly there has been an interest therein which does not perish, but everything is subordinated to a higher purpose, and the smallest note in the language 'wins new life by going back to their origin from the human spirit and how this is just their own view of things and of life in every nation abspiegelt. - Frensdorff and I live in beautiful harmony and friendship among amusement fierce disputes over a Chatef Segol, etc. together. During this holiday we read together, the Kantian critique of Dr. Bobrik, I read two of my staff in the Arabic of the Quran Vineyards, voted for me again More Nebuchim started, which I with much pleasure (in literary-historical sense) almost up to the end of the first Theil read. - Dr. Lövy, a rabbi in Ulfeid is below the two disputes Partheien with the largest, almost indescribable Pompe rabbi to have been used in Fürth, Fürth in mind! - Our private club speakers bloom beautifully continued, although he still received no increase, and some of them in free and some speeches written exercises in the orator muse and your friends to a large Theile catch back to the latter, the upper hand to win .... What I meant by "a Realisirung Hope" wanted, I really do not now, but you, Best, know that my hope is now not at obtaining a job and probably only on some one proficiency relates .... I have a few days ago with a very own kind of fun to read a book whose reading I wish you well. It is called "philosophy of history or tradition. Frankfurt a. M. Verlag der Buchhandlung Hermann'schen. 1827 '. It is, as I know, Professor Molitor in Frankfurt. You get the same by such a strange mystical contemplation of the newer driving time and it has, in my perhaps at this point most of you such a different view striking juxtaposition worthy of deep and ideas alongside baroque mind jumps that psychologically it certainly is odd. Live well.

Second letter:

S. R. Hirsch. Wiesbaden, 24 March 1833.
That Bangigkeit also a certain pleasure in this mix [in the joy of Geiger's employment] - who wanted to give you this verargen. If you are not from that cold, pale and lifeless indifference taken who is on the religious life with jen <> r superklugen contempt hinabsieht not the same as the most beautiful T31üthe, but as a manifestation of weakness of the human heart sees - how should the matter be on how and unstable nature is knitted? The would rather calmly, albeit with frustration, to those Nichtsthuer which all its own development course leave hinsehen; aher of those whose strong desire is known to him, he'd like to first, the firm assurance that they act in accordance with the Truth, not forcibly uprooting, not violent, are not forced to build. Whether these Bangigkeit but not too far from you is whether they have an insurmountable lead of censure, whether you are paying too much on the correctness of their view and insist Andersgesinnten almost discarded as a bad shepherd, I would like you to consider. Schön is fighting for his view, it is nice if the human mind and Gemüth is merged so that his thoughts and his feelings at the same time and in any conflict is reconciled to him, it is laudable, the light-minded and Willensschlecbten who are in crowd in the effectiveness of the larva to snatch them and their Gehaltlosigkeit or behind the dissemination of good hidden self to show, but everywhere, where a pure, good will to come forward, because I warn him welcome; That is our ultimate goal of a "think so I then, yes, we want all the real good move, it is a serious quest for the sense of a serious and religious Gemüth herstammt, and there is also the true religious feeling awakened, nourished and strengthened. Maybe even the direction is often a different, is that only justified what the only true direction must produce only so this will also be accepted. That I am effective in life that is closer, which in its serious concern at the same time also theilt my view, the next target in the same eye has the same means of achieving the same applies - as it would be possible otherwise? The effectiveness of the others, with the sprightly character, but not with the same next intentions are, I notice with Betrübniss, and my friend sorry for not to the manner and increasing, not because of wickedness, but the shortsightedness of the welfare but why not have the unwavering hope that any good from this care rises, albeit just not wanted. As much as I am also my own personal conviction is not merely mind thing, but deeply overgrown with my personality is so much a quest opposite me sometimes very grieved, so I have always this consolation: it stems from the good good intentions. But those who with wicked recklessness to the sublime daring, with the loose earth with wickedness and cunning selfishness calculate the holiest to ensure their petty advantages desecrate this, I would punish with sharp Geissel. - Now that the bodies of youth to mature age is called, friend, it's true, it has sadden many, and delicious, that people of mature age, so completely and utterly not suck, but, however, is the selfless devotion, even in this Was just to find. Still full of his quest, and with very ungeschwächter power, he's now at work, with no overwhelming obstacles to become the living fire of youth, with the cautious man of the paired, Nöthiger is. Believe me, that I seriously considered and I am exquisitely asked me whether these two essential conditions are not missing, because I do not quite have missed, I happily took the chair at which I become if I do not, therefore, certainly more right to eliminate the suspicion against me than you have, it is the diversity of opinion, which I made this step easier than perhaps you, I was aware of a good will, I had mapped out a path, and now I should consider whether the fact all my hopes do not lie penalty. And, God, it punishes not lying! I think the few months before they are useless here to have been brought, and though inconspicuous in germination and in tiny circles all hopes still lie buried, but then, I hope that the germs with due care, which I certainly can not be hervorsprossen and flowers and fruit to Daylight's support. You might say: yes, who with so much carelessness in the matter is, who is such a large, over appreciable self-confidence brings, which will of course also results over its effectiveness to see to believe. I would be very wrong urtheilen if this dächten. Light, cheerful spirit, I thank God, but where it is the seriousness, but this remains to be carried out, often it may also give a, with a larger, internal distrust against authority, although this is not always maintained itself; and what the flattering Vorspiegelungen concerned, I have the success of my efforts do so giebt is certainly little more sober people than I am, can not imagine that the word should be pushed into the heart, the doctrine must have worked

Descriptions of Hirsch taken from various letters:

Among these I call first S. Scheyer, who despite many theologians sway remained, and despite some jealousies and disputes with the acquaintance I was upright, then p. li. Hirsch '). He has great influence on me and sent me here in Bonn, which made life very pleasant. Bernays Hirsch was in Hamburg in a peculiar direction has been pushed, he had an excessive veneration of the Bible and those aftermarket philology in the same declaration was adopted. I had him seen in Heidelberg, where he was from Mannheim from ours. Community halibut friend visited had had him in Bonn

One evening, when we work together in the lecture went home, we talked of Goethe's poetry and truth, which I had read told us each of our circumstances, both the defendant standing alone Jewish theologians and agreed to a speaker to form association. I moved yet Ullmann and Hess added that they agreed willingly, and so we came four, which soon followed Scheyer in fifth, on Sunday the 6th December 1829 in my cellar and decided to us every Saturday in my office to gather, preaching alternately to keep the same strict recensiren. The following semester Frensdorff occurred and Rosenfeld added.

[Continued from 30 August 1830.] This association wishes viölleicht determined by Einfiuss to me and some he brought me with deer in close friendship connection and some friends, he looked at me with the theology and some he granted me the benefit and pleasure. After the deer had first speech (12th December), I recensirte on the following Thursday and said my opinion, both on the whole, than about the individual in homiletischer, philosophical and linguistic terms. We had a very long dispute in which I found his extraordinary public Beredtsamkeit, his acumen, his clear and quick capture learned to know and admire, but those disputes are not brought us closer, because sometimes the religious side was touched, and I, although I am always informed by the views only of the Jewish religion, was his view, not infrequently through the mine had come close. But we are approaching more and more and some by a joint review of the sermon of a third party and some of its cheap and nice determination of my sermon (January 2, 1830) and some by the fact that we are still in the same winter and summer in the following semester jointly cursors Thalmud read (Tractate Sebachim). Thus gradually mutual respect and love. I respected his exquisite spiritual gifts, his strict virtue and loved his good heart and he respected him my not quite reprehensible schein installations, loved my openness and my youthful mirth. His treatment was very useful and enjoyable.

The speaker was club for me Theil by Exercise in one finds the happiest and most open Gemüthlichkeit, the friendliest people and all the benevolent kindness make him very lovable, and his wonderful knowledge, which he regularly by a casual study on the patriotic Johanneum and by dealing with a trusted Bernays is acquired, making it highly appreciate worth. He has a healthy mind, good mental facilities, an excellent Fleiss and the noblest views, his religious views are, and what he learned by Bernays, but he's extravaganzas Hirsch alien. I love him very much, will try to religious groups for him and I with him even in scientific terms in the sequence closer to connect, since deer are likely soon, a place to stand a rabbi, is leaving the university.
We are seven comrades united; Hirsch studied under these positive religion on the way to justify the speculation, it is in philosophical investigations in the pulpit On; investigated the Ullmann Gemüth to pack, but often for nothing, can be quite good at Seheyer Alignment not encourage, Hess has no concept of a Fredigt; taught to speak Frensdorff; Rosenfeld is shallow and confused. We are deprived of the inspiring designs and inspired by a master, and when I look at it better flatterer macheu how easy it can be a Eitler delusion, an empty Vorspieglung be my own conceit. If but once a Jewish seminar at a university would be built where exegesis, and for Homiletik now Thalmud and Jewish history in true religious spirit would be carried forward, it would be the most fertile and instructive institution!

[For an earlier post on Geiger - see here]

Monday, January 26, 2009

Learning Kesubos the academic way - a comment on Ranon Katzoff's JQR article on P. Yadin 21

I mentioned in my earlier post that I had caught an error in Katzof's article. I will quote some arts of the article and then demonstrate why I believe the is mistaken.

Katzoff's article revolves around a document discovered by Yadin in the Judean desert. This is a contract with a date-picker which I will quote in full:

Year fourteen of Imperator Hadrian Caesar Augustus, (11) in the
consulship of Marcus Flavius Aper and Quintus Fabius Catullinus,three days before the Ides of September, according to the numbering of the new province of Arabia year twenty-five, (12) on the twenty-fourth of Gorpiaios, (13) in Maoza in the district of Zoora,Simon son of Jesus son of Ananias(? (14)) to Babathas daughter of Simon, both domiciled in Maoza, greeting.

I [Simon] acknowledge that I have bought from you [Babatha] the date crop of the orchards of Judah son of Khthousion, your late husband, in Maoza, called Pherora orchard and Nikarkos orchard (15) and the third called Molkhaios's, which properties you distrain, as you say, in lieu of your dowry (16) and debt [owed you]. (17) For the aforesaid year I will pay to you for the said orchards forty-two talents (18) of first and second "splits" (19) and of Syrian (20) and Naaran(?) (21) [dates] two koroi (22) and five sata, (23) weighing them for you in your house by the scales of Maoza and likewise measuring them for you in your house by the measure of Maoza, [all done] through my guarantor and surety Sammouos(? (24)) son of Menahem of the said Maoza. Whatever is over and above in the aforesaid orchards, those dates I will take unto myself in return for my labors and expenses. And if I do not provide you with the aforesaid dates in full at drying time, I will give you for each several talent [of "splits"] two denarii and of Syrian and Naaran(?) one "black." (25) Both upon myself and upon my property or from my guarantor, from whichever the person acting through or for wishes, right of execution shall be valid everywhere, the formal question having in good faith been asked and acknowledged in reply.
(26) [second hand, Aramaic] Shim'on son of Yeshu'a: I have purchased from Babatha (Witnesses:) (one or more names missing) Yeshu'a son of Yeshu'a, witness Yohsef son of
Hananiah, witness [first hand, Greek] Written by Germanos, librarius Yehohanan son of Menahem, witness

On the back: Shammu'a son of Menahem has written: talents forty and ... k(ors) two se'ahs five.

The one added sentence in P. Yadin 22 is: ... I [Babatha] shall clear the right to the aforesaid orchards foryou [Simon] of every counterclaimant, and if anyone enters a counterclaim against you because of your purchase and I do not firmly validate [it] for you as aforestated, I shall be owing to you in return for your labors and expenses twenty silver denarii, interposing no objection.

The question is:

There is something very odd here. Simon buys the date crop and pays for the dates with those self-same dates! "Who would sell a crop of dates in exchange for dates?" asks Benjamin Isaac. (27) Furthermore, as we read down in the document, Simon says, "Whatever is over and above in the aforesaid orchards, those dates I will take unto myself in return for my labors and expenses." What does Simon mean, we ask, "in return for my labors and expenses"? They are his dates; he just bought them..... (See at length for various difficulties with this document).

Katzoff's suggestion:

He points to the Mishna in Kesubot that says:

(mKet 9.3): [A man died leaving a wife, a creditor and heirs] ... If he left produce detached from the ground, the one who seized first keeps what he seized ... The excess, R. Tarfon says, should be given to the weaker party. R. Akiva says, There is to be no mercy at law.The property is to be given to the heirs, for all the others must take an oath [in order to collect], but the heirs need not take an oath.

Katzoff suggests (based on R' Akiva's alleged connection to Bar Kochba with which Babatha is also associated - see earier post) that Babatha would not be able to collect the dates once they were harvested for her Kesubah, as per R' Akiva. In order to evade this - "She sells the fruit on the tree, (67) for so long as it is attached to the tree rooted in the ground it is considered landed property, (68) and she has the right to sell it."

I think Katzoff misread the source in his footnote 6, this says: (68.) The Talmud Bavli at bKet 51a considers applying to collection for alimentation a rule, "What is ready to be reaped is considered reaped," associated with R. Meir in dispute with others, mShev 6.6 with bShev 43a, but dismisses it in connection with dates. "

This is an incorrect reading, the Talmud actually says:
ההוא דאתא לקמיה דרב יוסף אמר להו הבו לה מתמרי דעל בודיא אמר ליה אביי אילו בעל חוב הוה כי האי גוונא מי הוה יהיב ליה מר אמר ליה דחזייא לבודיא קאמינא סוף סוף כל העומד לגזוז כגזוז דמי דצריכא לדיקלא קאמינא

This means that as long as the dates are ripened (which in this case they were as they were ready to be picked), the widow would not be able to collect. Of course, Katzoff can still apply his theory by suggesting that R' Yosef's law is a later Amoraic addition but this is already difficult.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Some materials relating to Samson Raphael Hirsch

The Hirsch Jubilee volume - I do not know if all of the letters here have been translated and Google translate can only do so much. There is lots of important stuff here.

Hirsch vs. Holdheim - I think this has been republished in Collected writings (See here).

Thursday, January 22, 2009

על המונח 'ממש' בפירושי רש"י

על המונח 'ממש' בפירושי רש"י

ישעיהו לוי

בגל' 36 , עמ' 6 נדרש שי עקביא ווזנר אל רש"י לשמות ז, ד, אשר על
הכתוב "ונתתי את ידי במצרים" מעיר: "'את ידי' - יד ממש להכות בהם".
שי עקביא דוחה מיד - ובצדק - כל מחשבה לייחס לפירוש מגמת האנשה
(אנתרופומורפיזם), והוא מסיק שלא בא רש"י אלא להבחין בין לשון
מושאל שנשאר מושאל, ובין השאלה שבעקבות ההרגל כבר נחלטה
לשואל והפכה לו נרדף. רש"י מלמדנו - כך שי עקביא - שעל אף ש"יד"
מושאלת ל'מכה', היא עדיין אינה נרדפת ל'מכה', והיד נותרה איפוא "יד
ממש". לשי עקביא כבר קדם, לפחות בגרעין הרעיון, יצחק ברוך רוזנבלום
בגל' 24 , עמ' 5.

אולם רחוק כמדומה שרש"י יידחק למה ששי עקביא כינה "דקויות אלו",
להבדיל את "המשמעות המטאפורית" (השאלה) מן "המשמעות המילונית"
(נרדף; המנוחים שבמרכאות הם של שי עקביא), בעוד לשון המקרא נראה מתוקן
בין כה וכה. לעניות דעתי רש"י נזקק ב-ז, ד, לקושי העולה שם משיטתו
במקום אחר. והוא, שלהלן יד, לא, וכפי שהביאו י"ב וש"ע ברשימותיהם,
על הכתוב, "וירא ישראל את היד הגדלה אשר עשה ה' במצרים", פירש
רש"י: "את הגבורה הגדולה שעשתה ידו של הקדוש ברוך הוא, והרבה
לשונות נופלין על לשון 'יד' וכולן לשון יד ממש הן, והמפרשו יתקן הלשון
אחר ענין הדבור". יצחק ברוך הבין נכונה שתכלית התיקון היא להשלים את
המשפט בתיבה חסרה, נסמכת ל"יד", שהמקרא קיצר ודילגה. אותה תיבה
תימָצא רק מתוך ההקשר - "אחר ענין הדבור". כך, "היד הגדלה אשר עשה
ה' במצרים" היא גבורת היד הגדולה, שהרי הגבורה היא שראו ישראל והיא
שנעשתה במצרים לעיניהם. או בדוגמא שלא מן המקרא: אדריכל כי יעמוד
לצד מבנה חדש, ויאמר בהצביעו עליו, "זה ידי", יובן שכוונתו, "זה הבנין
מעשה ידי". אלא שב-ז, ד, מבשר הקב"ה למשה קודם המעשה, "ונתתי
את ידי במצרים", ועדיין לא נחתה עליהם שום מכה. אילו ביקשנו גם כאן
נסמך נסתר שישמש מושא לפועל "נתתי", יכולנו רק לקוות שהרמז הוא
לגבורת ידי או מכת ידי או שאר לשונות שהוראתן רעה למצרים, אבל מתוך
ההקשר המצומצם - "אחר ענין הדבור" - אין הכרע נגד הוראה הפוכה,
טובה למצרים, כגון מתנת ידי, וכמו "יין מלכות רב כיד המלך" (אסתר א, ז),
אשר משמעו "אחר ענין הדבור" - כמתת יד המלך. לא ניתן איפוא לראות
ב"ונתתי את ידי" ניב המתפרש מתוך הקשרו.

לפיכך כותב רש"י שזאת הפעם "ידי" אמנם איננה "לשון יד ממש", כי אם
"יד ממש" כמשמעה. אל לנו לבקש נסמך ל"ידי", כי לא איזה מושא עלום,
אלא היד בעצמה היא שתינתן במצרים. "'ונתתי את ידי' - ידי ממש להכות
בהם", שכן מכת בשר ודם, המשמשת כאן משל ודימוי למכה מן השמים,
הינה מתן כוחני של היד בגוף הזולת. וגם היום אם יפנה ילד אל המלמד
בתואנה שפלוני חבירו לכיתה "שם בי (או בעגה העכשוית - 'עלי') יד", יובן
בבירור שהילד הוכה.

מיותר להגדיש שוב ש"יד ממש" עליה מדבר רש"י שייכת לַמשל, וכדרך
המקרא לשבר את האוזן בתוארים לקוחים מן ההווי האנושי, ולא אל

(א' מגליוני דאצה)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

R' Akiva, Bar Kochba ,and lots of frogs

סנהדרין סז: ותעל הצפרדע ותכס את ארץ מצרים אמר ר' אלעזר צפרדע אחת היתה השריצה ומלאה כל ארץ מצרים כתנאי רבי עקיבא אומר צפרדע אחת היתה ומלאה כל ארץ מצרים אמר לו רבי אלעזר בן עזריה עקיבא מה לך אצל הגדה כלה מדברותיך ולך אצל נגעים ואהלות צפרדע אחת היתה שרקה להם והם באו

I once heard a rather cute explanation that attempts to give the surprisingly vehement response to R' Akiva explanation a historical basis (although it doesn't work for the similar Gemara in Chagigah, see also Chasam Sofer here and this paper). Acording to this explanation , R' Akiva was hinting that the more the Romans oppress, the greater force with which Bar Kochba's rebels will arise against them. To this R' Eliezer is saying that in the case of the frogs - one called the other - which doesn't apply to Bar Kochba who had no further support to call upon.

As is known, the connection between R Akiva and Bar Kochba has been subject of some dispute among historians - R' Yitzhak cited this source in an Avodah posting:

"See, e.g., Ben-Zion Rosenfeld's article "The Sages in the Generation of Bar Kochva and their Relations to the Revolt Based on Tannaitic Literature" in "Ohev Shalom: Mehkarim Le'Kevodo Shel Yisrael Friedman Ben-Shalom", who begins by pointing out that the majority of sources consulted by scholars for information on the relationship of R. Akiva and his contemporaries to Bar Kochva and his revolt are from theTalmudic and later Medrashic literature, which are dated generations after the events, and he then struggles mightily to mine the earlier Tannaitic \ literature for more contemporary information. Ultimately, he has very little success in finding any concrete reference to the rebellion in those earlier sources (at least according tomy fairly brief perusal of the article); the best he can do is to argue that given the apparently religious natures of Bar Kochva and his comrades, and the importance of R. Akiva and his colleagues as religious authorities, we must assume that those Sages at least tolerated, if not actually supported him, since otherwise the revolt's apparentorganizational and logistical success would not have been possible."

Here is a cute but very weak attempt to find a source from the coins minted by Bar Kochva:

From R. Katzoff - P. Yadin 21 and Rabbinic law on widows' rights - JQR '07

Second, the association of a juristic opinion of R. Akiva with P. Yadin 21-22 raises an intriguing issue. As is well known, rabbinic tradition (yTa'an 4.8 68d) portrays R. Akiva as a particularly ardent supporter of Bar Kokhba, more than other rabbis, going so far as to declare him the messiah. Though this in itself does not mean that R. Akiva had any leadership role in the rebellion as such, it has long been commonly held that he did. (76) During the last century there have been voices of dissent, some even declaring the tradition in the passage cited above to be unhistorical, thereby removing R. Akiva's name entirely from any connection to Bar Kokhba. (77) On the other hand, there have also been recent vigorous defenses of the former view. (78) Archaeological finds, I suggest, may point to a particular association of the Bar Kokhba movement and R. Akiva's halakhah.

First, a pair of coins provide a poignant illustration. A coin of the fourth year of the Great Revolt depicting on its reverse the "four species" of the Tabernacles festival, lulav, etrog, myrtle, and willow, in a basket-holder, (79) is clearly the model for a similar undated coin of Bar Kokhba (as well as one of the latter's second year).80 However, the lush profusion of vegetation depicted on the earlier coin, symbolizing victory and fecundity, is replaced on the later coin by anemic-looking single blades of palm, myrtle, and willow, barely identifiable as such; the pair of etrogim arranged symmetrically about the basket-holder in the earlier coin is replaced by a single asymmetrically positioned etrog on the later coin. What was lost in aesthetics was to be gained by "halakhic correctness," according to the halakhah of R. Akiva, in dispute with R. Tarfon (and R. Ishmael), recorded in mSuk 3.4:81 "R. Akiva says, as one palm branch and one etrog, so one myrtle twig and one willow twig."


E.g., Louis Ginzburg, The Jewish Encyclopedia (1901) s.v. Akiba ben Joseph, 1:304-10 at 305; Isaak Halevy, Dorot Harischonim: Die Geschichte und Literatur Israels (Hebrew; Berlin, 1923), 1:626-29; G. S. Alexandrov, "The Role of 'Aqiba in the Bar Kokhba Rebellion," in J. Neusner, Eliezer ben Hyrcanus: The Tradition and the Man, (Leiden, 1973), 2:422-36; David Goodblatt, "Did the Tannaim Support Bar-Kokhba?" (Hebrew), Cathedra 29 (1983): 6-12; idem, "The Title Nasi and the Ideological Background of the Second Revolt" (Hebrew), The Bar Kokhva Revolt: A New Approach, 113-32 at 124-26; idem, The Monarchic Principle: Studies in Jewish Self-Government in Antiquity (Tubingen, 1994), 256. Menachem Mor, The Bar-Kochba Revolt: Its Extent and Effect (Hebrew; Jerusalem, 1991), 218-23; Peter Schafer, Studien zur Geschichte und Theologie des rabbinischen Judentums (Leiden, 1978), 86-90; idem, "Rabbi Aqiva and Bar Kokhba," in Approaches to Ancient Judaism II, ed. W. S. Green (Missoula, Mont., 1980), 113-30 at 117-19; idem, Der Bar Kokhba-Aufstand: Studien zum zweiten judischen Krieg gegen Rom (Tubingen, 1981), 168-69; idem "Bar Kokhba and the Rabbis," The Bar Kokhba War Reconsidered, 1-22.

(78.) E.g., Israel Ben-Shalom, "The Support of the Sages for Bar-Kokhba's Revolt" (Hebrew), Cathedra 29 (1983): 13-28; Ben-Zion Rosenfeld, "Ha-h. akhmim be-doro shel Bar Kokhva ve-yah. asam la-mered al pi sifrut ha-tanaim," in The Path of Peace: Studies in Honor of Israel Friedman Ben-Shalom, ed. D. Gera and M. Ben-Zeev (Beer Sheva, 2005), 319-59. Noah Hacham, "Rabban Simeon Son of Gamaliel in Beitar" (Hebrew), Tarbiz 74 (2005): 547-64.

This article (attempting to explain a strange contract from the Babatha Archives - discovered in a cave in the Judean desert - on the basis of Akivian Halacha) bases itself on a mistaken reading of Tractate Kesubot. I hope to write on this at some future time.
[Update: Ari Kahn has an interesting discussion on this Gemara at his blog - here]

Letter relating to Mekor Baruch?

ברשותי נמצא מכתב של המחבר הנ"ל, אותו שלח לא' הרבנים שכפה"נ ביקר בחריפות את הספר, במכתב הוא מרבה להתנצל על עצם החיבור וכן על סגנונו, בין היתר הוא מנסה לשוות לספר תדמית של ספר תורני, ומציין מספר זעום של מקומות בהם ניתן למצוא נושאים תורניים... מה שדי ברור מהמכתב זה שהוא נפגע עד מאוד מאותה ביקורת.

I saw the above on this thread and contacted its author. If I'm lucky he will get back to me, as this would be an important letter. Thatg R' Epstein had come doubts about publishng a popular work such as Mekr Baruch is clear from the apology in the beginning as well as from the fact that he first sent the mss. to R' Chaim Hirschenson to review (see Malki BaKodesh 6)
R' Yosef Dov Soloveitchik and the (Ultra) Orthodox

Monday, January 19, 2009

אברבנאל על צפרדעא

Abravanel (or Abarbanel) accepts the explanation of Ibn Ezra that the correct translation should be crocodiles (or alligators) and has a fascinating geographical excursus to support this explanation.

Note the important historical point on the thousand Jewish children who were exiled to this distant alligator infested island in order to convert them to Christianity.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

On R' Zevin's Ishim V' Shitos

I can't tell how accurate this is but it seems worth linking (from Seforim V' Soferim forum)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Saturday, January 10, 2009

R' Yair Chaim Bachrach and Prof. Haym Soloveitchik on the origin of Chumrot

In his landmark essay, Rupture and Reconstruction, H. Soloveitchik suggests that the increase in Chumrot in post--war Orthodoxy is because:

It is this rupture in the traditional religious sensibilities that underlies much of the transformation of contemporary Orthodoxy. Zealous to continue traditional Judaism unimpaired, religious Jews seek to ground their new emerging spirituality less on a now unattainable intimacy with Him, than on an intimacy with His Will, avidly eliciting Its intricate demands and saturating their daily lives with Its exactions. Having lost the touch of His presence, they seek now solace in the pressure of His yoke.

Although he couldn't have known it (as the sefer had not yet been published at the time of the writing of the article), this same theory was suggested close to 300 years ago by R' Yair Chaim Bachrach in his Mekor Chaim. In Siman 215, as part of a discussion of such Chumros as the 100 Berachos every day, or to say a certain amount of times Kaddish and Kedusha is because (as I understand him) people feel a lack of a real spiritual conection in their prayers and attempt to fill this void with added Chumrot. (I would have liked to add a scan but the OC is no longer free.)

A recent BA thesis on Chavos Yair that I'm quite interested in reading has the rather provocative title - Joseph Scherban, "Rabbi Yair Chaim Bachrach: The Life and Thought of a 17th century Jewish Skeptic," (BA thesis, University of Pennsylvania, 2008) - mentioned here. If anyone has it, please do drop me a note.
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