Thursday, April 23, 2009

Is the Moreh Nevuchim a Guide for the "perplexed" - The views of R Y. Sarna and S. Lieberman

In the Preface to his biography of Maimonides, J. Kramer records a conversation he had with Saul Lieberman:

I told him that my main interest was Maimonides' philosophy. He asked me, "For whom did Maimoides write the Moreh Nevukhim"."For the Nevukhim " I responded. "Kraemer," he asked, "do you want to be a Navokh". [Possibly playing with the yiddish word Nebich? - W.], &C.

By contrast, in Volume 5 of R' Yecheske Sarna's Daliyot Yecheskel,there is is a discussion on many important works of Machshavah, including of course the Moreh. Section 3 pg. 148 - 142 is titled "For whom did Maimonides write the Guide."

[I wonder if an analysis of the Biblical trm "Navokh" ( as in) כי נבוכים הם בארץ is relevant or is the Arabic term - دلالة الحائرين - dalālat alḥā’irīn - of greater importance here.]

He argues based on Maimonides' statements in his introduction that the Rambam doesn't write ofr those with mistaken beliefs (תועים) but for those who are of strong belief but are not sure of the correct meaning of various unclear pesukim, and the like.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Yehuda Leib Gordon's series - B'Zchuso Shel Ha Rabonim and ML Lilenbaum's contribution

The initial article (Some of it was too harsh even for HaMelitz and it was ublished as a Hasmatah in HaShachar instead.)

(Note that he castigates R Y Z Stern, (Erez BaLevanon since R YZ Stern had a column there) for some case involoving a Get, also the subject of his Kutzo Shel Yud, (Later, I saw that C. Chamiel, Gevilin 4, עלילת קוצו של יו"ד - already points out the Teshuva inSdei Chemed that I refered too in my earlier post..)

MLL's contribution:


פרידלנדר, יהודה
מאבקו של יהודה ליב גורדון ברבני ליטא : ’בזכותן של הרבנים’
‫ סדן 3 (תשנח) 263-273 ‬
‫ חלק ב: מאבקו של יהודה ליב גורדון ברבני ליטא; ’בינה לתועי רוח’. מווילנה לירושלים (תשסב) 285-313. ‬

‫ נוסח מואר של המאמרים שפורסמו לראשונה ב"המליץ", 1869 ו- 1870-1871. ‬

‫ שני החלקים פורסמו גם בתוך קבץ מאמריו "בין הלכה להשכלה" (תשסד). ‬

for a critical edition that deciphers many of the references.

משיחת חולין (שהן הן גופי תורה) של הראשון לשושלת בריסק

The following story (click to enlarge) was referred to by Y. L. Gordon is his B'Zchus HaRabbonim (post to follow). Does anyone know if any of the Beis HaLevi's biographer's caught this one.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Another parallel between K'sav Yosher and Besamim Rosh

(Following the same line of argumentation in my previous post)

Another target of Rabbi Berlin is the exaggerated value placed on dying for the sake of heaven (K'sav Yosher pg. 4b) and yet again in Besamim Rosh (#301) he tries to undercut this value (See Maharam Beneth's criticism of this Teshuva here)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Possible proof of forgery in Besamim Rosh?

I think that if we can prove that some the Kulos in Besamim Rosh mirror Rabbi Berlin's Reformist agenda as can be seen in his earlier writings that might be a partial proof of forgery. Here is one example:

In his K'tav Yosher ( a fascinating work of its own right) he sarcastically has one of the characters announce (pg. 8):

לו יאבה מלך לתת לי עד חצי המלכות ואשתה מחלב שחלבו גוי לא אעשנו

showing that he places this law on the same basis as, e.g.:

"Did he [Wessely], God forfend, trample upon such good and pleasant customs as swinging a chicken around one's head on the eve of the Day of Atonement striking the floor with a stick at the mention of Haman on Purim, or eating the head of a sheep, cabbage, dates and green vegetables on the New Year?"

and in Besamim Rosh (no. 36) he does cite arguments that would undermine the basis for the law of Chalav Akum.

[NB: But note that Chcham Yosef Messas writes in his Mayim Chaim V. 2 that in Morocco they had an over 300 year old custom to be lenient on Chalav Akum for reasons much like those of R Berlin]

[A copy of R S Berlin's Mitzpeh Yekusiel can be found both at hebrewbooks and JNUL]

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Haggados at Hebrewbooks

There is a wide assortment of Haggados that can be found at (and some on Google Books). I am favoring R' Chaim Hirschenson's Ma HaEdus at the moment (unfortunately the link to R' Yosef Zechariah Stern's Hagada is incorrect). I'd give Mordechai Kaplan's a miss, he substiture Shfoch Chamoscho with a rather trite poem.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

New Seforim at Hebrewbooks

Lots of great stuff in the April update, including: R' Zevin's Ishim V' Shittos, Shir's Nachlat Yehuda containing hasagot to Kunitz's Bar Yochai and his Erech Millin, R Chaim Tchernowitz (Rav Tzair) Siddur Tefillah Shel Toim U' Matim (on Mordechai Kaplan's Siddur) and his Kitzur Talmud (on this work, see his biographical sketch of Mendel Mocher Seforim (Abramowitz) in his Maseches Zichronos - will post later), also a Kitzur Talmud from Ephraim Pinner, some books from R Chaim Hirschenson, and some stuff by Avrohom Berliner, some of Reuvein Margolios's books, Sdeim Chemed's Pekuos HaSadeh which has some interesting letters, some interesting Kuntreisim from R Kook, some of Nosson Birnbaum's Kesavim (on him see the very insightful essay of Moshe Leiter in HaDarom), and lots more.

תשואת חן חן להם

Update: I mentioned Tchernowitz's Kitzur Talmud. The impetus for his work was likely the following conversation with Mendel Mocher Seforim:

Friday, April 3, 2009

R' Mordechai Banet's lists of Kefirah in Besamim Rosh

In Siman 5 of R' Mordechai Baneth's Parshas Mordechai (published post-humously) you have part of a Teshuva delineating many questionable Responsa in Besamim Rosh (see here). Interestingly, there is another list by Rabbi Baneth in והמה בכתובים, העתקות כתבי־יד מנחלת האחים לבית יעללעש pg. 20 (there are many important letters relating to the controversy there). My apologies for the lack of clarity of the scan. If someone has the book and can send me clearer scan, I would update it:

I'm not cerain why he used the term "Minus" for most of this list!! Interesting that it is somewhat different then the list in Parshas Mordechai.

A letter from R' Benet to R Tzvi Hirsch Berlin, the fsther of R Saul can be found here. - literary supplement No. 6 53-55 No. 9 140-141.

On the publisher of this letter, Solomon Rosenthal - See YY Greenwald - Toldot Mishpachat Rosenthal (available at [Update: I see now that this is the very same letter that appears in Parshas Mordechai - of course without credit to Orient.]

[In the same newspaper, I noticed a review of ShuT Chasam Sofer See Issue 15 pg. 247 of the PDF, and an article by Raphael Kirscheim on "Juden und Pesach" pg. 185 (202) of PDF.]

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

In earlier posts, I expressed some unhappiness with the agenda driven scholarship of R Dovid Kamenetsky, it seems I am not alone in this.

Some more photoshopping - R' Falk's influence seems to be on the rise
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Ishim V' Shittos by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at