Sunday, May 31, 2009

פרק בתולדות חייו של הרב בעמח"ס בית הלוי

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Kevin has an important post on the anti-semitic orientation of some biblical scholars.

Or in the oft-cited words of Solomon Schecter - Higher criticism = Higher anti-semitism:

Our great claim to the gratitude of mankind is that we gave to the world the word of God, the Bible. We have stormed heaven to snatch down this heavenly gift, as the Paitanic expression is; we threw ourselves into the breach and covered it with our bodies against every attack; we allowed ourselves to be slain by hundreds and thousands rather than become unfaithful to it; and we bore witness to its truth and watched over its purity in the face of a hostile world. The Bible is our sole raison d'etre, and it is just this which the Higher anti-Semitism is seeking to destroy, denying all our claims for the past, and leaving us without hope for the future.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Warsaw "Black list"

"And we need to strengthen religion.. and we should have a black list, like they had in Warsaw.. and anyone who desecrates Shabbos in public, we will not bury hm, and we will separate him from the rest of Israel..and the bring close those who have severed the cords that attach them to our religion and our Torah, that is against the law.."
If I had time, I would cite sources that show that the vast majority of Posekim vehemently disagree with this position - but anyone is welcome to comment...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Quote of the month

But the academy finds its own way in these things, and often prefers the maunderings of nineteenth centry antisemitic German alcoholics to anything else.


I second!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Does anyone have Ze'ev Rabiner's biography of R Yosef Zecharia Stern? If so, what information is there on R' Yosef Zechariah's wife/ves?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New Hebrewbooks update

I don't have time for a full list but a god many of Leopold (YY) Greenwalds books have been added including his two volume work on the relationship between Bavi and Yerushalmi (see most recently, Alisssa Gray's dissertation for a continuing discussion of the subject) and his books on Hungarian Jewry.

Feel free to comment with any other interesting titles ou might find.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Way cool!!

Check out the - Collection of pictures of Jerusalemites -

This is the first picture I've seen of R' Chaim Hirschenson pg. 15

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A prophecy unfulfilled - on Rachel Morporgo

Morporgo was a great poet (and a bit of a feminist, see this poem which is somewhat similar in style to the beginning of Yeleg's later Kutzo Shel Yud). She was also an adherent of the Kabbalah, and was well-versed in Talmud, Zohar, Chovos HaLevavos and more.

The following "prophecy" seems to be predicting some type of war between the Arabs and the Germans [?]

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ephraim Deinard on Abraham Geiger

See Wiki for some biographical info on Ephraim Deinard who was one of the most interesting people of the last century (you can read some of his stuff over at Ben Yehuda and more at Google Books and Hathi).

In the second volume of his Memoirs he has a sort of Shem HaGedolim on the scholars and Rabbis of his century. I place the entry on Avrham Geiger here as it sort of mirrors the complexity of the man as I discussed in my earlier post on Geiger.)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

HaMayaan and more Hebrewbooks.

Rav Tzair reviews a new issue of Ha'Mayaan. updates with Saul Lieberman's Tosefos Rishonim as well as Chazon Yechesekel from Dayan Abramsky, Kitvei R' Yosef Dov M' Wurzberg, Yashar Regio's Toras Elokim (his commentary on Chumash), Bernard Revel's edition of Targum Yonoson (his doctorate on Targum Yonoson is available at Google books), J D Eisensteins Tamtzis Shulchan Aruch, Toldos R' Akiva Eiger put together by his sons, an edition of Agudah with notes by R Y C Sonnefeld (which is weird because I think R' Chaim Hirschenson also published a part of Agudah in the back of his Chiddushei Racha on Chumash, but perhaps that was a different Sefer), and much more

The first electric generator - the Mishkan (or not)

A rather amusing article in the Edison Monthly. A whole book by Imber written along the same lines was published as Master of Hope
I think that he is confusing statement concerning Har HaMoriah mentioned here, משם תצא הוראה with משם תצא אור ?

Friday, May 1, 2009

R AY Heschel's and Torah Min HaShamayim

Hirhurim posts a mini-review of the translation of A Y Heschel's Torah Min HaShamayim. (I highly suggest that anyone who can seek out the Hebrew original as the beauty of Heschel's Melitzah, as well as many of the notes, is lost in the translation.)

Here is Lieberman's opinion of the book(s).

I agree with Hirhurim that Heschel doesn't seem to have made any especial effort to connect the transmittor of the pericope with a specific shool. Eg. He will quote a "rationalist" statement of R' Huna and then place it within the school of R' Yishmael without showing how R' Huna would e connected with the disciples of R' Yishmael.

A more significant criticism can be found in Menachem Kahana's entry on Midrashei Halachot in NEJ. Here is a relevant quote:

"R. Ishmael and R. Akiva also differ regarding the permissibility of expounding certain topics in public. R. Ba, in the name of Rav Yehuda (TJ Hagigah 2:1, 77a), attributes the law in M. Hagigah 2:1: "The forbidden sexual relationships may not be expounded before three persons" solely to R. Akiva, and as opposed to the opinion of R. Ishmael. Sifra (from the school of R. Akiva) accordingly did not include expositions regarding the forbidden sexual relationships in the portions of Aḥarei Mot (Lev. 18:7–23) and Kedoshim (Lev. 20:10–21), while the second midrash on Leviticus (from the school of R. Ishmael) does contain in these portions expositions of this subject, some of which were artificially included in several manuscripts of Sifra. Several explanations were offered for the reason behind this disagreement. I maintain that R. Akiva's position is to be understood in light of his extreme exegesis and his fear that the publicizing of such expositions on the subject of forbidden sexual relationships, that human nature craves, was liable to result in licentious behavior "and may come to permit that which is prohibited," in the words of TB (Hagigah 11b) on this mishnah. In contrast, R. Ishmael, who adopted a more moderate exegetical method, did not fear publicly expounding the passage of forbidden sexual relationships, presenting its prohibitions and concessions based on his hermeneutical rules. The halakhah in M. Hagigah loc. cit that "the Story of Creation is not expounded before two" is similarly attributed by R. Ba in the name of Rav Yehuda in TJ idem as following the view of R. Akiva exclusively, in opposition to the opinion of R. Ishmael. This dispute is reflected in the disagreement between the two tannaim concerning the legitimacy of the exposition in Gen. R., p. 12, of the word "et" in Gen. 1:1. R. Akiva explains his position that the word is intended to prevent an erroneous Gnostic interpretation, that "we would say that the heaven and earth also are divinities," and therefore nothing can be derived from it, while R. Ishmael has no qualms in expounding the word et in this problematic verse of the act of Creation. Gen. R. p. 206 and p. 574 also contains a similar disagreement between these tannaim concerning the exposition of the word "et" in two other verses that are likely to be understood as supporting the view of the heretics; here as well, the dispute between R. Akiva and R. Ishmael is based in the different nature of the hermeneutical method of each Tanna. R. Ishmael was not wary of expounding these verses, while R. Akiva was apprehensive that the public exegesis of such sensitive verses in accordance with his extreme expositional method would be liable to serve as justification for the extreme interpretations of the heretics, following their methodology, and he therefore refrained from expounding them in public.

In light of the above, we cannot accept the opinion of Heschel that R. Ishmael was a rationalist who vigorously opposed esoteric expositions of the Torah and matters that cannot be attained by the intellect. More generally, the drawing of unnecessary connections between simple and literal interpretation and religious rationalism should be avoided."
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