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The Rogochover and More: Excursus on Fasting

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 14:25:00 +0000

The Rogochover and More: Excursus on FastingMarc B. ShapiroRelevant to what appeared in the last post (see note 13), I wish to mention some leniencies regarding fast days that contradict mainstream halakhah. I have also included other interesting material regarding the fast days.1. R. Israel Jacob Fischer, dayan on the beit din of the Edah Haredit, stated that in our day all pregnant women up until the ninth month must eat on Yom Kippur פחות מכשיעור. See his haskamah to R. Baruch Pinchas Goldberg, Penei Barukh (Jerusalem, 1985), where he writes:כיום הזה שנחלשו הדורות, ועשרות רבות של נשים מפילות ע"י התענית, צריכין כל הנשים המעוברות עד החודש התשיעי לאכול ביוהכ"פ פחות מכשיעור.For a criticism of this great leniency, which contradicts Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayyim 617:1, see R. Eliezer Waldenberg, Tzitz Eliezer, vol. 17, no. 20. Elsewhere, R. Fischer states that pregnant women are forbidden to fast on Tisha be-Av.מעוברת אסורה להתענות בת"ב, ואין כאן דין שיעורים, כי במקום סכנה לא גזרו חז"לSee Even Yisrael, vol. 9, no. 62. This too is at odds with Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayyim 554:5, which rules that pregnant women are obligated to fast on Tisha be-Av.In an article on the OU website[1] R. Y. Dov Krakowski writes:There are those who are Noheg that pregnant women do not even begin to fast on Tisha B’Av (there is very little if any Halachik backing to this hanhaga, but many of the chosheve senior Poskim have such a Mesorah. I have personally heard this from many family members who heard this from my great uncle the Veiner [!] Rov Zetzal and from my wife’s grandfather Harav Lipa Rabinowitz who says it in the name of his grandfather the Sundlander Rov Zatzal).R. Yosef David Weissberg also reports that many halakhic authorities rule that in contemporary times pregnant women are not obligated to fast on Tisha be-Av.[2]2. R. Akiva Joseph Schlesinger writes that he has a tradition from the Hatam Sofer that pregnant and nursing women should only fast on Yom Kippur, and even women who are not pregnant should only fast on Tisha be-Av and the other fast days if they are very healthy.[3] He also quotes an oral tradition from the Hatam Sofer which seems to be saying that if he had the authority, he would have abolished the fast days other than Yom Kippur and Tisha be-Av. (See note 4 for another source where the Hatam Sofer says this explicitly.)ובפרט אחרי כי בא חולשא לעולם, שמענו מהחת"ס זיע"א שאמר אי לאו דמיסתפינא כלפי ד' תעניות חוץ מיוהכ"פ ות"ב מטעם חשש סכנה לכמה בני אדם, ובפרט לנשים ה' ירחם, ולא להניח לבנותיו להתענות חוץ מהנ"ל.His last words are not entirely clear. I think they mean that he would have preferred not to allow his daughters to fast except on Yom Kippur and Tisha be-Av, but not that he did so in practice. He does not say ולא הניח לבנותיו but ולא להניח לבנותיו.The editor adds a note explaining the passage just quoted, but he misunderstands what R. Schlesinger means when he writes .מטעם חשש סכנה לכמה בני אדם He also mistakenly understands the passage to mean that the Hatam Sofer forbade all women to fast, other than on Yom Kippur and Tisha be-Av.כאן כתב רבינו פסק החת"ס לענין שאר תעניות, דהיה אוסר להתענות לכל הנשים ואפילו למי שאינם מעוברות ומניקות, ולאנשים היה מתיר לכמה בני אדם אי לא דמסתפינא, אבל לנשים החליט להיתר.R. Schlesinger also states that the rabbis did not allow women to fast except for Yom Kippur and Tisha be-Av.בענין התעניות, בחולשתינו, רבותינו לא הניחו לנשים ל[...]



A Letter Concerning Prof. Marc Shapiro’s book "Changing the Immutable"

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 19:06:00 +0000

A Letter Concerning Prof. Marc Shapiro’s book Changing the ImmutableBy Eli Meyer Cohen כבוד...אחדשה"ט, ברצוני להעיר כמה הערות בנוגע למש"כ מרק שפירא אודות הדברים המובאים בפי' ר' יהודה החסיד. שלדעת גדולי פוסקי הדור ההוא הגר"מ פיינשטיין, הגרש"ז אויערבאך, הגרי"ש אלישיב והגרי"י ווייס בעל מנחת יצחק ז"ל, נדפסו שם דברי כפירה  והיות שיודע אני שבטח כבודו יערוך ביקורת כללית על ספרו, חושבני שדברים אלו יהיו לתועלת עבודתו.ראשית אציג רקע היסטורי לסיפור. הדבר קרה בשנת תשל"ו, כפי שמפורש בשני התשובות שכ' הגרמ"פ באג"מ יו"ד ח"ג סימנים קי"ד – קט"ו. התשובה הראשונה נכתבה לר' דניאל לוי בסוף אדר ראשון, והשניה נכתבה להגרש"ז אויערבאך בח"י תמוז. אני למדתי אז בארץ וידידי ר' בערל פיינשטיין נכדו של הגרמ"פ הגיע ארצה ואמר לי שהראש ישיבה נתן לו שליחות להוליך מכתב בענין זה להגרשז"א ולרב אלישיב, ואכן כן עשה. כעת לאחר ט"ל שנים שאלתי אותו אם עדיין הפרטים בזכרונו, ומסרם לי כאילו הדבר קרה היום.הוא נכנס אצל הגרשז"א וקרא את המכתב [שנדפס אח"כ סי' קט"ו] לאיטו מלה במלה, ואמר שמלשון המדפיס, ניתן לשמוע שדעתו היא, שלפי "מחשבת זמננו" לא מתאימים הדברים להדפסה, ומשמע שכאילו לא יאות הדבר לקיצוני זמננו כהנטורי קרתא [כך אמר], אך הוא טועה בזה כי הדברים הינם כפירה לחלוטין לכל אדם ולכל הדורות. גם הר' אלישיב ראה את המכתב ולאחר קריאת המכתב אמר לר' בערל שיחזור לרשז"א וימסור לו שיצוה לבנו שהיה מיודעו של המדפיס שיעצרו את ההדפסה.וממילא מה שמשתמע מדברי מרק שפירא שהקטעים הבעייתיים הפריעו להגרמ"פ בלבד וכאילו היתה זו מלחמת יחיד – אין זה הדבר. אלא שאלו את פוסקי הדור של אז וכולם פסקו שזוהי כפירה, ומוכרחים להוציאם ולעשות halachic censorship.  אלא שהפוסקים ביניהם החליטו לא לפרסם את הדברים, משום שהם סברו להשקיט את הדבר, עד שהגיע ר' בערל ומכתבו בידו שדעת הגרמ"פ לפרסם את הענין כמפורש בדבריו בסוף התשובה לרש"ז, [כ"ז מבוסס על עדותו של ר' בערל הנ"ל שכלל גם את בעל המנח"י ביחד עם רש"ז והרב אלישיב המוזכרים בתחילת התשובה הנ"ל.]ומעניין מאוד איך לא הביא שפירא את ה'מחקר' של הגרמ"פ ד"ה 'וכן מש"כ בדבר'. והביא ראי' מהאב"ע שלא היה יכול לסבול את הפירוש המופיע בר"י החסיד בענין עציון גבר – שכן מצא את אותו פירוש בשם א' יצחקי ועל זה אמר האב"ע "'חלילה חלילה ... וספרו ראוי להישרף'. וא"כ נמצא שכבר הוא דין פסוק מהאב"ע שצריך לשרוף ספר כזה".ומש"כ אודות האב"ע שגם בספריו יש דברים בעייתיים – ע' בס' הכתב והקבלה בראשית כז,יט עה"פ אנוכי עשו בכורך,  וז"ל: ומה שהוזכר בפי' האב"ע לחשבו למשקר ולמכזב, איננו מלשון החכם ראב"ע, כי ידענו מכמה מקומות כי יד אחרים שלטה בפירושיו". וע' גם בתו"ש פרשת שמות עמ' רנ"ד (לא הו[...]



Lecture Announcement - R. Yechiel Goldhaber - January 4, 2018

Mon, 01 Jan 2018 20:28:00 +0000

EDIT 1.4.2018:
Unfortunately due to the inclement weather this lecture has been canceled. An update will be posted it that changes.
The readership of the Seforim Blog is invited to a lecture by the noted author, Rav Yechiel Goldhaber (link), whose respected research and scholarship is well-known to Seforim Blog readers. 

The shiur will be taking place Thursday, January 4, 7:30 PM at Khal Bnei Avrohom Yaakov, 2701 Avenue N, Brooklyn, NY. Rabbi Goldhaber's speech will be delivered in English. The subject of this shiur is  "A New source in understanding the Chasam Sofer and Metzitza B'peh."

This lecture is dedicated לזכר נשמת the late Dr. Shlomo Sprecher ז״ל who coordinated and hosted many of Rabbi Goldhaber’s shiurim, and wrote an important article in Hakirah on the subject of the shiur (link).

Rabbi Goldhaber has authored many wonderful articles, published important documents and written works on a wide range of topics, among them Minhagei Kehilos about customs, Kunditon (link), on the topics of the Titanic, and the so-called Cherem on Spain, as well as two volumes of Ginzei Yehuda, a collection of assorted letters from various rabbis of note.



Book Launch of the Koren Rav Kook Siddur

Fri, 29 Dec 2017 15:18:00 +0000

Book Launch of the Koren Rav Kook Siddur

Seforim Blog contributor Rabbi Bezalel Naor has just published a major work, the Koren Rav Kook Siddur.

Culled from Rav Kook’s own commentary to the Siddur, Olat Re’iyah, and other writings of Rav Kook, as well as rich anecdotes transmitted by Rav Kook’s son and major disciples, The Koren Rav Kook Siddur speaks to the soul, while it connects us all to the sacred soil of the Holy Land.

There will be a book launch on Sunday, January 7, 10:00 AM, at Lincoln Square Synagogue in New York. Rabbi Naor will discuss the new siddur and dialogue with Professor Marc B. Shapiro regarding Rav Kook’s legacy. The event will be moderated by Rabbi Shaul Robinson. All are invited to attend.

Here are some sample pages:








New Auction House - Genazym

Thu, 21 Dec 2017 00:21:00 +0000

New Auction House - Genazymby  Dan Rabinowitz, Eliezer BrodtThere is a new auction house, Genazym, that is holding its inaugural auction next week Monday, December 25th.  The catalog is available here.  The majority of the material are letters and other ephemera with a few dozen books. The books include a number with vellum bindings (71-75).  Appreciation of bindings has been brought to fore with the recent wider availability of books from the Valmadonna collection after it was broken up; a collection that was known for its exquisite bindings.[1] Books with illustrations form another group, including heretical images.  The title-page of the first edition of R. Yedidia Shlomo of Norzi's commentary on the biblical mesorah, Minhat Shai, Mantua, 1742-44 (76), includes Moses with horns, but more offensive is the depiction of God with a human face.   The images on the title page are various biblical vignettes and in the one for the resurrection of the "dry bones" that appears in Yehkezkel, God is shown as an old man with a white beard. [2] Another title-page containing non-Jewish imagery is the Smikhat Hakhamim, Frankfurt, 1704-06 (87).  Its title page is replete with mythological (?) or Christian (?) imagery. [3] The illustration on the Minchat Shai title page. Note that this is from another copy, not the one on auction.The kabbalistic work, Raziel haMalach, (77) contains illustrations of various amulets with various mythical creatures. [4] Another book with mystical images is the Emek Halakha, Cracow 1598, (80). Less sensational images, of ships and fauna, appear in the first Hebrew book to describe America, Iggeret Orkhot Olam, Prague 1793, (83). [5] R. Tovia ha-Rofeh's Ma'ase Tovia, Venice, 1707, (95) contains an elaborate illustration that compares the human organs with various parts of a house or building. [6]Of note for its rarity is (88), a first printing of R’ Moshe Chaim Luzzatto's Derech Tevunot, Amsterdam 1742. The copy is a miniature, and was owned by the great collector Elkan Nathan Adler.Among the most controversial books in the history of Jewish literatures the forged Yerushalmi on Kodshim, (likely) written by Shlomo Yehudah Friedlander (98).  There are two versions of the book, one printed on thick paper and, on a second title page, Friedlander is referred to as a doctor.  The other version is printed on poor paper and lacks the (presumably bogus) academic credential.  The theory behind the variants is that one was targeted at academic institutions and the other at traditional Jews. [7]  Here is what it looked like:Here are highlights from some of the letters for sale:- There are some very interesting manuscript letters from the Chasam Sofer (46), R’ Chaim Sanzer (28) and R’ Meir Premishlan (37) .- Letters from some of previous generations Litvish gedolim, like R’ Meir Simcha of Dvinsk (Meshech Chocham) (4), R’ Chaim Soloveitchik (2), R’ Raphael Shapiro (6), Chafetz Chaim (10), R’ Shimon Shkop (8), R’ Elchanan Wasserman (1), and the Brisker Rav (3). Many of these letters contain important historical information not found in other sources.- Also of note are important, extremely rare and lengthy documents from the Rogatchover Gaon (5) and R’ Mordechai Gimpel Yaffe (9) related to the shemita and heter mechira controversies. Another letter of note is from the Minchas Elazar (29) in regard to the inheritance of R’ Alfandri.[1] Portions of the Valmadonna Trust Collection were auctioned at Kestenbaum & Co. and Sotheby’s. here, here, here. Regarding the source of those books see here.[2] The title, Minhat Shai, was imposed by the printer.  Norzi referred to the work as Goder Peretz.  See Jordan Penkower, “The First Printed Edition of Nozri’s Introduction to Minhat Shai, Pisa 1819[...]



Chaim Zelig Slonimsky and the Diskin family

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 18:22:00 +0000

Chaim Zelig Slonimsky and the Diskin familyby Zerachya LichtIn December of 2016, Seforim blog published an article by Zerachya Licht about the Maskil Chaim Zelig Slonimsky and the Chanuka controversy he ignited. Presented here is a two part biographical monograph which focuses on Slonimsky relationship to the Diskin family. As an outcome of the above, this essay explores the Diskin family’s attitude toward Haskalah. At the end of Part I a newly discovered document which sheds light on these two topics is reproduced and transcribed. Also included are some significant points about R. Abbele Pasvoler’s attitude toward the books published by Maskilim.Due to its length, this essay will appear in two parts. Below is the table of contents of Part I & Part II followed by Part I of the essay. Part II will appear at a later date.חז"ס ומשפחת דיסקיןזרחיה ליכטPart Iפרק א: שנות עלומיו – שקידתו על דלתי הרב האריסטוקרטי והחכם הכולל רבי בנימין דיסקין.פרק ב: הספר 'מוסדי חכמה' - הסכמות הרבנים – הסכמת רבי אברהם אבלי פוסבלור.פרק ג: מדוע לא הסכים רבי בנימין דיסקין על הספר 'מוסדי חכמה'?פרק ד: כוכבא דשביט - תולדות השמים – השכלתו הכללית של רבי בנימין דיסקין.Part II(not included in this post)פרק ה: מציאות הנפש - השכלתו הכללית של מהרי"ל דיסקין.נספח א: יחסו של מהרי"ל דיסקין להשכלה כללית בעודו משמש ברבנות באירופה.נספח ב: יחסם להשכלה כללית של שאר בניו וחתנו של רבי בנימין דיסקין.נספח ג: הסכמות מרבי אבלי לספרי משכילים.בחלקו הראשון של מאמרי כאן הרחבתי את הדיבור אודות חז"ס, תוך תיאור פולמוס 'מאי חנוכה' שחז"ס עמד במרכזו. בחלק זה ברצוני להציג לפני קהל הקוראים הנכבדים קווים כלליים לראשית דרכו של חז"ס ויצירותיו הספרותיות. עיקר מטרתי בחלק זה הינה לתאר את טיבם של ספריו הראשונים, ולציין אודות היחסים ששררו בין חז"ס למשפחת דיסקין - בכלל, ובינו לבין רבו הגאון רבי בנימין דיסקין זצ"ל - בפרט. מתוך כך יתבררו כמה דברים חדשים על השקפותיהם של בני משפחתו של רבי בנימין, ובעיקר של בנו הגדול הגאון מהרי"ל דיסקין זצ"ל. אקדיש גם חלק נכבד מהמאמר להסכמתו של רבי אברהם אבלי פוסבלור זצ"ל לאחד מספרי חז"ס, ולהסכמות נוספות שכתב לספרי משכילים אחרים בשעתו. עוד חזון למועד לתעד עוד אבני פינה הנוגעות להמשך ימי חייו של חז"ס. ביניהם, ייסוד ועריכת העיתון 'הצפירה'[1], החלק החשוב שלו בהתעוררות הדיון על בעיית השבת ביפן[2], המצאותיו הרבות[3], משפחתו, וכהנה רבות.פרק אשנות עלומיו – שקידתו על דלתי הרב האריסטוקרטי והחכם הכולל רבי בנימין דיסקין זצ"לחיים זליג סלונימסקי נולד בכ"ח אדר ב' תק"ע (מרץ 31, 1810) בעיר ביאליסטוק, פלך גרודנו שברוסיה. ככל בני גילו למד חז"ס בתלמוד תורה ובישיבה, והיה ידוע כ"עילוי" ו"חריף". אין לנו הרבה מידע אודות ראשית שנות בחרותו, מלבד מה שנחום סוקולוב[4] מוסר שבשנו[...]



At a Holiday Celebration with the Lubavitchers by Elie Wiesel (1963)

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 18:19:00 +0000

At a Holiday Celebration with the LubavitchersBy Eliezer WieselForverts(13 December 1963) [Yiddish][Translated into English by Shaul Seidler-Feller (2017)]The “Holiday of Salvation” among the Lubavitchers. – We travel to Brooklyn the way they used to travel to see the rebbe. – The holiday of Yud Tes Kislev. – Why I like to attend when the Lubavitchers host a farbrengen. – Guests from Israel. – The miracle of joy.By Eliezer WieselSomeone remembered: it is Yud Tes Kislev. So, who wants to visit the Lubavitchers? Everyone. Everyone wants to go. Just because? [No,] it is the Holiday of Salvation. The first rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Lyady, the Ba‘al ha-Tanya, was released from a tsarist prison on the nineteenth day of Kislev. The joy [of that moment] has come down to us in its entirety, being passed on from generation to generation, from heart to heart, from word to word. Who says that only sorrow must be bequeathed as an inheritance? Hasidim do not believe in such an inheritance. Hasidim move heaven and earth to remain happy. Sadness drives away the Immanent Presence of God.Ten people were gathered in the room, both locals and visitors from the State of Israel: Aryeh Disenchik, editor-in-chief of the Tel Aviv-based evening paper Maariv; Aharon Kidan, one of Prime Minister Levi Eshkol’s closest assistants; Yehuda Hellman, secretary of the Conference of Presidents; the Israeli author Zvi Kolitz (one of the producers of the anti-Pius play The Deputy); and Isaac Moyal, representative of Keren Hayesod.We were speaking, as usual, about politics and acquaintances: where so-and-so is and what became of so-and-so. Also: what will be the nature of the relationship between the Johnson Administration and Israel? Or: has Levi Eshkol yet freed himself entirely from the famous shepherd in Sde Boker?Close to midnight, someone remarked: “It is Yud Tes Kislev.” The effect was instantaneous. Heated discussions were cut short. No one spoke for a full minute. Presumably everyone was remembering his own Holiday of Salvation, his own personal thirst for redemption.Who wants to visit the Lubavitchers?Everyone. Almost without exception. Just like once upon a time in Hungary or Poland: they would travel to the rebbeto liberate themselves from the mundane; to forget their gray, daily concerns; to immerse themselves in Hasidic ecstasy and Hasidic song, if not in Hasidic faith.I enjoy Lubavitcher celebrations. I enjoy watching Jews rejoicing and tearing themselves away from the earth, as if it had no control over them, as if their enemies had lost their power – if not forever, then at least for now, on this night of remembrance and thanksgiving.The rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, sits up front and toasts “l’chaim!” before the hundreds of assembled Hasidim and yeshivah students, who sway in song and close their eyes while listening to his homily.I first attended such a farbrengenfour years ago – and whoever comes once must return.Jews have so many reasons to mourn and to allow themselves to sink into melancholy, so when I see a congregation building the palace of song, I feel like reciting a blessing: she-heheyanu.Since the War, I have felt that we will never again be able to sing and forget. The Holy Temple was destroyed more than once in wicked Europe, and Tish‘ah be-Av, I thought, will fall more than once a year.Never again will yeshivahstudents clap their hands to the rhythm of a melody; never again will their faces flare up under the radiant, calm gaze of their rebbe – so I thought both during and after the War. The world will remain a cemetery, without Kohanim and without Levites.That is why I come to the Lubavitchers. Their jubilation draws me in. Since the Holocaust, every bit of joy is a miracle, even greater than the release of the rabbi from Lyady.Isaac Babel writes in one of his novels that he once had the opportunity to meet the Che[...]



Review of Kedushat Aviv: Rav Aharon Lichtenstein zt”l on the Sanctity of Time and Place

Wed, 06 Dec 2017 04:39:00 +0000

Kedushat Aviv:Rav Aharon Lichtenstein zt”l on the Sanctity of Time and PlaceRav Elyakim Krumbein(Translatedby David Strauss)RavElyakim Krumbein studiedwith Rav Soloveitchikat YU andmade aliya in1973. He has beena ram atYeshivat Har Etzionsince 1981 and headsits Tochnit Bekiut. He also servedas a PedagogicAdvisor at HerzogCollege. Rav Krumbein'sguides for self-studyon the Bavot, Ketubot and othertractates are widelyused by Yeshivastudents, and hehas also writtentwo volumes ofstudy guides onGittin and Kiddushinentitled Sho'elK'inyan. Heis the authorof Musar forModerns and severalcourses on theYeshivat Har Etzion’sVirtual Beit Midrash, as well asmany articles onTalmud, Halakha, andJewish thought, includingseminal studies onthe methodology ofBrisk.Review ofRav Aharon Lichtenstein, Kedushat Aviv: Iyyunim BeKedushat HaZeman VehaMakom, edited and adaptedby R. ShaiLichtenstein, asst. ed. R. Chaim Navon(Maggid and YeshivatHar Etzion, 2017; Hebrew); 512 pp., available here.KedushatAviv: Iyyunim BeKedushat HaZeman VehaMakomconsists of previouslyunpublished writings andlectures of RavAharon Lichtenstein zt”l. Rav Aharon wouldperiodically carve outtime from hisenormous duties asa teacher ofTorah in orderto cultivate thisscholarly endeavor, thestudy of theconcept of “sanctity.” He had hopedand planned thatthe work woulddevelop into abook of threeparts, discussing thesanctity of time, place, and personalities. Unfortunately, this dreamwas not fulfilledduring his lifetime. Now, however, RavAharon’s son, R. Shai Lichtenstein, has edited andpublished the presentvolume, with thehelp of familymembers, disciples, andgenerous donors. (Thebook’s introductiondetails which chapterswere written byRav Aharon himselfand which arebased on recordingsand notes.) Thevolume covers twotopics – the sanctityof time andthe sanctity ofplace.A Book of Thematic StudiesThisvolume belongs tothe genre ofthematic studies. Itis not acollection of novellaeon the Talmudor the Rambamor the like, but rather anexamination of thevarious aspects ofa particular topic. Such works takeupon themselves aformidable task – collectingpassages from allacross the Talmudin which aparticular issue isdiscussed by Chazal, arranging the principlesarising from thesources, and clarifyingthe inner relationshipsbetween the variousparts.Theseworks can beclassified according totheir various approaches. Some authors attemptto turn anobscure topic intoa "Shulchan Arukh" (e.g., theMinchat Kohenon the lawsof forbidden foodmixtures). Others striveprimarily to dealwith the difficultiesof the topicand to ruleabout matters thatare subject todoubt (e.g. Shev Shemateta), and, in recent generations, the goal maybe to definethe concepts indepth (e.g. Sha'arei Yosher). Rav Aharon, asa prominent scholarof the Briskerapproach, belongs tothe latter group. The author immerseshimself in thedepths of Halakhaand takes advantageof his masteryof the Talmudicpassages, the Rishonim, and the Acharonim(attested to byindices at theend of thevolume).Wewere already ableto benefit fromthe essays publishedin Rav Aharon'sprevious book, MinchatAviv  (here), whichwas previously reviewedat the Seforimblog by ProfessorAviad Hacohen (here) someof which constitutecomprehensive thematic studiesin themselves (see, for example, hisexamination of theissue of "lishmah"). The current volume, however, is anentirely new development. The scope isastounding, and theimagination and ambitionare inspiring. Leafingthrough the mainheadings, most ofwhich are dealtwith at length, reveals that thebook covers themajor issues relatingto the sanctityof time andplace. The firstpart deals withthe sanctity ofShabbat and YomTov, Kiddush, thesanctity of YomKippur, the Sabbaticaland Jubilee years, the sanctification ofthe months, andthe intercalations ofthe calendar. Thesecond part openswith the sanctityof Eretz Yisrael, and then moveson to[...]



New Book Announcement - נשמת הבית

Wed, 29 Nov 2017 20:52:00 +0000

New Book Announcementנשמת הבית, שאלות שנשאלו ליועצות ההלכה של מדרשת נשמת בנושאי היריון, לידה, הנקה ואמצעי מניעה בליווי הדרכה מעשית והסברים ונספחים רפואיים, 367 עמודיםNishmat Habayit is a collection of 63 she’elot uteshuvot on Pregnancy, Birth, Nursing, and Contraceptives. Each question has a short answer, as a yoetzet halacha would addresses the woman with the question, followed by a more extensive halachic discussion. The questions were selected from among tens of thousands in Nishmat’s Taharat Hamishpacha database. The responses were authored by a team of yoatzot halacha, under the supervision of Rabbi Yehuda Henkin and Rabbi Yaakov Varhaftig; and edited by Rabbi Yehuda and Chana Henkin. The book includes medical appendices, helpful even to poskim. The responses display sensitivity to women, coupled with complete faithfulness to halacha. The book carries haskamot of recognized poskim in Israel. The book was published by Maggid Press and is available here. Sample chapters are available upon request [Eliezerbrodt@gmail.com ]Here is the title page, table of contents, and haskamot.[...]



Ancient Jewish Poetry & the Amazing World of Piyut: Interview with Professor Shulamit Elizur

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 18:01:00 +0000

ANCIENT JEWISH POETRY & THE AMAZING WORLD OF PIYUT: Professor Shulamit Elizur explores the Cairo Genizah and other obscure places for hidden gemsBY BATSHEVA SASSOONJust as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so G-d surrounds his people, from now to all eternity —Tehillim 125:2This piece originally appeared in14 TISHREI 5778 // OCTOBER 4, 2017 // AMI MAGAZINE #337Thanks to Ami for permission to publish this here.This version is updated with a few corrections and additions Inside the Old City of Jerusalem one cannot see the mountains that surround it, only its many confining walls. Yet even for someone who has a phobia of confined places, as I do, this part of the Holy City is liberating. Many years ago, the great Jewish poet Rabbi Yehudah Halevi wrote longingly about Jerusalem, “I wish I could fly to you on the wings of an eagle, and mingle my tears with your dust.” Today, one can readily fly to Jerusalem, but to have a chance to explore its poetic and emotional underpinnings is a rare treat. Professor Shulamit Elizur, whom I am visiting this morning in her book lined apartment, is not only one of the foremost experts in the world on piyut but she is also a talmidah chachamah and scholar, whose fear of sin precedes her wisdom. “I was around 16 years old when I realized that if you want to learn something, it isn’t wise to try to absorb too much at one time,” she shares with me without a hint of pretension. “I decided to study the Mishneh Torah of the Rambam, so I learned one perek a day until I got to the end. I did the same thing with Nach, learning two perakim a day, and I’ve gone through the entire Shishah Sidrei Mishnah numerous times. The same applies to piyutim: If you divide them up and study them over time, you will eventually succeed in understanding all of them.” She then asks me not to mention some of her other scholarly undertakings so that she doesn’t come across as if she were bragging. And she’s not; she is simply a brilliant scholar who loves to learn every spare minute, and the world has been tremendously enriched by that. As the head of the Fleischer Institute for the Study of Hebrew Poetry, a member of the Academy of the Hebrew Language and a member of the editorial board of the Mekitze Nirdamim publishing house, she has her hands full. But she still finds time to write books and study, as well as to talk to me this morning about her ongoing research. Indeed, her energy is laudable as she keeps on getting up to fetch one book after the other to prove a point. GENIZAH Anyone who is familiar with contemporary Israeli culture knows that there has been a revival of the singing of piyut. Jewish liturgical poems that were composed to be recited during tefillah are now being performed by Israel’s top singers in clubs and at concerts. But Shulamit Elizur insists that what she does has nothing to do with this trend. “The modern performers are mainly interested in the piyutim that have tunes, and those that are printed in our siddurim. But I’m involved in doing research into the piyutim that were lost and haven’t been said in many years. My field is kitvei yad, primarily those that were found in the Cairo Genizah.” I ask her if after all these years it’s still possible to find new things. “We have an organization that takes all the fragments and deciphers them. For example, I found a fragment of a page and then much later I found another piece of the same page. It turns out that the page is part of a sefer written by Rabbeinu Saadyah Gaon against the Kara’im. We don’t have the entire book, but the two pieces I was able to put together are from a previously unknown part of that sefer, which was very exciting for me.” “So it’s all about putting pieces together,” I state. “Yes, although we do sometimes find complete pages a[...]



The Rogochover and More

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 02:48:00 +0000

The Rogochover and MoreMarc B. ShapiroIn a recent Jewish Review of Books (Summer 2017), I published a translation of an interview R. Joseph Rozin, the Rogochover, gave to the New York Yiddish paper, Der morgen zhurnal. You can see the original interview here. The fact that the Rogochover agreed to the interview is itself significant. As is to be expected, the content of the interview is also of great interest.In the preface to the interview, I mentioned that the Rogochover famously studied Torah on Tisha be-Av and when he was an avel, both of which are in violation of accepted halakhah. When he was once asked why, while sitting shiva, he learnt Torah, he is reported to have replied:[1]ודאי, עבירה היא זו, וכשאקבל עונש על שאר עונותי יענישוני אף על עון זה, אבל אני אקבל באהבה וברצון את העונש על חטא זה, וכדאית היא התורה להלקות עליהR. Yissachar Tamar cites an eye-witness who reported that the Rogochover said basically the same thing in explaining why he learnt on Tisha be-Av, and noted how wonderful it will be to be punished for studying Torah.[2]ומה נעים לקבל צליפות על עסק התורהThe Hazon Ish was told that the Rogochover learnt Torah when he was in mourning and that he made another antinomian-like comment in justification of his behavior, namely, that he wants to be in the gehinom of those who learn Torah. The Hazon Ish replied that “this gehinom is the same gehinom for the other sins.”[3]The various comments quoted in the name of the Rogochover show his great need for studying Torah, a need that simply did not allow him to put aside his Torah study, even when halakhah required it. Yet the antinomian implication of the Rogochover’s comments was too much to be ignored. R. Gavriel Zinner’s reaction after quoting the Rogochover is how many felt.[4]ולא זכיתי להבין, הלא מי לנו גדול מחכמי הגמ' שנפשם ג"כ חשקה בתורה ואפ"ה גזרו שבת"ב ובזמן אבל אסורים בלימוד התורה, ועוד שאחז"ל הלומד ע"מ שלא לעשות נוח לו שלא נברא.It is thus to be expected that some authors deny that the Rogochover could have really said any of what I have quoted. And if he did say it, they feel that it must have been merely a joke or a comment not meant to be taken seriously, or that he did not want people to know the real reason he studied Torah while in avelut (namely, the Yerushalmi which will soon be mentioned).[5] R. Abraham Weinfeld goes so far as to say, with reference to one of the comments I have quoted that “It is forbidden to hear these words, and Heaven forbid to suspect that Rabban shel Yisrael [the Rogochover] would say this.”[6] Those who refuse to accept that the Rogochover meant what he said are forced to find a halakhic justification for his behavior, and indeed, when it comes to an avel studying Torah (and this would also apply to Tisha be-Av, the halakhot of which are not as stringent as those of personal mourning), there is a passage in the Yerushalmi, Moed Katan 3:5, that permits Torah study for one who has a great need.[7]  (This heter is not recorded in the Shulhan Arukh, but this would not have concerned the Rogochover.[8]) Yet it is important to remember that as far as we know the Rogochover never cited this passage in the Yerushalmi as justification for his studying Torah when he was sitting shiva.[9]Now for something disappointing and even a bit shocking: Here are the two pages from R. Shlomo Yosef Zevin, Ishim ve-Shitot (Jerusalem, 2007), [...]



Lecture Announcement: Rabbi Yechiel Goldhaber

Tue, 31 Oct 2017 19:16:00 +0000

The readership of the Seforim Blog are invited to two lectures by the noted author, Rav Yechiel Goldhaber (link), whose respected research and scholarship is well-known to Seforim Blog readers. 

1) The first shiur that will be taking place is this Thursday, November 2, 7:30 PM at 1454 54th Street, Brooklyn, NY. Rabbi Goldhaber's speech will be delivered in Yiddish. The subject of this shiur is "Orthodox and Rabbinic Responses to the Balfour Declaration."

This lecture is dedicated לזכר נשמת the late Dr. Shlomo Sprecher ז״ל who coordinated and hosted many of Rabbi Goldhaber’s shiurim.

2) The readership of the Seforim Blog is also invited to a shiur that will be taking place this Sunday November 5, at 8PM. The subject is likewise "Orthodox and Rabbinic Responses to the Balfour Declaration. It will take place in Monsey at Ohr Chaim Learning Center, 20 Forshay Road, (head upstairs). This lecture is in English.

Rabbi Goldhaber has authored many wonderful articles, published important documents and written works on a wide range of topics, among them Minhagei Kehilos about customs, Kunditon (link) about the Titanic and the so-called Cherem on Spain, and two volumes of Ginzei Yehuda, a collection of assorted letters from various rabbis of note. 

It should be noted that Rabbi Goldhaber's visit to the United States is connected with raising funds for an upcoming wedding for his son, therefore donations are encouraged (albeit not required to attend). 

EDIT 11.6.17: Here is a link to the Yiddish lecture: link. 
The English will be posted if we receive it.





Hasidism in America

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 13:13:00 +0000

Hasidism in AmericaMarc B. ShapiroThere is a tape of R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik in the 1950s saying that there is no real Hasidism in the United States. He says that he saw real Hasidism in Warsaw, and America does not have it. When the Rav made this statement, I think most non-hasidim would have agreed that Hasidism did not have any real future in the United States. The 1950s was a time when the focus was on the melting pot. In such an era, Hasidism would have been as out of place in wider American society as Muslim women walking down the streets of New York City or Los Angeles wearing hijabs. How things have changed!There are many reasons for the great success of Hasidism in the United States, among them the turn to multiculturalism which has made the public square more welcoming of a variety of lifestyles. The coarsening of the wider culture has also pushed religious people to a more inward direction, and those looking to escape from this culture can easily be drawn towards Hasidism. Also important is that for many young hasidim the wider culture does not have the same draw it once did. And for those who do want to be part of the wider culture, in today’s day and age one can be a hasid and live a much more open life, even if only virtually, then people did a generation or two ago. The rise of the welfare state has also been crucial to hasidic growth, as without the welfare state hasidic communities as we know them would be unsustainable.[1] Finally, there is one other element that has been important to hasidic growth, and also to its fracturing, and that is the leadership that has been able to provide guidance in post-war America.Samuel Heilman’s engrossing new book discusses this very point, that of leadership. Its title is Who Will Lead Us? The Story of Five Hasidic Dynasties in America, and it is required reading for anyone interested in the contemporary hasidic world.The dynasties Heilman focuses on are Munkács, Boyan, Bobov, Satmar, and Lubavitch. There is also an introductory chapter on succession in Hasidism which itself is an important issue. I do not know if people in the hasidic world give it much thought, but for non-hasidim the whole matter of succession is somewhat strange, since by what right should a son (sometimes even a very young son) or son-in-law be able to take over religious leadership? Very few outsiders will be impressed with the hasidic concept of “holy seed,” as in the non-hasidic world, at least until recent years, it was understood that one rises to greatness based on one’s own achievements, not based on who one’s father was (though that always helps). It is thus interesting to learn that in the early years of Hasidism the concept of family succession did not exist.[2] Yet as we all know, for many years now succession has been based on lineage and in that way the hasidic court is just like the royal court.[3] (I was struck by Heilman’s use of the term “dowager” to describe the widow of the rebbe. I have never seen the term used in this way but is a good usage.) Of course, there have been times when there were disputes as to who should be the rightful successor, and this always had the potential to lead to a split in a hasidic group, a point we will return to.Heilman was fortunate that he “was helped immensely by several rebbes who graciously consented to be interviewed and who for long hours and over many months and years opened their lives to me” (p. xv). Some readers might find it strange for a rebbe to be so open with an academic researcher, but it shows that at least some rebbes are interested that academic discussions about them be accurate, and that their perspectives be taken into account.[4]Heilman’s chapter dealing w[...]



The Mysteries of Hoshana Rabbah

Mon, 09 Oct 2017 19:07:00 +0000

THE MYSTERIES OF HOSHANA RABBAHBy Eliezer Brodt This article originally appeared last year in Ami Magazine (2016) This version has a many updates and corrections. I hope to revisit this subject shortly. The sources of our Yomim Tovim are relatively easy to find, as one simply locates the relevant pesukim or Gemara and starts from there. However, one Yom Tov does not have such a starting point: Hoshana Rabbah. Its roots and numerous customs are shrouded in mystery. This article is an attempt to shed a bit of light on some of the early sources and customs behind this special day.[1]A very early mention is in an anonymous attack against Yiddishkeit apparently written around the year 1500, where we already find Hoshana Rabbah under attack.[1a] At a later date we find in a work which records a debate about Kabbalah, written in 1825 that the origins of Hoshana Rabbah were also dealt with harshly.[1b]The NameToday we know this special day as Hoshana Rabbah, but it wasn’t always called by this name. In earlier sources, such as the Mishnah and Gemara, the Yom Tov is never called Hoshana Rabbah but “Yom Aravah” or “Yom Hoshana.” In a recent article, Rabbi Yaakov Stahl traces mentions of these names through numerous Geonim, Paytanim and Rishonim and concludes that the earliest known mention of the name “Hoshana Rabbah” is in the piyyutim of Rav Yosef Avitur, who passed away in 1024. However, it took a long time for the name to become popular.[2] The Chayei Adam writes that the name Hoshana Rabbah references the many tefillos recited on this day that begin with the word “hoshana.”[3] This idea can be found as early as 1599 in the Seder Hayom. Rav Eliyahu Bachur writes in his Sefer HaTishbi that the aravos we take on Sukkos are called hoshanos because we call out hoshana, a contraction of the words hoshia na (please save), while holding them.[4] YOM ARAVAH In the fourth perek of Maseches Sukkah (42b-45a), the mishnayos and Gemara discuss the extra aravah that was used in the Beis Hamikdash in addition to the one included in the daled minim. Each day the kohanim would circle the mizbei’ach one time, and on the seventh day they would do so seven times. Rishonim differ as to whether they went around with both the aravah and the daled minim, or with the daled minim alone, as well as if the Yisraelim went around as well.[5]On the seventh day, they would do chavatah on the ground with the aravos. Rashi (ibid. 44b) understands this to mean shaking the aravos, whereas the Rambam writes that it means to bang them two or three times on the floor or on a utensil[6] without making a brachah, in keeping with a minhag hanevi’im.[7] Since the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, we go around with daled minim only, and not with the aravah, since it is not mentioned in the Torah.[8] The Rambam writes that nowadays we go around the bimah as a zecher l’Mikdash, where they circled the mizbei’ach.[9] These mishnayos are the earliest sources for the hakafos we do once each day on Sukkos and seven times on Hoshana Rabbah. There are numerous sources from the Geonim onward about this. It’s worth mentioning the powerful words of Rav Yosef Hahn Norlingen (1570-1637) in Yosef Ometz, first printed in 1723. He writes that one should make a great effort to go around each day with the lulav, to the extent that it’s worthwhile to spend a lot of money on the daled minim for this aspect of the mitzvah alone. He writes sharply against those who leave early and avoid hakafos and describes how he completed the circuit every day, even when there was a lot of pushing, especially on Hoshana Rabbah when the children pushed a lot.[10] A similar point is made by the anonymous work Chemdas Yomim.[11] W[...]



'אֲשֶׁר שַׂמְתִּי עֲרָבָה בֵיתוֹ' ו'לֶחֶם לַנְּעָרִים' - השימוש המִשני בערבות הלולב וההושענות למנהג איטליה הקדום

Tue, 03 Oct 2017 02:34:00 +0000

יעקב ישראל סטלירושלים'אֲשֶׁר שַׂמְתִּי עֲרָבָה בֵיתוֹ' ו'לֶחֶם לַנְּעָרִים'השימוש המִשני בערבות הלולב וההושענות למנהג איטליה הקדום*"...The aravot, with which they observed the commandment of lulav, or the 'ritual of the aravah' (on Hoshana Rabah), would be discarded after their use. However, the German sages, as a token of their love for mitzvot, were wont to keep them in order to perform future mitzvot, such as for burning chametz or baking matzot on erev Pesach. The German custom has a Talmudic basis, that if an object is used to perform a mitzvah, then another mitzvah may be performed with the same object. However, the Italians of former generations did not make use of this rule, and their custom was to do something different with the aravot. The older ones among them placed them atop their beds, and the younger ones would 'joust' with them with their friends in play, to arouse joy..."הכלל התלמודי "הואיל ואיתעביד בה חדא מצווה, ליתעביד בה מצווה אחרינא"[1], שימש מרכיב חשוב בהתפתחותם של מנהגים שונים בעדות ישראל לתפוצותיהן במשך הדורות[2]. ואם כן הדבר ב'סתם' מצוה, על אחת כמה וכמה במצוה חביבה כנטילת לולב[3], שהקפידו לנצל את שייריה לענייני מצוה אחרים.(א) מנהג אשכנז בערבות הלולב וב'הושענות'גדולי אשכנז נהגו להניח את הערבות שנאגדו עם הלולב לערב פסח ולשרוף בהן את החמץ, ומהם שנהגו כן גם בערבות של יום הושענא רבה - ה'הושענות'. כן כותב ר' אלעזר מוורמייזא (ה'רוקח') על מנהג זקנו, ר' אלעזר ב"ר קלונימוס הזקן (אחיו של ר' שמואל החסיד):מנהג זקיני ר' אלעזר בן רבינו קלונימוס הזקן, שהיה שורף חמיצו בעצי לולבים ובענפי הושענות, אבל בעץ הושענות, אנו מתקנים לקולמוסים. וכן מנהג חמי, ר' אלעזר בר יעקב הכהן[4].'עצי לולבים'אינם הלולבים עצמם אלא ה'עצים' שסביבות הלולבים, היינו, ענפי הערבהשנאגדו עם הלולב, שאילולא כן לא היה הכותב מעקם לשונו לכתוב 'עצי לולבים' ולא 'לולבים' סתם. בנוסף לכך, משום נדירותו של הלולב באשכנז וצרפת – שאקלימן הקר אינו מתאים לגידולו – עד שלפעמים נאלצו להשתמש בלולב של השנה הקודמת[5], לא מסתבר שזקנו של ה'רוקח' ישתמש בלולבו כחומר בעירה לשריפת חמצו ויסתכן להִוותר בלא לולב בחג הסוכות הבא. אך הערבות היו מצויות באשכנז בשפע רב[6], ומעולם לא היה מחסור בהן, ולא היה אפוא כל חשש לקיים בהן את ה'ליתעביד בה מצווה אחרינא' – העומד ביסוד מנהגו של סב ה'רוקח', אע"פ שאין הדבר נאמר מפורשות – ולשרוף בהן את החמץ.נמצא, כי המשפט "שהיה שורף חמיצו בעצי לולבים ובענפי הושענות" מדבר על ערבות בלבד[7]: 'עצי לולבים' הם הערבות שהיו באגודת הלולב כחלק ממצות ארבעת המינים, ו'ענפי הושענות' הם, כמסתבר, הערבות שנטלו ל'מצות ערבה' ביום הושע[...]



אמירת 'שלש-עשרה מידות' בשבת בהוצאת ספר תורה של ימים נוראים

Thu, 28 Sep 2017 06:45:00 +0000

Note: This post is an updated version of this one from 2013.אמירת 'שלש-עשרה מידות' בשבת בהוצאת ספר תורה של ימים נוראים*מאת: אליעזר יהודה בראדטבליל יום הכיפורים תשס"ה, שבאותה שנה חל בשבת, ענה הגרי"ש אלישיב זצוק"ל, בתשובה לשואל אחד, שאין לומר י"ג מידות בשבת, אע"פ שהשואל הסתייע מלוח ארץ ישראל לרי"מ טוקצ'ינסקי שיש לאמרן. אחר כך סיפר השואל לנוכחים שמפרסמים פסקים בשם הרב שאינם נכונים כלל. כך ראיתי בעיני ושמעתי באוזני. ויהי ערב ויהי בוקר. בתפילת שחרית לא נכח הגרי"ש בבית הכנסת, ובהוצאת ספר תורה פתח החזן באמירת 'שלש-עשרה מידות'. קם אחד המתפללים וגער בו בקול: 'אתמול קבע הרב שליט"א שאין לאומרם בשבת!' נעמד לעומתו נאמנו של הגרי"ש ר' יוסף אפרתי,[1] וסיפר כי אמש לאחר הדברים האלה, ישב הרב בביתו על המדוכה בדק ומצא כי בספר 'מטה אפרים' פסק לאומרו, וסמך עליו. ולפיכך יש לאומרו גם ביומא הדין שחל בשבת. אותו שואל שהתרעם על כך שמפרסמים פסקי-שווא בשם הרב לא נכח שם, וגם הוא לא זכה לשמוע משנה אחרונה של הרב בעניין זה.[2]מתוך כך התעניינתי בנושא וזה מה שהעליתי במצודתי.מקור אמירת י"ג מידותבחודש הרחמים והסליחות כמו גם בירח האיתנים נאמרת תפילת 'שלוש עשרה מידות' הרבה פעמים גם בעדות אשכנז, אלה שאינן רגילות לאומרה בכל ימות השנה[3] (בקהילות אחרות היא נאמרת לפני תחנון או בשעת ברית מילה וכיו"ב). מתוך ייחודיותה של תפילה זו התלוו אליה הלכות, הנהגות ואפי' סגולות הקשורות לאמירתה. הפוסקים דנו בשאלת עיתוי אמירתה: כגון לפני חצות הלילה,[4] אם היא נאמרת בשבת, אם יחיד יכול לאומרה,[5] באיזה אופן צריכה להיאמר, אם חייבת בעטיפת טלית[6] ועוד כיוצא בהן.[7] ב'חמדת ימים', קושטא תצ"ה, חלק ימים נוראים, פרק א עמ' ט, נאמר: "והרב זצ"ל כתב שכל המתענה בחדש הזה שיאמר ביום שמוציאים בו ספר תורה בעת פתיחת ההיכל הי"ג מידות ג' פעמים"[8].כפי שהתברר לאחרונה, כל דברי ספר זה לקוחים ממקורות שונים ואין לו מדיליה כמעט כלום[9]. דברי האריז"ל הללו מקורם ב'שלחן ערוך של האריז"ל', שנדפס לראשונה בקראקא ת"ך[10]. ומשם העתיק זאת ר' יחיאל מיכל עפשטיין לספרו 'קיצור של"ה', שנדפס לראשונה בשנת תמ"א[11][דפוס ווארשא תרל"ט, דף עה ע"א]. ובעקבותיו ר' בנימין בעל שם בספרו 'שם טוב קטן' שנדפס לראשונה בשנת תס"ו[12], וגם בספרו 'אמתחת בנימין' שנדפס לראשונה בשנת תע"ו[13]. כל החיבורים הללו נדפסו קודם 'חמדת ימים'. וכידוע ספרים אלו זכו לתפוצה רחבה[14].גם בחיבור 'נגיד ומצוה' לר' יעקב צמח, שנדפס לראש[...]



A Source for Rav Kook’s Orot Hateshuva Chapters 1 - 3

Sun, 24 Sep 2017 15:13:00 +0000

A Source for Rav Kook’s Orot Hateshuva Chapters 1 - 3By Chaim Katz, MontrealRav Kook begins the first chapter of his Orot Hateshuva [1] as follows:We find three categories of repentance: 1) natural repentance 2) faithful repentance 3) intellectual repentance. את התשובה אנו מוצאים בשלש מערכות: א) תשובה טבעית, ב) תשובה אמונית, ג) תשובה שכליתHe defines natural repentance:(תשובה טבעית) הגופנית סובבת את כל העבירות נגד חוקי הטבע, המוסר והתורה, המקושרים עם חוקי הטבע. שסוף כל הנהגה רעה הוא להביא מחלות ומכאובים . . . ואחרי הבירור שמתברר אצלו הדבר, שהוא בעצמו בהנהגתו הרעה אשם הוא בכל אותו דלדול החיים שבא לו, הרי הוא שם לב לתקן את המצבThe natural physical repentance revolves around all sins against the laws of nature ethics and Torah that are connected to the laws of nature. All misdeeds lead to illness and pain . . . but after the clarification, when he clearly recognizes that he alone through his own harmful behavior is responsible for the sickness he feels, he turns his attention toward rectifying the problem.Rav Kook is describing a repentance that stems from a feeling of physical weakness or illness. He also includes repentance of sins against natural ethics and natural aspects of the Torah. A sin of ethics might be similar to the חסיד שוטה, who takes his devoutness to foolish extremes (Sotah 20a). A sin in Torah might be one who fasts although he is unable to handle fasting (Taanit 11b דלא מצי לצעורי נפשיה) [2]. R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi, in his collection of sermons Likutei Torah [3], also recognizes three types of repentance. Homiletically, he finds the three types in Ps. 34, 15.סור מרע, ועשה טוב, בקש שלום ורדפהו.He also relates thetypes to three names of G-d that appear in the text of the berachos that we say: ברוךאתה ד' אלוקינו  According to R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the first level of repentance relates to the Divine name Elokim (In Hassidic thought, repentance (teshuva or return) is taken literally as ‘returning to G-d’, not only as repentance from sin.) The mystics of the 16th century connected the name Elokim to nature.אלוקים בגימטריא הטבעThe word Elokim is numerically equivalent to the word for nature (hateva). [4]In the sermon, Elokim is also related to ממלא כל עלמין, the immanence of G-d, which may have something to do with the laws of nature.R. Kook describes the second level of repentance as follows:אחרי התשובה הטבעית באה האמונית, היא החיה בעולם ממקור המסורת והדתAfter the natural repentance comes a repentance based on faith. It subsists in the world from a source of tradition and religion. R. Shneur Zelman of Liadi describes the second type of repentance as a return to the Divine name Hashem, the Tetragrammaton. This name signifies the transcendence of G-d, the name associated with the highest degree of revelation, the name of G-d that was revealed at Sinai and that is associated with the giving of the Torah.Rav Kook’s third level of repentance:התשובה השכלית היא . . . הכרה ברורה, הבאה מהשקפת העולם והחיים השלמה . . . היא מלאה כבר אור אין קץThe intellectual repentance . . . is a clear recognition that comes from an encompassing world and life view. . . . It is a level filled with infinite light[...]



The Strange Shape of the Marcheshet Pan

Wed, 13 Sep 2017 18:12:00 +0000

                             The Strange Shape of the Marcheshet Pan                                                             By Eli Genauer“The underlying basis of our work is that pictures are an organic part of the commentary, and it possible that Rashi even allowed himself to limit his explanatory words when a picture was available to the reader. This is in the sense of "a picture is worth a thousand words". The picture is an integral part of the written book, no less important than the words.”                                                                Dr Ezra Chwat                                                     Department of Manuscripts, National Library of Israel                                                      Giluy Milta B'Almah Blog                                                           January 15, 2017There were many vessels used in the Beit HaMikdash. Nevertheless, without pictures or diagrams drawn contemporaneous to their existence, there remains some doubt as to exactly what they looked like. I would like to discuss one vessel used quite often in the Temple and see what the diagrams of the Rishonim can tell us about its makeup. I would also like to analyze a diagram in Rashi’s commentary to Talmud Bavli and see how it fits into our discussion.Massechet Menachot 63aהאומר הרי עלי במחבת, לא יביא במרחשת; במרחשת, לא יביא במחבת.  מה בין מחבת למרחשת--אלא שהמרחשת יש לה כסוי, ולמחבת אין לה כסוי, דברי רבי יוסי הגלילי; רבי חנניה בן גמליאל אומר, מרחשת עמוקה ומעשיה רוחשין, ומחבת צפה ומעשיה קשיןOne who says, “I take upon myself [to offer a grain offering prepared] on a griddle, he must not bring [one baked] in a pan. If [he says “I take upon myself to offer a grain offering prepared] in a pan,” he must not bring [one prepared] on a griddle. What is the difference between a griddle and a pan? The pan has a lid to it, but the griddle has no lid – [these are ] the words of Rabbi Yose[...]



There is No Bracha on an Eclipse

Sun, 03 Sep 2017 04:24:00 +0000

There is No Bracha on an EclipseBy Rabbi Michael J. BroydeRabbi Michael Broyde is a law professor at Emory University School of Law and the Projects Director in its Center for the Study of Law and Religion.  His most recent Torah sefer is entitled "A Concise Code of Jewish Law For Converts".  This letter was written to someone after a shiur on why there is no bracha on seeing a solar eclipse.1.      You are correct that I said that I thought there was no bracha on an eclipse.  I had not seen Rabbi Linzer’s teshuva at the time that told that to you this, as it was not circulating on the internet at the time that I prepared for my shiur and I did not see it until Sunday, the day after the shiur.  I try to cite as much as relevant in these classes and his thoughts are clearly relevant.  He is a stellar writer on interesting topics of halacha and I read his material consistently.  I had seen that Rabbi Eliezer Melamed in Peneni Halacha Laws of Brachot 15:6 and note 5 which does permit a bracha on an eclipse.2.      Having said that, I would not change my mind at all in light of Rabbi Linzer’s teshuva and remain opposed to reciting a bracha over an eclipse for many reasons explained below.3.      First, as many have noted, the giants of halacha are quite divided over the question of whether the listing in the Shulchan Aruch is paradigmatic or particular.  Some make no blessings other that for matters listed in the codes and other treat them as examples.  That dispute alone inspires me to be cautious, although I could be persuaded that the paradigmatic approach is correct and one could then make a bracha on a waterfall.  I have yet to see a clear proof that such a view is correct, but it does seem more intuitive.[1]  Yet, safek brachot lehakel is present.4.      Second, and more importantly, if you look closely in the classical achronim, you see not a single achron who actually endorses saying a bracha on an eclipse.  Not a single one.  It is true that there is a dispute about whether the list in the Mishna is all inclusive or not (as many note, see Shar HaAyin 7:6), but even those who are of the view that the Mishnah’s list is merely examples, not a single achron actually endorses making a bracha on an eclipse as opposed to a volcano or some other natural wonder, which some clearly do permit a bracha on.  The group that favors expansive brachot on natural wonders endorse stalagmite caves, waterfalls, water geysers, volcanoes and many more: but not eclipses.  If you look, for example in Shar HaAyin 7:6 (the classical work on this topic) one sees this most clearly: even those who endorse making brachot on waterfalls, or other amazing facets of creation are uncertain נסתפק)) if one make a bracha on an eclipse, and we all know that when a posek is נסתפק, that posek does not make a bracha.[2]a.       This contrast is made clear in the context of Rabbi Shmuel Halevi Wosner -- who is the most clear and direct articulator of the view that list of wondrous sightings in the Shulchan Aruch are just examples, and one makes the bracha of oseh maaseh bereshit even on other wonders.  In Shar HaAyin page 431 he states directly that one makes a blessing on many wondrous things unlisted in the codes and he explains that “Volcanos are not present in our lands and thus are unmentioned in the Shulchan Aruch” and that it is “obvious” that o[...]



A Final Note Regarding Rav Simcha Zelig Reguer’s Position on Opening a Refrigerator on Shabbat

Tue, 29 Aug 2017 18:36:00 +0000

A Final Note Regarding Rav Simcha Zelig Reguer’s Position on Opening a Refrigerator on Shabbat By Yaacov SassonThe purpose of this note is to establish conclusively that Rav Simcha Zelig Reguer, the Dayan of Brisk, never permitted opening a refrigerator on Shabbat when the light inside will go on. I was deeply disappointed to read Rabbi Michael Broyde’s response[1] to my “Note Regarding Rav Simcha Zelig Reguer’s Position on Opening a Refrigerator on Shabbat.”[2] In short, R. Broyde has incorrectly asserted that Rav Simcha Zelig permitted opening a refrigerator on Shabbat when the light inside will go on. In truth, Rav Simcha Zelig permitted opening a refrigerator when the motor will go on; he never addressed the refrigerator light at all. Rather than admit to this simple mistake, R. Broyde has chosen to reiterate his basic error and compound it with further errors. Furthermore, R. Broyde has entirely ignored the crux of my own argument, specifically that the articles to which Rav Simcha Zelig was responding were about triggering the refrigerator motor by allowing warm air to enter. Those articles do not mention refrigerator lights at all. It is therefore untenable to claim that Rav Simcha Zelig permitted opening a refrigerator on Shabbat when the light inside will go on. Let us proceed to examine how each argument advanced by R. Broyde is incorrect. Below are direct quotations from R. Broyde’s response (in bold), followed by my own comments.“The relevant paragraph of the teshuva by Dayan Rieger reads simply:ובדבר התבת קרח מלאכותי נראה כיון דכשפותח את דלת התיבה הוא כדי לקבל משם איזו דבר ואינו מכוין להדליק את העלעקטרי הוי פסיק רישיה דלא איכפת ליה אפילו להדליק אם הוא באופן שהוא פסיק רישיה.And in the matter of the artificial [electric] icebox it appears that since when one opens the door of the box to get something from there and does not intend to ignite (light) the electricity it is a psik resha that he does not care about, even to light in way that is a psik resha.”R. Broyde’s citation has omitted the first several words of the paragraph, which read as follows[3]:הגיעני השלשה כרכים הפרדס ובדבר התבת קרח מלאכותי...“I received the three issues of Hapardes and in the matter of the artificial [electric] icebox…” This omission is significant, because these words make clear that Rav Simcha Zelig was addressing the refrigerator question raised in earlier issues of Hapardes. (See Hapardes 1931 num. 2 page 3, and Hapardes1931 num. 3 page 7.) The question under discussion in those previous volumes was the triggering of the refrigerator motor, and not the light, as noted. Also of note, is that at the end of his teshuva[4], Rav Simcha Zelig addressed Rav Moshe Levin’s question regarding the permissibility of making ice on Shabbat. Rav Simcha Zelig cited this question specifically in the name of Rav Levin. This is significant because the ice question appeared in the name of Rav Levin in Hapardes 1931 num. 3 page 7, inan article about triggering the refrigerator motors.[5] See the final paragraph of the article titled “Frigidaire” in the image below:So it is clear that Rav Simcha Zelig introduced his teshuva with a reference to the prior issues of Hapardes. And it is also clear that he closed his teshuva by addressing Rav Moshe Levin’s ice question from Hapardes (which appeared in the article entitled “Fri[...]



The Babylonian Geonim's Attitude to the Talmudic Text

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 22:19:00 +0000

The Attitude of the Babylonian Geonim to the Talmudic textBy Dr. Uzy Fuchs A few weeks ago we mentioned herethat the Seventeenth World Congress of Jewish Studies took place at the Mount Scopus Campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Over the next few months we will be posting written transcriptions of some of the various presentations (we hope to receive additional ones).The first in this series is from Dr. Uzy Fuchs dealing with the Babylonian Geonim's attitude to the Talmudic text, the subject of his recently released excellent book.  To purchase this work contact me at Eliezerbrodt-at-gmail.com. Part of the proceeds will be used to support the efforts of the Seforim Blog. Here is the cover:יחסם של גאוני בבל לטקסט התלמודיהרצאה בקונגרס השבע-עשרה למדעי היהדות, ירושלים, אב תשע"זמאת: עוזיאל פוקס(קטעים מתוך המצגת משולבים בתוך לשון ההרצאה)שאלת יחסם של גאוני בבל לעניינים טקסטואליים במשנה ובתלמוד הבבלי היא שאלה רחבה ומורכבת, מכיוון שמדובר על תקופה של למעלה משלוש מאות שנה, שפעלו בה חכמים שונים בכמה מרכזים. אפתח בכמה נתונים מספריים שיאפשרו לנו למקד את הדיון. בידינו השתמרו בערך 260 התייחסויות של הגאונים לעניינים טקסטואליים במשנה ובתלמוד. חלקם ארוכים ומפורטים וחלקם כוללים הערה קצרה; מהם שהגיעו בשלימות ומהם מקוטעים וקשים לפיענוח; הרבה מהם נכתבו כמענה לשאלות טקסטואליות אך לא מעט נכתבו ביוזמתם של הגאונים עצמם. בנקודה אחת הממצאים חד משמעיים – המקום המרכזי של רש"ג ורה"ג בתחום הטקסטואלי. מניתוח של המקורות שבהם רב שרירא גאון ורב האיי גאון עסקו בעניינים טקסטואליים אנו למדים על המניעים שלהם לעסוק בגרסאות התלמוד. הרבה מהם נכתבו כתשובות לשואלים, בין בעניינים טקסטואליים ובין בתשובות הלכתיות ופרשניות. באופן מיוחד מעניינות אותן התשובות שבהן העניין הטקסטואלי הוא שולי, ואין הוא חיוני כלל ועיקר כדי לענות לשאלה שנשאלו הגאונים, ואף על פי כן טרחו הגאונים להוסיף הערה ארוכה או קצרה בעניין גרסאות התלמוד. חשיבות מיוחדת יש לכמה עשרות דיונים טקסטואליים שנכתבו בחיבורי הגאונים ולא בתשובותיהם. במיוחד מעניין פירושי רב האי גאון למסכתות ברכות ושבת, שבשרידים הלא רבים שהגיעו אלינו יש עשרים וארבעה דיונים טקסטואליים. חלקם ארוכים, מורכבים ומפורטים. דיונים אלה מלמדים אותנו שבעיני גאוני בבל האחרונים – רש"ג ובעיקר רה"ג – העיסוק בגרסאות התלמוד הפך להיות חלק בלתי נפרד מסדר יומו של לומד ומפרש התלמוד. מכל מקום, העיסוק הטקסטואלי האינטנסיבי המרובה של שני גאוני [...]



Review of My Father’s Journey by Sara Reguer

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 01:33:00 +0000

Review of My Father’s Journey by Sara Reguer (Academic Studies Press, 2015)By Moshe MaimonAbout a year ago, Seforim Blog readers were informed by Prof. Marc Shapiro of the publication of Sara Reguer’s book My Father’s Journey, and they were further advised that this book would be of great value to anyone interested in the history of the yeshiva movement and Eastern European orthodoxy (see here). The following review illustrates the contribution the book indeed makes to these fields of study.This basis of this memoir is essentially a diary which affords readers a very intimate view into the mind of a Lithuanian yeshiva student in the period between the two World Wars. Interspersed between the pages of this fascinating document is a fair amount of interesting yeshiva lore, including little-known facts about prominent Torah personalities contemporaneous with the author’s father. In highlighting some of these passages, I hope to give the reader a sense of the value of this work, while also calling attention to certain historical facts that might enhance the reader’s understanding. The book, based on a Hebrew memoir by Dr. Moshe Aharon Reguer, son of the famed Brisker dayan, R. Simcha Zelig Rieger,[1] is translated and supplemented with additional material culled from interviews conducted with Dr. Regeur by his daughter, Prof. Sara Reguer, and from family lore she preserved. Additionally, it is bolstered by her insightful comments filling in detail and providing background. To avoid confusion, different fonts have been employed to represent the different sources. The translated text of the memoir appears in italics, the interviews in plain script, and Prof. Reguer’s comments in bold typeface.This arrangement is helpful in distinguishing between the actual memoir, written by Moshe Aharon Reguer as a young adult in 1926, and the remaining material that relates to a later period in his life. Dr. Reguer wrote his memoir from the perspective of a young man poised at an important crossroads in life. As the narrative moves into his later years, the story takes on a nostalgic, backward-looking tinge.  Prof. Reguer deftly weaves the diverse sources that capture these epochs into a beautifully coherent story. Here I might suggest that care should have been taken to more clearly distinguish the places where the written memoir “pauses” to include later reminiscences by the author obviously not part of the original document. One example is the references to dates and events after 1926,[2] the year of the composition of the original memoir. There is no documentation for these comments which are printed together with the text of the original memoir. In some instances these secondary sources recount events already recorded in the memoir with occasional variations; to arrive at a clear understanding of what actually happened, the reader would benefit by being able to differentiate between the various sources. Take for example Moshe Aharon’s account of his farher(matriculation exam) in the Slutzker yeshiva. First, from p. 65: So I went to Slutzk and the Slutzker Rav Isser Zalman with Rav Aharon Kotler, his son in law, hired a teacher for me: Rav Shach (who is now famous in Ponovezh), who was then known as the Vabulniker”. We stayed together in an inn and he learned with me, and after a short time he went to Rav Aharon and Rav Isser Zalman and told them “I don’t wan’t to take any money - he doesn’t need a teacher!” So Rav Aharon sai[...]



Some New books

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 18:15:00 +0000

Some New booksBy Eliezer BrodtThis week is the Seventeenth World Congress of Jewish Studies at the Mount Scopus Campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Here is a link to all the lectures that are taking place. In honor of this Congress many academic publishers have released various titles in the past few weeks. There is also a small book fair at the congress where the books are being sold at reduced prices. Here is a list of some of the newer titles. For some of the titles I have provided the Table of contents.As in the past I am offering a service, for a small fee to help one purchase these titles (or other titles). For more information about this email me at Eliezerbrodt-at-gmail.com. Part of the proceeds will be used to support the efforts of the the Seforim Blog.יד בן צבי1.      בין יוספוס לחז"ל, כרך א - האגדות האבודות של ימי הבית שני; כרך ב - אגדות החורבן, טל אילן ורד נעם, בשיתוף מאיר בן שחר, דפנה ברץ ויעל פיש, 951 עמודים 2.      גנזי קדם,כרך יג [ניתן לקבל תוכן].3.      הסיפור הזוהרי, שני חלקים, בעריכת יהודה ליבס, יונתן בן הראש מלילה הלנר-אשדהאוניברסיטה הפתוחהיהודי פרובנס: רנסנס בצל הכנסייה, רם בן שלום, 853 עמודים האקדמיה ללשון העברית1.      המשנה לפי כתב יד קאופמן, זרעים-מועד 221 עמודים2.      אלכסיי אליהו יודיצקי, דקדוק העברית של תעתיקי אוריגנס, 344 עמודיםמכללת הרצוג1.      עוזיאל פוקס, תלמודם של גאונים: יחסם של גאוני בבל לנוסח התלמוד בבלי, 562 עמודים2.       פירוש מדרש חכמים על התורה, מהדורת ביקורתית בצירוף מבוא, [מכ"י, שמות, במדבר דברים], בעריכת יואב ברזלי, 392 עמודים3.      הראל גורדין, הרב משה פיינשיטיין: הנהגה הלכתית בעולם משתנה, 562 עמודים [לתוכן העניינים ראה כאן].מאגנס1.      יהונתן יעקבס, בכור שור הדר לו, ר' יוסף בכור שור בין המשכיות לחידוש, 362 עמודים2.      מרדכי זלקין, מרא דאתרא? רב וקהילה בתחום המושב, 332 עמודים3.      קובץ על יד, כה, לזכר עזרא פליישר, 512 עמודיםהוצאת אוניברסיטת בר-אילן1.      עלי ספר כו-כז, 400 עמודים [ניתן לקבל תוכן].2.      דבר תקווה (מסורת הפיוט ה-ו), מחקרים בשירה ובפיוט מוגשים לפרופ' בנימין בר תקוה, בעריכת אפרים חזן, 484 עמודים3.      רון בר לב, אמונה רדיקלית, אוונגרד האמונה של רבי נחמן מברסלב, 284 עמודים4.      ביטי רואי, אהבת השכינה, מיסטיקה ופואטיקה בתיקוני הזוהר, 514 עמודים5[...]



On R’ Aron Zelig Halevi Epstein Ztz"l

Thu, 03 Aug 2017 15:53:00 +0000

R’ Aron Zelig Halevi Epstein Ztz"l By Eliezer BrodtOn יג מנחם אב תשס"ט I and thousands of others suffered a great loss. Our great Rosh Yeshivah, R’ Aron Zelig Halevi Epstein of Yeshiva Shar Hatorah, was niftar. During the years 2004-2006, through the efforts of My dear friend Meir Kahn, I had the special Zechus to have many interesting conversations with the Rosh Yeshivah Ztz"l. The following is a selection of pieces from those conversations. This article originally appeared in the Hebrew Newspaper Mishpacha, in the Kulmos section for Succos. Thanks to them for allowing it to be reprinted here. משיחתו של רבי זליגמאת אליעזר יהודה בראדטדמותו הזוהרת של הגאון רבי אהרן זליג הלוי עפשטיין זצ"ל, ראש ישיבת "תורה ודעת" ו"שער התורה", אינה מוכרת דייה לבני התורה בארץ ישראל / משך למעלה מחמישים שנה הרביץ ר' זליג תורה באלפי תלמידיו, והיה תל-תלפיות שהכל פנו אליו לעצה ותושיה / תלמיד העלה על הכתב שיחות מאלפות שזכה לשמוע מפי ר' זליג, דברי חכמה ואורחות מוסר וזכרונות נעימים מעולמן של ישיבות ליטאאחר מטתו של הגאון רבי יעקב קמנצקי זצ"ל, בקיץ שנת תשמ"ו, הספידו מו"ר הגאון רבי אהרן זליג הלוי אפשטיין זצ"ל בקהל עם רב במחנה אור שרגא, ובין דבריו הנרגשים דיבר על מעלת השהייה במחיצתו של אדם גדול. מו"ר זצ"ל סיפר מעשה בבעל ה"ישועות יעקב" מלבוב שטרח פעם אחת לילך אל דרשה שנשא המגיד מדובנה, ומיד כשפתח המגיד את דבריו פרץ ה"ישועות יעקב" בבכי והלך. ביאור הדבר, הסביר מו"ר זצ"ל, כי בעבור ה"ישועות יעקב", עצם העמידה במחיצתו של המגיד כבר עשתה בו רושם ועוררה אותו לבכי. כך, אמר ר' זליג, היא התחושה בשהייה במחיצת אדם גדול. גם אם אי אפשר לתארה במילים ולהעביר את החווייה לאחרים, מכל מקום היא עמוקה ובעלת רושם כביר על נפש האדם.דומני כי כל אדם שעמד במחיצתו של מו"ר זצ"ל יכול להעיד על כך: גם אם לא ניתן לתאר כיאות את טיבה של החווייה, הייתה זו אמנם תחושה עמוקה ומיוחדת של עמידה במחיצתו של אדם גדול.אך גם אם לא ניתן לתאר את החוויה כמו שהיא, עם זאת אנסה לזכות לאחרים בשיחות נעימות ומעשירות שזכיתי לשמוע מפי מו"ר זצ"ל. מדי פעם היה מו"ר נהנה לספר על גאוני ליטא ועולם ישיבותיה שלפני המלחמה, ואף פירסם מאמר חשוב על ישיבת גרודנה ("ישיבת שער תורה דגרודנה", בתוך: מוסדות תורה באירופה בבנינם ובחורבנם, הוצ' עוגן, ניו-יורק תשט"ז, עמ' 291-305). בין השנים תשס"ד-תשס"ו זכיתי לשמוע לקח מפי ראש הישיבה, הגאון רבי זליג אפשטיין זצ"ל, ואף לשוחח עימו על עניינים שוני[...]



New book announcement: Yeshurun volume 36

Sun, 30 Jul 2017 02:41:00 +0000

New book announcement: Yeshurun volume 36By Eliezer BrodtThis past Wednesday the thirty sixth volume of the Torah journal Yeshurun was released. As I am on the editorial board of this journal, I normally do not write a review of new volumes for fear of being biased, or the appearance thereof. In keeping with my stance, I will not write a review below, but rather just highlight some of the topics in the volume. Normally, Yeshurun is a bi-annual, with a new volume published before Rosh Hashanah and Pesach. This issue is an additional volume to the two regular ones. In general, each volume has a few sections: a section devoted to manuscripts which usually features material from geonim, rishonim or achronim. Then it follows that with a sort of sefer sikaron of a gadol or two that (usually) recently died, featuring an essay about him and a sampling of his Torah and machshavah from the particular gadol. The next section that usually follows are pieces of Torah from different people, some related to halacha. Following this is a section devoted to machshavah and last is Kulmos which generally features pieces related to history or minhag.The main focus of this issue was to print a volume almost completely devoted to various modern halachic issues (as a result, shrinking the manuscript and Kulmos sections).  A few issues back there was a volume devoted almost entirely to halacha (vol. 31).  In my opinion and from what I heard from others that volume was not considered as interesting as other volumes.  This is the second attempt to issue such a volume and I think this time it is a success. It’s a nice combination of material.Our volume has a few sections: The first section deals with bein hamitzarim: the Three Weeks, Nine Nine, etc. and begins with the publication of a nice manuscript by an anonymous author from the generation of the Rambam's father edited by Professor Tzvi Langermann (this is the third chapter he has issued from this work, see here). It also features a collection of material on this time period culled from the various members of the Brisker Dynasty.The next section, which in my opinion is fascinating and excellent, relates to the Mishna Berurah. The first part of the section contains an essay from Rabbi Trevitz (this is the third installment in the series) related to the numerous contradictions in the Mishnah Berurah and the role of his son R’ Aryeh Leib in writing the MB. There is also an interesting back and forth between Rabbi Trevitz and Rabbi Bergman (another young expert on the MB who has authored four works on the MB) about issues related to this subject. This section also contains some manuscripts of the MB and some new letters by the Chafetz Chaim.The next section is devoted to R’ Refael Shmulevitz ztz”l. Having seen and heard him up close many times while learning in the Mir, I was always very impressed by this special gaon. The section is a nice tribute to him. It also features some letters related to his role as chief editor of the Encyclopedia Talmudit.  In one of them he writes: ואמרתי בפגישה עם ת"ח בעלי יכולת, שההא"ת מיועדת לכל, הן לבעלי בתים הרוצים לדעת את הענינים מ'למעלה' והן לת"ח, טעין לי אחד מהם, שהוא אישית אינו מוצא תועלת בא"ת, שכן לפני שהוא לומד את הסוגיא אינו רו[...]