Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Rabbi Yehonatan Eybeschutz's thoughts on the practice of receiving Haskamot

from the introduction of Kereti U'Peleti by Eybeschutz'

It was general practice since the early 1500s for printed works to get a הסכמה Haskamah, which served as a sorts of copyright page, often placing bans on anyone who dares print this same work within a certain time-frame.

When Eybeschutz printed his book Kereti U'Peleti, he opted out of this practice and gives an interesting logic for his reasoning. He writes that if he has yet to sell out his own copies of his printing, why would anyone else attempt to print it, when it most likely will end up as a financial failure, as he himself can't sell his copies.
If he has indeed has sold out his copies, then why stop anyone else from printing his book, as he will incur no loss from it, as his copies have already sold.

This statement of Eybeschutz, appealed to several later authors as well, and was used in several other book printings, for example the commentary on Iyov published in 1791 in Prague with a commentary by יב"א, who quotes Eybeschutz in his reasoning for not getting a Haskamah for his book.

איוב עם פרוש יב"א 1791 

Rabbi Ahron Milevsky of Montevideo, Uruguay and כרכשאות

It is interesting to see how words that haven't been used for many years manage to survive in Rabbinic circles, long after the more modern term is widely used and the old word is no longer understandable to the vast majority of the speakers of the language.

I came across recently, a letter sent from Uruguay, by Rabbi Ahron Milevsky to Rav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin in NY, dated 1957. Milevsky requested an immediate response to the Kashruth status of the wrappers of כרכרשאות sold in Uruguay by the Ford company. He attached a sample of the wrapper to the letter, having it stapled on.

The word כרכרשאות which means sausages, is derived from the Aramaic work כרכושתא, which appears in the Talmud Baba Metzia 85. The word word appears regularly in scattered Rabbinic writings, for example in the Tur Choshen Mishpat 306 והטבחים שלוקחין הכרכשתות מן הכשרות נקרא שפיר בשכר. Agnon used it once as well שהיה מכיר אפלו בתוך הקוגיל כרכשתא שנגנבה הימנו" עגנון, אלו כ

By the early 1900s the word נקניק was by the far the word that was used for sausages. נקניק appears but כרכושתא does not in Ben Yehuda, Alcalay, Megiddo and other Hebrew Dictionaries of the day. Occasionally Jews would use the old German word for sausages as well וואורשט, in some advertisements in Rabbinic Journals in the mid-1900s, you are able to see both words still in use, often together and interchangeably. Here is one such ad from Hapardes

And here is an ad page from the Journal היהודי from 1937, showing 2 different ads, one used the old term כרכשתות and the one by Hebrew National using Sausage (In Hebrew Letters) as well as the Yiddish term וואורשט

Collection of Gittin from Chernovitz (Chernivtsi) under Soviet Union 1961-1962

I recently acquired a First Edition copy of Kav Naki, a classic work on Hilchot Gittin, the Jewish Laws of divorce. The copy had the signatures and stamps of Rabbi Ezra Kalischer, the Av Bet Din in Chernovitz. There is a responsa written to him by the Maharsham, published in Shu"t Maharsham Vol 6, siman 27, dated 1897.

Upon opening the book I discovered a stash of Divorce Documents for divorces that took place in Chernovitz mostly in the years 1961-1962. Chernovitz was under Soviet Union since WWII and the writing of Gittin was more than enough to get you in trouble with the authorities, but it appears an underground Bet Din continued to be active, even under Soviet Rule.  Judging from the date, it appears the Gittin were written by a different owner of the book, other than Kalischer.
The same 2 signatures appear in nearly all the documents, that of
קלונימוס קלמן בן יחיאל מיכל
אברהם יעקב בן משה