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 


  1. very interesting. Arin Einkin cited this haskama in a post on Haskama writings for Hirhurim

  2. Interesting. At one point Moses Mendelssohn was criticized for not getting haskamot for his edition of the Torah (in fact, he did get one from R. Tzvi Hirsch Lewin), and he argued that there was no need for a haskama, because it wasn't an original work of Torah scholarship, just an anthology of meforshim and a German translation.And R. Yonatan Eybezchutz famously declined to confer semicha moreinu on Mendelssohn, because he wasn't married. Sounds like these are some tropes.