Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Telegram from Cong. Beth Torah in Brooklyn in support of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef for Chief Rabbinate in Israel

Tucked inside a book I recently acquired I came across an interesting telegram sent from Congregation Beth Torah, A Syrian Synagogue in Brooklyn NY to the Office of the Prime Minister in Israel.

The telegram was sent in 1982, shortly before the first term of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's Chief Rabbinate was to conclude. There was much debate in Israel at the time if to allow a second term. Eventually a law was passed preventing a Chief Rabbi from officiating for more than one term, thus preventing Rav Ovadia's reelection. The law which was widely viewed as being directed against R. Ovadia specifically was passed in part with support from Moshe Nissim, the secretary of treasury at the time, who was the son of the previous Chief Rabbi, Yitzchak Nissim

This telegram requests that the additional term be approved and is signed by the Rabbi of Beth Torah at the time, Rabbi Zebulun Lieberman. A noble effort, which unfortunately did not succeed.

A Customer in Qatar building a library of Hebrew Anti-Zionist works by Rav Yoel Teitelbaum

I have sold books in the past to several customers of Muslim Faith in the Middle-East so was not all too surprised when an order came in from Qatar, but his choice of books was rather depressing to say the least.
After making several purchases of Hebrew grammar and language instruction works, he went on to purchase a slew of Satmar Anti-Zionist works, starting with Vayoel Moshe and down to current living Anti-Zionist Satmar authors.
Here is a look at his most recent order

Sometimes you wonder if Rav Yoel Teitelbaum intended his teachings to continue and be preached in the current situation in Israel, where lives are literately at stake when Jews preach Anti-Zionism or if Rav Yoel's teachings were intended for his time and place and perhaps he himself would have changed his ideology in light of the current times, when most of the Jewish People in the world live in Israel and it is the center of Torah Study in the world. It is safe to say though, that the authors of these Anti-Zionists works did not intend for there books to be read in Qatar, now the safe-haven of Hamas, and ultimately be used in an excuse to push the Jews towards the Mediterranean Sea.

Instead of cancelling the order, I sent his shipment along with free extras, of more balanced books on Zionism, with hopes that it might be of some influence.

The commentary Leket Bahir on Rashi and the change of tone in the language between the editions

Yeshaya Halevi Weiss was a learned busdriver from Monroe, New York, who wrote an excellent commentary on Rashi and on the Ohr Hachaim, which he named Leket Bahir and Ohr Bahir.
In his commentary on Rashi, he often takes the Sifte Chachamim written by Shabbethai Bass to task and in his commentary Leket Bahir often used very harsh words and verbal attacks against the Sifte Chachamim.

In his second edition, Weiss appears to have had a change of heart on this matter and a notice was placed following the title page stating:
אחרי שובי נחמתי מלבא ולצאת נגד הש"ח בלשונות חדים קשים ומדקירים. הלא דברי חכמים בנחת נשמעים......
Upon my return, I regret my coming and going against the Sifte Chachamim with harsh and sharp words like swords... words of the wise are accepted when said in a soft manner....."

The statement of the Author above in the second edition, retracting his harsh criticism of the Sifte Chachamim

The harsh words against the Sifte Chachamim were removed in the later editions, but the pagination and page layout was not changed, thus creating empty spaces in the middle of the text as seen in scans above.

hat-tip: Menachem Silber

An Uncensored Plagiarized copy of Talmudic Terminology by Nosson Dovid Rabinowich Ironicly inscribed to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef

Below are scans of a noted and ironic copy of Talmudic Terminology by Nosson Dovid Rabinowich, which was inscribed to Haham Ovadia Yosef. Shortly after publication, it was brought to light that this work was plagiarized from Moses Mielziner's Introduction to the Talmud and a new edition was published, removing the Haskamah of Rav Ovadia Yosef from the book and with attribution to Mielziner.

A Summary of the affair from the SeforimBlog:
In 1988, Rabbi Nosson Dovid Rabinowich published a book titled Talmudic Terminology. However, as was noted in brief by Dr. Marc Shapiro, this was plagiarized from Moses Mielziner's Introduction to the Talmud, first published in 1894. This omission, however, has been corrected in Rabinowich's reprints of his Talmudic Terminology where the title now reads that Rabinowich's work is "adapted" from Mielziner's.
While this would appear to be the end of the matter it is not. Dr. Shapiro has investigated this issue further and has sent the following:
After I published my book on Saul Lieberman and the Orthodox a number of people pointed out to me that Nosson Rabinowich's plagiarism of Mielziner is more extensive than what I point out. I didn't know what they were referring to since I had the first edition of his book M. Mielziner's Talmudic Terminology, published in 1988 (in my kuntres there is a typo, as it says 1998). Or so I thought. I succeeded in locating another copy by interlibrary loan, and lo and behold, the title page does not say M. Mielziners Talmudic Terminology adapted by N. Rabinowich but it identifies him as the author. What's even more fascinating is that the other edition has haskamot of Rabbis Ovadiah Yosef and Aharon Feldman. Obviously when the scandal broke, Rabinowich quickly produced a new title page and took out the haskamot (and also added a note on p. xv and made a slight change in note 2 on. p. xv (replacing "some" with "most".) It is obvious why the haskamot were taken out, since they praise Rabinowich for producing a book which he didn't write. In fact, Rabinowich is responsible for something very interesting. We find here the first example in history where gedolim put a haskamah on a work written by a Reform rabbi! Unknowingly Rabbis Yosef and Feldman gave a haskamah to Mielziner. You can be sure this is not something that makes them happy.
Additionally, in an effort to keep the two "editions" the same, Rabinowich did not alter the pagination, this is so, even though he removed the haskamot. Consequently, the "new" edition is missing those pages.

hat-tip; Jimmy Betesh

An Artscroll Shas with a history - A Siyum made by a husband and wife

I recently acquired an Artscroll Hebrew-English Shas from an elderly man whose wife has just passed on. He related to me, how he and his wife completed the Shas together with the aid of an Artscroll and now that his wife is no longer with him, he decided to sell his second set, leaving himself with one complete set for himself.
I sold the set to a local customer who related how decades ago, he participated in a Siyum Hashas made by a different couple, completed using a Soncino Translation of the Talmud, he recalled that Rav Dovid Cohen from Gvul Yaavetz attended and gave a speech at this siyum.