Sunday, September 28, 2014

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


  1. This is only half the story.

    Rabinowich was just recently convicted as a pedophile & sentenced to jail. He thought was going to meet a young girl for kol davar assur that he met through the internet, unaware she was an undercover NYPD detective posing as a minor.

    But in any case, at the time that Prof. Shapiro uncovered the plagiarism scandal, a major posek in the yeshiva world said the sefer should not be used now that we know the real author is a Reform heretic.

    1. Sounds like the major posek is one of the Rambam's immature babies among the masses who doesn't know how to accept good content.

  2. How did Rav Yosef's personal copy, presumably in his possession in Israel, make it's way to you in Brooklyn?

    1. Apparently the book was of no use to the Yosef family, as the book is written in English and it was passed on to an American who could put it to use. The book was not in my procession, rather discovered in a Syrian Synagogue in Deal, NJ.