Gems from Rav Herzog’s Archive (Part 1 of 2):
Giyus, Professor Lieberman and More
By Yaacov Sasson
A tremendous resource that will be of great interest to Seforim Blog’s readers has been made available to the public. The entire archive of the great Rav Yitzchak Eizik Halevi Herzog, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, has been scanned and is now available online. The archive contains hundreds of files on a wide range of topics, including Rav Herzog’s Piskei Halacha and Torah novellae, extensive correspondence on Israeli politics, Rav Herzog’s efforts to save Jews of Europe, and much more. Each file is dedicated to a specific topic, and many of these files contain upwards of a hundred pages of material. In short, the archive is a veritable treasure trove, and will be of great interest to those who are students of Torah, Halacha and Jewish history. Much of Rav Herzog’s Torah has been published in his numerous seforim; however, there is a significant amount of unpublished material in the archive. The purpose of this article is to make readers aware of some of the gems found in the archive, in particular the significant unpublished material. I have only begun to look through the vast amount of material that is available, and I am certain that there is much more to be found. The following are a select number of documents and files that I think will be of interest to the Seforim blog’s readers.
I Giyus Bnai Yeshivot
The archive contains an entire file dedicated to the always controversial issue of giyus bnai yeshivot, whether yeshiva students ought to be drafted to the army or exempted from the draft. Within this file, there is an approximately 50-page kuntres written by Rav Herzog in 1948, dedicated to a halachic analysis of the topic. To the best of my knowledge, this very significant kuntres was never published, and it does not appear in any of Rav Herzog’s seforim.
Rav Herzog addresses the issue in an extremely thorough manner, and deals with a wide variety of relevant sources and issues, such as the definition of milchemet mitzvah, and the words of the Rambam at the end of Hilchot Shemita VeYovel, among other issues. For example, on page 27, he discusses the possibility of milchemet mitzvah in the absence of a king, and concludes that milchemet mitzvah is still possible if the community of Jews living in Eretz Yisrael approves of the war. On page 12, Rav Herzog suggests, based on a diyuk, that the Rambam’s words at the end of Hilchot Shemita VeYovel exempting talmidei chachamim from waging war do not apply to a war of ezrat yisrael miyad tzar. (A similar reading of the Rambam was suggested by Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, in “The Ideology of Hesder” (Tradition Fall 1981), and was reprinted in Leaves of Faith Volume 1.) Rav Herzog also makes a fascinating contention (on page 2), that the British were the current-day manifestation of Esav, putting forward their split hoof and hypocritically claiming to seek justice, while quietly attempting to undermine the Jewish cause by supporting their enemies. It is obviously not feasible to summarize a 50 page kuntres in a single blog post; I will simply present Rav Herzog’s main conclusion. Rav Herzog suggests (pages 12 and 34) that yeshiva students should not be subject to giyus malei, full conscription, even during wartime. Rather, they should be subject to giyus chelki, partial conscription of a few hours a week, doing what Rav Herzog terms “hishtatfut” in the war effort, such as local shemira and the like.
While this was Rav Herzog’s halachic conclusion in the kuntres, when the issue of forced conscription became a potential reality ten years later, Rav Herzog sent a heartfelt letter to Ben-Gurion, pleading for the exemption of bnai yeshivot, since they are already conscripted to the security of Torah and the heritage of Am Yisrael, and their Torah learning is a shield for Am Yisrael. This letter, which is found in the file of Rav Herzog’s correspondence with Ben-Gurion, appears below:
Another noteworthy document in the file on giyus bnai yeshivot is a 1948 telegram from the Roshei Yeshiva of the American yeshivot, expressing their shock at the possibility of giyus bnai yeshivot, and urging Rav Herzog and Rav Uziel to make sure that bnai yeshivot remain exempt from army service. The telegram appears below, as well as my transcription of the telegram into Hebrew:
נבהלנו מאד לשמוע שאומרים לבטל השחרור של בני ישיבות ולקחתם לצבא. הדבר נוגע לנפש ורוח חיי אומתנו ויגרום חילול השם בין הגויים המשחררים בני ישיבות מעבודת הצבא אפילו בשעת מלחמה. השתדלו בכל תוקף להעביר רוע הגזירה, ואין מעצר להש[ם] להושיע. בשם כל הישיבות,
Kotler Gordon Grosowski Zaks Joffen Levenstein Kalmanowitz Kamenetzki Bloch Belkin Shatz[k]es Soloveitchik Feinstein Ehrenfeld Hutner Lifshitz Leibowitz Korb Ruderman Rothenberg
The telegram is especially noteworthy because of the appearance of the names of the Charedi Roshei Yeshiva, such as Rav Aharon Kotler, Rav Reuven Grozovsky, Rav Moshe Feinstein etc. together with the names of the more modern Roshei Yeshiva of RIETS: the Rav, Rav Yosef Dov Soloveichik, and Dr. Samuel Belkin. Such collaboration would seem to be almost impossible in later years.
II Professor Saul Lieberman on Rav Herzog’s Torat Ha-Ohel
Rav Herzog maintained a close relationship with Professor Saul Lieberman, as Dr. Marc Shapiro has mentioned previously on the Seforim blog, and noted in his “Saul Lieberman and the Orthodox”, page 22. It should therefore come as no surprise that Rav Herzog’s archive contains correspondence between him and Lieberman. The letter that appears below was sent by Lieberman to Rav Herzog, and contains Lieberman’s haarot on Rav Herzog’s Torat Ha-Ohel, his sefer on the Rambam’s Hilchot Sanhedrin. In this letter, Lieberman first discusses the proper girsaot in the relevant Rambam and the gemara in Makot regarding minuy dayanim. He then addresses Rav Herzog’s question of how it could be possible that bnai noach have a more extensive obligation of dinim than do Yisrael, and Lieberman offers an elegant yeshiva-style distinction between dinei yisrael and dinei bnai noach to answer the problem. (A similar distinction was offered by Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, in Beit Yitzchak 8, page 89, and reprinted in his Minchat Aviv.) He offhandedly mentions that Rav Menachem Kasher had recently “acquired” some of his material, and then bemoans the fact that RY”D is too involved in the ol ha-tzibur and is not dedicating himself sufficiently to his Torah study, although he has the potential to become the Gaon Ha-Dor.
Lieberman’s letter appears below, and a transcription appears in Appendix A.
It is most likely that the RY”D to whom Lieberman referred was Rav Yaakov David Herzog, Rav Herzog’s son, as the context within the letter is dealing with Rav Herzog’s family. Rav Yaakov David had already published a scientific/critical edition of Mishnayot Brachot/Peah/Demai in 1945, at the young age of 24, and Lieberman wrote a Foreword to the volume. Rav Yaakov David Herzog was eventually selected as Chief Rabbi of Great Britain in the 1960s, but declined the post due to his ill health.
I also entertained the possibility that the RY”D to whom Lieberman referred is the Rav, Rav Yosef Dov Soloveichik. While this seems unlikely, it would fit nicely with the comments made by Rabbi Jacob Radin, as quoted by Rav Aaron Rakeffet, contrasting the Rav and Lieberman:
You know that I have attended classes in both the Seminary and the Yeshiva. I have studied with Professor Lieberman and the Rav. The Professor lectures a few times a week. He hurriedly finishes and rushes back to his research. Outside of his formal lectures, he is barely available to the students. On the other hand, the Rav is never alone. He has never finished a lecture on time. He always goes overtime. He remains in the classroom afterwards to carry on the Talmudic give and take with the students who cannot part from him. Even when he rises to leave, his disciples surround him and the discussion continues…This is the basic manifest difference between these two prodigious scholars.
On Lieberman’s mention of Rav Kasher, this is the page that Lieberman referenced from Tosefet Rishonim:
And the page from Rav Kasher’s article in Sinai, Volume 18:
A number of the rather obscure sources in Rav Kasher’s lengthy footnote 2 appear to be taken from Lieberman’s Tosefet Rishonim.
III The Lieberman Ketuba
As is well-known, Lieberman introduced a new clause into the ketuba in the early 1950s in order to alleviate the aguna problem. The clause stipulated that the couple recognizes the authority of the beit din of the Rabbinical Assembly, and that upon dissolution of the marriage, the beit din would be empowered to administer penalties as it sees fit. The aim of these penalties would be to pressure the husband to give a get. In a number of letters from the 1950s (in a file regarding Even HaEzer issues), Rav Herzog mentions that he himself came up with such an idea many years earlier when he was still Chief Rabbi of Ireland. He envisioned a separate document which would empower the beit din of London to administer financial penalties on a husband withholding a get. He mentions that he is unsure of Professor Lieberman came up with this idea himself, or if Lieberman actually got the idea from Rav Herzog.
Rabbi Emanuel Rackman wrote that it was widely believed that the Lieberman clause was examined by Rav Herzog, and that he had no objections. This belief is certainly false, as Rav Herzog penned a strong protest to the proposed addition to the ketuba. Rav Herzog’s main protest was due to the authority granted to the Conservative beit din. It is possible that the root of this misconception (that Rav Herzog approved of the Lieberman clause) is the fact that Rav Herzog independently envisioned a similar document or agreement, and that he entertained the possibility that Lieberman actually got the idea from him.
IV The Epstein Proposal
Another fascinating exchange between Rav Herzog and Lieberman is found in Rav Herzog’s file dedicated to Reform[ and Conservative Jewry, and relates to the Rabbinical Assembly’s 1957 attempt to resuscitate the Epstein proposal. Rabbi Louis Epstein had proposed, in his 1930 book Hatzaa Lemaan Takanat Agunot, that every husband, at the time of marriage, ought to designate his wife as a shliach to deliver her own get, in order to eliminate the aguna problem in the case of a missing husband or a get-refuser. The proposal was never implemented, in large part due to Orthodox opposition. In May of 1957, the Rabbinical Assembly attempted to resuscitate the Epstein Proposal at their Annual Convention at the Concord Hotel in Kiamesha Lake, New York. However, this attempt to revive the Epstein proposal must be viewed in light of the politics within the Conservative movement at that time. The following is an excerpt from the Presidential Report of Rabbi Aaron Blumenthal at the Rabbinical Assembly Convention:
Note in particular Rabbi Blumenthal’s comments that the Seminary is an Orthodox institution, that its synagogue has separate seating and does not use the Rabbinical Assembly siddur, and that practically every faculty member added to the Talmud faculty in the last 15 to 20 years thinks of himself as an Orthodox Jew and has little regard for the Conservative movement. Given that Lieberman was the de-facto Rabbi of this synagogue, and that Lieberman ensured that the synagogue did not use the Rabbinical Assembly siddur, and that the synagogue maintained separate seating until Lieberman’s death, it would seem that Rabbi Blumenthal’s words were directed primarily at Lieberman, who arrived at the Seminary some 17 years prior.
It is against this backdrop that the Rabbinical Assembly passed a Resolution that the Rabbinical Assembly Committee on Jewish Law and Standards review the Epstein proposal and submit a plan for its implementation.
The report below from the National Jewish Post and Opinion makes clear that the left wing of Conservative Judaism felt that the Lieberman ketuba did not go far enough in addressing the aguna problem and therefore sought to institute the Epstein proposal. On the other hand, the more traditional wing of Conservative Judaism, led by Rabbi Louis Finkelstein, Chancellor of JTS, wanted the proposal referred to a joint committee made up of JTS faculty and RA members. Rabbi Blumenthal’s complaint about the Orthodox character of the Seminary faculty was not just an observation, but also a charge to the RA regarding the Epstein proposal, that they not allow the Seminary faculty to torpedo the proposal. Rabbi Finkelstein’s group lost the vote 92-88, in what was, in a sense, a repudiation of Lieberman’s Orthodox influence, and a rejection of his ketuba as too Orthodox and not impactful enough. The majority of the RA membership was prepared to head in a more liberal direction.
After the passage of the Rabbinical Assembly resolution, the Agudat HaRabbanim turned to Rav Herzog in the letter below, asking him to intervene and prevent this breach of kedushat hamishpacha beyisrael. (It is not clear to me why they termed the Epstein proposal nisuin al tnay, or conditional marriage, which is a different attempted mechanism to prevent aguna situations.)
In response to the request of Agudat HaRabbanim, Rav Herzog turned to Lieberman in the letter below, asking him to intervene and prevent the implementation of the proposed nisuin al tnay. (Rav Herzog apparently understood the proposal to be literally one of conditional marriage, and thus referred Lieberman to the book Ain Tnay Benisuin, rather than the book LeDor Acharon, mentioned in the Agudat HaRabbanim letter, which deals with the Epstein proposal.)
In response to Rav Herzog’s letter, Lieberman sent Rav Herzog the very fascinating letter below. (A transcription of this letter appears in Appendix B.) Lieberman tells Rav Herzog that the Orthodox Rabbis are simply looking for excuses to make machloket, that Rabbi Finkelstein strongly protested the re-introduction of the Epstein proposal (as we noted was reported in the National Jewish Post), and that the President of the Assembly (Rabbi Blumenthal) also denied the claim of the Agudat HaRabbanim. He then says that the entire purpose of his revised ketuba was to bury the possibility of the Epstein proposal! He also mentions that some Orthodox Rabbis have claimed that any wedding which uses the new ketuba is invalid, and the kiddushin are not tofsin. (I have been unable to find any documented source of a Rabbi who made such a claim. I would be indebted to any of the readers who could provide such a source.) Lieberman concludes by assuring Rav Herzog that he would be the first to protest the implementation of the Epstein proposal, and that such a nevala could never happen while he is at the Seminary.
Rabbi Blumenthal’s denial was in fact reported by the JTA. He said that the Assembly only authorized a committee to re-study the problem.
Some points remain unclear to me, as Rabbi Finkelstein’s group did indeed lose the vote, and the RA did pass a resolution that the Rabbinical Assembly Committee on Jewish Law and Standards submit a plan for the implementation of the Epstein proposal. I find it hard to understand Rabbi Blumenthal’s denial, or how Lieberman could claim that the Orthodox Rabbis were simply seeking machloket, when the RA passed a resolution for implementation (even documented in the RA Proceedings), with the left-wing defeating the traditional wing.
(to be continued)
Letter from Lieberman to Rav Herzog about Torat Ha-Ohel
בע"ה אור ליום ד' פרש' לך תש"ט
לידידי הגאון הגדול האמתי מרן רי"א הלוי הירצוג, לב"ב ולכל הנלוים עליו שלום רב.
היום קבלתי את יקרת כ"ג ואעשה כמובן כבקשתו. והנה נזכרתי שאני חייב התנצלות לכ"ג על שתיקתי הממושכה. היו כמה סיבות וטעמים לדבר. את ספרו היקר קבלתי בזמנו ונהניתי מאד מחידושיו הנפלאים ובקיאותו המפליאה. לא רציתי להטריד אותו בהערותי שמא יראה נחיצות נמוסית להשיב, והרי מכיר אני את טרדותיו המרובות, ולמה להעמיס עליו עוד משא? כדי שלא יהי' מכתבי כשטר הדיוטות ארשום לו כמה דברים קלים שאינם צריכים עיון ומו"מ. דברי הר"מ בפ"א מהל' סנהדרין ה"ב קשה להגיה, וכנראה שלדעת הר"מ אין כלל מצוה למנות דיינים בחו"ל, כפי שהבין בו הרמב"ן בפרש' שופטים, וכן משמע מלשונו של הר"מ בסה"מ עשין קע"ו ומקורו הוא הבבלי במכות ספ"א לפי גירסת המאירי שם: "אבל בחו"ל אי אתה מושיב בכל פלך ופלך ובכל עיר ועיר." והוא מביא שם את גירסת התלמוד שלנו בשם "ויש גורסים" ומסיים: ולא נראה כן. ואשר לפסק הר"מ בספ"ט מה' מלכים נראה שהוא חלק בין ב"נ ובין ישראל. שהרי ישראל מצווים למנות שופטים כמ"ע של שופטים ושוטרים תתן לך, ואפילו יצוייר שנהיה בטוחים שישראל לא יעברו על שום עברה ג"כ מצוה למנות שופטים. ברם ב"נ מחוייב למנות שופטים רק מפני שהוא מצווה על הדינין, כלומר שישגיח שלא יעברו על מצות ב"נ. ואם לא מנה שופטים בפלך ועבר אחד מהם עברה ולא דנו אותו כלם חייבים מיתה (שהרי כל אחד ראוי לדון יחידי), אבל כ"ז שלא עברו עברה אינם חייבים מיתה על מינוי דיינים אפילו לשיטת הר"מ. ועיין ביד רמה נו ע"ב וברש"י ד"ה כך נצטוו, ומלשונו של הרמ"ה משמע שכן היה לפניו מפורש בגמרא שבני נח הוזהרו מחמת "ושפטו."
בענין גר העמלקי (דף נ"ו) עיין מ"ש החיד"א ביעיר אוזן, עין זוכר מערכת ג' אות א' דברים מחוכמים מאד.
[בעני]ן מכת מרדות (צ"ט) עיין בשו"ת [הר]שב"ש סי' תר"י וציינתי לו בתוספת ראשונים ח"ב צד 170 (עכשיו ראיתי שידידנו הרב כשר קנה במשיכה מספרי שם את כל החומר ופרסמם בסיני.)
כפי שאמרתי לא ארבה בדברים שצריכים לינה בעומקה של הלכה, ואני מקוה שנוכל לדבר ע"ז אי"ה פה אל פה.
על כמה דברים שנתחדשו אצל כ"ג באופן פרטי שמענו מאורחים וידידים היורדים מהתם להכא ושמחנו מאד לשמוע שכלתו הכבודה ב"ה נתרפאה לגמרי. מצטער אני מאד שרי"ד שלנו נושא בעול הצבור ואינו מתפנה לגמרי לעולה של תורה. הרי עדיין הוא צעיר ויכול להיות לגאון הדור. ומדי דברי בו נזכרתי ששאל אותי מקום הירושלמי: התלמיד תוך ד' אמות ברם הרב אפילו חוץ לד' אמות והשבתי לו שירושלמי כזה אין לפנינו. ואעפ"י שכן הוא האמת בכ"ז שכחתי באותה שעה שכן מביא הריטב"א בסוכה כ"ח בשם הירושלמי.
אצלנו אין כל חדש. אנו יושבים ומצפים לגאולה שלמה, ייתי ונחמיניה.
בפ"ש מבית לבית
הנני מעריצו ומוקירו וידידו הנאמן
הייתי מכיר טובה מאד לרבנית שתחי' אם תודיע לנו בפרוטרוט על חיימקה שיחי' ומשפחתו ועל רי"ד אהובנו.
Letter from Lieberman to Rav Herzog about the Epstein Proposal
בעה"י יום ה' פרש' מטות תשי"ז
לכבוד ידידינו הגאון הגדול האמיתי מרן הרי"א הלוי הירצוג הרב הראשי לא"י ברכה ושלום רב.
יקרת כ"ג מי' תמוז הועברה אלי לכרם מרתה, ומאד מאד התפלאתי שכ"ג האמין לדיבת הרבנים כאן. אמנם בכנסיית הרבנים השמרנים דברו על עיון מחדש בשאלת תנאי בקידושין, אבל ד"ר פינקלשטיין יצא בכל תוקף נגד חידוש העיון. ונשיא הכנסיה הנ"ל הכחיש בעצמו את דיבת הרבנים. אבל הללו מחפשים רק אמתלאות למחלוקת. כל עניין הכתובה היה כדי לקבור לגמרי את שאלת התנאי. הסברתי להם שאם ליחיד אפשר פעם לחשוב ע"ז הרי לרבים אין הדבר בא כלל בחשבון שהתנאי יעשה ע"פ דין, וישתקע הדבר ולא יעלה שוב על הפרק. וכולם הסכימו ל[י]. עכשיו יש מהם שבאים בטענות ואומרים: הרי הרבנים הארתודוכסים טוענין שאף הכתובה נעשתה שלא כדין, ויש מהם (כלומר מהרבנים הארתודוקסים) שאמרו שהמתחתן בכתובה החדשה אין הקידושין תופסין, והאשה מותרת בלי גט (ממש לא יאומן כי יסופר! אבל לצערי נאמרו הדברים), א"כ הרי מוטב לעשות תנאי בקידושין, ולהפטר מכל שאלת העגונה בבת אחת. והנני מבטיח את כב"ג שאין לשמועה שום יסוד, אחרת הייתי אני בין הראשונים למחות, וכל זמן שאני בסמינר לא יתכן שיעשו נבלה כזו.
בפ"ש ובברכה לכל המשפ[חה]
Tracing the History of Shavuos Night Learning
By Eliezer Brodt
This article will trace some of the earliest sources for the Minhag observed by many to stay up learning Torah throughout the entire night of Shavuos. At the outset I would like to note that the focus of this article will be not be about the exact seder that was learned i.e. Tikun Lel Shavuos.
Different versions of this article originally appeared in the Kulmos Supplement of Mishpacha in 2014 and then in English in 2015. I returned to all this in my doctorate Halachic Commentaries to the Shulchan Aruch on Orach Chayim from Ashkenaz and Poland in the Seventeenth Century. This post contains important additions to some of the earlier versions. One day I hope to update it properly.
That the minhag of staying up on Shavuos night to learn was observed widely in recent history is very clear. For example, the author of a nineteenth-century Lithuanian memoir describes how her brothers would stay up the entire night.
In a memoir about Yeshivas Lomza, the author writes in passing "after staying up the whole night, the whole yeshiva would take part in a milchig kiddush at the Rosh Yeshiva’s house".
Chaim Grade writes: “On the First night of Shavuoth, the lamps in the Beth Medrash and the candelabra were still lit well past midnight. The benches were packed with men from the courtyard and from the neighboring streets who, as the custom on this night, came to study until dawn.” Grade’s books are fiction, but his descriptions are based on life in Vilna.
A bochur describing Shavous in the Mir to his parents in 1938, writes in passing that the bnei hayeshiva had stayed up the whole night learning.
Rav Chaim Stein, Rosh Yeshivah of Telz wrote an incredible World War II diary chronicling his great Mesiras Nefesh for whatever mitzvos he was able to do during that time. He also describes staying up the entire night learning.
But what are the earliest sources for this practice? It is not mentioned by either R. Yosef Caro or the Rama in Shulchan Aruch’s discussion of the halachos of Shavuos.
One of the earliest printed sources for this custom is a work entitled Sefer Ha-Mussar, authored by Rav Yehudah Kalatz and first printed in 1537, which states that there was a custom to stay up throughout both nights of Shavuos to learn various parts of Tanach and Kabbalah. Today we know that the prior written source for this piece is Rav Dovid ben Rav Yehudah Hachassid. This piece is also printed in the Mateh Moshe of Rav Moshe Meis (1591) without citing its source. In 1558, the Zohar was printed for the first time, and in it we find that "righteous ones" would learn Torah during the entire night of Shavuos. These words of the Zohar are already quoted in two early and important collections of material culled from the Zohar, the Mareh Cohen of Rav Yisachar Katz, first printed in 1588 and in the Yesh Sachir of Rav Yisachar M’Karmintz, first printed in 1609. It is also brought down in important works such as Rav Moshe Makir’s classic Seder HaYom [first printed in 1599], Tikunei Shabbos (1613), Tur Barekes (1650), Heichal Hakodesh (1653) and Sha’arei Tzion (1662).
Who followed this minhag in earlier times?
From the Zohar it appears that this practice is limited to yechidei segulah, select spiritually exalted individuals. This is also how it appears that some sources that quote this Zohar, such as the Heichal Hakodesh, Magen Avraham, Eliyah Rabba and Me’orei Or, understood it.
A number of gedolei Torah themselves wrote of having stayed up learning the whole night of Shavuos. In his Sefer Chizyonos, R' Chaim Vital writes that he stayed up the whole night of Shavuos learning with the Arizal. The Chida writes in the account of his travels and in his autobiographical cheshbon hanefesh of having done so, as does the Aderes.
But other sources seem to have understood that this is a custom to be followed by all. Rav Moshe Makir in his Seder HaYom writes so clearly, and indeed, in a letter he wrote circa 1610 to Poland, Rav Shlumiel of Tzefas describes how everyone stayed up to learn on Shavuos night in keeping with the Seder HaYom. The Shelah Hakadosh also describes how everyone stayed up learning, as did Rav Moshe Prague in a letter written in 1650 describing the scene in Yerushalayim.
Thus, we see that what was originally a minhag only for the very learned evolved in a few decades into a practice observed by the broad masses. One may conjecture that the spread of the minhag occurred due to the fact that some of the seforim that mentioned it were very popular and widely read.
The promise of the Arizal
Another possible catalyst for the popular adoption of this minhag was the promise of the Arizal that "he who stays up the whole night learning will survive the year and not suffer any harm during the entire year." This guarantee first appeared in a work called Shulchan Aruch Shel Ha-Arizal printed in 1650, and was later reprinted in numerous widely-read works such as Sha’arei Tzion and Sefer Zechirah.
Relatedly, R. Yosef Kapach, discussing the observance of this minhag in Teiman, writes that this night is a special time during which the gates of Heaven are open for the acceptance of tefillos. He cites a legend of a woman who was looking outside a window and she asked for her head to be made bigger. When that occurred, she could not get her head back inside through the window. It thus became necessary to feed her for the duration of the Yom Tov by means of a ladder, and it was only after Yom Tov, when the window could be broken, that she was finally extricated.
The Visit of the Magid on Shavous night
Yet another reason this minhag may have become so widespread relates to the Maggid, the Heavenly emissary that would regularly visit the Beis Yosef to teach him Torah. The Shelah Hakadosh quotes from a lengthy letter that Rav Shlomo Alkabetz wrote describing the events of one particular Shavuos night in Tzefas.
Rav Shlomo Alkabetz writes that he and Rav Yosef Caro along with some others in their circle decided to stay up the whole night of Shavuos learning a specific seder limud from Tanach and Mishnayos. At about midnight, a voice was heard emanating from the throat of Rav Yosef Caro praising them for staying up to learn Torah and advising them that it would be even more praiseworthy if they were to do so with a minyan. And, indeed, the next night, the scene was repeated, this time with a minyan present.
This letter was first printed in 1646 in the introduction to the first edition of the Magid Meisharim, which records the teachings that the Magid conveyed through the Beis Yosef. It was then reprinted by the Shelah Hakadosh in 1648 and in the very popular and somewhat controversial anonymous work Chemdas Yomim in 1731.These last two sources contributed to widespread knowledge of the story of the Magid of the Beis Yosef, which, in turn, enabled the minhag of learning throughout Shavuos night to become even more popular.
Why doesn't Rav Yosef Caro mention this minhag?
In order to consider some possible reasons for the Rav Yosef Caro’s omission of this minhag from both his Shulchan Aruch and his commentary on the Tur, despite the fact that he was personally told by the Magid about the great importance of remaining awake throughout Shavuos night to learn Torah, it is important to first discuss some issues related to the Magid Meisharim.
Many Gedolim merited visits from Magidim who taught them secrets of Torah, but the most famous person to have been so visited was Rav Yosef Caro. Magid Meisharim, the work that emerged from those visits, is comprised mostly of Kabbalistic teachings, although there is some Halachic discussion there as well. Was that work intended only for Rav Yosef Caro or for the general Jewish populace as well? When there is a contradiction between this work and the Shulchan Aruch, according to which of these works are we to rule?
From the fact that numerous Poskim quote from the Magid Meisharim in their halachic works, it would seem that that at least some of the material was intended for everyone. One famous example concerns eating meat on Rosh Hashanah, which the Magid told Rav Yosef Caro not to do. The Magen Avraham and other poskim bring this down, implying that they felt the halachic material in this work is applicable to the masses. Many other examples this are collected in a series of articles written by Rav Klieres in the Torah journal Tzefunot. However, the Munkatcher Rebbe held that the Magid Meisharim was intended for Rav Yosef Caro alone.
A careful examination of the sefer shows that it also contains many hanhagos, practices that are not mandated by Halacha per se, but are recommended for a righteous person to adopt. Some feel that these pieces were meant for the masses, whereas others are of the opinion that these too were meant only for Rav Yosef Caro to follow. Staying up on Shavuos night could be an example of such an hanhaga. There is no halachic obligation to do so, but, as we have seen, it was widely practiced by righteous people, and sometimes the masses adopt such practices.
However, Rav Yaakov Emden brings from his father, the Chacham Tzvi, that the Magid Meisharim did not influence his halachic rulings in any way. In his siddur, Rav Yaakov Emden writes that it is well-known that the Beis Yosef and Rav Shlomo Alkabetz stayed up Shavuos night and were visited by the voice of the Magid, but that this does not obligate the masses to follow suit.
Based on the above, it becomes understandable why R. Yosef Caro did not cite the custom to stay up on Shavuos night in his halachic works despite knowing very well its importance from his Shavuos night experience with the Magid. As important a practice as it is, in his opinion it was not intended for the broader community.
The principle of Lo BaShamayim Hi and the Magid
In truth, there may well be more to the story of why Rav Yosef Caro did not bring this custom down in his halachic works. The Gemarah in Bava Metzia (59b) sets forth is the principle of "Lo BaShamayim Hi", meaning that the halachic process is not influenced by other-worldly revelations such as a Heavenly voice telling us what to do, or the like. Rav Akiva Yosef Schlesinger uses this axiom to explain why we do not find Rav Yosef Caro bringing anything he learned from the Magid in his Beis Yosef or Shulchan Aruch. This general approach is found by numerous Achronim to dismiss material found in such 'heavenly' works to reach halachic conclusions. To list some: R. Alexander Moshe Lapidus, R. Aron Mi-Pinsk, R' Yitzchack Issac Chaver, and R. Yaakov Emden.
However, the question remains as to why the principle Lo BaShamayim Hi did not prevent various poskim from citing works like that of the Magid in halachic discussions. For example, numerous poskim quote rulings from the Sh’ailos v’Teshuvos Min Hashamayim, in which a rishon collected the responses he received from Heaven in his dreams to questions he had posed before going to sleep.
One possible explanation as to why some poskim cite these works is based on an idea found in the work Seder Mishnah by Rav Zev Wolf Boskovitz. Rav Boskovitz writes that one can rely on such works when their conclusions are not contradicted by anything in Shas.
Other achronim, however, hold that the principle of Lo BaShamayim Hi is applicable under all circumstances and thus, we are not to rely on works like the Magid Meisharim and Sh’ailos v’Teshuvos Min Hashamayim for practical guidance. Perhaps, then, Rav Yosef Caro held a similar position as these achronim and for this reason never quotes the Magid in his halachic works.
The Magen Avraham and the Shavuos night minhag
One final point: According to most of the early sources for this Minhag, it is based on Kabbala and was originally intended only for the most learned of the community, but eventually became the minhag of the masses too. However, it is interesting that the Magan Avraham, after quoting the Zohar as the earliest source for this minhag, gives his own reason for it.
He writes, based on the Midrash, that at Har Sinai, the Jews slept during the night before the giving of the Torah, and Hashem had to awaken them. As a form of teshuvah for our ancestors’ lack of zeal and appreciation for the Torah at Har Sinai, we stay up the entire night learning.The Magen Avraham thus turned a Kabbalastically based custom into one with a basis in the revealed Torah.
Moreover, while most of the sources deal with the special seder of learning one is supposed to follow on Shavuos night, the Magan Avraham does not mention such a seder limud, choosing instead to address various halachic questions that arise for those who stay awake through the night, such as the halachos relating to Netilas Yadyim, Birchas Hatorah, the bracha on the Talis and Kriyas Shema Al Hamitah, thereby further giving a halachic focus to this Kabbalistically rooted minhag. In so doing, the Magen Avraham, a preeminent work on Orach Chaim, may have helped ensure the widespread adoption of the minhag of learning throughout Shavuos night.
Augsburg and its Printers: Printer of the Tur in Ashkenaz: Fragments Censored at the Beinecke's Augsburg Mahzor
By Chaim Meiselman
Chaim Meiselman catalogs rare books for the Joseph Meyerhoff Collection, originally at Baltimore Hebrew Institute, now at Towson University. He is a bibliophile and intermittently a book dealer. This is his first contribution to the Seforim Blog.
Last summer, I was at Yale University for a conference. Those who have spent time at Yale University will know that their libraries are separated by major subject, and therefore are situated in different buildings. While I was spending a good amount of the time at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library for material covering manuscripts, I was able to use downtime for perusing their Rare Book Collection.
This library is a breathtaking edifice erected for books. For those who haven’t had the opportunity to visit it, I highly recommend going, even for a non-research purpose. The reason why I recommend it is because one can see a modern-day example of something which used to be more common during the previous centuries – a temple dedicated to literary craft. As is with many commercial buildings built during the last century, libraries have evolved into storage containers of some kind; this building is built exhibiting manuscripts and books in rich light. Six of the seven stories of volumes are visible from the balcony, where they exhibit items and one can tour the inside.
Here is a picture of the vantage from the inside.
Among their collection of hebrew books is a copy of the very rare imprint of the Machzor ke-seder ha-Ashkenazim, the volume of Machzor printed in Augsburg in 1536 by Haim "ha-mehokek" b. David Shahor (see here). This is a rare and revolutionary title for a number of reasons, some of which I'll write here.
While I own a facsimile of the Shahor volume, I've never before held it in hand. It is about the size of a large size Mechon Yerushalayim Tur, thinner though. The pages were darkened by light exposure but the type was still fresh. More below on his imprint of Tefillos.
The first question (which is relevent to what discovery i will share here) is – who is Haim Shahor. Hayyim b. David Shahor was among the earliest printers of Hebrew books north of the Alps; born in the late 15th century, likely in Ashkenaz, he was involved earlier in Hebrew print than Bomberg and Giustiani, and earlier than Bak, Prosstitz, and Jaffe in 'Ashkenaz'. He is documented as having printed in tiny hamlets earlier than 1535 – Heddernheim, Oels (Schliesen), yet more famously Augsburg.
Augsburg was where Shahor printed his Siddur, his Machzor, and his Turim. Comparably few copies were created; for every Augsburg volume, Moritz Steinschneider (CLHB) writes "fol. Rara" or "ed. Rara". Libraries which contain volumes of Hebrew Incunabula often don't contain a print of Shahor, certainly not an Augsburg volume – they are extremely scarce.
There have been claims that Shahor may have been a Christian printer disguising himself as a Jew. These are very unlikely, and probably aren't true; in one of the Augsburg printings, a long Tefillah and colophon puts this claim in doubt.
I am pasting copies of the one scanned on Hebrewbooks.org. However, this scan is extremely low resolution, even for HB. If there is a high resolution scan done of the volume, one will be able to see the precise and sharp magnificence of this font, almost like that of Ketav Ashurit. This is an adaptation of the Ashkenazic script from manuscripts centuries older, and it carries that appearance somewhat.
As I see it, it is highly unlikely that this was a Christian family printing – Yosef b. Yakar writes to his brother in law, Ya’akov b. Baruch that he has emended the printing format of the Luach ha-Simanim (in which the Mare'h ha-Mekomot are brief and added are a longer Luach preceding each of the Seder ha-Turim). Many of the examples of the "Luach Gadol" in this Tur no longer exist, making full examples of these even more rare – but they were written in heavy "Rashi script" – and if they aren't the first tables of contents in printed Hebrew Books, they are almost certainly are the most lengthy and encompassing.
Briefly referenced is a disagreement (regarding this format) with Avraham of Prague, who is a noted editor on the other Augsburg volumes (and selected other Shahor printings).
I will quote a passage from this here: אמנם ראה ידידי ... כי לא שמעתי לקולך להדפיס בספר הזה כל אותם ההגהות הארוכים אשר חידש בהם הרב הנ"ל … וכמעט אומר שרוב ההוגותיו "מכלכלים" (מקלקלים) על התלמידים בו … וכן הסכימו עמי. Below, he details exactly what the differences were, and he immediately offers words of thanks for being able to put out this edition, the first Tur to be printed in Ashkenaz, but one which is “without defects”: על כל שבח תהלה והוראה. שהחיינו וקיימנו לזאת השעה. להשלים הטורים ארבעה. אשר אין בו מאומה רעה. It is clear that the novelty of the printed Turim is paramount in the thought of the printers, however what is mentioned and repeated is לחדד התלמידים, כדי שלא יקלקלו התלמידים, and such scripts on the idea of studying the Tur and teaching it to students. This theme isn’t one of Christian influence, especially being that there already was a debate on the proper methods of studying Halacha raging at the time – this language feeds to this writing. Although it was at this time of a smaller scale (because of the not-yet published Bet Yosef and Shulchan Arukh and the later writings on the subject of Rama, Maharal, Maharshal, and R. Yoel Sirkis), the statement completing the enormous printing process was like the one above is directly showing a Rabbinic influence, not a Christian one.
After the letter of Yosef b. Yakar, Shahor writes a “Shevach Tehilla” for finishing the volume. He repeats this theme: בחור תראה | הן תשתאה | ספר נאה | בהדורים |רבה הון מה | לך תתהמה | פן יהיו מה | הד נמכרים … ישמח יסגא | כל בם הוגה | כי ממשגה | הם נשמרים | קונים מהם | יהגו בהם | הם ובניהם | עד דוד דודים | As before, I see it that this is related to the theme of the debate of the proper methods to learn Halacha, and not to neglect the study of Gemara (as it had been in Ashkenaz at the time, according to some accounts.)
Another reason it is highly doubtful that Shahor was a crypto-christian was that his granddaughter married the printer Kalonymus Jaffe, famously as printer (including the printing of the Shas and the Turim) in Lublin. He was the first cousin to R. Mordechai Yaffe, known as the Ba’al ha-Levush; his father Mordechai printed the first copies of the Levushim. This is another hint that Shahor was from a learned Jewish background, not that of a Christian printer. As is documented, from Shahor’s family descended generations of printers in Prague, Krakow, and other centers of printing in Central Europe. See Marvin J. Heller, Studies in the Making of the Early Hebrew Book, pg. 149-151.
In the entry for the Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics (Brill, 2013) title “Hebrew Printing” by Brad Sabin-Hill, it is recorded that Shahor was working among presses owned by Christian humanists; this is likely, in the light of what I will record below.
Leaf 7, the opening leaf of the text of the Tur, is supposedly illustrated by Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543), an important late-Renaissance artist originally from Augsburg. I’m not certain where this information is from. Here is the catalog entry from the Selected Catalog of the Valmadonna Trust Selections, which sold at Kestenbaum’s on November 9th.
Back to the Mahzor. Among the differences this Mahzor has with the other editions, one that should be noticeable (as relating to the editor and printer) is the self-censorship of a Piyyut. For the Yom Kippur Piyyutim recited during Shacharit, a Piyyut is supplicated in after אדיר אדירנו. Even though in the Mahzor it is recorded after ובכן יתקדש … ועל מכונך והיכלך, it follows the heading האדיר, and opens another acrostic lines into the Piyyut מי אדיר אפסיך – perhaps this is because of the re-use of the text block for the repeating paragraphs of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur davening.
This is how it appears:
For the Piyyut headed by האדיר, an acrostic begins using Jer. 10:7, מי לא ייראך מלך הגויים, כי לך יאתה: כי בכל-חכמי הגויים ובכל-מלכותם, מאין כמוך. In that Piyyut, there is a portion which was censored in virtually every text. However, the Augsburg Mahzor self-censors three blocks, which would’ve likely been offensive in the eyes of the Church. Although it is possible that he did it out of consideration not to offend the Humanists who had granted him the rights to print (if it is true that this was the case for this printing), it is entirely plausible that he wanted the text to be supplemented by a scribe and didn’t want the internal work of a censor to be involved (both at the time of print and the future viewers).
This is how they look:
Back to the copy at Yale. In the copy I was holding, I saw that it was inscribed with the missing pieces.
There was a scribe who wrote in the margins, crossed through printing mistakes, and marked pieces which would be relevant to a Shaliach Tsibbur. Examples of פזמון, קהל, בניגון, and a type of cantillation abound in the volume by his hand. At the end, he signs his name as ‘Shelomoh b. Ya’akov halevi’ .
The script appears to me to be from the time the volume was printed. It utilizes flourishes and specific criteria of script that I recognize from the hands of (and from the time of) R. Yoel Sirkis, R. David Halevi (Ta”z), and other handwriting of the era.
The themes of the Piyyutim with the inscription additions are now complete, as you can see with my writing below. The paragraphs, especially the second one, are very harsh in their ‘attack’.
First, I will paste photos of the pages:
The writing has faded, and is difficult to make out in some areas. However, I transcribed what was there.
Edited to add: Marc Shapiro pointed out that variants of these paragraphs are in the Goldschmidt Mahzor. I will paste here the my transcription of the written paragraphs in text and Goldschmidt (where he differs strongly) in bold type.
אפס ותהו נגדך חשובים: בחוניך בדודים לעם לא נחשבים: הגוים גדילים מעשיהו תעתוע והבליםובכן מי לא ייראך מלך הגוים וכו
דבקיך בדולים מסגרי מסגודי לעץ בולים: הגוים הכין פסל מבקשים חרשים: ותיקיך בשהכים והערב [ייחודיך
פורשים: הגוים זהבם לאפדת מסכה מכינים: חרדי דבריך לעבדיך ליראה מוכנים: הגוים]
[שועגים טוענים בכתף יתר כליתם: ידועיך כורעים לך בפיקוק חליותם: הגוים כסף מצפים עץ מסגריהם]-- פסלם
לקחיך בחביון עזך ישימו כסלם: בגוים מכנים קדשתך לעול הזימה: נשואיך משקצים ייחוס ע[רוה]-
וזמה אשת הזמה : הגוים סמל תמונת נאלח מאליהים: עמך מעידים אדנותך אלהי האלהים: הגוים
פגר מובס בחנות פחזות תכליתם צבאך קדוש אתה יושב תהלותם: הגוים קוראים ללא מושיע ומוע---יל
רעך נשענים בך מלמד להועיל : הגוים שקר נכסם לא אמון תמימיך אומן אמונתיך בועד(ם)
יאתה כי בכל חכמי הגוים הגוים-אמים (זמזומים)
קדר לאדומים. ואדומים
בלעם קלעים גמומים דמומים. הגוים גומר ומגוג אשכנז ורומים. דכאם הכאם זעומים
למוחרמים הגוים הגרים כעורים טורים קטורים לודים ואראמיים. ייכחם וכחם שכחם מתחת רמים. הגוים
זרם נחת מקיצים מזים ושמים. חמסם כרסמם שימם שוממים. הגוים טבח ליתר ראומים. ייסרם
סדם הסירם מהיות אומים. הגוים כפתורים כסלוחים כפלתחים לטושים לאומים . לפתם כפתם
צערם סעורים רעועים. הגוים מבשם ואדבאל משמעים ודומים. נפצם הפילם הפיצם שיתם
הדווחים הדמים. הגוים סבא וחבילה סבתכא ורעמים. ישרם עקרם קרקרם דומים דוויים נמומים. הגוים
פלשת אמון אשור בין אשור לעילמים
צמתם המיתם תנם ייתם למהלומים
קיר ומואב לודים וענמים \ רטשם נטשם דקים צנומים
שישך ומדי כמים ולב-קמים \ תעבם העיבם לאין תקומים
זקשם ---- לדמים. חכים ששך למדי כיתים ולב רשעים. תבעם תעיבם לאיןמן המים: ובכן מי לא ייראך מלך הגוים…. וכוליה
ובכן מי לא יראך מלך הגוים כי לך יאתה
כי ככל חכמי הגוים ובכל מלכותם
מלכותם באבדך עבדי ניטנים פסילי נסכים: תוכן מלכותם תיכון מלכותך מלך מלכי המלכים
מלכותם [בבלעך] בוטחי הבל תעתועים: שמים לארך שבחך יהוי אביעים
מלכותם בצרעך בגדעך מקימי אשירים לחמנים: רומותיך יקראו בגרון המונים המונים
מלכותם בדכאך דורשי קטב תהו ובעלים: קדושה ועוז תיסד כמפי עוללים?
מלכותם בהרסך המתהללים באללילים : צדקתך באיים יגידו באיים אל אלים
מלכותם בווכיך המטהרים והמקדישים: פאר מלוכה ינחלו ככוכבי נטעי כנת קדושים
מלכותם בזעמך שטי כזב פוני אל רהבים: גלו עלוי כבוד שמך יתנו כל באהבים
מלכותם כחסדך בחשפך סוגרי מעשה חדשים: סיפור מעשיך ברינה יפצחו מארישים
מלכותם בטחטאח שועגי טועני עצבים עשוים ברקים ברקים פרקים : וינעם דינו דע יראתך יתממון יתמאלון זורקים
מלכותם בידך כורעי נסבל אשא לעייפה: משתחוים כל בשר לפניך עושה שחר עיפה
מלכותם בכעותך בכלותיך לנער רשעים מארץ: לכן יכוממו במלכו רשמי ----
ישמחו השמים ותגל הארץ
ובכן מי לא יראך וגומר
I wrote down the notes in my facsimile copy of the Mahzor with a fountain pen using these transcriptions. This part of the Piyyut will survive.
I saw that the Artscroll Mahzor published a heavily censored element of the first paragraph in the back of the book, with the remaining Piyyutim (which avoids translating it into English, although it had been censored far too much to have posed a problem for them.) It appears truncated, because the other paragraphs of the Piyyut are consistently as long as the above quoted. For example, they write for stanza Daled : דבקיך דבוקים באלהים חיים, which poses grammatical and stylistic problems (eg. no other stanza is four words, it should’ve written דבוקיך, etc.) The stanza above reads: הגוים גדילים מעשיהו תעתוע דבקיך בדולים מסגרי לעץ בולים, which follows the ebb-and-flow, הגוים, and מי לא ייראך.
I also saw in the recently printed Mahzor h-Gra the same few stanzas as Artscroll are published, but also with confusions and clearly censored items.
Finally, this Mahzor contains an interesting addition to another Piyyut, that of היום תאמצינו. In this Mahzor, another stanza is added: היום תדרש דם עבדיך השפוך.
I conclude that among the treasures that have been found, that we find (or are waiting to be discovered) the history awaits in the elements that were in the full view of the public (Jewish and Christian alike) and the censored items, which wait to be discovered and to live new life.
New Book Announcement: Some New Works by Professor Yaakov Shmuel Spiegel
By Eliezer Brodt
עמודים בתולדות הספר העברי, הדר המחבר, 521 עמודים
וישמע קולי, 385 עמודים
I am very happy to announce the recent publication of an important work, which will be of great interest to readers of the Seforim blog. The forth volume of, Amudim be-Toldot ha-Sefer ha-Ivri by Professor Yaakov Shmuel Spiegel, of Bar-Ilan University’s Talmud department.
As I have written in the past, Professor Spiegel is one of the most prolific writers in the Jewish academic scene, authoring of over 160 articles and 18 books (16 of those are publications for the first time of works which remained in manuscript). Many suspect that he possesses Hashbot Hakulmos (automatic writing) (about which see here).
His articles cover an incredibly wide range of subjects related to many areas of Jewish Studies, including history of Rishonim, piyutim authored by Rishonim, bibliography and minhaghim, to name but a few. His uniqueness lies not only in the topics but also that his work has appeared in all types of publications running the gamut from academic journals such as Kiryat Sefer, Tarbiz, Sidra, Alei Sefer, Assufot, Teudah, Kovetz Al Yad and also in many prominent Charedi rabbinic journals such a Yeshurun, Yerushasenu, Moriah, Sinai and Or Yisroel. It is hard to define his area of expertise, as in every area he writes about he appears to be an expert!
He has edited and printed from manuscript many works of Rishonim and Achronim on Massekhes Avos and the Haggadah Shel Pesach. He is of the opinion, contrary to that of some other academics, that there is nothing non-academic about printing critical editions of important manuscript texts. Although there is a known “belief” in the academic world, “publish or perish,” which some claim is the cause of weak articles and books, at times, Spiegel’s prolific output does nothing to damper the quality of his works. Another point unique to Speigel's writings, besides his familiarity with all the academic sources, he shows great familiarity with all the classic sources from Chazal, Geonim, Rishonim and Achronim, to even the most recent discussions in Charedi literature – this bekius (breadth) was apparent well before the advent of search engines of Hebrew books and Otzar Ha-hochmah. Alongside all this is his penetrating analysis and ability to raise interesting points.
Some of these articles were collected into a volume called Pischei Tefilah u-Mo’ad, which was reviewed a few years back here on the seforim blog. This volume is currently out of print. One of Professor Spiegel's main areas of interest has been the History of the Jewish Book. He has written numerous articles on the subject and even published two books on this topic in a series called Amudim be-Toldot ha-Sefer ha-Ivri. Volume one was first printed in 1996 and is called Amudim be-Toldot ha-Sefer ha-Ivri: Haghot u-Maghim. It was reprinted with numerous additions in 2005 (copies are still available). It was reviewed by Dan Rabinowitz and me, a few years back here on the Seforim Blog.
The second volume is called Amudim be-Toldot ha-Sefer ha-Ivri; Kesivah Vehatakah. This volume is currently out of print and will hopeful be the subject of a book review by Dan Rabinowitz and myself in the near future.
The third volume is called Amudim be-Toldot ha-Sefer ha-Ivri;Bisharei Hadefus
I think that anyone who has an interest in the Jewish Book will enjoy this work immensely.
In the near future I hope to review this work in depth.
I am selling copies of this work. Copies are also available at Biegeleisen. For more information about purchasing this work, or for some sample pages, feel free to contact me at Eliezerbrodt@gmail.com
To get a sense of what exactly this new book is about, I am posting the Table of Contents here:
Also, worth mentioning is about ten months ago Professor Spiegel printed a book from manuscript called וישמע קולי.
Here is the description and Table of contents of the book.
For more information about purchasing this work, or for sample pages of the introduction to this work contact me at Eliezerbrodt@gmail.com
The Not-So-Humble Artichoke in Ancient Jewish Sources
Susan Weingarten is an archaeologist and food historian living in Jerusalem. This is an adapted extract from her paper 'The Rabbi and the Emperors: Artichokes and Cucumbers as Symbols of Status in Talmudic Literature,'inWhen West met East: the Encounter of Greece and Rome with the Jews, Egyptians and Others: Studies presented to Ranon Katzoff on his 75thBirthday. Edited by D. Schaps, U. Yiftach and D. Dueck.(Trieste, 2016).
There has been a lot of discussion of artichokes recently in the wake of the ruling by the Israeli Rabbinate that they are not kosher. A recent post on Seforim Blog traced their ancestry as a Jewish food back to the 14thcentury. But we can go back further, to the talmudic literature, where artichokes appear as qinras. We can identify many Greek (and fewer Latin) food-names in the Aramaic and Hebrew of the written texts of the talmudic literature. The rabbis sometimes use Greek terminology to explain food names. Thus, for example, biblical regulations on agriculture include a ban on growing two different kinds of crops together. Mishnah Kilayimtells us that thistles (qotzim) are allowed in a vineyard, i.e. they are seen as wild growths, but artichokes (qinras) are not allowed, so that it is clear that artichokes are seen as cultivated rather than wild growths. Qotz, the wild thistle, is a biblical Hebrew term, while the Aramaic qinrasappears to be derived from the Greek for artichoke, kinaraorkynara.Artichokes were carefully cultivated in the Graeco-Roman world; presumably their name came with the agricultural methods which turned wild thistles into cultivated artichokes. It is still difficult to know whether the artichoke proper is meant here, or rather the closely related cardoon. It is clear, however, that there were a number of edible thistles which grew wild, and that the artichoke is a cultivated variety. The medical writer Galen describes the artichoke as ‘overvalued.’ This was partly because of its negative health properties, for he saw it as unwholesome, sometimes hard and woody, with bitter juice. So he recommends boiling artichokes and adding coriander if eating them with oil and garum; or frying them in a pan.
But Galen’s objections to artichokes may not be merely medical. They may also be an echo of the attitude we find in Pliny, who tells us that artichokes were exceptionally prized by the gourmets of Rome, and that there was a roaring trade in them. Pliny disapproved:
‘There still remains an extremely profitable article of trade which must be mentioned, not without a feeling of shame. The fact is that it is well-known that at Carthage, and particularly at Cordoba, crops of carduos, artichokes,yield a return of 6000 sesterces from small plots – since we turn even the monstrosities of the earth to purposes of gluttony ... they are conserved in honey-vinegar with silphium and cumin, so that there should be no day without thistles for dinner.
Pliny, writing in the first century, uses all the tricks of rhetoric to put over his disapproval of this ridiculous fad of over-valuing artichokes, and eating them out of season: note the alliteration and assonance of carduoswith Cartago and Corduba, which he presumably despised as far-away provincial cities. He is also indignant about the enormous prices charged for them, satirising the rich who eat the artichokes as being lower than the animals who despise them. His diatribe does not seem to have been generally successful. Artichokes were still clearly prized in the Roman world of the third and fourth centuries: a mosaic from the so-called ‘House of the Buffet Supper’ in Antioch shows them on a silver tray as a first course for dinner. And in a Palestinian context, another mosaic with what look like two purplish artichoke heads and a silver bowl, dated to the third century, has been found recently in excavations of ancient Jerusalem – or rather Aelia Capitolina.
The classical picture of artichokes as food for the rich and upper classes is confirmed by the talmudic literature. For example, Midrash Esther Rabbah, writes:
‘Bar Yohania made a feast for the notables of Rome … What was missing? Only the qinras(=artichoke).’
S. Klein in his article ‘Bar-Yohannis from Sepphoris at Rome,'suggested that this may be the first reference to the famous Roman Jewish artichoke dish carciofi alla giudia. (For a recipe see E. Servi Machlin The Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews[NY,1981, 1993] p. 180-1). Unfortunately there is no proof to confirm Klein’s charming suggestion, since, as we have seen, artichokes seem to have been famously popular among the Roman pagan nobility. One of the reasons for the perceived desirability of artichokes as food may also have been the effort needed to prepare them – an effort usually only available to the rich through their slaves – the poor would have had little time for this. But one time when the poorer Jews would have had time would be on a festival, when ordinary work was not allowed, but food-preparation was permitted, as it contributed to the enjoyment of the festival. The Tosefta specifically states that while cutting vegetables was generally not allowed on a festival (in case people actually went and cut them down in the fields), trimming artichokes and ‘akavit/‘aqubit, a wild thorny plant, was allowed, as this was part of the preparation needed for cooking these prickly vegetables, which was allowed on a festival:
‘[On a festival] they do not cut vegetables with shears but they do trim the qinras,artichoke, and the‘akavit/‘aqubit.’
Whether poorer people actually ate artichokes as special festival food, or rather only ate the wild ‘akavit/‘aqubitis unclear from this source. It is also unclear what the reason for trimming was: to remove the thorny stems or to cut off the upper part of the leaves and remove the inedible inner part known as the 'choke'?
The Babylonian Talmud records that artichokes were sent over long distances to be eaten by Rabbi Judah haNasi. A rich man called Bonias ‘sent Rabbi a measure of artichokes from Nawsah, and Rabbi estimated it at two hundred and seventeen eggs.’ The eggs here are a measure of volume: clearly there were quite a lot of artichokes. ‘Nawsah’ may refer to a settlement on an island in the Euphrates River outside Babylonia. It was a long way from Galilee where Rabbi lived, and only the rich could afford to pay for the transport of these luxuries. Some way of preserving the artichokes, like keeping them in honey-vinegar as described by Pliny above, must have been used.
Unlike the classical sources, there is no moral condemnation here of artichokes as symbols of conspicuous consumption, and tampering with nature. The rabbis of the Talmudim are generally presented as appreciative of good food, and as seeing feasting as desirable, rather than to be condemned. Eating good food, for example, is one of the recommended ways of celebrating or ‘honouring’ Sabbath and festival. Indeed, Rabbi himself, when looking back nostalgically to the time when the Temple still stood, represented his longing for it in terms of desire for the wonderful foods that would have been available in that now legendary time.
How did Rabbi eat his cucumbers and artichokes? Unfortunately the talmudic literature does not tell us, but there are details in some Roman authors which may give us some idea of the possibilities. Athenaeus tells us artichokes must be well-seasoned, or they will be inedible. The fourth-century Roman cookery book attributed to Apicius recommends serving artichokes with liquamenand oil, and either chopped boiled egg; or cumin and pepper; or pounded green herbs with pepper and honey. We have already cited Rabbi’s contemporary, the medical writer Galen, who visited Syria and other parts of the Near East. He sometimes describes methods of cooking similar to those found in the talmudic literature. We saw that Galen recommends eating artichokes boiled with the addition of coriander, garumand oil. He also mentions frying them. Was this the origin of carciofi alla giudia?
 Mishnah Kilayim v 8.
 The identification of the Latin term carduiwith artichokes, rather than cardoons, has recently been questioned:C.A. Wright ‘Did the ancients know the artichoke?’Gastronomica9/4 (2009) 21-27.
 Galen On the powers of foods ii.
 Garumwas the famous Graeco-Roman salty fermented fish-sauce, called liquamenby Apicius, used widely as a condiment. R.I. Curtis Garum and salsamenta: production and commerce in materia medica (Leiden, 1991); M. Grant Roman Cookery(London, 1999); S. Grainger, C.Grocock Apicius: a critical edition, (Totnes, 2006)373-387:Appendix 4: Excursus on garum and liquamen. It is found in the talmudic literature under the name of muries: S. Weingarten ‘Mouldy bread and rotten fish: delicacies in the ancient world,’ Food and History3 (2005) 61-72. Sauces combined with garum are mentioned in eg Tos Betsah ii, 16 and in BTYoma76a, but it is not clear that Babylonian Jews were using this term to mean the same foodstuffs as were used by the Jews of the Land of Israel.
 Pliny : NH19, 152f.
 Pliny NH19, 152-3: certum est quippe carduos apud Carthaginem magnam Cordubamque praecipue sestertium sena milia e parvis redderareis, quoniam portent quoque terrarium in ganeam vertimus, serimusque etiam ea quae refugiunt cunctae quadrupedes ...condiuntur quoque aceto melle diluto addita laseris radice et cumino, ne quis dies sine carduo sit.
 On Pliny’s distrust of the ‘foreign’ taking over the Roman, an old Roman literary trope, see T. Murphy Pliny the Elder’s Natural History: the empire in the encyclopedia (Oxford, 2004) 68ff.
 On Pliny’s hostility to luxury, a traditional theme of Latin poetry: Murphy (above n.35) 71. See also M. Beagon Roman Nature: the thought of Pliny the Elder(Oxford, 1992) 190: ‘moral condemnation of luxuriais more than a commonplace to Pliny.’
 F. Cimok (ed.) Antioch Mosaics (Istanbul, 1995) 44-47.
 The mosaic was excavated by Shlomit Wexler-Bdollach and has been published by Rina Talgam Mosaics of Faith (Jerusalem/Pennsylvania, 2014) p. 48 fig 70. I am grateful to both for allowing me to see their pictures and text prior to publication.
 The question of whether the midrash is to be seen as referring to a Persian situation is beyond the scope of this paper.
 BJPES7 (1940) 47-51 (in Hebrew)
 See alsoI. Löw DieFlora der Judenvol I, (Wien, 1924, repr Hildesheim, 1967) p.409.
 Tosefta Beitzah [Yom Tov] iii,19 and cf BTBeitzah 34a. ‘Akavit/ ‘aqubithas been identified with tumbleweed, Gundelia Tourneforti, which is a wild edible thistle still eaten in Galilee and Lebanon, and known by its Arabic name, ‘aqub. See A. Shmida Mapa’s dictionary of plants and flowers in Israel (Tel Aviv, 2005, in Hebrew) 236; A. Helou ‘An edible wild thistle from the Lebanese mountains’ in Susan Friedman (ed.) Vegetables: proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 2008 (Totnes, 2009) 83-4. ‘Aqub can still be bought in the present-day market in Tiberias in the spring, its price depending on whether the vendor has removed the thorns or left that pleasure to the buyer. Its taste when cooked is not unlike artichoke.
 BT Eruvin 83a (my translation).
 For the identification of Nawsah see A. Oppenheimer, Babylonia Judaica in the Talmudic Period(Wiesbaden, 1983) pp.266-7.
 This point about the generally positive attitude of the rabbis (in this case the Babylonian rabbis) to the good things in life is made by I.M. Gafni The Jews of Babylonia in the talmudic era: a social and cultural history(Jerusalem, 1990) 130 citing M. Beer Amoraei Bavel - peraqim be-hayei ha-kalkalah(Ramat Gan תשל''ה ). But having made his point, Gafni hedges here, warning against taking a series of anecdotes from different periods as evidence. However, we should note that this picture is consistent over both Palestinian and Babylonian sources, and if we compare it to, say, the attitudes of early Christian writers or Philo, we see that this trend is absent there. See my paper ‘Magiros, nahtomand women at home: cooks in the Talmud’ Journal of Jewish Studies 56(2005) 285-297.
 For a discussion of the rabbinical requirement in both Bavli and Yerushalmi to honour the Sabbath by eating good food, see S.J.D. Cohen,'Dancing, clapping, meditating: Jewish and Christian observance of the Sabbath in pseudo-Ignatius’ in B. Isaac, Y. Shahar (eds) Judaea-Palaestina, Babylon and Rome: Jews in Antiquity(Tübingen, 2012) 33-38.
 Midrash Lamentations Rabbah iii, 6/17.
 See e.g. S. Weingarten ‘Eggs in the Talmud’ in R. Hosking (ed.) Eggs in Cookery: Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, 2006(Totnes, 2007) 274-276.
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