Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Assorted Matters

Assorted Matters
Marc B. Shapiro

My next post will take some time to prepare, but there are some other matters that I want to bring to readers’ attention, in particular a few books that I recently received. Due to space considerations, I couldn’t include these in my last post.

1. For those interested in the history of Lithuanian yeshivot, the last few years have been very fruitful. In 2014 Ben-Tsiyon Klibansky’s Ke-Tzur Halamish appeared. This book is a study of the yeshivot from World War I until the destruction of European Jewry. 2015 saw the appearance of Geoffrey D. Claussen’s Sharing the Burden: Rabbi Simhah Zissel Ziv and the Path of Mussar.[1]

In January 2016 Shlomo Tikoshinski’s long-awaited book appeared. Its title is Lamdanut, Musar ve-Elitizm: Yeshivat Slobodka me-Lita le-Eretz Yisrael. The book can be purchased hereEliezer Brodt is also selling the book and a portion of each sale will go to support the efforts of the Seforim Blog, so I also encourage purchasing from him.



This outstanding book is full of new information, and Tikoshinski had access to a variety of private archives and letters that help bring to life a world now lost. Lamdanut, Musar ve-Elitizm is also a crucial source in understanding the development of religious life in Eretz Yisrael in the two decades before the creation of the State.

When you read about the Slobodka students, and later the students of Chevron, it is impossible not to see how very different the student culture was then from what is found today in haredi yeshivot, including the contemporary Yeshivat Chevron. Some of this differences can be explained by the subtitle of the book where the word “elitism” is mentioned. Unlike the situation today, Tikoshinski discusses an era when very few people studied in yeshivot. Those who chose to devote themselves to Torah study were regarded by the traditional community, and more importantly they regarded themselves, as the elite of Jewish society. One should not underestimate how such a self-image impacted the lives of the students.

R. Moshe Finkel was a part of the story Tikoshinski tells. He was the son of R. Nosson Zvi Finkel and son-in-law of R. Moshe Mordechai Epstein, and taught at the yeshiva both in Slobodka and in Chevron. Unfortunately, he unexpectedly died in 1925 at the young age of 43. Here is a photo of R. Moshe Finkel with his wife Sarah. (This picture does not appear in Tikoshinski's book.)


Among the pictures included in Tikoshinksi’s book is the following. Can anyone guess who the one on the right is?


2. In the last post I included a picture of R. Moshe Feinstein and R. Soloveitchik. Here is another picture of R. Moshe, the Rav, and R. Shneur Kotler.


Here is a picture of R. Soloveitchik walking down the aisle at a wedding. Next to him is R. Samuel Walkin. I thank Dr. Dov Zakheim for sending me this picture.


In older pictures you find rabbis walking down the aisle at weddings. Has anyone been to a wedding where this is still done?

3. Yeshiva University recently acquired the archive of the late Rabbi Louis Bernstein (1928-1995), an important Modern Orthodox pulpit rabbi in the second half of the twentieth century. The collection contains an interesting letter from R. Jehiel Jacob Weinberg, in which R. Weinberg mentions that R. Soloveitchik used to sometimes come to his shiurim at the Berlin Rabbinical Seminary. R. Weinberg also speaks about how outstanding R. Soloveitchik was, and how even in his younger years his greatness was recognized by all the Torah sages of the generation.[2]



Also of interest in the collection is material relating to a controversial incident, or actually two incidents, that R. Bernstein was involved with. In 1985 R. Bernstein, who at the time was president of the Rabbinical Council of America, agreed to deliver a speech at the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly convention. That would have been controversial enough. However, things got even more heated when it was announced that the RCA would be reciprocating by having the head of the Rabbinical Assembly, Rabbi Alexander M. Shapiro, speak at the RCA convention.

This became a major dispute not just between the RCA and the more right wing elements in Orthodoxy, but within the RCA itself. The New York Times even covered the matter. See here. Unfortunately for R. Bernstein, the weight of all the opposition came down on him even though the decision for him to speak at the RA convention, and to have Rabbi Shapiro speak before the RCA, was not an individual decision but was voted on by members of the RCA's Executive Committee.

In a future post I will discuss this matter in greater detail, and also deal with the role of R. Soloveitchik. For now, let me share this strong letter from R. Nissan Alpert to R. Bernstein, in which in addition to protesting Rabbi's Shapiro upcoming speech, R. Alpert states that if the event goes forward he sees no way that he can remain a member of the RCA.[3]




4. Recently, Ha-Mashbir, vol. 2, appeared, edited by R. Yissachar Dov Hoffman and R. Ovadiah Hoffman. This volume, which can be purchased at Biegeleisen, is dedicated to R. Ovadiah Yosef and is full of worthwhile articles. Particularly noteworthy are the contributions by R. Meir Mazuz, R. Baruch Simon (focusing on R. Ovadiah’s shiurim at Yeshiva University), R. Pinhas Zebihi on the practice in Gibraltar that men in mourning do not wear a tallit on Shabbat (actually, this is only the case for the first month of mourning), and an important and lengthy article by R. Eliyahu Kohen on R. Ovadiah’s attitude towards Zionism, the State of Israel, and the army. The various articles in the book are supplemented by notes from the two editors, each of whom is a scholar in his own right.

I would also like to call attention to the wonderful introduction to the book by R. Ovadiah Hoffman. He speaks about the need to reject religious extremism that leads to the delegitimization of Torah scholars just because they belong to a different camp. As I mentioned in my last post, this is a great problem in Israeli haredi society, and R. Ovadiah Yosef in particular was subjected to all sorts of attacks from small-minded people who could not recognize the simple truth R. Ovadiah Hoffman speaks about.

דא עקא, קול חרדה שמענו, פחד ואין שלום. בפרי מעללינו הובלנו לעידן של מצוקת הדעת, בו דעות מיעוט ודוקטורינות דתיות של רב אחד ותלמידיו שאינן עולות בקנה אחד עם ההשקפה המסורתית המקובלת של רב אחר וקהלתו, מבוססות ככל שיהיו, לא די שאינן מופרכות לפי כללי התורה ובאופן רציונלי אלא נדחות בשאט נפש ומבוטלות כלאחר יד, ופעמים בדעת קדומה של ביטול הדברים למפרע. . . . כל יום שני שומעים על עוד אדם ש"נפסל" או "נמחק" ונרדף עד לחייו בנסיבות עלובות. מלבד שהיום אין דנין דיני נפשות, גם אין אחידות או סמכות מקובלת או מועצה מוכרת בין כל קהילות ישראל, אפילו את"ל הוא חטא בניו ובנתיו מה חטאו? כמה משפחות נהרסות על חשבון הרודנות הזאת. ברור כי עוד לא זכינו להמשך הנבואה: ושקט ושאנן ואין מחריד (ירמיה ל, י).

I thought of R. Hoffman's point this week when I received a copy of a new book that needs to be seen to be believed. (Thanks to Meir Yosef Frankel for sending it.) The title that appears on the top of each page is שרידי-אש זרה, and the book is designed to show that R. Jehiel Jacob Weinberg was a complete heretic. Interestingly, the author doesn't know how old I am as he refers to me as a student of R. Weinberg: פרופסור אחד מתלמידיו הותיקים. I will discuss this book in more detail in a future post.

Returning to Ha-Mashbir, the second page, where it gives information on how to submit material, states as follows:

בעז"ה ית"ש בכרכים הבאים יודפסו גם מאמרים שאינם מרוכזים על משנת רבינו, הלכה מנהג ומחקר, ויפתח"ו שערי"ה תמיד לציבור הרחב. . . . גם לתגובות ולביקר"ת מבוא פתחים, כולם יתקבלו בברכה.

I have underlined certain words that have double apostrophes. This is a sign that there is a melitzah play on words, something that the editor R. Ovadiah Hoffman is quite good with. The first example, ויפתח"ו שערי"ה תמיד, is a play on Isaiah 60:11: ופתחו שעריך תמיד. The second example, ולביקור"ת מבוא פתחים, is quite clever. It is a play on Proverbs 8:3: .לפי-קרת מבוא פתחים

5. The ever-productive Menachem Kellner has just published a new book, Gam Hem Nikraim Adam: Ha-Nokhri be-Einei ha-Rambam, available here. This is not just a work of academic scholarship, but is what we can call “engaged scholarship,” in other words, scholarship that is also intent on making a difference in the real world. One of the things that troubles Kellner about contemporary Orthodox Judaism (and he specifically deals with such figures as R. Shlomo Aviner, R. Hershel Schachter, and the authors of Torat ha-Melekh) is the recent turn (or perhaps better, return) to negative portrayals of non-Jews and their spiritual worth. Kellner discusses this in the first section of the book which is titled גילוי דעת, and you can read it here. See also his interview with Alan Brill here.

In the book, Kellner argues that Maimonides sees no essential difference between Jews and non-Jews, and it is this view that Kellner wishes his readers to adopt. He refers to it as “Maimonides’ universalism.” Responses to Kellner’s book will be of two types: Those that deal with his interpretation of Maimonides and those that focus on what Kellner has to say about the contemporary scene and how Maimonides relates to it. This is a very exciting book which further establishes Kellner as an important public intellectual, and shows us once again why Kellner’s work has had a significant impact on the study of medieval Jewish philosophy. I hope to take up some of Kellner’s points in a future post.

7. R. Simcha Feuerman has recently published Et Lifrosh ve-Et le-Ehov. This small book, available at Biegeleisen, focuses on issues of shelom bayit. What makes this book significant is that R. Feuerman is also a licensed social worker with great experience in the field. This makes his book different than many previous books on the topic authored by well-intentioned people who never actually had any practical experience. As is fitting for a book like this, sexual matters are also discussed, and R. Feuerman mentions (p. 13) that the book was shown to rabbis and dayanim. Yet other than R. Gavriel Zinner, who penned a haskamah, none of the other rabbis chose to be public in their support because of their fear of being attacked by extremists who don’t think that these matters should be publicly discussed.

R. Feuerman also deals with the matter of psychological counseling and possible conflicts between the role of the psychologist, who is not supposed to be judgmental, and the traditional obligation to rebuke those who are sinning. As part of this essay (pp. 88ff.), R. Feuerman discusses the value of Freud’s insights (and notes the advances that have been made since his time). I find this significant since for many in the haredi world, and they are the ones who will be reading this book, Freud is almost up there with Darwin when it comes to objects of derision. It is also worth noting that the author uses "lomdus" to make psychological arguments.

8. For anyone who hasn’t yet picked up my new book, Changing the Immutable, the YU Seforim Sale is selling it at a great price. See here. Regarding Changing the Immutable, let me also add that because of the book's last chapter, a number of people have been upset and have even characterized me as a haredi apologist. That is not the case at all, and Adam Ferziger, in his just-published review here, gets it right.



[1] Also worthy of note is Ernest Gugenheim, Letters from Mir: A Torah World in the Shadow of the Shoah (New York, 2014). One piece of interesting information appears on p. 106, where in a 1938 letter Gugenheim writes: "Tomorrow [the day before Purim] will be a day of fasting. Here, they are rather meikil with respect to this viewpoint, and many bachurim, too weak, do not fast completely. It is true that every day for them is a day of half-fasting, such that they are quite weakened." Thanks to Jonathan Hirsch for calling this passage to my attention.
[2] R. Weinberg’s letter is found in the Rabbi Louis Bernstein archives, box 3. I thank the Yeshiva University Archives for granting me permission to publish it.
[3] R. Alpert's letter is found in the Rabbi Louis Bernstein archives, box 6, Folder no.: RCA etc. 1985. I thank the Yeshiva University Archives for granting me permission to publish it.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Valmadonna Broadside Collection: a Review Essay

The Valmadonna Broadside Collection: Review essay
By Eliezer Brodt and Dan Rabinowitz
The Writing on the Wall: A catalogue of Judaica Broadsides from the Valmadonna Trust Library, edited by Sharon Liberman Mintz, Shaul Seidler-Feller and David Wachtel, London-New York: 2015, 320 pp.
Jews have been collecting books or manuscripts for centuries. A related category that is collected by fewer is ephemera, including broadsides, documents and letters of historical significance. Of late, a few annual auctions have included some of these documents among the other objects to be auctioned. Sadly, after their appearance in the auctions' catalogs, most of the rare items disappear in to private collections and are invariably almost impossible to track down post-auction. The result is that a valuable amount of historical information is lost to the public. Moreover, to date, there is no database that tracks or records these items.[1]

First, a definition of the type of material – broadsides; they “are all around us whether we recognize them as such or not. Walking down the street… entering the lobby of a public building… we daily even hourly see flyers for event, advertising posters, public announcements and more.” Using “the most expansive conception we can say that the broadside has been with us since antiquity… The public display of information… has been ubiquitous for a very long time.” (p. 6).

In an important and excellent essay on Jewish bibliography written in 1976,[2] Professor Israel Ta-Shema remarks that because broadsides were intended and read by “thousands and potentially hundreds of thousands” they are among the “important sources for both Jewish history and the history of Hebrew printing.”
ענין לעצמו שלא זכה למיטב ידיעתי לשום טיפול עד עצם היום הזההוא רישומם הביבליוגרפי של 'הדפים הבודדים'. לפי הערכות שקולות מגיע מספרם של אלה לאלפים רביםואולי עד כדי רבבהוחשיבותן הן לידיעת תולדות ישראל והן לידיעת קורות הדפוס העברי גדולה ביותרבדרך כלל קשורים דפים אלה במריבות בין חשובי הקהל ורבניהםסכסוכי משפחותבנים נודדיםפולמסים דתיים וכו'. דפים אלה שנתלו או הודבקו על קירות בתי הגיטו או בבתי הכנסת וכדאבדו ברובם המכריעוכל מה שנשתמר מהם הוא בגדר יוצא מן הכללערך ביוחד יש לסוג ספרותי זה ביחס לפולמוסים הפנים-חסידיים והמתגנגדייםלסוג זה יש לצרף את המודעות והכרזות עד לתקופתנו אנוכולל כרוזי המחתרות האנטי היטלריסיות בחו"ל והאנטי מנדטריות בארץ ישראלכרוזי נטורי קרתא וכד', שהם רבים מאודמלבדם נדפסו על דפים בודדיםקמיעות וסגולותלוחות קירדברי פרסומתהסכמות נפרדות ועודויש ביניהם גם מעשיות עממיות קצרות על דף אחד. [מצוי ורצוי בביבליוגרפיה העבריתיד לקורא טו (תשל"ו), עמ' 79-7 ].        
History is not the only subject to benefit from broadsides.  The prolific author, R. Eliyahu David Teomim (Aderet), published and annotated a broadside recording the customs of the Great Synagogue of the Austria, whose Rabbis had included R. Shmuel Edels (Maharsha).[3]  

Recently some of collectors of broadsides have begun printing and reproducing these priceless treasures.[4] The Valmadonna Trust Library (see here), still one of the most significant private Hebraica libraries (for an appreciation of the Valmadonna Library, penned by its librarian and published at the Seforim blog in 2009, see here), published a catalog of the broadsides in its collection, The Writing on the Wall: A catalogue of Judaica Broadsides from the Valmadonna Trust Library, edited by Sharon Liberman Mintz, Shaul Seidler-Feller and David Wachtel (see here). In conjunction with the publication of the catalog, the Trust also made available online (here) all of the documents in its collection for further study. The collection is comprised of broadsides from the sixteenth to twentieth centuries and incorporates items from Italy (the library generally focused on Italy and Italian items and broadsides are no exception, with Italian broadsides being the largest of the collection), and elsewhere in Europe, Israel, Yemen, Iraq, Constantinople, India, and even one from America.

The book consists of a few parts. It begins with five scholarly essays on specific subjects by various experts. Following are excellent full-page reproductions of thirty-six highlights from the collection, including a description explaining the significance of the specific document. A full catalog of the collection is included and is divided into six main categories; each category is chronologically ordered. The six categories are: Poems, Prayers, Documents from Within the Jewish Community, Documents from Outside the Jewish Community, Calendars and Education. Each entry includes a description of the item, the title, author place and date of printing, printer, size and language. Some entries include additional bibliographical sources; others provide a small image of the item. Additionally, the non-English broadsides included in the highlight section are translated. The volume concludes with various other useful indexes.

The first introductory essay is an excellent overview of Jewish broadsides by Adam Shear. Shear asks and answers the basic questions that come to mind, such as: "What was the purpose?", "Who was the audience?", "Where were they displayed?" and the like, none of which can be answered singularly.  

The second essay is by Elisheva Carlebach and focuses on the Jewish wall calendars in the collection.[5] She explores what can be learned from tracing the cultural history of one of the printers of these calendars through various calendars he printed. Some of these calendars were very sophisticated and it's unclear who the targeted audience was. Emphasizing calendar broadsides’ unique value, she concludes that "the most ephemeral of forms, broadside calendars preserve a glimpse of the printshop as workspace, the spirit of entrepreneurship and the enduring values of the creators of these humble yet precious objects" (p. 30).

The third essay is written by Ruth Langer and focuses on the Liturgical Broadsides of the collection.  Some are prayers for current events, one of interest (printed on p.33) is for a memorial service for a building that collapsed in Mantua in 1776 where three weddings were taking place simultaneously.[6] Also discussed are the prayers for various civic events (p. 35) and for the various governing powers, a subject which still needs to be explored in depth. Some of these broadsides were clearly displayed in shuls; one includes the language of the prayers, defusing the power of bad dreams and request for substance, that are recited along with Birchat Cohanim (p.15), others include prayer that are recited during Selichot (p.14). One broadside, printed in Izmir in 1890, contains the Vidduy of Yom Kippur, printed with each entry of the Aleph Beis featuring other sins under that letter, very similar to the sheets given out in various shuls today (p.44). Not all were intended for the public display, the following broadside from Venice 1607 (Item # 153) appears to have been hanging in the house, for the owners' personal use.


The next essay, by Dvora Bregman, focuses on the Hebrew poems in the collection (mostly from Italy). This section also highlights various pieces of historical interest. Reading through it, one is amazed how poems were written for literally every occasion – completion of Mishna, Venice, 1630 (p.55), receiving a medical degree (p.51, there are sixteen examples in the collection), in honor of R. Israel Chazan’s[7] visit to the old Greek synagogue in Corfu in 1853 (item # 134) (see below). Some of the poems were written after the deaths of prominent people such as an Italian elegy for R' Moshe Zacuto which is reproduced in full and translated from Italian to English. Other elegies include one for R' Yehudah Aryeh Modena (see below) and for R' Mordechai Gerondi, the latter written by his friend Shadal (see below). There are also many "wedding riddles" in the collection – providing evidence of another rich and diverse aspect of Jewish life in Italy. 







The next section, originally written in Hebrew by Nachum Rakover and translated into English for this volume by Shaul Seidler-Feller, focuses on the Takanot broadsides found in this collection. Sumptuary edicts, limiting the size of a celebratory affair and the amount of people invited, the amount of food to be served, or the amount of money to be spent on various sorts of occasions were commonplace from the medieval until the modern period.  For example, we note that the Nodeh Beyhehudah and his beis din in Prague issued a list of such Takonot.[8] Rakover is in middle of preparing for publication a thorough study on the subject. In the volume under review, his article deals with the seventeen Italian broadsides related to sumptuary laws in the Valmadonna Collection from 1598-1794. The article is impressive in its sweeping review of the topic and the placement of these items within the larger narrative. What is apparent from the examples in the collection is that sumptuary laws have been persistent. Indeed, recently the cudgel has been taken up anew and a new round of such edicts by numerous rabbis and Hasidic leaders to limit spending has been promulgated. 
                                                  
Exploring the Collection

The introductory essays are only the beginning in what can be uncovered in a collection as rich as this one.  By providing online access, the Trust has insured that can occur.  To begin that exploration, we discuss a few choice examples.

As was recently the case with American Pharaoh, Jewish have been involved in sport, and specifically horse racing.  The collection includes two Italian broadsides discussing the horses and the Jewish sponsorship of a horse race. (Nos. 311 & 328).

One surprising and lengthy – some ninety lines – ode was composed in Hebrew (ca. 1740) and is a “poem of praise and supplication addressed to Angelo Maria Quirini (1680-1755), an Italian Cardinal.”  This item is “a single bi[-]folio excised from a larger work, most likely a pamphlet,” and is “not a true broadside.” (No. 130). No additional information is provided on this intriguing item.[9]







Friday Night Candle Lighting Prayers

The following broadside from Venice 1835, (reproduced on p. 17), contains the text of the prayers that were customarily recited by women on Friday evening during the candle lighting ceremony.


The illustration depicts a woman lighting eight candles. The Rishonim, including Italian sources, Shibolei Haleket (Siman 59) and Sefer Hatadir (p.196), only require and discuss two candles for Shabbos.[10] The question is when exactly did people start lighting more? The exact time when this began is unknown. However, in the "Shulchan Aruch" from R' Yehudah Aryeh Modenah (1571-1648) he describes the Italian custom of lighting multiple candles:

והנשים חייבות להדליק בבית נר של שמן ובתוכו לכל הפחות ארבע או שש פתילית להאיר בערב עד עבור חלק גדול מהלילה [עמ' 54].

Some continued to advance the numbers and in the 19th century, one author records the custom of lighting 31, 45, and 52 candles weekly.

מה מאוד היה מכבד שבת ויום טוב והיה מנהגו להדליק בכל שבת ל"א נרות כמנין אל כי בו שבת אל מכל מלאכתו, ובסוף ימיו מ"ה נרות, ולפני מותו היה מצווה להדליק בשנה ראשונה בחדר שהיה לומד בו נ"ב נרות כל שבת [מה שהעידו על ר' הירץ אברהם נפתלי שייאר בהקדמת נכד המחבר לפירושו תורי זהב, (על שיר השירים), ירושלים תשס"ג, עמ' טז].

Corporal Punishment
The following broadside poster for the instruction of children is from Italy 1846 (125):[11]


One striking part of the image is of the teacher hitting children in school. This sort of practice is recorded in a number of Jewish texts.[12]  For example:
A 17th century autobiography recounts that "the new teacher was of an irritable temper… he hit me and put me to shame…". [Alexander Marx, Studies in Jewish History and Booklore, New York 1944, p. 193].
R' Yaakov Emden writes in his autobiography:

בשנות הילדות... אזכיר איזה גרגריםשלשה דברים נוראים שקרו לי בימי ילדותי הרכות. ... ומלבד המכות אשר הוכיתי בית מאהבי המלמדים אשר נמסרתי בידיהם ללימודהיו על פי רוב אכזריםהיכוני בלי חמלה... [מגלת ספרעמ' 84].

Saul Berlin writes in his satirical work:

ומתועלת ההכאה עודכי הוא צד היתר למלמדים לקבל שכרכי על הלמוד לבד אסור לקבל שכרמשום קרדום לחתו בוואם כן כל מלמד המרבה להכות הרי זה משובח... ועוד רבה התועלת ע"י ההכאה אשר הילדים מכים ולוקים בבית הספרכי ליראתם את המכות קרבת מוריהם יחפצו וירבו עליהם מוהר ומתן למען חנות אותםובהגיע חודש ומועד יפצירו הילדים באבותם לתת להם משאת רבלהביא אל רבם לתתם לו כופר נפשם...". [כתב יושר, [בתוךיהודה פרידלנדרפרקים בסאטירה העברית בשלהי מאה הי"ח בגרמניהתל אביב תש"ם], עמ'  98].

R' Yosef Kara writes:

שבהיותי בצוותא חדא אם כבוד ידידי הגאון הצדיק מו"ה שמעון סופר אב"ד דק"ק קראקא... והוא אמר ז"ל כי זה רע חולי שאין חפץ לגדולי לומדי תורה להיות מקרי דרדקיכי הוא חרפה להם ע"כ מוכרחים אבות הבנים ליתן בניהם הקטנים אל איש אשר לא ידע ספר קרוא מקרא ודקדוק אך ידע להכות הבנים ולזעוק בקול גדול... [קול אמר קראפפנחסעמ' 20].

This broadside from Amsterdam 1666 is a little more famous, as it’s a supposed depiction of Shabbetai Tzvi. A complete translation for the Dutch is provided in at the appendix (pp.264-65).



Gershom Scholem writes that this portrait of Tzvi is fictitious – one of a number of imaginary portraits. (Sabbatai Sevi, pp. 190-191, 158). The only picture of Shabbetai Tzvi believed to be authentic (that is, drawn by a witness) is the one found in the beginning of Thomas Coenen's book Ydele Verwachtinge der Joden, Amsterdam 1669.[13] There might be others as well, but King Jan Casimir ordered all pictures of him to be destroyed (id., p. 597). This one, fortunately, was published.



(This is from Scholem's personal copy.)

Kabbalistic Tefilos for Rosh Hashanah



This broadside from Mantua 1790, reproduced in the book (p.43), is of interest for several reasons. First, the top part of the broadside has the twenty fourth chapter of Tehilim, said by many Kehilot on Rosh Hashanah as a segulah for Parnasa.[14] In a work written around 1700, recently printed from manuscript, we find the author writes:
אחר ערבית, יש לי תוכחת מגולה ומסותרת אם קצת משכילים, שהנהיגו לקרות בבית הכנסת בציבור אחר עלינו לשבח בלילי ר"ה, מזמור לה' הארץ ומלואה, ולכוין הנקוד של השם, ככתוב בספר שערי ציון, שהוא מסוגל לפרנסה, שלא יפה הם עושים, כי לא כן צוה הרב המגיד לנו סוד זה, והצנועים נהגו לאמרו בשני הלילות שתי פעמים בכל לילה תכופים זה לזה... והקריאה על שולחנו קודם ברכת מזון... דבר הלמד מענינו, בהצנע לכת עם אלקיך. על כן אמרתי ימים ידברו, להויע ידידי הקורא שדבר בדוק ומנוסה שכל סגולה הנעשית על ידי תפלה בשום כוונה או שם, שאין לך לפרסמו ברבים. ולא לגלותו כי אם לתלמיד הגון ירא חטא ובלחישה, לבל היה מוליך רכיל מגלה סוד, שאז תהיה הפעולה חלושה... [ר' כליפא בן מלכה, כף נקי, [לוד תשע"ד] עמ' 167].
The second part of this broadside is also of interest, as it has the tefilos said before, during and after the shofar blowing, including some of the Kabblastic tefilos with names of angels. Of note is what is omitted here, those parts said between the various sets of Shofar blowing, which has been the subject of lots of literature[15], as it includes a very strange phrase, that seemingly evokes Jesus: ישוע שר הפנים"".

Here is an article written on this topic by R' Shmuel Ashkenazi written in 1944 (!) under one of his pen names:




One more point related to this topic is a case of censorship. R' Chaim Kraus writes:

 הנה בזכר יהוסף... מתיחס לזה שבדפוסים האחרונים בשו"ת תשובה מאהבה הושמט הענין הנ"ל שכתב בחריפות נגד אמירת היהי רצון שמות המלאכים... [מכלכל חיים בחסד, עמ' סד].

However, upon checking the sources to see when in the printing of the sefer Teshuvah M'Ahavah this censorship took place, one is hard pressed to find it, as it's simply not there. The actual issue is a bit different; Kraus misunderstood R' Yosef Zechariah Stern's teshuvah.

In an extraordinary teshuvah dealing with these prayers (Zecher Yehosef, Siman 210), R' Yosef Zechariah Stern mentions a certain case of censorship:

ובתשובה מאהבה ח"א סי' א שהועתקה תשובתו בדבר הפיוטים ברוב המחזורים.. והמדפיסים להפיס דעת ההמון שהורגלו באמירת היהי רצון שבתקיעות השמיטו מה שהזכיר בסוף התשובה אות ס' שמרעם בהזכרת שמות המלאכים... וכן השמיטו המדפיסים בהעתקתם מהתשובה מאהבה מה שהעיד מהנודע ביהודה שאחד היה רוצה לברך על אתרוג המהודר שלו וכשראה שאומר היהיה רצון... אמר איני מניחו לברך על אתרוג שלי...

This Teshuvah was printed in various Machzorim at the time and that is where these parts of the teshuva were indeed bowdlerized. See the following images for the pages as they appear in the Korbon Aharon Machazor printed in Vilna in 1839 and compare with the first print of the teshuvah (Prague, 1809).










Amulet Broadsides


This image from Jerusalem 1870 (pp. 130-131) highlights another notable part of this collection - the Amulet section. It contains numerous broadsides against the "evil eye", aimed at protecting the newborn mother from Lilith and the like (pp. 132-135, 141-143, 194-197). This is yet an additional set of documents which demonstrate how widespread it was for people to use amulets and the fear of the "evil eye" and the like.

There are numerous sources on regarding amulets, some mentioned here.[16] One source, that was only recently published in English, is from a fascinating memoir by Pauline Wengeroff, who writes: "for the same purpose of protecting the newborn, Jews used to affix kabbalistic prayers called shemaus over the head of the new mother, a second page on the door and a third between the cushion of the child."[17]

Controversy against R' Shlomo Ganzfried – Author of Kitzur Shulhan Aruch








This document relates to a controversy between R' Shlomo Ganzfried and the R' Chaim Halberstamm, the Divrei Chaim. In his work Ohali Shem on Gittin, R' Ganzfried took issue with some legal rulings of the Divrei Chaim. This erupted into a series of small works from R' Weber, starting in 1882, defending the honor of the Divrei Chaim. R' Ganzfried responded to one of them in the back of the 1884 edition of his Kitzur Shulchan Aruch.

This broadside (above) from R' Weber against R' Ganzfried, found in the Valmadonna Collection, is very rare (p. 217 #360).[18] 

The Valmadonna Collection has another rare broadside from R' Weber (below), related to the famous controversy of the Corfu Esrogim (p. 219 # 369).[19] This is not included in Naftali Ben Menachem's otherwise comprehensive article regarding R' Weber.


Regarding this broadside, it's worth quoting the great historian[20] and native of the Old Yishuv, Eliezer Malachi:

ורמרדכי אליעזר ווברהרב דאדאזה האחרון היה אש לוהטתובקנאותו לא ידע גבולעד שבשנת תרנ"א אסרו את אתרוגי קורפו לטובת אתרוגי ארץ ישראלנלחם הוא להתיר אתרוגי קורפו ולאסור את אתרוגי ארץ ישראל שגדלים בפרדסי המושבות של חובבי ציון [מנגד תראהעמ' 225].

The volume is beautifully produced, the reproductions are excellent, and is available in a larger format “coffee table” size. This is a great volume, for collectors of books and history. It is available for purchase here and at the YU Seforim sale here.



[1] The Otzar Ha-Hochma database should be commended for including some auction catalogs in its archive, and even some broadsides, which will provide at least fragmentary information regarding the existence of these invaluable documents.
[2] This essay does not appear in Ta-Shema’s four volume collected writing, it is unclear why it was excluded. 
[3]  For more on this see: Eliezer Brodt, Likutei Eliezer, pp. 11-12.
[4] We discuss two broadsides related to the election of the Vilna chief rabbi between R. Hayyim Ozer and R. Y. Rubenstein (here).The Israel Musuem mounted an exhibit of broadside regarding Haredim.  See Pashkevilim, Wall Announcements and Polemic Posters in the Ultra-Orthodox Street, Israel Museum-Yad Ben Tzvi, Jerusalem: 2005 (Hebrew). This volume contains a number of introductory essays, and germane here, Menachem Friedman’s essay “The Pashqevil (Pasquinade) and Public Wall Poster/Bulletin Board Announcements in  Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) Society” is especially important, although it is not cited in the Valmadonna volume.
[5] See the lengthier treatment of the topic in her book, Elisheva Carlebach, Jewish Calendar and Culture in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011.
[6]  See also p. 210 # 332.
[7]  On this great person, it is well worth quoting Professor Yaakov Sussman's assessment in a footnote, in a book-length (175 pp) essay - one of the most important ones written in the past decade on the writing of Torah She-Bal Peh – where writes:

מסה מרשימה ביותר בבקיאותובחריפותובפלפולו בתקיפותו של המחבר לאורך כמאה עמודים גדושיםשבה סיכם כמעט כל מה שנאמר לפניו בנושא... בתשובה זו מתגלה המחבר כחכם בקיתמים ובעל חושב ביקורתי כאחתשכל רז לא אניס ליהלא בספרות הרבני ולא במחקרי זמנווהוא מצליח לגייס את ידיעתיו להגצת עמדתו... ואין פלא כלל שתשובה מרשימה זו כבשה במהרה את הלבבות והייתה למילה אחרונה בנושא ודעתו נתקבלה כמעט על כל החוקרים [מחקרי תלמודגעמ' 235].
[8]  See Mofas Hador, pp. 37-40. See also Yerushaseinu 5 (2011), pp. 265-299; R' Betzael Landau (here).
[9] We doubt that the composer was Jewish or the text was intended for a Jewish audience. Instead, similar odes – in Hebrew and the subject is Christian – appear in a number of Latin translations of Hebrew texts. See, for example, Coccejus’ Latin translation and abridgement of tractates Sanhedrin and Makkot, includes Hebrew poems in his own honor and that of his teacher. Duo Tituli Thalmudici Sanhedrin et Maccoth, ed. Joanne [Coccejus], Amsterdam, 1629, unpaginated introduction.
Another notable example of clerical citation is Cardinal Egidius de Viterbo who appears in Elijah Levita’s works.  See Solomon Buber, Tolodot Eliyahu ha-Tishby, Leipzig, 1856, nn. 15-18.
[10]  For more sources on this, see: Rabbi Oberlander, Minhag Avosenu Beyadneu, (Shonot), pp. 11-19; R' Yechiel Goldhaber, Minhaghei Hakehilot, 1, pp. 174-175; Eliezer Brodt, Yerushaseinu 2 (2008), pp. 203-204; Rabbi Y.M. Dubovick, Minucha Sheleimah (2014), pp.26-27.
[11] The full document is translated in the appendix of the book (pp. 288-290).
[12] For additional sources on this subject, see S. Assaf, Mekorot le-Tolodot ha-Chinuch be-Yisrael, s.v. makot.
[13] Coenen’s book is a very important contemporaneous account of the messianic fervor surrounding Tzvi.  The book was translated from Dutch into Hebrew, Tzepiot Shav shel ha-Yehudim Kefi she-Hetgalu be-Demuto shel Shabbati Tzvi, Merkaz Dinur, Jerusalem, 1998. 
[14]  On this see: R' Yechiel Goldhaber, Minhaghei Hakehilot, 2, pp. 31-33; Eliezer Brodt, Yerushaseinu 2 (2008), p. 211.
[15]  See R' Yechiel Goldhaber, Minhaghei Hakehilot, 2, pp.61-65, where he traces how far back the custom of saying these Tefilos can be dated. See also Eliezer Brodt, Yerushaseinu 2 (2008), p. 214. The main work on this subject, collecting vast material, is R' Chaim Kraus, MiChalkel Chaim Bechesed 2, (1982). See also R' Zev Rabinowitz, Sharei Toras Bavel, p.12; R' Chaim Lieberman, Ohel Rochel, 1, pp. 511-515; Y. Leibes, Mechkari Yerushalayim Bimachshevet Yisrael 6 (1986), pp. 171-195.
[16]  See also Eliezer Brodt, Likutei Eliezer, pp. 13-22, 69-72; Jewish Magic through the ages: Angels and Demons, edited by Filip Vukosvoviv, Bible land Museum, Jerusalem 2010.
[17]  Pauline WengeroffMemoirs of a Grandmother, 2, 2014, p. 89.
[18] On R' Ganzfried, see R' Y. Rubinstein, HaMayan 11:3 (1971), pp. 1-13; ibid. 11:4. pp. 61-78. See also Naftoli Ben Menachem, HaMayan 12 :1 (1972) pp. 39-42.  On this controversy, see R' Rubenstein, ibid. pp. 10-11. On R' Weber, see Naftoli Ben Menachem, in: Studies in Jewish bibliography, history, and literature in honor of I. Edward Kiev, Charles Berlin (editor), New York 1971, pp. 13-20. On this broadside, see Shoshanna Halevy, Sifrei Yerushlayim Ha-Rishonim, p. 188. On the other works by R' Weber related to this issue, see ibid, pp. 156-157, 186-187, 219-220. See also Moshe Carmilly, Sefer VeSayif, pp. 264-265.
For an additional controversy between the Divrei Chaim and R' Ganzfried see David Assaf, HeTzitz Unifgah, (2012) pp. 362-367.
About R' Ganzfried and Chasidim, see Heichal HaBesht 3 (2003), pp. 105-117. For more on the Divrei Chaim's methods of Pesak, see Iris Brown, Rabbi Hayyim Halberstam of Sanz: His Halakhic Ruling in view of his Intellectual world and the challenges of his time, (PHD Bar Ilan University) 2004 (heb.).
[19]  This is the subject of a future article. For now, see R' Yosef Zechariah Stern, Zecher Yehosef, siman 232.
[20]  About Malachi, see Jacob Kabakoff, "Some Notable Bibliographers I have Known", Judaica Librarianship, Vol.11 :1-2, (2003), p. 67-75.

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