Page 31 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

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A
gnon
— H
ebrew
A
uthors
and
H
oly
W
rit ing
11
E
nvy
A
mong
S
cholars
In a dispute between Rabbi Jacob Joshua ben Zvi Hirsch of
Frankfort (18th century) and Rabbi Jonathan Eyebeschutz,
the latter maintained that while Rabbi Joshua’s forte lay in his
proficiency in the Shulhan Arukh, he could never find his way
in the Talmud. Rabbi Joshua countered that while his oppo-
nent possessed a modicum of knowledge of the Talmud, the
Shulhan Arukh was a closed book to him. When the scholars
got wind of what the other had said, a mutual jealousy was
incurred between them. Subsequently, Rabbi Jonathan authored
a book on the Shulhan Arukh, and Rabbi Joshua wrote a
treatise on several tracts of the Talmud. Although the Talmud
avers that envy among scholars enhances knowledge, contem-
porary savants maintain greater erudition is accumulated when
each scholar concentrates on his specialty. (Ohel Avraham)
A N
ew
C
omm entary
One Friday morning Rabbi Levi Isaac of Berditchev (18th
century) stopped at an inn. Since he had not yet completed read-
ing the weekly Torah portion, he asked the innkeeper to loan
him a Humash. Unaware that it contained a commentary by an
unbeliever, the saintly rabbi began perusing sundry segments
of the commentary. When the rabbi returned to his home, his
friends observed that his mien was gravely disturbed. They
asked him the reason but he refused to answer. Thirty days later
he arranged a banquet for his family and friends, and explain-
ing his behavior told them how he had chanced upon a Torah
interpretation which, unbeknown to him, had been composed
by a heretic. After he had been attracted to read parts of it, a
heavenly decree proclaimed that as punishment for his trans-
gression no prayer of his would be received for thirty days. Tha t
is why he had been so deeply troubled; in fact, he feared a pos-
sible heart seizure. But now that the thirty days have expired
and his prayers are again acceptable, he was celebrating with
this feast. (Shaare he־Emunah be-Shem Darkhe Hayyim)
R
abbi
N
a t h a n
s
P
rodigious
L
earning
I heard from the gaon Rabbi Simon Sofer, of blessed memory,
that he had once inquired of his father, Rabbi Moses Sofer (18th-
19th century), concerning the merits of his teacher, Rabbi
Nathan Adler; to which Rabbi Moses Sofer replied, “I am not
a hasid nor am I given to exaggeration, but this I must tell
you. My teacher was superior to an angel or seraph. Through-
out his lifetime he never reduced a single matter of the Oral
Law to writing, because our sages proscribed the writing of