Page 33 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

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13
A
gnon
— H
ebrew
A
uthors
and
H
oly
W
riting
rejoinder: When your teachings will be fully revealed and your
fountains of wisdom universally disseminated.
E
ff icacy
of
B
ooks
It is written in Mishnah Avot, “Know what is above you—a
seeing eye, a hearing ear, and all your deeds are recorded in a
book.” “Know what is above you” refers to the days of the first
and second Temples. “A seeing eye” pertains to the period of
the first Temple when men consulted the Urim and Thumim
and could foresee future events. “A hearing ear” refers to the
days of the second Temple, when men hearkened to a Divine
Voice
(Bat Kol).
“All your deeds are recorded in a book” has
reference to our bitter Diaspora when any zaddik can become
knowledgeable by reading a book, since it chronicles all events.
In similar vein the Besht, of blessed memory, once remarked
that by opening a book a zaddik can perceive everything. (Sifte
Tsaddikim Parshat be-Har)
L
ike
M
aster
L
ike
S
ervant
After Rabbi Jacob Joseph of Polnoye had issued his book
Toldot Yaakov Yosef,
he traveled from place to place endeavor-
ing to sell it. Arriving in Berditchev, he set himself up in the
town inn and waited for customers, but none came. This enraged
him. At that moment Rabbi Zev, sitting in Zhitomir, sensed in-
tuitively that charges were being preferred in the Heavenly
Academy against the city of Berditchev, which might lead to her
destruction. He hastened to Berditchev and purchased a hun-
dred copies of the book, which pacified Rabbi Jacob Joseph
considerably. When Rabbi Zev asked why he had become so
incensed, Rabbi Jacob Joseph replied, “Because the teachings of
my master, the Baal Shem, are included in my book.” Rabbi
Zev interjected, “But why all your sound and fury? After all, the
Holy One, blessed be He, also went from nation to nation offer-
ing his Torah, but none desired it.” (Sefer ha-Hasidut)
T
orah
from
E
den
Rabbi Pinhas of Koretz (18th century), of blessed memory,
always extolled the book by the rabbi of Polnoye. He was wont
to declare that such a book had never appeared before, and that
it was Torah direct from the Garden of Eden. (Nofet Tsufim)
O
n
G o ss ip
I have read that before the saintly Rabbi Menahem Mendel
of Vitebsk (18th century), blessed be his memory, left for the