Page 36 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 3

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I t should be noted that many scholars in previous generations,
including Rabbi Israel Salanter, had hoped to translate the Talmud
into Hebrew.
A second undertaking to popularize classic Jewish texts is the
Mishneh Torah
(Yad ha-Hazakah
), by Maimonides, in a shortened
version, edited according to manuscripts and old editions and
isued in vowel-pointed Hebrew, together with an introduction
and a commentary by Dr. Philip Birnbaum (Hebrew Publishing
Co., New York). At the bottom of each page there are short
explanatory notes in English. At the end of the book there is a
dictionary of terms and concepts used by Maimonides and a list
of the Biblical verses quoted in the
Mishneh Torah.
The book
contains about 400 pages and is beautifully issued on fine paper.
While this is an abridged version, it includes about twenty-five
percent of the original. Many printer’s errors have been cor-
rected and the editing has been carefully done. The vowel points
aid in reading the text according to grammatical rules.
Another volume dealing with one of our great figures is
Teshuvot
Rashi
, in three parts, gathered from manuscripts and early
halakhic works and published together with an introduction, notes
and indices by Dr. Israel Elfenbein. The book, which contains
annotations by Prof. Louis Ginzberg, is printed in New York
and contains about 500 pages. For generations, scholars and
rabbis have desired to learn about Rashi as a legalist, but with
little success. After great difficulty, the author has completed
an historic task by gathering all the available responsa by Rashi,
which will now serve as a guide for students of the law. I t should
be noted that Rashi tended to be lenient in his legal decisions in
order to make life pleasant for the Jew.
A notable popular work of interest to every rabbi, student and
reader is
ha-Mussar v ha-Mishpat b'Yisrael
by Dr. S. Federbusch
(Ogen, New York, 241 pages). This is a concise book, divided into
well-balanced chapters and written in a simple and pleasant
style. Whoever seeks an exposition of Jewish ethics on the basis
of a scientific use of the Biblical and Talmudic sources will find it
in this book, which is practically without parallel in our literature.
Another book which is the first of its kind in Hebrew literature
is
ha-Luah ha-Ivri
by L. Leideker (Tekufot, New York, 152
pages). Various articles have been written in Hebrew about the
Jewish calendar, as is to be seen from the bibliography, but this
is the first time that we have a special work on this subject ex-
plaining its principles and calculations, together with notes,
references and tables. The book is written in the form of rules
and short principles. I t is remarkable how such an involved
subject becomes clear even for the beginner and uninitiated.
A timely and original work is
Kitbe Bikkoret Historic
by Dr.
Aaron Kaminka, (Sefarim, New York, 276 pages). The author,
one of our oldest Hebrew writers, has gathered in this book his
studies on personalities and themes in the Bible (Elijah, Ecclesi-
astes), Talmudic times (Hillel, Shammai, Josephus), the Middle
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