Page 24 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 38

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14
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
May I tell you one that will give you a notion o f its use? I t has to do
with books, too. Du r ing the Korean War, the A rm y was con­
cerned with having the Chaplains not stay in the rear areas, but go
up with the troops. But the Chaplains had heavy paraphernalia.
So the A rm y wanted to know how small could you condense what
was needed to conduct services so that it could be carried on the
back. You could not always get transportation in that rough
terrain. T h e y asked the Catholics, “What can you do with an
altar?” T h e y had an easy solution. T h e y can dedicate a little stone,
put it onto any table and make that do; and you can make a small
pack o f what you need fo r Catholic services. T h e Protestants had
no trouble. You can publish a small Bible, and what else do they
need? T h ey asked us Jews the toughest question. Jewish Chap ­
lains use a
Sefer Torah.
Suppose the Pentagon pho tographed that
Sefer Torah
and reduced it to a minuscule
Sefer Torah.
Cou ld you
legally use it fo r Jewish services? N ow rem ember that I was to g ive
an answer that had to be acceptable to the O r thodox rabbinate
and bearable fo r us.
It was quite an interesting matter go ing back to the basic ques­
tion o f whether print or photography is considered “ w r iting .”
Scripture says specifically,
“Ukh-tav-tem,”
“ Y e shall write.” When
printing started, responsa immediately appeared as to whether
this newly invented process was, ritually speaking, true wr iting or
not.
T h e first man who answered was, I believe, Menachem Azaria
De Fano o f Italy, a pupil o f Moses C o rdovero , the pupil o f Joseph
Karo who wrote
the Shulhan A ruk .
“ I hired men who knew the art,
and they printed fo r me and I watched them .” Do you know what
he watched for? Somebody had comp lained that prin ting is not
really writing. T h e Ta lm ud says that i f you write a document on
parchment, it is kosher and fulfills the other requirements. But i f
you engrave it in wood , say, in high r e l ie f or bas-relief, it is not
really writing and th ere fore is not kosher fo r that sacred purpose.
Thus the Ta lm ud makes a distinction between writing and en ­
graving. N ow some scholar complained (and his op in ion is not
recorded except by this re ference in Menachem Azaria De Fano)
that printing is not writing; it is engraving. “ I watched them. T h e y
squeeze the press so hard that the paper is pushed down and the
black ink stands up. So this is really engraving, not writing, and