Page 108 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 4

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
96
Maimonides9 Mishneh Torah
(Yad ha־Hazakah). Abridged Edi-
tion. Edited from Manuscripts and Early Texts, Vocalized,
Annotated and Provided with an Introduction by
P
h i l i p
B
i r n
-
b a u m
,
Ph.D. New York,
H
e b r e w
P
u b l i s h i n g
C
om p a n y
,
1944.
336 pages. $4.50.
Dr. Birnbaum has done an excellent piece of work in selecting, vocal-
izing and annotating about three hundred chapters of the one thousand
that the Mishneh Torah contains. All of the fourteen books in the “Yad”
(whence its name) are well represented.
In the hope that this abridged text may serve not only students in
academies and schools but the layman and the scholar as well, the editor
used manuscripts and early editions in preparing the present text, thus
removing many errors and printers' “corrections” which have caused a
great deal of confusion and have led to much unnecessary
pilpul.
In a rather lengthy (51 pages) and scholarly introduction, written in
a fine, lucid Hebrew, Dr. Birnbaum gives a list of his corrections, which
should prove very helpful to scholars. The introduction is in itself a
work of great significance. Dr. Birnbaum discusses such topics as Mai-
monides’ Aims of the Mishneh Torah as a Force for Uniting Jewry,
Maimonides’ Hebrew Style, Arabisms in the Mishneh Torah, Maimunis’
System in Translating Talmudic Aramaic Passages into Hebrew, Gram-
matical Deviations Found in the “Yad”, and many others (16 in all).
Dr. Birnbaum laments the fact that there is no critical scientific edition
of the Mishneh Torah. With this beautiful abridged edition he has made
a good beginning in this direction. Moreover, he has demonstrated that
he is well able to do this task and to prepare the much needed, critical,
scientific and vocalized edition of the complete Mishneh Torah. We may
remind Dr. Birnbaum of the rabbinic dictum “He who begins a mitzvan
is obligated to finish it.”
— E
l h a n a n
H.
G
olomb
i n
Jewish Education
Joseph the Provider.
By
T
homa s
M
a n n
.
New York,
A
l f r e d
A .
K
n o p f
,
1944. 608 pages. $3.00.
As the story of Joseph’s reconciliation with his brothers is known to
every child, the critic can serve his readers only by elucidating the art-
fulness with which the holy legend is embellished and the prismatic
significance with which it has been endowed. Yet this cannot be done
adequately without the widest ramifications. For this last installment
of what is really a modern “Divine Comedy” not only illuminates the
whole meaning of the Joseph myth. It throws a new light backward upon
the life work of Thomas Mann and places him among that noble and
restless company whom Dostoievsky called the “Godseekers.”
The delicate, impetuous and lachrymose yet lovable character of the
youthful Pharaoh is contrasted with Joseph’s inspired common sense,
self-control, shrewdness and unfailing humor. Both characters are tradi-
tion-laden, but Joseph’s traditions are molded by his individuality.
Tradition comes from the depths and binds him. But his “I ” is from
God, is spiritual and free. Both seem to him essential in a truly human
civilization.