Page 172 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

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166
J E W I S H B O O K A N N U A L
two parts. First, there are presented the text o f the
Tosefta
with a
scientific apparatus to variant readings; citations to other places
where the particular passage is quoted; and what he calls a “short
commentary,” giving the gist o f the meaning o f the passage. The
second part is a detailed commentary summarizing all previous
attempts at understanding the passage, the heart o f the
Tosefet
Rishonim
(citations from the earliest authorities) and a commen­
tary. The commentary itself is an
entree
into the whole o f rabbinic
literature, for when any topic is mentioned, the author provides
an excursus explaining the concept and its variations. The
Tosefta
ki-Feshuto
not only provides the student with am amazingly com­
prehensive commentary on an important rabbinic work, but a
summary o f rabbinic literature as well. In offering us this schol­
arly feast, Lieberman displays unparalleled erudition in rabbinic
literature, classical literature, and modern scientific literature.
He also shows amazing knowledge o f classical natural science,
especially in the commentary on Zera’im where many flora and
fauna are mentioned and described. He worked without assist­
ants and without file cards. He went over every reading, every
citation by himself. He worked incessantly, day and night, holi­
days and vacation days. His light burning into the early hours
became a kind o f legend at the Seminary where students noted
with admiration the endless toil expended on Torah study by
their professor. The
Tosefta ki-Feshuto
took up most o f the Mas­
ter’s time. However, he contributed many, many articles to
learned journals and also provided notes to many books by other
authors.
APPROACH TO TEACHING
Above all, Professor Lieberman was a great teacher. It was
always his aim, both in the written and oral presentations, to get to
the plain meaning o f the passage. He did not like the pilpulistic*
approach o f traditional Talmud study. He was a disciplinarian
who brooked no nonsense from his students. For one who studied
Talmud in a traditional yeshiva, Lieberman opened up exciting
new vistas o f understanding. The words were the same; the sub­
ject was totally different. Philological and historical tools were
used. Talmud was never a dull subject in his class. His amazing
works show how the whole o f rabbinic literature:
midrashim,
Yerushalmi, rishonim, aharonim,
and manuscript readings could be