Page 180 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

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HAIM GEVARYAHU
On the Authorship ofHebrew Books
*
WHEN A SCHOLAR
writes a book, is it permissible and p rop e r for
him to affix his name to it, o r is it preferab le tha t he keep his name
secret? In this matter we find a sharp d ifference o f opinion
between the two leading Askenazic Pietists o f the 12th century.
Ju d a h Hasid, the foremost Ashkenazic Pietist, states:
O u r Sages o f old did not affix the ir names to the ir books,
no r did they perm it o thers to do so for them . Thus , the
au thors o f the Sifra, the Mekhilta, the Beraitot and
Midrashim, the Seder Olam Rabbah and Seder Olam Zuta,
and the treatise o f Soferim, did not write in the ir books: I so
and so, son o f so and so, wrote and compiled this work —
this, in o rd e r that they should derive no benefit in this world
and diminish thereby the ir reward in the world to come
(Sefer Hasidim,
parag raph 367).
His younger contemporary , Eleazar o f Worms, au tho r o f
Sefer
haRokeah,
differs with him and writes in the in troduc tion to his
work:
I have called my book
Roke’ah
after my name Eleazar. The
Hebrew letters
rkh,
indicating “a compound o f ingredients
expertly b lended” (Exodus 30:25), are th e
gematria
(num er­
ical equivalent) o f my name Eleazar ben Jud ah . It is incum ­
ben t upon everyone to record his name in his book, as for
example: T anna de-vei Eliyahu, which begins with the word
va-yegaresh,
the
gematria
o f T ann a de-vei Eliyahu; Midrash
T adsheh , which begins with the words
tadsheh ha-arez desheh,
the
gematria
o f Pinhas ben Yair; Midrash Bereshit Rabbah,
whose open ing words are the
gematria
o f Oshaiah Rabbah;
* Translated from the Hebrew essay
Ha-Shemv’ha-Sefer,
which appeared in
Sefer
Zikaron le-Mordecai Weiser,
Memorial Committee for Mordecai Weiser,
Kevutzat Yavneh, 1981.
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