Page 26 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

Basic HTML Version

14
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
those that deal with halakhah, are quick to caution the reader that
the matters dealt with in their pages are highly technical and that
they have been provided only for acquiring basic knowledge;
under no circumstances should they be used for determining the
answers to halakhic problems.12 In all cases a competent (read
Orthodox or perhaps rightist-Orthodox) rabbi should be con­
sulted. One wonders what besides sincere modesty motivates the
inclusion of these disclaimers, whether they are required for
endorsement, or are even known to the endorser. But they do
raise serious questions about the lack of responsibility exhibited
by many books and demonstrate that, despite the prodigious out­
put, the Orthodox world is not yet comfortable with halahkic
works composed in English.13 In fact, a major, original halakhic
work has yet to appear in this language, and almost all of the less
extensive volumes I have examined contain the aforementioned
disclaimers.
The series of volumes on laws of Shabbat and a number of
o ther areas by Rabbi Shimon Eider are exceptional on two
counts.14 They are worthy of consideration as original halakhic
compositions, and they are not really written in English. Eider’s
books, which in many ways ushered in a new era in the publica­
tion of halakhah in English, are bilingual. The basic discussions in
the book are in English, but all technical terms are retained in
Hebrew, which limits use to people who are conversant with it to
some extent. The bilingual nature is even more pronounced in
the notes, which are all in Hebrew and accessible only to those
with serious training in the use of rabbinic literature. The pres­
ence of this material is one of the more valuable aspects o f Eider’s
work, and use of Hebrew undoubtedly facilitated its publication;
but the different purposes to which the languages are put con­
12 The statement o f Rabbis David Zucker and Moshe Francis,
CholHaMoed
(New
York, 1981), p. xx, is typical: “We would thus like to caution the reader that
this
sefer
should not be viewed as the final authority on any halachic question.
The sources should be studied in their original form, and in all doubtful cases
a competent halachic authority should be consulted for a decision.”
13 One often senses that writers feel accurate presentation o f halakhic statements
to be impossible in English.
14 S. Eider,
The Halachos of Shabbos I-IV
(Lakewood, 1973-4);
The Halachos of
Hanukah
(Lakewood, 1980);
The Halachos of Niddah
(Lakewood, 1981);
The
Halachos ofTefillin
(Lakewood, 1984);
The Halachos of Pesach I II,
(Lakewood,
1985); etc.