Page 93 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 6 (1947-1948)

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GREENSTONE ---- THE BOOKS OF ELIJAH GAON
83
from that proposed by the Amoraim. He also dealt freely with
the laws of the
Shulhan Aruk
, when in his opinion they did not
conform to the construction that he had placed on the sources
whence these were derived. He carried this assumed authority
to the practical point of introducing observances different from
the generally accepted ones and these he practiced himself and
encouraged his disciples to follow. A collection of such divergent
observances and customs was compiled by Issachar Ber ben
Tanhum of Wilno and published, together with some biographical
data, under the title of
Maaseh Rab
, Vilna, 1832. I t was often
reprinted.
As indicated, many of״the manuscripts written by the Gaon
or containing notes collected by his disciples were scattered in
different places. What has become of many of these is not known.
Some found their way to the Library of Baron Guenzburg in
Leningrad as indicated by Professor Louis Ginzberg in his bril-
liant essay on the Gaon. Israel Cohen, in his work on Wilno,
relates that he saw in the Strashun Library in Wilno a manu-
script of the Gaon’s work published in 1911, under the title of
Hagahot ha-Gra Torat Kohanim.
The destruction of many of the
Jewish communities of Lithuania, Poland and Russia, during
the last few decades, probably also caused many of these precious
treasures to become entirely extinct. Some of them may have
been saved and should find their way into some of our great
libraries for permanent safe-keeping. A new critical edition of all
the products of this marvelous genius is a desideratum that should
be realized in our generation.