Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Critical scholarship in the olam ha-yeshiva

Dilbert posts about a great edition of Iggeret R. Sherira Ga'on.

The surprise, for him, was that the edition was produced by a chareidi scholar and has chareidi haskamot, but cites Rs. Azaryah dei Rossi and Saul Lieberman, and is itself a critical edition of the Iggeret, written with wonderful scholarship.

It is a darn shame that this need be a surprise!

This is what the Orwellian world of certain publishing companies have wrought, the impression that the yeshiva world simply lacks critical thinking. It may be that it consciously spurns whichever modern scholarship it chooses to, but it needn't be lacking in scholarship. And even Artscroll has a mixed record. For example, in their Rashi edition a lot of important work on the meaning of the Old French words were done.

Many important works were and are written by chareidim. Every time I have been to the JTS library I have seen chareidim there to do research.

Again, the reputation of chareidi learning has suffered because of the Orwellian things we've seen over the years, bans, distortions, censorship etc. But all in all, there is no reason why a chareidi talmid chacham is incapable of comparing texts and using his kop to produce an outstanding work.

It is a shame that this isn't obvious, and is the fault of anti-intellectual elements which do exist.


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