Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Jacob Frank's skull

Here's something you don't see every day. This is Jacob Frank's skull:

The caption says that it was extracted from his grave in Offenbach when the old cemetery was razed in 1866, and is owned by Emil Pirazzi. The image is from Alexander Kraushar's book, Frank i frankiści polscy, 1726-1816 Vol. 2 , as is the one below, which is different from the usual depiction of Frank:

Here's a creepy crown ornament of some kind taken from his coffin (he died in 1791). Looks like filigree, maybe.

There's also an image of his daughter and successor Eva:

And a document from 1793 with her signature:

Monday, August 30, 2010

Yom Kippur Kattan coming to an Orthodoxy near you? The new Artscroll siddur.

As far as I can tell Garnel was the first to notice that the Koren Sacks Siddur appears to have generated the first new Artscroll siddur with translation in decades - the Wasserman Edition.

It includes:
  • An original new Overview
  • Yom Kippur Kattan
  • Megillas Esther, Ruth and Koheles
  • Perek Shirah
  • Six Constant Mitzvos
  • Iggeres HaRamban
  • Prayer of the Holy Sh'lah
  • Prayer at the Holy places in Israel
  • A new special section: The Laws, Customs, and Prayers in the Land of Israel

Henry Kissinger and Rabbi Moshe Sherer secretly discuss matzah.

Here is an interesting declassified document from 1976. It is the transcript of a meeting between Rabbi Moshe Sherer of Agudath Israel and Sec. Henry Kissinger concerning shipments of matzah into the Soviet Union.

In certain ways this document is a snapshot of the Agudah under Rabbi Moshe Sherer at that time ("both pro and con" as my friend put it). It really speaks for itself, and I don't want to inflict my interpretations onto readers, but it is my blog. Here are some thoughts:

- Rabbi Sherer repeatedly refers to the "Torah sages" privately; not only wasn't it just rhetoric for the masses, but he even brings them up in a closed meeting with the Secretary of State.

- Although I certainly don't want to give the impression that I am easy on Soviet persecution, it is interesting that this issue seems to concern extra special kosher matzah, as opposed to regular old kosher ones. Sherer agrees with Kissinger that matzah could be baked in the Soviet Union, but "because of our meticulous requirements, many people do not look upon it as kosher." Some might suggest that if kosher matzah was available, perhaps it wasn't worth making a big deal over. Of course he explicitly asks that the issue be separated from the normal Soviet Jewish issue, which shows that even though this was a question of frumkeit, he wisely tried to keep it from becoming a federal case.

EDIT: Rabbi Josh Waxman remarks that in 1973 someone he knows personally saw matzah baking in Odessa. There the vat in which the dough was being mixed was encrusted. Thus, those matzos were not kosher at all. Whether or not this was the case in Riga in 1976 is unclear, but it does not seem so unfair to assume it was. Thus this might not really have been a case of frumkeit and chumra, but rather of no kosher matzos really being available at all.This is not clear from the way it was discussed with Kissinger, but read with this additional knowledge it is possible to see that is what he meant.

- Rabbi Sherer's candid admission that the Agudah's growth in the prior five years was "despite [the Agudah's] conservative orientation" (Kissinger's words) but they did "benefit[] from the memories of the Holocaust," by which he means that the immigrant survivors and their children joined.

- Kissinger doesn't really seem to know who he is. He knows he is speaking to a rabbi, and he asks him which is his congregation. Rabbi Sherer reminds him that he is from the Agudah. Kissinger tells Sherer that he was in the Agudah as a child. Rabbi Sherer tells him that he knows all about it: there's a paper written by the child Agudist Kissinger kept "under lock and key." Someone who knows these things tells me that it is supposedly on yishuv ha-aretz, but of course it hasn't seen the light yet.

All in all, a pretty good picture of sincerity and diplomacy. The Holocaust statement is surprising, but it's not meant to say that they exploited the Holocaust. Rather it's an honest assessment, and he did not resort to exaggerated claims regarding the ideological importance or attractiveness of Agudath Israel to explain its growth. A window into the Golden Age of the Agudath Israel of America.

Menasseh Ben Israel's passport

Here are the records of the passports issued to Rabbi Menasseh Ben Israel to enable him to visit England. These are contained in a record book called Council of State: Books and Accounts 1639-1660 (v.25 out of 139)"

November 22, 1652:

December 17, 1652:

September 16, 1653:

For posterity, the first reads "That a passe bee granted to Manasseh Ben Israel to Come out of Holland and into England."

The second: Whereas Manasseh Ben Israel a Rabbi of the Jewish Nation and well reported of for his learning and good affection to this State hath exprest his desire to have letters of safe conduct to come from Amsterdam to these parts. These are therefore to will and require all Officers belonging to this State as well by Sea as by land to whom the foresaid Menasseh Ben Israel may addresse himself on his way hithorward that they let him passe freely without molestation and give him all favourable entertainment and respect as to well affected foreigners and strangers (they behaving themselves without offence) is due. Given at Whitehall.

The third, "That a passe be granted to Manasseh Ben Israel of Amsterdam himself and ? ofsarios (?) necessaries to come into England without interruption."

In fact, he didn't arrive in England until 1655.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The bar mitzvah of the child soldier grandson of Rabbi Shmuel Salant; also how R. Salant's photograph is mistaken for the Mezeritcher Maggid.

In the thick of World War I this notice appeared in the Jewish Chronicle (March 3, 1916) regarding the bar mitzvah of Reuben Ginsberg. Ginsberg was born in Wales, but moved to Montreal with his family. His father had been a soldier before, and joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force. When his father was sent to England, Reuben stowed away. When he was discovered he was allowed to join his father's company and was given a job as trumpeter. Sadly, he was wounded. In the period of recovery he turned bar mitzvah, which is what the article is about. At the end of the article it is stated that he is the grandson of the late Rav Shmuel Salant!

This was no imaginary story. Here is his discharge certificate:

Reuben Ginsberg died in Montreal in 1960:

Here is more information about Ginsberg, and underage Jewish soldiers in the Great War.

Here is a photo of his grandfather, Rabbi Samuel Salant (1816-1909) from the Memorial Book of Rowno (1956):

I included this one because the caption amazingly says that this is Rabbi Dovber, Maggid of Mezeric who died in 1772. This is a photograph. According to an article on rabbinic portraiture by Aviad Hacohen this portrait of R. Salant was reproduced and captioned as the Maggid many times. Go figure.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A 19th century apostate rabbi; also some miscellaneous Swedish missionary magazine pictures.

I came across a Swedish missionary journal from the turn of the century (20th, that is). Naturally it included many pictures of Jewish interest. I record a few here for posterity since I believe that the Missions-tidning för Israel is a relatively obscure source.

I give pride of placement first to some cheder yingelach. This one is from 1901. Some of these may be or certainly are posed, by the way:

Next is a photo I haven't seen of famous Jewish apostate and Masoretic scholar Christian David Ginsburg (1905):

Here is a missionary named J.T. Redensky (evidently Johannes Theodor). This is interesting, because he is reading what looks like a Hebrew periodical of some kind. In fact, it's likely just the title. Unfortunately I can't read the first word, so I'll guess what it says - ישועת ישראל, even thought to my eyes it looks more like חרות ישראל .

Next is a photo of a missionary couple, which I thought was interesting because of it's "The Lord is my shepherd" inscription in Hebrew:

Here are two photos of kapparos being performed:

Two photos of Jews, including one captioned Talmudstuderande (from 1897):

Finally, below is so-called Rabbi Abraham Jacob Schwartzenberg (1862-1843):

This Rabbi Abraham Jacob Schwartzenberg may well have gone down as Alexander M'Caul's most famous converted Jew if not for certain circumstances propelling Ezekiel Stanislaus Hoga to that position (and he wasn't actually converted or baptized by McCaul, see here). Evidently Schwartzenberg was an actual rabbi in Warsaw, and he converted to Christianity in 1828 after receiving a New Testament from a missionary named F.W. Becker. McCaul, who headed the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews baptized him.

He spent the next 20 years missionizing to fellow Jews - in full traditional dress, which he never ceased wearing. He is quoted as giving the following reason for retaining his dress and living among Jews: "The Jews often think that persons are baptized in order to escape reproach, or to live in Christian quarters of the city, or to walk in the "Saxon Garden" (from which then Polish Jews were excluded), but I will show them that none of these things move me. I am a Jew still - formerly I was an unbelieving Jew, but now I am a believing Jew, and, whatever inconvenience or reproach may result, I wish to bear it with my brethren." — who thought he was mad, of course.

In fact, such tropes appear quite often in the history of conversions. A Jew converts, other Jews say he or she did it for material gain and not conviction. In no few cases this could be proven. Still, in others it was undoubtedly out of conviction, and evidently Schwartzenberg desired to prove that was so in his own case. Elisheva Carlebach points out that the Jewish apostate Giulio Morosini (formerly known as Samuel Nahmias) describes his family's wealth and influence in his דרך אמונה Via della fede: mostrata à gli ebrei (1683), in order to silence Jewish critics that say he converted for financial gain (Pursuit of Heresy pg. 241).

Here is how Schwartzenberg's death is described:

This is interesting, because it records the contention that Jews typically claimed that apostates repented, or at least recanted, before death. Although we have solid evidence that Stanislaw Hoga did indeed recant many years before he died, the legends about him have him repenting when he was close to death. For more on that see my posts, but even more importantly, read The Baal Teshuvah and the Emden-Eibeschuetz Controversy by Dr. Shnayer Leiman, or listen to his lecture The Meshumad, which is based on his essay. Also see Stanislaus Hoga—Apostate and Penitent by Beth-Zion Lask Abrahams JHSE 15.

Naturally there are other interesting pictures scattered through the volumes of the Missions-tidning för Israel and you can browse them yourselves here.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pulling the cheese over their eyes: an 18th century Hebrew cheese fools Oxford professors.

Picture this: two Jews claiming to be rabbis visit 18th century Oxford University. They came bearing cheese, stamped with a Hebrew inscription, a relic of the Holy Land! How exotic! But then a Dutch (=Ashkenazi) Jew came and noticed that the cheese was made by his own mother in Amsterdam. The Hebrew inscription? It was his father's name!

Out of this came an aphorism: "A chimney's sweeper's boy could always make a fool out of every doctor in the university."

That's a great story. However, what is the significance of the Hebrew stamp? A hashgacha perhaps?

For illustrative purposes only. It's not as easy to find Hebrew-stamped cheese as you'd think (photo credit):

The passage is from Memoirs of a social monster; or, the history of Charles Price, Otherwise Bolingbroke, otherwise Johnson, otherwise Parks, otherwise Wigmore, otherwise Brank, otherwise Wilmott, otherwise Williams, otherwise Schutz, otherwise Trevors, otherwise Polton, otherwise Taylor, otherwise Powel, &c. &c. &c. and commonly called Old Patch. Containing an accurate account of the astonishing fraud and ingenious forgeries of that truly great man on the Governor and Company of the Bank of England for a Period of Fifty-Five Years. (London 1786)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The end of "schulkloppen" (the traditional daily knocking on doors to announce time for synagogue).

Gotthard Deutsch (1859-1921) writes about his childhood in Nikolsburg; the following is in 1866:

Elsewhere Deutsch describes how it came about this this old custom was abolished:

When rabbis approved math books. Matisyahu Strashun's personal copy of a Hebrew algebra book from 1829.

It seems that many people are unaware or don't remember the positive attitude toward secular knowledge among the Lithuanian rabbinic elite, since in an effort to combat study in university, most traces of such a positive attitude have been replaced by a negative one, at least publicly.

In 1829 Rabbi Nissan of Deliatitz published קנה חכמה (you can also download it here). Here is the title page:

The author followed the standard procedure and requested haskamos from two of the leading local rabbinic sages, namely Rabbi Avraham Abele, the av beis din of Vilna, and Rabbi David, the av beis din of Navahrudak:

After an introduction stating more or less what you think he'll say, including obligatory reference to the Vilna Gaon ("close to our own time") and his mathematical work then still in manuscript, he begins at the very beginning, explaining mathematical symbols. Here he explains the = (equal) sign:

He goes on to explain that an upside down kametz amounts to a plus sign, while a regular kametz is his symbol for the minus sign. Why he is reinventing the wheel, I'm not sure. Not being a historian of Hebrew mathematics, my guess is that for some reason these were the historical symbols used in Hebrew math texts. Anyone who wishes to confirm or challenge my guess is welcome.

Naturally it proceeds to the real stuff:

The particular copy scanned by hebrewbooks.org is from the YIVO library, which has 25,000 books from the fabled Strashun Library of Vilna. This library was founded on funds and books left by Matisyahu Strashun in 1892. By 1901 it was a major public library in Vilna, and it was open for 40 years. You can read more about it here).

This copy happens to have been owned by Strashun, as can be seen by his autograph on page 57 of the scan:

This signature is not in the קנה חכמה (unless you count the title page which might be his signature); rather, it is another volume bound together with it, a collection of Russian laws for merchants translated to Hebrew by one Yitzchak Isaac Stein of Minsk in 1825, titled פקודת הרוממות. Thus I am assuming that the algebra book was Strashun's as well, although I am not 100% certain.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The 1830s Karaite Pentateuch with 'Language of Ishmael' translation.

Here's a detail from the Karaite Pentateuch חמשה חומשי תורה עם פירוש המלות בלשון ישמעאל של מחנה אלהים בני מקרא יע"א with Judeo-Tatar translation (1832-35), the printer being the Turkish house of עראפ אוגלו ובניו:

Click the image below for a larger detail:

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A 1728 review of a controversial Sabbatian text.

Here's a 1728 review of the Sabbatian מהימנותא דכלא published with commentaries by Nehemia Hiya Hayon. The review if from the quarterly Bibliothèque raisonnée des ouvrages des savans de l'Europe.

Hayon is a major character in a recently published book Midnight Intruders by Avner Gold, part of a historical fiction series for children, which I intend to review soon.

The Jewish Oath pt III. Rabbi Elazar Fleckeles takes on the Zohar in 1806.

In two prior posts about the so-called Jewish Oath required in most European courts into the 19th century, I presented a particular form of the oath from 1737, where a Jew was required to put on his tallit and tefillin (and recite the blessings), hold a kosher Torah scroll and recite various Hebrew formulae (link). This was actually far more civilized than earlier forms of the oath. For example, one which required the Jew to stand on a bloody pig skin while wearing very little clothes (or a hair shirt) and touching a Torah. Below is a well-known example depicted in 17th century Breslau:

My second post presented a responsum by R. Ezekiel Landau, who was asked by the Imperial Censor of Hebrew books, if in fact Jews are allowed to swear falsely if they're holding a Torah that isn't kosher. I noted that that the question was being asked of a rabbi. That seems counter-intuitive. Someone who is so suspicious of Jews that they'd have such a question doesn't seem likely to inquire of a rabbi, or expect him to tell the truth. Bu it seems that the censor Leopold Tischler was actually trying to put rest to the idea that Jews allow themselves to lie under oath if only they are holding an invalid Torah. Thus he was working with Rabbi Landau.

This third post is about a responsum written almost exactly 204 years ago by the foremost pupil and rabbinic successor of R. Ezekiel Landau, namely Rabbi Elazar Fleckeles. Following in the footsteps of his rebbe, and following in the footsteps of his predecessor Imperial Censor, Responsum #26 in Teshuva Me-ahava is a question from Karl Fischer concerning Jewish oaths. (For more about the bond of friendship between Rabbi Fleckeles and Karl Fischer, see here.)

Fischer asked, Is it true that in halacha there is a recognized difference between a Jew making an oath to a fellow Jew, as opposed to making an oath to a Gentile? If there is a difference, does it make a difference if the Jew swears while lying in a coffin dressed in a burial shroud (kittel)? For that matter, what about someone who had suggested to swear while holding a Zohar, since in the opinion of the pious Jews (Chassidei Yisrael) the Zohar is especially holy and awesome? - they believe that if someone was touching it and said anything false they'd die in a matter of days:

Rabbi Fleckeles' response is roughly as follows: The answer to the first question is no. Wherever the Torah mentions an oath it gives no indication that there is any difference between an oath sworn to a Jew or non-Jew, as opposed to other things which the Torah does make a distinction. He then brings many proofs by analyzing biblical and rabbinic texts.

Although a "no" to the first question should make the other questions moot (obviously the answer is, these things make no difference) Rabbi Fleckeles took the opportunity to address them as well.

In his opinion these extras are a bad thing, because although the law is that all oaths are binding in and of themselves, adding things gives the ignorant Jew the impression that without them his oath isn't binding. The person with the new, brilliant idea of swearing while holding a Zohar will raise scorn out of all who hear of it, because it suggests that a Jew who feels something lacking in God's Torah to the extent that he would swear falsely while holding it, would anyone believe that by holding a Zohar he'd be afraid to swear falsely?

Rabbi Fleckeles then takes the opportunity to give his opinion regarding those who say that the Zohar is entirely holy: "I say, I would swear on a Torah that the Zohar contains many forgeries and mistaken additions." One bit of Talmud dealing with the arguments of Abbaye and Rava is holier than the whole Zohar. Furthermore, the Zohar lacks all pedigree or a single mention in all of rabbinic literature before its appearance, purporting to be written by the tanna Rabbi Shimon bar [sic] Yochai. It isn't mentioned by Rabbenu Hakadosh in the Mishnah, nor by Rabbi Yochanan in the Yerushalmi, nor by Ravina and Rav Ashi in the Bavli. Rabbah ban Nachmani didn't mention it in the Midrashim, nor the Rabbanan Savorai, nor the Ge'onim, the Rif, Rambam, Rashi, Tosafists, Ramban, Rashba, Rosh or the Tur. Nor is it mentioned in the Yalkut Shimoni, Mechiltot or Beraitot. Not one of them knew it, until 300 (!) years ago when it was said that it was discovered and accepted like the Rambam explained the that the Bavli and Yerushalmi were.

Rabbi Fleckeles pauses from this very very clear position to clarify that he most certainly does not, God forbid, mean to cause even a slight lessening of respect for the honor of the godly tanna Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who was one of the greatest saints. He is just pointing out that he did not nor could he have written it, and anyone with half a mind will agree. Many Tannaim and Amoraim who lived long after Rashb"y are mentioned. These[i.e., the anachronisms] are listed in Rabbi Yaakov Emden's Mitpachat Sefarim, who suspected Rabbi Moshe de Leon of being responsible for them.

He then opines that from the day that the Zohar appeared many stumbled because of it, the believers in Shabbetai Zevi, Beruchya of Salonica, Jacob Frank. They all relied on the Zohar, and certainly the righteous Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai cannot be responsible for them.

Speaking of Frank, in the time of the writing of this responsum (=1806) the Frankists were widely known as Zoharites.

I would like to thank Eliezer Brodt for calling my attention to this teshuva many months ago. At the time the interest was concerning the Zohar, but it's really about Jewish oaths.

Interestingly enough, the phrase that the Zohar was unknown until 300 years earlier (=1500) is not a misprint. Eliezer pointed out to me several other places where Rabbi Fleckeles mentioned the Zohar, such as the following from his book מלאכת הקדש:

והיא נפלאת בעיני כפי המפורסם זה שלש מאות שנים חבור הספר הזוהר מהתנא האלקי רשב"י עליו השלום . . . יאמר נא יראי ה' אם זה הספר תולדות אדם גדול וקודש רשב"י הוא הוי ליה על פנים להזכיר דעתו בזה וצריך עיון רב ליישב על פי פשוט

One wonders why he Rabbi Fleckeles reckons 300 years since the Zohar, when it really was closer to 500 years. It can't even be since the Zohar was printed, because that didn't occur until 1588. The only thing I can think of is that the Spanish expulsion occurred 300 years earlier, and perhaps Rabbi Fleckeles dates the negative effects of the Zohar to that period.

Compare to Shadal in his introduction to the Hebrew language (1836). He explains the reasons for the decline in what he calls the "theoretical study" of the Hebrew language among Jews in the 300 years since the expulsion from Spain, while Christian Hebraism ascended and advanced during the same period. Shadal explains how conditions for such study were very favorable for Christian scholars but unfavorable for Jews. The former were salaried by the government in universities. The latter had to support themselves, and teaching - much less studying - grammar was not a way to do that. In addition, Jews knew Hebrew, however "well or badly" almost from infancy, while Christians picked it up at an older age and were more sensitive to their own shortcomings. That spurred higher quality study:
"This need was still less perceptible by the Israelites in the last three centuries than it was beforehand, due to the moral dejection of the entire nation brought on by its expulsion from Spain.
This fatal event damaged philological studies in two ways.
Firstly, the downcast spirits were afraid to stray from the judgments of the ancients, who were blindly venerated and almost worshiped by them. The pusillanimous mind sees with the eyes of others, resting on the knowledge of some notorious scholar,
Di quel si pasce, e piu oltre non chiede.
No one ever dared to contradict Kimhi; and having assumed that this maestro was ignorant of nothing and was mistaken about nothing, who would ever feel a need to repeat the research and investigate further? We have already seen the scandal aroused by Hanau with his book criticizing the ancient Grammarians.
Secondly, the same disheartenment, inclining spirits toward allegorical and mystical interpretations, did not allow the need to be felt for deeper philological investigations. The anomalies were mysteries that were adored, and Kabbalistic doctrines gave reasons for everything. Grammatical explanations were not appreciated: the philologist seemed, and still seems to some, a profaner of sacred things, a sacrilegious person; or at least was pitied as a poor man with narrow views."
(Prolegomena to a grammar of the Hebrew language, p. 62, trans. by Aaron Rubin)

Perhaps in some similar way Rabbi Fleckeles traced the negative effects of the Zohar to the same period (albeit not necessarily for the same reason!). The fact that he didn't date it to 150 years before 1800 - that is, in the period when Shabbetai Zevi arose - may be a proof that those who dismiss his view of the Zohar as insincerely held and merely a polemical point in his war against Sabbatians and Frankists are mistaken.

Incidentally, one would probably expect that Rabbi Fleckeles's responsum would somehow have been censored at some point. Eliezer told me that "According to Shmuel Werses in Haskalah and Sabbatianism, (Heb.) pp. 68 and and Boaz Huss in his KeZohar Harokeyah (p.323) this teshuvah has been censored out of the 1912 edition of TM (I have not yet confirmed this independently). However, most reprints available today of the TM have this teshuva in full, including the edition found on Hebrew books."

I don't know why they wrote that, because the copy of the 1912 edition on Otzar Hachochma contains this teshuva sans censorship.

See also this post by Eliezer Brodt at the Seforim Blog.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Aspects of 20th century Orthodox Judaism through the pages of Yeshiva University's Masmid (now online).

In one of the more interesting and random digitization developments, apparently the Yeshiva University undergrad yearbook Masmid is being added to archive.org. This morning there were 28 issues (ranging from 1932 to 1983). Some 8 hours later there are already 39 (as I am composing this post, two more were added - the latest one so far is 1988), so I'm guessing all or most of the gaps will be filled.

I'm sure a lot of gems could be found in those pages which are a snapshot of an important part of American Orthodox history in the 20th century. I haven't had the chance to look through them thoroughly yet, but I did see a few interesting things. Watching the changing looks of the students is interesting. Looking through them you may be able to tell when Rabbi Moshe Tendler turned into Rabbi Moses Tendler (in earlier issues he was Rabbi Morris Tendler, which I bet it what's on his birth certificate) and what if anything that says about changes in our society.

In one earliesh yearbook there is an article by legendary American rabbi Bernard Drachman (perhaps best known today for his translation of Hirsch's Nineteen Letters) about how American Jews should learn German, as that's really the lingua franca of Jews worldwide (he goes on to opine that Yiddish is really a dialect of German, so it counts, and that means that 10 million Jews already speak German).

It's also interesting how, apparently, in the earlier issues the yearbook was very much for the College part of the yeshiva, and the Yeshiva part was just not mentioned very much (although of course there's plenty of Jewish and Torah content). As time goes on, there seems to be much more integration, and that is when photos of the rabbeim start to appear.

Naturally the Rabbi Soloveitchik treatment is interesting and deserves to be looked at carefully. Some years he is Rabbi, others Harav and one year he is even Dr. (Harav seems to have been what wins out; all the other rabbeim are titled Rabbi.) By 1974 they appear to be have been very . . . into "the Rav." Below is a full two-page spread. But bear in mind that it was only two years before that his picture was captioned "Dr.," which leads me to suspect that much of the content reflects particular editors and available artistic talent more than moods and currents of the time.


And a much more restrained image from 1976:

Here are some pictures of Rabbi Yeruchem Gorelick, who of course never taught Talmud at RIETS:



Here's a really nice picture of Rabbi Dovid Lifschutz giving a shiur (1983):

Below is a picture of the recently deceased Dr. Bernard Lander in his 1936 yearbook:

You may have noticed that I am trying to avoid violating anyone's privacy, so outside of well known individuals I'm not going to post your or your father's picture with a big afro or acting in "Guys and Dorms" (an actual play they put on in the '50s) along with a name, but I'll make an exception here. Below is an entry from 1948 from a guy who obviously really loved to learn:

A notable talmid (1953):

1948 being an important year in modern Jewish history you'd think there'd be a lot about Israel (there's mention of two students who died fighting in Palestine). There isn't, but there are three essays about Torah and science. There's "The Jewish Dietary Laws Verified by Science" (name withheld so as not to embarass). There's "Criteria in the Resolution of the Conflict Between Science and Halacha" by Norman Lamm, and there's "Science and Religion in the Modern Age" by Charles Siegel. Maybe the issue was edited early (Israel independence being declared in May and all). Still, I wonder what's up with all the Torah and science in 1948.

For some unexplained reason, the following little doodle appears on the last page of the 1933 edition of the Masmid:

The 1939 number had an article about students who were refugees from Hitler. After the Iranian Revolution one can see that there were many students who were refugees from Khomeni. Below is from the 1946 issue, which is poignant coming as it does on the heels of the Holocaust (and interesting because it does the G dash d thing. This is 1946, so now you know that it was already being done in 1946. Who knows, this may the only time in history anyone ever quoted Bialik with "G-d"):

This is not even scratching the surface. It's kind of strange to come across so many people I know through their accomplishments (brainiac Nat Lewin was valedictorian of his class) or even know personally, including some who I never knew went to YU, and probably in some cases it isn't by accident (you're totally busted). In case anyone is wondering, Rabbis Avigdor Miller and Rabbi Nosson Wachtfogel may have been spared from being immortalized on the pages of the Masmid, although if they were not I'll find out (Rabbi Wachtfogel's brothers are certainly there).

Anyone who is interested in 20th century American Orthodox (men) in general or Yeshiva University specifically would do well to have a look at these.


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