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New Edition of Sefer Ha-Aggadah

In the Hebrew edition of Haaretz there is an article of sorts that describes the new edition of Sefer ha-Aggadah on which Avigdor Shinan is working. It is expected to be published next year.The new edition will includes corrections to the text, vocalization, and a short commentary by Shinan. Some of the midrashim in Sefer ha-Aggadah were translated from the Aramaic or edited, but because of space limitations Shenan decided not to point out all of the cases when this was done.

“בתחילת הדרך גם חשבתי לשים כוכב ליד כל טקסט שתורגם מארמית, לשים עיגול ליד כל טקסט מעובד ולשים מעוין ליד כל טקסט שהוא צירוף של מקורות, אבל אז הספר היה נהיה למסע בין כוכבים, אז ויתרתי. נוסף על כך, תיקנּו מראי מקומות, ציטוטים חלקיים של פסוקים.
הניקוד תוקן ונבדק. אנחנו יודעים היום הרבה יותר על הניקוד. כל הטקסטים מתוקנים בעדינות, בזהירות, בחרדת קודש”.

An interested fact pointed out by Shinan is that approximately two thousand copies of Sefer ha-Aggadah are sold every year.

While we are writing about midrash, I recommend this recent article from the Forward on Louis Ginzberg’s Legends of the Jews.

Sources for History of Bar and Bat Mitzvah Ceremony


Rabbi Michael Hilton, rabbi of the Kol Chai Hatch End Jewish Community and author of Bar Mitzvah, a History, has conveniently posted on his web site some important sources for the history of the Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah ceremonies.

An Interesting Hanukkah Custom

In rabbinic literature there is a lot of discussion about the status of lighting Hanukkah candles in the synagogue. It is clearly a custom, so do you bless? Should a minor recite the blessings? One custom found in some Hassidic communities is that in order to emphasize that the lighting of Hanukkah candles in the synagogue is just a custom people throw things at the person lighting the Hanukkah candles. The blog about the Haredi world בעולמם של חרדים has posted the following video that shows the person lighting the Hanukkah being pelted with different objects.

The blog post includes a page from the popular book נטעי גבריאל that discusses this custom. On Shabbat I also saw a discussion about it in מנהג ישראל תורה, whose author unfortunately died earlier this year at a young age. (HT to a friend on FB.)

Western Sephardic Liturgy-Online resources

Last year the blog Homes da Nação compiled a list of online resources for Western Sephardic liturgy.

The Western Sephardi Diaspora began its development in the mid 16th century when Spanish and Portuguese Jews, who had been forced to convert to Christianity during the previous two centuries, returned to Judaism in considerable numbers. Before that time, many of the conversos flew to North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean countries. There they joined the large communities that had been established by the Sephardi Jews who were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula in 1492 and 1497. Yet many others moved gradually to Western Europe and established flourishing communities in Northern Italy (Venice, Ferrara and later-on in Livorno) and southeastern France (Bayonne and Bordeaux). Communities were subsequently formed in the Netherlands (Amsterdam), Germany (Hamburg) and England (London). Finally, Western European colonial expansion led to the establishment of Sephardi communities in Northern Brazil, Surinam, and the Caribbean and later on in North America. These communities are referred to as Western Sephardi in order to distinguish them from those of North Africa and the Ottoman Empire in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The list includes links to siddurim, mahzorim, and other liturgical collections. (HT)

New Website for Torah Study

Roni Tabick alerted me to a website that is trying to make the study of the Torah very accessible to people. AlHaTorah promotes the following goals: is a one-stop Tanakh study resource, providing the tools, techniques, and technology to make Torah come alive in the home, classroom, and synagogue. Enter the site to explore 2,500 years of Biblical interpretation and enjoy a rich, multi-dimensional, learning experience.

The website was built last year and will hopefully continue to grow.

New Book: Ultra-Orthodox Women at the Threshold


A new book in Hebrew has been published that addresses ultra-Orthodox women and the changes that they are experiencing in education, employment, and society. The book, Women of the Threshold − Orthodox Women in Front of a Modern Change (נשות הסף: נשים חרדיות מול השינוי המודרני), was written by Bella Layosh. Below is an interview (Hebrew) with Layosh from the wonderful radio program Sefarim Rabotai, Seforim.

Vocalized Oz veHadar Talmud

It seems that Oz VeHadar has begun to sell a vocalized Babylonian Talmud, and the first volume has apparently sold out. I am a big supporter of vocalized rabbinic texts and have written about vocalized rabbinic and Talmudic texts here.

In-Depth Radio Interview with Malka Puterkovsky

Below are videos from Youtube of an in-depth radio interview (Hebrew) with Malka Puterkovsky from Radio All for Peace. For previous posts on Malka Puterkovsky and her recently book, Mehalekhet be-Darka, see here, here and here.

Passing of Rabbi David Feldman

Rabbi David Feldman z”l, who was the rabbi of the Teaneck Jewish Center for many years has passed away. Rabbi Feldman was an authority on medical ethics and Jewish law, and was the author of the influential book Birth Control in Jewish Law: Marital Relations, Contraception, and Abortion As Set Forth in the Classic Texts of Jewish Law (it has appeared under other titles in other editions). יהי זכרו ברוך.

Siyyum HaShas for an Eight-Year-Old

All of the details aren’t clear to me, but it does seems like an eight-year-old girl has learned a lot of Gemara.




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