kosher bookworm

The art of writing sefarim


Israel Bookshop Publications recently released “Teeth and Dentistry in Halachah” (which tackles such Halachic questions as, Does one recite Shehecheyanu when he receives dentures?), authored by Rabbi Moishe Dovid Lebovits. I found this book’s last chapter, a 53-page essay titled “Writing Sefarim and Related Halachos,” of particular interest.

Rabbi Lebovits, who currently works as a Rabbinical Administrator at the KOF-K and as Kashrus Administrator for the Rabbinical Council of Bergen County, learned in Yeshiva Torah Voda’ath for close to ten years under Rav Yisroel Belsky, zt”l, from whom he received his semichah. He is the author of “Halachically Speaking,” a series of books dealing with issues of practical Jewish law.
One of his recent essays is entitled “The Air of Eretz Yisrael Makes One Wise,” concerning the benefits of living in Israel including the benefits in breathing its air. It is based on much Jewish law and lore.
Please consider the following excerpt from “Writing Sefarim and Related Halachos” for your edification:

“Since the advent of the printing press, it has become more and more common for sefarim to be printed. Nowadays, thousands of sefarim are published each year. In the past, sefarim were very expensive and were only bought by the rich. The average person was not able to purchase sefarim of his own, though borrowing was common. Because of the expense, only sefarim that were worthwhile were published.

“Until the printing press was invented in the 15th century, books were written by hand. This would take a very long time, so sefarim were not common for the masses.”

The author of this goes into great and valued detail in explaining the history behind the development of Jewish book publishing.

Here’s a sampling of the essay’s outline:

Merits of writing a sefer
What is a Chiddush?
Choosing Not to Write Sefarim
Benefits for the Public
Benefit to the Author
Before Age Forty
Publishing While Alive
The Joy
Writing Compendia of Various Opinions
Donating Money to print a Sefer
Sefarim with Errors
Rabbinic Approbations
English Sefarim

The author’s treatment of the above as well as other considerations in the history of the publishing of our sacred writ is a valued contribution to the study of Jewish learning and its long history of development.

I highly recommend your patronage of this valued piece of Jewish history which, I am certain, will motivate your continued study of our sacred writ for the many years to come.