Monday, July 06, 2009

Holy Moses, I made the big-time:I'm quoted by Gil!

Rabbi Gil Student actually put my question (see, especially, Minor gripe #1 and the first two and last three comments to my post re the Koren Sacks Siddur) on his own blog. Amazing! Here it is.


Anonymous Too Old to Jewschool Steve said...

I thought that piece was in response to you. Not to be snarky, but I think he made a particular effort not to identify you as the original source of the question.

Mon Jul 06, 07:00:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

That the post was in response to me is quite clear, since I did, in fact, send him an e-mail on the subject. (I published his response in the comments to my Koren Siddur Post.) I thought he was trying to be nice and not identifity me unless I wished to be identified.

Mon Jul 06, 07:17:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

That should have read "identify."

I've chosen not to comment on Rabbi Student's post for the usual reason why I rarely comment on his blog--Rabbi Student and his commenters are far more learned Jewishly than I, and I don't wish to make a fool of myself any more often than necessary.

That said, the question I posed re the Rabbi Yishmael Omer quote, which was part of my post on the Koren Sacks Siddur, may prove to be one of the few instances in which I’ve *thought* that I made a fool of myself, but turned out to be right.

Here’s what I said:

“1) I find it annoying that the Rabbi Yishmael Omer quotation at the end of Birkot HaShachar continues the differentiation of "echad (one)" in verse 9 and "acher (other)" in verse 10, a difference, in Hebrew script, of exactly one letter. I assume that this error resulted from the similarity of appearance between the letters daled and resh, and probably originated with a typesetter of a previous siddur. The same error appears in the 1941 siddur of Sacks' predecessor as Chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth, Rabbi Hertz. If anything, the manner in which these two verses are laid out in the Koren Sacks Siddur makes it even more obvious that this is an error. As recently as the 1949 Birnbaum Siddur (Ashkenaz) and the 1977 DeSola Pool Siddur According to the Custom of Spanish and Portuguese Jews, the word was correctly spelled "acher" in both verses 9 and 10. When did this obvious typo become so sacrosanct that it can't be corrected?”

Here’s the comment that Rabbi/Dr./Mr.(?) Raphael Freeman, editor of the Koren Sacks Siddur, published in response:

“With respect to Rabbi Yishmael omer, I’m curious as to why you think that this is a mistake. This would indeed be a grevious mistake and would change the way we learn Torah. Can you please give some evidence basing your theory?”

My reply:
“Regarding Rabbi Yishmael omer, I based my assumption that there is a misprint on the fact that both the Birnbaum and the DeSola Pool use the work "acher" in both verses. Also, having noticed the difference when I switched from the Birnbaum to the ArtScroll, I consulted an Israeli from my congregation--someone far more learned than I--concerning this difference of opinion, simply because I was confused and wished to know which spelling was correct, and he seemed quite certain that "acher" was correct in both instances. My Hebrew and Talmudic knowledge being quite limited, perhaps you can enlighten me.”

Mr. Freeman never responded. I’m quite peeved. I take it for granted that he assumed that an am ha-aretz (Jewishly-illiterate person) couldn’t possibly be correct. But a simple reading (which I, being barely literate in Hebrew, much less rabbinic literature, am incapable of doing) of the source of the Rabbi Yishmael Omer quote, which is found at the beginning of Sifra, would have yielded the answer to my question, which is, according to Rabbi Student, that the original text says “acher” both times. If Mr. Freeman still wished to insist that minhag (custom) trumped accuracy, that would have been understandable, though I disagree on the grounds that either you’re quoting or you’re not. Instead, he chose to leave me looking like an idiot, which I don’t appreciate. It’ll serve him right if he ends up with egg on his face.

Mon Jul 06, 08:14:00 PM 2009  
Anonymous Too Old to Jewschool Steve said...

Trust me, you didn't look like an idiot. And you need not have smicha to challenge an asssumption, regardless of how widely (and, according to Rav Student) incorrectly it may be.
Now, if you really want to live dangerously, accept the assignment of providing the minyan's introduction to chukat-balak, while the jewish studies chair of a major university, an expert in bible, is sitting in the front row. Talk about feeling singularly unqualified!

Mon Jul 06, 10:49:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Granted that one doesn't need to be a rabbi to challenge an assumption. But I certainly would have phrased my challenge differently if I had realized that it would attract the attention of the siddur's editor and one of the Jewish blogosphere's scholars. "Annoying" was not the best choice of words. "Puzzling" might have been a better choice.

Oy. I hope your Chukkat-Balak introduction went well.

Mon Jul 06, 11:23:00 PM 2009  
Anonymous sanesc said...


I wouldn't assume that Freeman was leaving you looking like a fool. If I had to guess, he was drawn to your site by a web-tool, and didn't receive an alert that you had published a follow-up comment (as opposed to the blogpost which said "Koren Sacks"). It's almost the three weeks, I would be dan l'kaf zchut and assume that he doesn't track every comment he does and never received a follow-up alert.

Tue Jul 07, 09:00:00 AM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Sanesc, you may very well be right. I'll follow your advice, given that the Three Weeks are almost upon us, and be "dan l'kaf z'chut" (roughly, give the benefit of the doubt).

Tue Jul 07, 01:22:00 PM 2009  

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