Rabbinic Approbations

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Does a book require a rabbinic approbation? R. Moshe Sofer, the famous Hasam Sofer (Responsa, Hoshen Mishpat no. 41) writes that the established custom is for author to publish a rabbinic approbation on every book, even on very old ones.

R. Hershel Schachter discusses this issue in his approbation to the first volume of R. Baruch Simon’s Imrei Barukh (of which volume 2 has been recently published but which I have not yet obtained). After quoting the Hasam Sofer, he refers to the laws of demai. Demai is produce from which we are uncertain whether the required priestly and levitical portions have been removed. Food obtained from a haver is free of such uncertainty. In order to become a haver, which has implications to the laws of purity as well, one has to publicly and officially accept strict compliance to those laws. However, R. Schachter states, presumably referring to Bekhoros 30b, someone appointed to a respected position of teaching Torah need not go through such an official procedure. One can assume that he is trustworthy on such matters (cf. the glosses of R. Ya’akov Emden, ad loc.). Therefore, suggests R. Schachter, the same can be said of approbations. Someone who teaches and spreads Torah on a widespread basis can be assumed to be trustworthy and does not need an approbation.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

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