Seforim Sale

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The YU/SOY Seforim Sale varies from year to year, adjusting to past experiences and new management. In some years the book offerings are vast, usually resulting in many remainders that lead the next year’s cautious management to reduce the variety of titles. Some years have more events than others and discount rates seem to vary. In particular, a lot of the book selection has to do with the interests of the Sale’s staff and business conditions beyond their control. Crusty old-timers like to complain but I take each year as it is, enjoying the experience and the enthusiasm of the hard-working staff.

So far, I’ve been to the Sale twice this year. Based on my limited survey, I’ve found that the prices are better than usual and the selection varies greatly by section. The YU and Rav Soloveitchik sections are better than ever.

I’ve already mentioned the OU Press titles at the Sale, such as Shiurei HaRav, Divrei HaRav, The Mind of the Mourner, Hilchot Tefillah, Unlocking the Torah Text and more: link. And YU Press recently published Mitokh Ha-Ohel and The Laws and Concepts of Niddah, both of which are of course available at the Sale.

Last Sunday, we celebrated the publication of R. Norman Lamm’s new book on the yamim tovimFestivals of Faith: Reflections on the Jewish Holidays (link) — with a book signing of this and previous books. Above is a picture of R. Lamm with Tzvi Feifel, CEO of the Sale, and me sneaking into the picture (they took another one without me).

If you are interested, here is what I bought this year at the sale:

  1. R. Mordechai Willig, Am Mordechai on moadim
  2. Prof. Chanoch Albeck, Mavo La-Mishnah
  3. R. J. David Bleich, Time of Death in Jewish Law
  4. R. Asher Bush,Shoel Bi-Shlomo
  5. R. Norman Lamm, Shema

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.

49 comments

  1. Is Shoel Bi-Shlomo a new chelek or still vol. 1?

  2. Still volume 1

  3. was in town and went to the sale last week. entertaining and with the usual eclectic mix of books. the reconstitution of the soloveitchick shrine maintained its impressive annual rate of growth. surely the rov’s posthumous literary career is the most prolific since that of karl friedrich gauss. i also saw a sefer titled “shaleiach t’shalach; Laws of Shiluach HaKan” (sic) by a r. weinberger with many haskomos from the usual array distinguishd culprits. how could anyone bring themselves to purchase a sefer which proclaims such hebraic am aratzus on its cover is beyond me and yet another data point in how little due diligence any of these maskimim apply. apparently many don’t even pay much attention to the title. i shudder to consider the alternative explanation.

  4. To Mechy Frankel:

    were there nekudot in the title on the cover? or am i also a hebraic am haaretz and don’t understand what you are referring to (I would assume it is whether the word Kan/ken is in smichut form or not)?

  5. Carlos, maybe it was in English.

  6. To Mechy Frankel:
    were there nekudot in the title on the cover? or am i also a hebraic am haaretz and don’t understand what you are referring to (I would assume it is whether the word Kan/ken is in smichut form or not)?

    yes, that was precisely the issue. they confused the construct state with the noun. so i would have to say that, off this evidence at least, you do not yet give sufficient evidence of hebraic am aratzus and will have to try harder to achieve a comparable level of ignorance to that displayed by anyone associated with the book’s production. and this part of the title was in english, so n’qudos not necessary – this is after all a published book and not some random blog spelling carelessness.

  7. R Gil-Thanks for the heads up re R Willig’s new sefer, which I did not see during our annual pilgrimage.

  8. Mechy – get real, the whole world says Shiluach Hakan. Whether or not it’s grammatically accurate is totally irrelevant to the content of the sefer and to whether the author is worthy of a haskama. Get off your grammatically correct high horse already, because nobody cares.

  9. Lawrence Kaplan

    anon: People in ordinary every day conversation may be careless about grammatical correctness, but that does not excuse ungrammatical expressions in booktitles.

  10. Maybe his teachers pronounced it that way: http://dafyomi.shemayisrael.co.il/parsha/tetzave5.htm

  11. Prof. KApaln,
    to the extent that the book title is supposed to communicate the contents to its intended audience, such “sloppiness” may be both necessary and appropriate (whether or not it was intentional). I would also say that not 1 in 100 are aware that kan is incorrect, and that developing an expertise in the halachic topic would not necessarily teach one this, so I’m not sure why we are picking on the author. Would we pick on an author of a sefer on another halachic topic (in English) who made a passing reference to Shiluach ha-kan? Indeed, given that there is a dagesh chazak in the kuf, why don’t we chide him for not spelling it with a double ‘k’, regardless of which vowel follows.

  12. Mechy – get real, the whole world says Shiluach Hakan. Whether or not it’s grammatically accurate is totally irrelevant to the content of the sefer and to whether the author is worthy of a haskama. Get off your grammatically correct high horse already, because nobody cares.

    whaddaya think i am, a martian? clearly the whole world does not do that. and while a single counter-example is sufficient to upshlug such a careless conjecture, and i’ll concede the world may contain more of you than of me, i imagine there are still quite a few more like me. and while it may be irrelevant to the contents, it’s a clue to the care and certainly the scholarly attainment of the author, so why would i want to waste my time investigating further? it also, though you don’t seem to care, does not speak well for the maskimim.

    as for my putative grammatical high horse, this aint it. this is really kind of basic education and its sad state which your note seems to reflect. if you want grammatical high horses about which truly nobody but me seems to care, you ought drop into my shul when i lein.

  13. Mechy,
    Why aren’t you on the Google Leining list?

  14. Anon:

    “Get off your grammatically correct high horse already, because nobody cares.”

    I care (although I can’t say I’m interested in tbe topic in general)

  15. I was recently berated over the phone for the Koren/OU Siddur. It has morid ha-tol but mashic ha-ruach u-morid ha-geshem. The caller said it should be consistent: tol and gashem or tal and geshem. I had no answer other than we defer to Koren’s grammarians, which led him to yell at me for the OU failing in its obligation to the community.

    It turns out that all old siddurim have tol and geshem. This was not just Minhag Ha-Gra but also of Sefardim and Yemenites.

    Not all amateur grammarians know grammar as well as they think.

    This morning I asked OU’s in-house linguist (who works in kashrus). He was adamant that tol and geshem is correct.

  16. Jeremy Simon on February 22, 2011 at 12:56 pm
    Mechy, Why aren’t you on the Google Leining list?

    1. never heard of it. 2. life is short enough as it is and i have to take occasional work breaks.

  17. Someone asked on a different thread (mycroft?) how Are seforim sale profits distributed?
    Does anyone knoW?
    (ftr I think it’s a great event and I don’t care if it’s all for profit, but I’m just curious. I’ve always been under the impression it’s a fundraiser, but not sure for who and if employees are paid

  18. I love how people pick on tiny details in every new siddur. Unless you print one yourself, you’ll never be 100% happy.

    The Sacks also has gashem as a variant in the back. The new Hebrew edition lists no variants.

    R’ Leiman has a shiur defending “geshem” as well.

    And your mention of the “OU linguist,” from who I learned so much, has me grinning now.

  19. Abba, when I worked on it, no one was paid: You got gift certificates for the sale based on how many hours you put in.

    The profits go to tzedaka and to student activities. SOY sponsors a bunch of things.

  20. Nachum:

    Perhaps soy should spell this ou somewhere. I clicked on “charity” on their webpage and all it said is that you van buy trees for Israel

  21. Yi’yasher kochakha, R. Mechy Frankel, for bringing to our attention the correct manner to pronounce shilu’ach haken. The gemara in Eruvin 53a indicates that precision in pronunciation leads to success in Torah scholarship. [Hence the debate between Rav and Shmuel there whether “keitzad mi’abrin” is pronounced with an aleph or an ayin.] Thus, we are all indebted for your insight. I’m sure the book under analysis is a good book, and at the same time it has now become an even better book with the linguistic improvement you have excellently highlighted. Zekhut harabim ta’amod ba’adkha.

    Parenthetically, RJDB writes in Contemporary Halakhic Problems V, p. 266: “In many instances multiple works have been published dealing with the same halakhic problems. Thus, no fewer than four volumes devoted to the mizvah of shiluah ha-ken (sending away the mother bird) have appeared.” He agrees with your pronunciation.

    Thank you, also, R’ MDJ for pointing out the dagesh chazak in the kuf.

  22. See here for Cantor Goffin noting it as the (less common) minhag haGra. Micha Berger’s comment is instructive there.

  23. Gil:

    “Not all amateur grammarians know grammar as well as they think”

    Perhaps (?) your interlocutor doesn’t know textual history, but why are you questioning his grammar knowledge?

    “This morning I asked OU’s in-house linguist (who works in kashrus). He was adamant that tol and geshem is correct.”

    From a textual or a grammatical context? If the latter, why?

    In any cAse, funny story (although not sure what the connection is to shiluach haken/kan

  24. From a textual or a grammatical context?

    Both. He said that Rabbinic Hebrew is different from Biblical Hebrew.

  25. Gil:

    “He said that Rabbinic Hebrew is different from Biblical Hebrew.”

    Of course, but what does this have to do with the lack of consistency issue? If a text uses geshem becAuse it’s rabbinic hebrew, what is the grammatical justification for tol in the same text? (im not questioing the textual tradition, but you said your expert justified geshem/tol on textual and grammatical grounds)

  26. >Both. He said that Rabbinic Hebrew is different from Biblical Hebrew.

    That doesn’t solve the siddur problems – did he switch back to the rabbinic -ach endings in the siddur? In the berachos section, do we see “borei peri hagefen?”Is “Rabbi” Yishmael pointed with a chirik?

  27. this topic has an interesting history. there is no doubt at all that the authentic ashkenazi custom and all old siddurim have geshem rather than goshem – including boreih p’ri haggeshem. but old here essentially means all siddurim before the 1700s or so. it is at that point (or in the case of r. shabtai sofer a little before) that that grammarians of the day, with their contempt for rabbinic/mishnaic hebrew which they viewed as a corruption of biblical hebrew started changing the traditional ashkenazi siddur to conform to “correct” hebrew. thus geshem turned into a biblical pausal form of goshem, although nobody had ever davened that way. (and all the mishnaic qometz-khof endings (“okh”) were banished in favor of the “biblical” shv’oh and khof with qometz. so ashkenazim today say na’aritz’khoh v’naqdish’khoh, while the authentic ashkenazi minhog still practiced by s’faradim today is to say na’aritzokh v’naqdishokh). as to why this caught on in a traditional and conservative society it seems a matter of luck that the new fangled innovations were picked up by the roedelheim siddur in the early 1800s and all subsequent printed siddurim are essentially copies or lineal descendants of the roedelheim. the true ashkenazi minhog thus was forgotten and e.g. when R’ moshe feinstein was asked about this he ruled very simply that it should be rendered “goshem” since that was the traditional minhog.

    when I was growing up there wasn’t a siddur in ashkenazi existence that had anything but goshem so of course everybody articulated that. what’s happened – amazingly enough – is that some fellow in Israel whose name i disremember has made it his life’s obsession and has been writing, visiting with various venerable litvish worthies and generally tummuling for the last thirty years or so to convince everybody of this terrible mistake made back in the 1700s. the amazing part of it is that he’s apparently been successful and for the last couple of years you now see the new crop of siddurim such as art scroll that view geshem as the primary.

    perusing some of these authentic ashkenazi siddurim is now quite simple as the hebrew u/jewish national library has digitized them and they may be viewed at http://aleph500.huji.ac.il/nnl/dig/books_tef.html. and one last pet peeve. as you look through these authentic representatives of ashkenazi minhog, apparently it never occurred to anyone that the proper way to start qaddish was with yisgadel v’yisqadeish. apparently real ashkenazim always said yisgadal v’yisqadash.

  28. >it seems a matter of luck that the new fangled innovations were picked up by the roedelheim siddur in the early 1800s

    What luck? R. Wolf printed them with eyes wide open. He agreed with the emendations. I’ve seen some east European nussach Ashkenaz siddurim printed until well into the 1860s that had not incorporated the changes. For me the first place to open up to is Rabbi Yishmael and see what’s under the resh.

    The fellow you’re thinking of is Chaim Krauss.

    I guess no one cares about “Rabbi” because they all say “Rebbe” or “Reb” anyway. I’ve seen some early pointed Hebrew texts that read “rabbi,” but they were written by Christians following their mesorah.

  29. 1. See Meloh Ha’roim (Chulin 138b) quoting the Shalah Hakadosh that the proper pronunciation is Shiluach Hakein, with a tzeirei. The word for ‘nest’ is pronounced ‘kan’, with a patach, when it is samuch (connected) to another word, as in ‘kan tzipor’, the nest of a bird. If there is no smichus then the word for ‘nest’ is pronounced ‘kein’ (as in Tehillim 84:4). Nevertheless, common usage is ‘Shiluach Hakan”, apparently going back as far as the Shalah (16th century).

    http://www.star-k.org/kashrus/kk-shiluach-hakan.htm

  30. MiMedinat HaYam

    1. rabbi dr (mitchell) orlian (prof of hebrew at yu) told us in class once it depends of if you stop at “morid hagoshem” with a kamatz. if you dont stop its “geshem” with a segol. and he didnt specify which.

    my linguist.

    2. “The profits go to tzedaka and to student activities. SOY sponsors a bunch of things.”

    according to the soy seforim sale tax return, the $ goes to a single unnamed student educuation / religious group without specifying the name (but later on, it gives the tax id num of yu).

    there is a student organization that a few years ago said it got funding from the seforim sale, and subsequently, that other org’s tax return indicated it was no longer a voluntary that it previously claimed to be, and the employees of that student org are now getting six figures in payroll. and due to its structuring as a student group, it is sponsored by cjf. two plus two means the sforim sale $ goes to this student org that no one is aware the $ goes to (and no one is aware the executives of this student org get nice sales) funnelled through cjf.

    it sounds like “libun”. we can all agree yu does not need the seforim sale $.

  31. FWIW the site says in the FAQ:
    4) What happens to the profits from the Sale?
    Proceeds from the sale are used to support a variety of student activities on Yeshiva University’s campuses, such as concerts, chagigas, shabbatons and special lectures.
    KT

  32. MiMedinat HaYam on February 22, 2011 at 8:08 pm
    1. rabbi dr (mitchell) orlian (prof of hebrew at yu) told us in class once it depends of if you stop at “morid hagoshem” with a kamatz. if you dont stop its “geshem” with a segol. and he didnt specify which.

    sounds like yet another made up shitoh. as i said, ashkenazim also ended the blessing over wine with “boreih p’ri haggefen” which is an unambiguous pausal/end point (unlike morid haggeshem which is in any event in mid sentence and, at most, a mild comma-tipkhoh-strength pause). the real issue is – who says rabbinic hebrew is required to exhibit any of those biblical forms at all.

  33. Mechy,

    FWIW, the author (in a footnote on page 31 – see Benny’s link, above) acknowledges that the proper vowelization is “kein”.

    However, he writes, because common usage is “kan”, and on the advice of R. Kanievsky, he used the latter.

  34. Well, I suppose that’s why the original version of Yedid Nefesh printed in newer siddurim (Rinat Yisrael, Koren) has “ach” at the end of each word, not “cha.”

    Two Rabbinic-to-Biblical that didn’t catch on widely were “goy” to “nokhri” and “uvini’ima kedosha” from “uvini’ima, kedusha…”

    The first two words of Kaddish are read in Hebrew by many, oddly.

  35. Nachum:

    “Well, I suppose that’s why the original version of Yedid Nefesh printed in newer siddurim (Rinat Yisrael, Koren) has “ach” at the end of each word, not “cha.””

    The original version of yedid nefesh lacks nikkud (you can see the author’s holograph copy in jts) sO I’m not sure what you mean here by ach vs. Cha in the original version.
    On the other hand, it is still important to study the orIginal version (originally printed by yaari or Ben menachem, later by rinat yisrael et al, with one mnor mistake) is because the popular contemporary version has many errors (or variants), including some biggies

  36. NAchum,
    Why dio you call Kedosha vs. kedusha a rabbinic/biblical thing?

  37. Abba: Thanks for the correction. I suppose I should say “Why cha was replaced by ach” then.

    What is the minor mistake?

    I once read that “Machmad” was removed because it looked like “Mohammed.”

    MDJ: “kedusha” is not a Biblical word; it’s a Rabbinic word for the tefilla that begins “Kadosh, Kadosh…” Thus the angels, in Biblical Hebrew, cannot say kedusha, so it’s changed to an adjective of the preceding word rather than a noun.

  38. Re the usage of Gashem vs Geshem, there is an footnote in one of RYBS’s Yarhtzeit shiurim as to the difference between the same.

  39. Nachum,
    1) I think the point of kedusha/kedosha is that kedusha ruins the parallel structure of the sentence: Safah:berura::neima:Kedosha. I don’t think this is one of the biblical vs rabbinic issues.

  40. MiMedinat HaYam

    “joel rich on February 22, 2011 at 8:55 pm
    FWIW the site says in the FAQ:
    4) What happens to the profits from the Sale?
    Proceeds from the sale are used to support a variety of student activities on Yeshiva University’s campuses, such as concerts, chagigas, shabbatons and special lectures.
    KT”

    contradicts what it says on seforim sale tax return. and contradicts statement of a particular student org.

  41. MDJ, that’s only if you set it up that way. What if it’s: Safa b’rurah u’neima, kedusha… In other words, make “neima” an adjective instead of a noun.

  42. Nachum,
    I am not aware of a nusach that does not have a bet before neima, making it clearly a noun.

  43. Lawrence Kaplan

    Not to mention that angels do not recite the Kedushah. The whole idea of Kedushah that we humans praise God in the same way angels do. Prof. Fleischer has a learned article about the origins of Kedushah indicating that this s not a classic rabbinic idea. In standard rabbinic literature the angels praise God in their way, we praise God in our way. I do not have the reference right now.

  44. But Prof. Kaplan,
    If “Kedusha”=” Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh”, then the angels can be described as saying kedusha, even in not in our expanded from.

  45. Clarification of my last comment to nachum:
    Since there _is_ a bet, “neima” is clearly a noun, not an adjective.

  46. >If “Kedusha”=” Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh”, then the angels can be described as saying kedusha, even in not in our expanded from.

    “Kedusha” = describing how the angels praise God.

  47. MDJ: My mistake! Wow, you’ve got me considering changing it myself. 🙂

  48. Lawrence Kaplan

    No! The kedushah is OUR praising God in the ssme manner the angels praise God. Why don’t you read the kedushah in any version?

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