Sefer Ha-Hayim Blog
Friday, October 07, 2005
Yashar Books in YU Review
Yashar Books was highlighted in Yeshiva University's almuni publication YU Review, Fall 2005 p. 23 (here - PDF):
Spreading the (Written) Word

It’s a traditional publishing company with a twist: one that also offers free online content.

Started by Rabbi Gil Student ’94Y and Rabbi Moshe Schapiro ’93Y, AG, R in 2004, Yashar Books publishes printed volumes as well as online divrei Torah, both designed to spark dialogue among those who study Torah around the world.

“In the last 20 years there has been a huge change in the intellectual and scholarly thinking of many in the Orthodox world,” Rabbi Student said. “Unfortunately, many of their new ideas don’t get publicized. Scholars come up with brilliant notions but only their students hear about them.”

Rabbi Schapiro, a Judaica reference librarian at the Mendel Gottesman Library on the Wilf Campus and rabbi of the Synagogue of the Palisades in Fort Lee, NJ, and Rabbi Student, a former finance executive at Radian Insurance, came together to fulfill a life-long dream of publishing Jewish books.

They have recently published The Right and the Good: Halakhah and Human Relations by Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman ’94Y,R, instructor of Jewish studies at YU, as part of an ongoing series on Jewish ethics that will include a volume titled Moral Issues of the Marketplace in Jewish Law by Aaron Levine, Samson and Halina Bitensky Professor of Economics at YC.

The Open Access Project is an online resource center that bring together elements of a virtual beit midrash (study hall)—with free downloads of articles, essays, and eventually, entire books—and includes a public forum. It can be found at

“We want to make good quality scholarship accessible to the public at large, which is bound to be a boon for those beyond the walls of a university or yeshiva,” Rabbi Schapiro said.

Thursday, October 06, 2005
The Problem of Unrequested Forgiveness
From R. Daniel Z. Feldman, The Right and the Good: Halakhah and Human Relations, pp. 145-146 (buy the book):
Were a waiver of claims the only goal of the [forgiveness] process, it would follow that if the victim would forgive of his own initiative, without waiting for his oppressor to seek his pardon, the latter gesture would become redundant. Nonetheless, many authorities who concern themselves with this issue indicate that a request for forgiveness is necessary even if the other party has already excused the offense. R. Binyamin Yehoshua Zilber, among others, maintains that the obligation to seek mechilah is operative regardless.[10] However, R. Yehoshua Ehrenberg is inclined to believe that unrequested forgiveness is enough.[11]

A story related by the Talmud[12] is cited by those who agree with R. Zilber as support for their position. Rav had been offended by a certain butcher, and, following the passage of some time, they had still not reconciled. As Yom Kippur was approaching, Rav took pains to make himself available to the butcher so that the latter may apologize. R. Yitzchak Blazer[13] observes that in doing so, Rav was engaging in a form of imitatio Dei, as God also brings Himself closer to facilitate repentance during the Ten Days of Penitence between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.[14] That aside, the very necessity of accessibility on the part of Rav is troubling; as he is clearly prepared to forgive and forget, there should be no need for the butcher to ask. It seems, then, that the act of apologizing is integral to the forgiveness granted on Yom Kippur.[15] Similarly, R. Eliezer Ginsberg[16] writes that the mechilah would be ineffectual, lacking genuine penitence on the part of the sinner.

This element is relevant to another issue of concern among authorities. Yom Kippur, mentioned as a motivation to seek mechilah, is seemingly superfluous; if an offense has been committed, forgiveness must be sought irrespective of the time of year. R. Ephraim Zalman Margoliyos, in his classic collection of the laws relevant to the High Holy Day period, Matteh Ephraim,[17] writes that this is, of course, the case; however, Yom Kippur is noted as the final deadline for this obligation. R. Pinchas A. Z. Goldenberger[18] suggests an approach in line with this. If an interpersonal violation is committed, pardon must be sought immediately; nonetheless, if the victim bears no grudge, then this action is of less necessity. However, the impending arrival of Yom Kippur imposes an additional requirement of obtaining mechilah that is not suspended in the event of unsolicited forgiveness.[19]

[10] Responsa Az Nidbaru 2:65.
[11] Responsa D’var Yehoshua 5:20.
[12] Yoma 87a.
[13] Kokhvei Ohr 5.
[14] Isaiah, ch. 58, as per Yevamot 49a.
[15] See also R. Shlomo Zalman of Volozhin’s Toldot Adam.
[16] V’Atah B’Rachamekha HaRabim, Hilkhot Teshuvah 2:9.
[17] Matteh Ephraim, 606.
[18] Responsa Minchat Asher 3:32.
[19] See the similar interpretation in R. Moshe Shternbuch, Responsa Teshuvot V’Hanhagot 2:285.

Saturday, October 01, 2005
Another Book on Open Access
We have another book up on Open Access! This one is just in time for the Yamim Nora'im / High Holiday season.

About half a year ago, we posted Rabbi David Jay Derovan's haggadah on Open Access and it was quickly downloaded by many people. Rabbi Derovan was kind enough to make available a collection of his essays on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot for Open Access as well.

It is available for free download at


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