New book announcement; He-Gedolim
By Eliezer Brodt
הגדולים: אישים שעיצבו את פני היהדות החרדית בישראל, בעריכת בנימין בראון, נסים ליאון, קובץ מאמרים לכבוד פרופ' מנחם פרידמן ובהשראתו, מגנס מכון ון ליר, 968 עמודים
The Gdoilim: Leaders Who Shaped the Israeli Haredi Jewry, Edited by Benjamin Brown, Nissim Leon, The Hebrew University Magnes Press, Van Leer Institute, 968 pages
For the most part, academic books are not found or read in regular "layman" or Chareidi circles, nor are those types of books available at most "seforim stores." From time to time a volume emerges from the world of academia, that breaks through the status-quo and captivates and makes waves among various crowds of regular people and Chareidim. Examples include, the works of Professor Dovid Assaf (here) which many Chassdim were fascinated to read, and the work of Professor Benny Brown on the Chazon Ish, which the Yeshiva world was very curious to read. When Brown's book (see here) came out a few years back, over 1,000 copies were sold in a period of two weeks. That may well be the record for an academic book (in Hebrew) selling in such a short amount of time. There were advertisements in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak stating that this work is a must-have for a Jewish home. Until today it's unknown who put up the signs. Of course, within a few months, the book was attacked, as mentioned here.
This new volume, Ha-Geldolim, hot off the press from Magnes and Van Leer, promises to be another such work. It contains thirty chapters discussing Charedi Gedolim, from all different constituencies, the Yeshivah, Chassidic and Sefardi world, many of which have never really been properly discussed in academia. A similar lacuna was identified by Israel Ta Shema, in that instance, the lack of study of the Achronim. Keneset Mekhekarim, vol. 4, 283
חקר הספרות הרבנית של מאות השנים האחרונות, הלוא היא תקופת 'האחרונים', הוזנח כליל במחקר המודרני, וממילא נשמט הנושא כולו מסדר היום של מחקר ההשכלה בישראל..
Just to give a plug to the Seforim Blog – it is quoted at least three times, (I even made it into a footnote; this is my second "Footnote" – of prominence in academic literature similar to the movie The Footnote :-) ) Professor Marc Shapiro, a regular contributor to the Seforim blog, has an essay in the volume. I am sure some of these essays will be the starting point of much further research and discussion of these Gedolim.
Of course, the immediate reaction of many when they look through the table of contents is: "why isn't so and so there?" and "what exact criteria is applied to determine who 'gets in' to the volume?". The editors anticipated these issues and others, and deal with it in the introduction (PDF available upon request, see my email address below).
The volume is dedicated to Professor Menachem Friedman, who is one of the "founders" of the academic research of the Charedi world.
Here are the Table of Contents of this special work.
Part of the proceeds will be going to help support the efforts of the Seforim Blog.
Copies of this work will be arriving at Biegeleisen shortly.