web analytics
April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

A Masterwork Completed – 84 Years Later

Fendel-113012

Share Button

How long does it take to write and publish a book? One recently released work took some eighty-four years to see the light of day in Jerusalem. But with its publication the Torah world has been blessed with a new, vowelized edition of the Torah Temimah, complete with the supra-commentary Meshivat Nefesh – a work begun in the 1920s by a prolific rabbi among whose works was a weekly column several decades later in The Jewish Press.

Our story begins in 1921 in London, then moves to Los Angeles, Pinsk, Brooklyn, and, finally, Yerushalayim. A 25-year-old yeshiva bachur from London named Yaakov Moshe Feldman encounters a copy of the Torah Temimah and is immediately enthralled. Torah Temimah is an encyclopedic edition of the Chumash with relevant Talmudic and Midrashic passages cited on each verse and a brilliant commentary explaining and interpreting each passage.

It was authored by Rav Baruch HaLevy Epstein of Pinsk; his father, the author of the famed Aruch HaShulchan, wrote about Torah Temimah: “Anyone who delves into it will marvel and wonder how this great work could ever have come about, if not for special grace shown from Above.”

The work quickly became popular and to this day is frequently consulted in homes, synagogues and yeshivot throughout the world.

The young bachur, soon to become Rabbi Moses J. Feldman, learned in London’s Eitz Chaim Yeshiva, where his chavruta was Rabbi Yitzchak HaLevi Herzog, who later would serve as chief rabbi of Israel.

The bachur was in close contact with various leading rabbis even at his young age. He spent much time in the London home of HaRav A. I. Kook, another future chief rabbi of the Holy Land, who was stranded for five years in Great Britain when World War I prevented his return to Eretz Yisrael.

Rabbi Feldman (RYM) went on to become a leading rabbi in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, which was then the largest Jewish community west of Chicago.

In late 1928, RYM wrote to Rav Epstein of the great importance he ascribed to Torah Temimah and proposed to compile an index for the work. Rav Epstein “in his great humility, responded immediately” in two postcards, RYM related. In one, Rav Epstein stated he would be “grateful” for such a work, and asked to see a sample. In the second, written two months later, he praised what he saw and concluded with a blessing for success in whatever manner RYM would choose to carry out the work.

In reviewing the Torah Temimah, RYM noted that it was replete with technical and other errors, mainly bibliographical, due to the author’s having worked mainly from his memory (encyclopedic as it was widely acknowledged to be). RYM realized a complete critical review of the work was required, in addition to expanding many of the scholarly points raised by Rav Epstein.

In 1933, RYM sent several samples of what was to become the Meshivat Nefesh to a renowned Torah scholar, Rabbi Shmuel Yitzchak Hilman. Author of the Ohr HaYashar on the Yerushalmi, Rav Hilman founded the Ohel Torah yeshiva in Jerusalem, whose students included Rabbis Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and Yosef Shalom Elyashiv.

Rav Hilman praised the Meshivat Nefesh samples he saw – but there it stopped; the work barely progressed for the next five decades. This was largely because RYM was busy with various responsibilities, including his monumental four-volume work Areshet Sefatenu (with two additional volumes still in manuscript). The title page describes it as a “Concordance, Interpretive Anthology, Dictionary of Biblical Quotations and Idioms, Source Book of Hebrew Prayer and Proverb.”

Finally, toward the end of his life, RYM got to work once again on Meshivat Nefesh, completing its last pages while on his deathbed. Two of his sons – Rabbi Dr. David M. Feldman, longtime beloved rabbi in Brooklyn and Teaneck and prolific author specializing in medical ethics, and the late attorney Eliot B. Feldman – lost no time in publishing Meshivat Nefesh in 1982.

As they wrote in the preface, RYM “completed the sacred task just prior to his death, on the 8th day of Pesach 1981…. [and was] delighted to have fulfilled his promise to the author of the Torah Temimah. He has, as well, fulfilled admirably his unspoken pledge, to the scholar and student, to render this monumental work whole in substance and accessible in form. Torat Hashem Temimah Meshivat Nafesh.”

The work, however, was not yet complete. Its publication in one volume, detached from both the Chumash and the Torah Temimah, hampered its usefulness. In stepped Michael Zev of the Horev Publishing House in Jerusalem, with an idea whose time had come: reprint the Torah Temimah; correct many of its mistakes; vowelize the text, Rashi and the Siftei Chachamim supra-commentary; and add the Meshivat Nefesh commentary to boot.

Zev actually went several steps further. He incorporated many of RYM’s corrections directly into the Torah Temimah text and trimmed them from the Meshivat Nefesh. He also removed several of its Torah-themed discussions that did not pertain directly to Rav Epstein’s commentary. On the other hand, he added some other notes on the Torah Temimah written by a distant relative of its author, Rav Moshe Yechiel Epstein, also known as the Ozherover Rebbe. These latter notes comprise some ten percent of the newly published Meshivat Nefesh, according to Zev.

And thus, with the publication of the old-new work in Jerusalem, the saga of the Torah Temimah – first published in 1902 – reached its final stage: Full annotated readability and availability for the Torah-cherishing public around the world.

She’hecheyanu.

Share Button

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “A Masterwork Completed – 84 Years Later”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Arab rioters hurl objects at Israeli security personnel who use pepper spray to quell the violence emanating from the Al Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount.
Arab Violence Closes Temple Mount to Visitors Again
Latest Indepth Stories
Haredim riot after draft-dodger is arrested.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

Bitton-041814

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

MK Moshe-Feiglin

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

Dov Shurin

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

Perhaps worse than all the above is the acute lack of unity among Jews

At our seder we emulate the way it was celebrated in Temple times, as if the Temple still stood.

More Articles from Hillel Fendel
Ashkelon power plant workers at the control room.

plans for a major coal-energy plant to be built in Ashkelon have basically been shelved.

Palestinian visitors at Yad Vashem.

Can Shoah studies actually help neutralize Arab hatred for Israelis?

Talk of a two-state solution, while widely prevalent, is largely irrelevant.

Hannah and her seven sons; Judith and the Greek commander she beheaded; the outnumbered but fearless Maccabees; the Jews who refused to give in to the decrees of the wicked Antiochus – Chanukah is a time for recounting historic deeds of self-sacrifice in the name of the God of Israel. The most recent one occurred in Israel on Dec. 1, a Shabbat.

How long does it take to write and publish a book? One recently released work took some eighty-four years to see the light of day in Jerusalem. But with its publication the Torah world has been blessed with a new, vowelized edition of the Torah Temimah, complete with the supra-commentary Meshivat Nefesh – a work begun in the 1920s by a prolific rabbi among whose works was a weekly column several decades later in The Jewish Press.

JERUSALEM – Clandestine photocopying of tucked-away documents in Israel’s National Library, hurried text messages of selected passages verifying their pristine, unpublished condition, and question marks surrounding the editing and possible censorship practices of trusted editors from eighty years ago.

JERUSALEM – “It is not just Israel’s right to apply sovereignty to Judea and Samaria,” said Eran Bar-Tal, economics reporter for Makor Rishon, “but its obligation.”

JERUSALEM – A leading Orthodox rabbi in Israel has a revolutionary proposal for the harvesting of organs from a clinically dead patient. At present, his proposal not only has no support from other rabbis, it is also against Israeli law – but he is not fazed.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/a-masterwork-completed-84-years-later/2012/11/28/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: