Latest update: April 4th, 2013
Bar Ilan Responsa, Volume Ten Plus is a powerful product that will make a very nice addition to your Jewish software library. In fact, it will probably make up a large part of your Jewish software library. This is a most excellent option for the student who needs a serious array of resources at an affordable price.
The Bar Ilan Responsa Ten Plus has the whole Tanach (Torah, Nevi’im, and Kesuvim) along with Onkelos and Rashi. It also includes the works of many other Gaonim, Rishonim and Acharonim.
The version I tested out came with the Encyclopedia Talmudit. Those who are unfamiliar with Encyclopedia Talmudit might want to consider learning about what it is. Encyclopedia Talmudit was founded in the early 1940’s by Rabbis Meir Bar Ilan, Yosef Zevin, and Yehoshua Huttner. The encyclopedia provides a comprehensive collection of all Halachic topics discussed from the time that the Talmud was written until the present. The print volume of the encyclopedia consists of 27 volumes. What makes this encyclopedia so special is that it is all on one disk, and it is written in an easy and concise Hebrew. With well over 25,000 indexed entries and thousands upon thousands of cross-references, the Encyclopedia Talmudit is an ideal tool for any of your learning needs.
As you learn from the library, I am sure you will come across some abbreviations with which you may not be familiar. What could be more frustrating than trying to figure out what that abbreviation stands for? Well, the Bar Ilan Responsa eliminates this problem by making available the online tool tip dictionary of abbreviations; you’ll be able to find those abbreviations in a jiffy.
Another feature the Bar Ilan Responsa has improved in Volume Ten Plus is the pinpoint search. With the pinpoint search, finding things will be more efficient than in previous volumes. For those who want more advanced search features, the Bar Ilan Responsa will not disappoint you. The advanced searches allow you to run several different types of searches such as wildcard, roots and dictionaries, variant spelling abbreviation searches etc., and you can filter out unwanted searches. There are even more search options with which you can define and edit word families, and if you are not satisfied, you have the option of deleting it.
Many times when learning, you will find other sources quoted in the text. What would be more convenient than being able to click on a link in the text and have the full text of the source appear instantaneously? The Bar Ilan Responsa has a special feature called hypertext link which does exactly that.
Bar Ilan allows you to print out what you need, but what I liked most about this is the ability to print in color as opposed to a plain, black-and-white printout.
Regarding typing in Hebrew, not to worry. If you are not familiar with typing Hebrew, a virtual Hebrew keyboard is included with the software. So, if you need to run a search and want to type it in Hebrew, typing in the text will be a cinch.
Another superb feature this product offers is the ability to view text previously displayed. This is a definite must when learning and looking up many sources from numerous different places.
Not everyone likes the same fonts. However, the Bar Ilan is very flexible; it allows the user to change the fonts of the search.
You finally found the text you were looking for and want to save it on a separate file or edit it in a word processor. What to do? The Bar Ilan allows the user to simply copy and paste into a text document or save it by clicking on the save icon.
No special or extra software or hardware is required to run the Bar Ilan Responsa Volume Ten Plus. I happened to have tested the program out on a brand new dell computer that ran on Windows XP Professional. At first I could not display the program properly. However, this problem was quickly solved by simply going into the regional and languages options (which you can find in the control panel) and installing the supplemental language support. After doing this, the program worked beautifully. (Please note that this problem of not being able to display the program correctly is a Windows XP problem and not with Bar Ilan program).
What I enjoyed most about this program are its special features. For instance, the biographies of authors is a great feature; it will let you know the author of any work which you might have not heard of. The gematria option is another one of my favorites because it calculates the numerical value of what is needed in no time. The calendar feature is also a great tool to help you create a time line, and the ability to switch from civil to Hebrew and vice versa only makes things easier, especially when you want to compare the two.Shimon Lewin
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