1/18/2008

Ma'aneh le-Igrot

I own a copy of the infamous Shu"t Ma'aneh le-Igrot. I inherited it from my grandfather, z"l, and was actually one of the few seforim in his collection that, at the time of the chalukah, I did not own but was interested in. I was reminded of this sefer by a comment that was posted on the Seforim blog, linking to an ebay page where this volume was being sold for $350. After reading that, I had the sudden desire to see what condition my copy is in.

The Ma'aneh le-Igrot is a book of responsa which takes direct issue with and heaps scorn upon Rav Moshe Feinstein. It was written by Rabbi Yom Tov Schwarz, who, from what I understand, was a Satmar chassid. The book's layout is nearly identical to that of R' Moshe's Igrot Moshe, showing the author's clear intent to disparage the man who, at the time of the book's publication in 1973, was recognized as America's greatest poseik.

It's first entry is actually the first responsum I ever learned. In my early teenage years, I would walk/bike over to my grandparents' home every Friday, to visit and to sample the Shabbat menu. Also during my teenage years, I discovered girls. At some point, I started wearing very small knit kippot with my name crocheted on them, the handiwork of female acquaintances. The first time that my grandfather noticed this, he pulled out the Ma'aneh le-Igrot and learned the first siman with me. In it, the author maintains that the required shiur of a yarmulke is that it cover the majority of the head. This is in disagreement with Rav Moshe's responsum (the first in 0C vol. I - the second responsum I ever learned), where he says that there is no minimum yarmulke size. Needless to say, Zaydie was not interested in learning that responsum with me, even though I suspect he knew it full well. Interestingly enough, I had never worn a yarmulke that covered most of my head, and neither did Zaydie, or really anyone else in the family, as far as I can recall. He wanted to tell me that my yarmulke was too small (and it probably was); I doubt he realized that it was a status symbol (or perhaps he realized that it was the status symbol of a modernishe kid in a yeshivishe school and community).

Anyhow, I looked through it again today, thinking about my own memories of it, and realizing that it was actually that very copy that he had shown me 16 or so years ago. I checked to see if there was an inscription, and indeed there was. It was given to my Zaydie as a gift from his son, my uncle Moshe Aryeh, a"h, and it was inscribed with the date - Wednesday of Parshat Beshalach, 5748 - almost exactly 20 years ago.

My copy is not on the market just yet.

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