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Rabbeinu Gershom issued a Cherem (ban) on unauthorized reading of private letters.

I would like to know how books which contain private correspondence or sh'elos us'shuvos between Rabbis and other people are published?

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The sefer Igros Moshe is just the responses; the original questions are omitted for assumedly precisely this reason. – Tatpurusha Apr 24 '14 at 18:48
@Tatpurusha and the assumption is that Rav Moshe gave expressed permission to publish all these letters even those which were subsequently published after he passed away? – user5092 Apr 24 '14 at 19:39
I sure hope so... – Tatpurusha Apr 24 '14 at 21:14

I answered this question to a larger extent here, using this article from R J J Schachter (I read the article years ago - it is wonderful).

To quote the reasons most relevant to this question

  • Some formulations of the original herem are phrased "if [the recipient] threw away the letter it is permitted [to read it]"

  • R Hayim Palaggi states the herem only applies if the letter includes a prohibition to further broadcast it

  • R Moshe ben Habib felt the sender needed in addition to verbally articulate that the herem applies to his letter, in addition he felt the herem applied only to the one opening the letter, not to one who reads an already opened one -- and so write the Shiltei ha-Gibborim and the Birkei Yosef

  • ma‘aseh rav: significant precedent is indeed available, i.e., Torah journals, countless memorial volumes for deceased gedolim are publishing private letters and divrei Torah of gedolei Yisrael after their deaths when neither they nor members of their family are available to grant permission. Furthermore, dozens of collections of letters of gedolei Yisrael—including much personal material as well—have been published without permission

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