I understand everyone has their own styles and each genre has it's own way. With that said, I'd like to know if there's a traditional way of writing a sefer, perhaps there's a way to do the following:

  • Who to quote when a couple authors say the same thing.
  • Paraphrase the words of the author your quoting
  • English or Hebrew or both Etc....

So, if there's a traditional way of doing so, let me know. Now, I'm asking in regards to (writing) a sefer on Shas Bavli/Yerushalmi that focuses on more or less Halacha.

  • I don't think so...
    – robev
    Jan 27, 2021 at 19:16
  • I don't think you will be matzliach unless you have some chiddushim to say.
    – The GRAPKE
    Jan 27, 2021 at 21:24
  • English = machmir ,Hebrew = meikel seems to be a common theme
    – sam
    Jan 27, 2021 at 23:45
  • I don't understand why this question was closed. If the answer is No, there are no required guidelines, then let someone say that as the answer. Nothing in the question required opinion.
    – MichoelR
    Jan 28, 2021 at 3:01

1 Answer 1


B'hatzlacha rabbah! I don't believe there is a right answer to your questions. I did struggle with many of these same issues when I wrote a sefer on Chumash. Here are a few thoughts on some of them:

  1. You need to decide how you will publish it. If you will use a regular publisher, ask them, they have a lot of experience. If you're publishing it yourself, you still maybe should get an editor and other advisors. It is not possible to believe how much time everything takes if you do it yourself.
  2. I don't believe that a sefer on Shas can avoid quoting the Hebrew/Aramaic. Whether you translate is a choice as to who you think is the intended audience. For my sefer, translation was critical. Many modern writers for an English-speaking audience do not even quote the Hebrew, just the English translation in italics. That would not have worked for my sefer at all. In most cases I quoted and translated, and I didn't hesitate to make exceptions.
  3. Sometimes I paraphrased, when the exact words were not at all critical to understanding, but you are taking a risk of getting it wrong. Use your judgment.
  4. I always gave a reference, but where I didn't think they needed to look it up, I didn't always give a full reference ("The Mabit says in Beis Elokim...") My son tends to mark each such instance and tell me I need to fix it, and I expect he's right.
  5. I don't know how to judge when there are several sources; sometimes one of them is clearly the original and the other one is the one your readers will know. Quoting the first is the "right" choice but probably you should quote the second.
  6. One good guide is to look at what's out there now. Check other sefarim in a similar genre. However, these days it seems like most of what's published now in English is by Artscroll or Feldheim. It may make sense to just imitate their customs, and I did that a lot. It does have the advantage that the readers are used to it.
    Whenever I did differently, someone complained - even when I was absolutely right. Examples: I chose not to italicize words that were familiar to my intended audience, because it fills the page with italics, and I wanted to use italics for emphasis. Shabbos, kashrus... People told me I should do like Artscroll, and I told them that the Chicago Manual of Style agrees with me, and they still complained.
    I similarly did not capitalize Him and He etc. when it referred to Hashem, because no one does that any more except Christian theologians, and people didn't like that either. I explained to them that Hebrew does not use capitalization.
    People even told me that I was wrong to put the page numbers on the bottom, because Artscroll (almost) always puts them on the top. Oh, well...
    People are used to Artscroll; their conventions put them at ease.

Anyhow, again b'hatzlacha.

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