Recently the private diary of Rav Kook was published; diaries of other Rabbis have also been published posthumously. Is there any halachic problem with publishing these documents, and, if there is, is there any halachic problem with reading them once they are published?

  • judaism.stackexchange.com/a/23297/759
    – Double AA
    May 15, 2014 at 16:37
  • I can't fathom that there should be a problem. If so, all these years of viewing Igeret Haramba"m, for example, would have made so many people sinners. I'd be curious if there is any exception if reading such letters provides halachic insight in addition to personal information. Then, again, Igeret Harmba"m was published. Sometimes, the writer dies in the middle of writing his diary before s/he specified that s/he wanted it published, but relatives or others, implicitly know his/her wishes. I surmise that in this case, it would be OK to read it.
    – DanF
    May 15, 2014 at 16:44
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    @DanF I think you're responding to a different question judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/37428/…
    – user5092
    May 15, 2014 at 16:57
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    there's a tradition article by Rabbi J. J. Schachter defending his position of publishing the private letters of R. Y. Y. Weinberg, as well as an article in Beis Yitzchak from Zev Eleff on the same topic/controversy May 15, 2014 at 18:59
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    Torah UMadda Journal here: yutorah.org/_shiurim/%2FTU8_Schachter.pdf, Beis Yitchak here, page 422: yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/777875/_Editor_Beis_Yitzchak/… May 15, 2014 at 19:20

1 Answer 1


I'm going with the notion that it's unethical and thievery. And even if the person who stole it is a theif, it will still at least be muttar for the rest of us to learn, and even a zchus for the theif. See the Shach in Sh'a Choshen Mishpat siman 292 siff kattan 35. He quotes a Tosefta in the 7th perek of Bava Kama if someone steals his friends torah (lets assume that means chidush, an intangible idea) and goes and teaches it, even though he is called a theif, he is zocheh it for himself etc, and he will be made a parneis hatzibur and he is mizakeh the public and zocheh for himself etc.

I would also add the famous story where the Arizal comanded Reb Chaim Vital to never share the knowledge he tought him with anyone. Reb Chaim kept all the chidushim safely under lock and key. Till one day Reb Chaim fell ill and people bribed one of his relatives to allow them to view and copy the papers. And from this incident one of the most respected and acclaimed teachers of the Kabbala had his ideas spread to the world.

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