When the Rishonim wrote, they weighed every word they used, considered the meaning and inferences of all possibilities and decided on what best reflects their position as a whole. This is how we treat their writings. What this allows us to do is to make inferences to other cases that were not spoken about from cases that were spoken about. You could ask question such as "Why did he choose to say it this way and not this way?".

My question is: are there any late-Achronim that we can make inferences (diyukim) off of? or does any late-Acharon claim to have written in such a way?

For the purposes of his question lets call a late Acharon someone writing from mid 1800's at the latest.

  • 1
    I seem to recall we have this question already, or one very similar, but don't see it.
    – msh210
    Jun 12, 2014 at 6:26
  • I heard from the grandson of Rav Wolbe (1914-2005 author of Alei Shor) that his grandfather spent 20 years on the sefer wieghing every word. Likewise it is my understanding that the sefer of his rebbe, rav Yerucham Levovitz 1873-1936, Daas Torah that he wrote it so one should be medayek on every word.
    – avner
    Jun 17, 2014 at 4:00
  • If I recall correctly, Rav Wolbe himself writes in the intro to Alei Shur chelek alef that he went through a few versions of the book over many years until he was satisfied with what he finally had published.
    – Gavriel
    Jun 17, 2014 at 20:27
  • 3
    When the Rishonim wrote, they weighed every word they used, considered the meaning and inferences of all possibilities and decided on what best reflects their position as a whole How do you know this? How could anyone know this?
    – mevaqesh
    Aug 10, 2016 at 2:46
  • 1
    You can see a similarity between the way of the Chazon Ish writing. not only because concision but also because the style of study. For example, the sefer of Rav Chayim Brisker Chicushe RChH is regarded by the biggest geonim as a model of concision, precision and deepness, but his world is not the world of Rishonim. + good question
    – kouty
    Aug 10, 2016 at 19:57

3 Answers 3


A few examples:

The Chofetz Chaim writes in his introduction that every word was weighed and pondered before committing it to writing:

כל סעיף וסעיף מםפר הזה עיינתי בו הרבה (ובדיבוק חברים גדולי התורה. וחפשתי חיפוש אחר חיפוש שלא ימצא בש״ס סתירה לדברינו. וכמה פעמים עיינתי כענין אחד כמה ימים עד שבררתי ההלכה לאמתה בעזרת השם יתברך. ואקוה להשם יתברך כי הקורא אשר ישמע לדברינו אלה ויעיין היטב בכל כללי ההלכה עיניו יחזו מישרים, כי כל מלה ומלה שבפנים הספר נכתבה בדקדוק הדין

Similarly, the Vilna Gaon is reported to have commented about Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzatto that in the first 10 chapters of Mesillas Yesharim there is not even an extra word.

  • 1
    It's not like anyone's going to write "I was careless in writing this", but we still just assume that not everyone is a perfect poet to write so precisely.
    – Double AA
    Jun 12, 2014 at 14:36
  • You may want to add the chazon ish said that it takes 7 clean days to understand a single drop of ink of the the gra
    – Gadol
    Jun 12, 2014 at 16:15
  • 2
    @DoubleAA If it is subjective or arbitrary, then his question has no basis and no purpose. To say "no real gedolim ever..." and then define anyone who ever did as not a gadol seems like a circular point. And undermines the whole question of this thread - noone can bring a proof to anything, because we all get to pick and choose who a gadol is at whim. So I assumed from his attempt to make a point, he must have a standard, which he failed to explain. Now he deleted all his comments, so it's moot. Jun 13, 2014 at 18:37
  • @YEZ Why can't subjective things have basis or purpose?
    – Double AA
    Jun 13, 2014 at 19:31
  • @DoubleAA They could. In this case, it wouldn't, because you can't prove a point from what you are defining subjectively. A) "No gedolim learn MB like that" and B) "I define what a gadol is at whim" - B) makes A) pretty much a useless point. Jun 13, 2014 at 19:34

One possibility is Likkutei Levi Yitzchak by Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Shneerson. The circumstances of the writing created that effect. He was in Soviet imposed exile in Siberia without adequate access to paper (a general problem in the Soviet Union then as anyone who has met an old time Russian from that era can attest - and especially a problem for a prisoner).

His wife made him special ink and smuggled it in to him. He wrote in the margins of the few seforim he was allowed to keep with him. Under those circumstances he limited his words heavily. There are several Sichos of his son, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, which demonstrate this terseness in regards to what Rabbi Levi Yitzchak wrote on the margins of Iggeres HaTeshuva in Tanya.


In the Rebbe’s Reshimos of Tanya a letter of the FR is referenced that includes the story about the Maharil, the Alter Rebbe’s brother, coming into the AR study during the time period he was writing the Tanya. The Maharil found the AR with a pen in his hand and in a state of devikus – deep meditative thought. After an hour the AR looked up and said that it’s already the third week that he is debating whether to write a word in Tanya (Chapter 41 V’ikra) with a Vov or without a Vov. The AR said that “on a vov of Beinonim one can ponder for six weeks until it becomes one with one self.”

Source: https://livingtanya.com/author/yehudashemtov/

  • I love this story for its content. It seems that the teaching of this story is that we need to read with a great respect what a chacham wrote.
    – kouty
    Mar 9, 2017 at 7:35

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