8

Both the sefer Ohr Sameach and Meshech Chochmah, written by Rav Meir Simcha of Dvinsk, have on their title page the words

חובר ברצון אבינו שבשמים

(See http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14551&pgnum=1 and http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14061&pgnum=1)

I haven't seen this particular statement, invoking the "רצון" of God, in any other sefer. It sounds like he's saying Hashem approves of the sefer. The closest I've found similar to this is the title page to Yam Shel Shlomo where it says ומן השמים הסכימו שהלכה כמותו, that Heaven agrees that the halacha (found in the sefer is correct) like him (http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=40932&pgnum=1 see the third line). He writes that a miracle occured while writing it, proving Hashem agrees with it.

What is this unusual statement referring to, if anything in particular? Is it like the Yam Shel Shlomo? If so, what's the background behind it. Or is it something else.

  • Why do you believe that this statement is unusual? It is a statement of intention from the author. The English translation is, "(I) write according to the will of our Father in heaven..." It means the author is striving to compose the book being faithful to G-d's will. – Yaacov Deane Jul 5 '17 at 15:16
  • 6
    @Yaacov-Deane it's unusual to me because I haven't seen this phenomenon in any other sefer. I'm not sure I agree with you in the translation. "According to" should read .לפי רצון However ברצון sounds a like a statement of fact, with His will, which is an odd thing to be confident in. – robev Jul 5 '17 at 17:35
  • 1
    How is this different than the more standard בס״ד or ב״ה? All seem to mean "this was composed with the help of G-d." Why do you think this more poetic phrase means anything more? – DonielF Jul 6 '17 at 2:53
  • 1
    @DonielF help and רצון are different things. Who said it was with רצון? People say as a matter of humility they couldn't have done it alone, so it must have been with His help. However, who says Hashem agreed to this composition? Who says it's with His will? You can't just assume or suggest that without reason. – robev Jul 6 '17 at 3:25
  • Do you find the phrase "im yirtzeh Hashem" similarly perplexing? – Jay Jul 6 '17 at 15:04
-1

This is an excellent question which brings out the importance of studying Hebrew grammar דקדוק as part of ones regular Torah study like the Pri Megadim writes in his introduction to Orach Chaim 1:16.

Knowledge of grammar is a pillar of the Torah, and when one learns Gemara, he should also have grammar books in front of him.

The English translation is, "(I) write according to the will of our Father in heaven..." It means the author is striving to compose the book being faithful to G-d's will.

The 'ב' prefix can be translated many ways depending on context. This follows what is written in An Introduction to Rashi's Grammatical Explanations in the Book of Genesis by Dr. Sampson A. Isseroff, pp. 1-2.

Specifically in Bereshit 1:1 Rashi explains that the 'ב' prefix in the word בראשית is understood there to mean: for the sake of or on account of.

Dr. Isseroff goes on to cite Bereshit 1:27 which says:

ויברא אלהים את האדם בצלמו

that in that context, Rashi says the 'ב' prefix means "according to".

If you read the whole title page from these books you cite, it is clear that the author is writing about himself in connection with that phrase like is understood from the phrase "מאתי" 'from me' and not that he is claiming to be the arbiter of G-d's will. On the next page of the book it explains that the complete finished manuscript, which would include the title page, was delivered by the author to another person to be printed and that the author passed away before publication.

  • 2
    While I agree the ב prefix can have many meanings, there are some that are more common/justified than others. It is commonly translates as in or with. I feel your example from Bereishis 1:1 isn't a good one because the word בראשית has an inherent grammatical problem which justifies the drash of בשביל ראשית, but that's not the pshat of the word. He's saying the ב is an acronym, not that ב prefix means for the sake of. Rashi says the pshat is in the beginning, and turns ברא into a gerund. I don't see why the example from 1:27 has to be translated as according to and not in. – robev Jul 6 '17 at 13:35
  • 3
    All this to say is it's not unheard of to translate it the way you are but it's rather unlikely in my opinion. I also don't understand the relevance of the last paragraph, or how מאתי proved anything. – robev Jul 6 '17 at 13:35
  • חובר should be read חֻבָּר and translated (as the question does) "composed" (or "written"), not חוֹבֵר "I write" (which isn't a word, to the best of my knowledge) – b a Dec 3 '17 at 19:37

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .