Pardes HaBinah #lithuania


Jeff Marx
 

Bill Yoffee asks about the content of the book, Pardes HaBinah, (1846)
in which the name of one of his relatives >from Panemune appears as
part of the prenumeraten list (pre-publication subscribers).

First, Pardes HaBinah contains the sermons and responsa (halachic
rulings in response to a particular question submitted to a rabbi) of
Rabbi Moses Aaronson. (He eventually emigrated to America, lived in
NY and died in Chicago).

Second, (if I may be so bold as to second-guess Bill's reason for
wanting to know the content of the work), one must be careful to make
too close a connection between the pre-publication subscribers to a
book and the book's contents. The 19th Century Hebrew weekly
newsletter HaMagid, for example, often ran appeals to help various
authors publish their works. A subscriber >from a particular shtetl
might then take up a collection >from inhabitants of the town and send
in the contributions along with the names of the donors which were
then published in a future addition of the paper. Or a particular
rabbi of a shtetl might be appealed to >from a fellow rabbi to help him
raise funds for a book's publication and would do so by asking for
contributions.

In short: while the haskamah (the "seal of approval" given by a rabbi)
found in the opening pages of a work is a clear sign of agreement with
the contents of a book, few conclusions, if any, should be made
concerning the names found in the pre-subscriber lists. What these
lists of names can be used for, is determining that a relative was
alive roughly around the time that the book was published. For more
details about cautions one should take with donor lists, please see
the introduction to "Nedavot: Town Index to Donor Lists in HaMagid,
1856-1900" on JewishGen.

Jeff Marx

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