Joseph Goldschmidt wrote:
According to the Etymological Dictionary by Ernest Klein, Kuntres meansThis is correct for the original usage of the term. Rashi's commentary
was originally distributed as a separate handwritten pamphlet, and only
later as a gloss on the page of the Talmud.Later, however, "kuntres"
referred to a pamphlet (handwritten or printed) with an extensive
response to a halachic question, which was distributed to the rabbis who
were involved in the question, often a contraversial issue.
These pamphlets were often later included in published compiled responsa of
that author and because of the extensive nature of the kuntres would
take up an entire chapter to themselves.
Subsequently, other halachic works which were not responsa referred to
chapters with extensive treatises on a given subject as a kuntres, even
if it had never been published separately. That is the most common usage
today, although kuntresim of responsa are still occasionally published as well.
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David Shapiro Jerusalem dshapiro@...