Monday, July 18, 2011

Bibliography of the works of Rabbi Yaakov Hayim Sofer, rosh Yeshivat Kaf ha-Hayim - Part I


Rabbi Yaakov Hayim Sofer, rosh yeshivah of Yeshivat Kaf ha-Hayim in Yerushalayim (, is a prolific author who writes on a myriad of topics relating to all aspects of Torah study (including important bio-bibliographic studies). His works are distinguished by a very impressive command of the entire corpus of rabbinic writings - from the writings of the Tanaim up until the writings of present day scholars.

Although Rabbi Sofer has published many works containing his own essays, much of his output has been in the form of extensive notes written on the works of previous scholars. These notes have often been published at the backs of new editions of these scholars’ publications. Contemporary scholars who receive approbations from Rabbi Sofer for their works are often rewarded with his comments on their book’s subject, appended to his approbation. These practices make the identification and collation of all Rabbi Sofer’s writings difficult. In addition, Rabbi Sofer shares his name with his grandfather, the famous posek and kabbalist who wrote Kaf ha-Hayim and other works. This may confuse some people.

In order to distinguish them, the Library of Congress authority file lists the contemporary rosh yeshivah as: “Sofer, Yaakov Haim”. The author of Kaf ha-Hayim is identified in the authority record as: “Sofer, Ya‘akov Hayim, 1869 or 70-1939”. Another difference recorded by the Library of Congress is that the contemporary rosh yeshivah is “ben Yitshak Shalom” whereas the author of Kaf ha-Hayim is “ben Yitshak Barukh”.

In order to assist in the recognition of the contemporary Rabbi Sofer’s writings, I have prepared a bibliography of his publications. It can only be said to be a preliminary bibliography since I have been unable to personally examine some of the works and editions. Furthermore, I have not taken what would, surely, be the great amount of time necessary to compare the contents of all the books and note what, if any, essays or notes appear in multiple publications. It is, also, to be presumed that many of Rabbi Sofer’s articles that have been published in periodical literature, have been reprinted in his self-published works. Again, I have not taken the time to ascertain when this has occurred. Finally, I am certain that due to their lack of mention in the databases I have consulted, I have completely omitted many of Rabbi Sofer’s articles printed in periodical literature.

I have divided the bibliography into three sections:
1) Books containing primarily Rabbi Sofer’s own writings
2) Books written primarily by other authors that have been published together with Rabbi Sofer’s notes and comments. Each section is arranged alphabetically. I have generally listed only the latest edition of each work, except where the Jewish Theological Seminary Library has only an earlier edition, in which case I have listed the edition that we have and the later edition. Where the JTS Library owns a copy of the work, I have noted the call number assigned to the item. Where the JTS Library does not own a copy, I have so noted.
3) Periodicals (and other collections of articles, such as festschriften) containing articles and notes written by Rabbi Sofer. The periodicals have been arranged alphabetically by periodical title and the articles within each periodical have been arranged alphabetically by article title.

In preparing the bibliography I made use of the list of Rabbi Sofer’s works published at the back of the various volumes of his work, Sefer Hadar Yaakov. I have also used the following catalogs and databases: JTS Library catalogue, JNUL catalogue, RAMBI, RAMBISH, COTAR, and the index to periodicals (and other collections of articles), on the "Bar Ilan ShuT Project CD" (version 15). I have also made use of the index to the journal Mekabtsiel (issues 1-30) published in v.30 (Adar II 5765) of that journal. I have, also, examined many of the works and items personally. I would like to thank my colleague, Ina Rubin Cohen, for her helpful suggestions of databases to search.

I intend, be-ezrat HaShem, to publish the bibliography on this blog over the coming weeks.

As mentioned above, there are certainly many lacunae to be found in this preliminary bibliography. (One desideratum is articles by Rabbi Sofer published in v.35-36 of Mekabtsiel, which I have been unable to examine.) I welcome any additions or corrections that can be supplied by our readers. I also welcome any biographical information regarding Rabbi Yaakov Hayim Sofer that can be supplied by our readers.

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