Monday, June 13, 2011

Popular Personalities Publish Posthumously

One of the advantages of the Internet Age is the capacity to be Mechaye Meisim. I've written about it before how the web allows one to view events of the past decades. Another aspect of this new age is the proliferation of posthumous publishing. Whereas years ago publishing was a difficult proposition, push-button publishing of the modern era makes it as simple as pie.

With regard to Seforim, the computers and online research capabilities allow one to easily find new manuscripts that were heretofore hidden away in the recesses of obscure libraries, and bring them to print. Word processing also greatly frees one from the burden of typing by hand and correcting mistakes (no longer does one need to mind their p's and q's). Copy and Paste is another feature that eases the birth of new Seforim. Computers further aid in the deciphering of ancient manuscripts.

One of the first Rabbis to harness technology to aid and distribute his Torah discourses was Rabbi Avigdor Miller. Thousand of his tapes have been circulating around the globe for half a century. Recent advertisements advise that his tapes have been migrated digitally, and can be accessed now on one's Ipod.

But the real proliferation seems to be in the written word. Although Rabbi Miller published many books in his lifetime, many new books are being published nowadays based on his discourses.

It seems that many people do not publish during their lifetimes for a variety of reasons. Most probable is the lack of time. Important people are so busy helping others, that they have no time left for personal needs. Reb Chaim Brisker is famous for stating that the orphans and widows he cares for will be his legacy. However, the current trend has ensured that Reb Chaim's Shiurim be available to the public.

This is perhaps the meaning of the Talmudic dictum: Chullin 7B

גדולים צדיקים במיתתן יותר מבחייהן

Tzadikim are more proliferate in death than in life.

I am reminded of several witticism's of Rabbi Miller. He once was asked by a man of color: "Why do you people wear black shoes, a black hat, a black coat and black pants?" To which Rabbi Miller replied: "Because black is beautiful!". Another time he was accosted by an irate individual who hurled insults at the rabbi and finally uttered "Drop dead!". To which Rabbi Miller casually replied "God willing, that will be the last thing I ever do!".


  1. The return of the alphabet series!

    I have also noticed this trend of posthumous publishing. It seems that many have written more from the grave than their study!

    Another reason we have so much publishing nowadays is because there are so many young men learning in Collel.

    That rabbi is one funny rabbi!

  2. Keep 'em coming. I appreciate your analyzing of technology in the yeshivah world.

  3. Tzadikim are more proliferate in death than in life.

    I beg your pardon? You are obviously not a signatory on the jocular-non-proliferation treaty.


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