Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Behind The Drawings: The Making Of Pe’er Halachah

Yisrael Davidowitz

As Chanukah approaches, people tend to brush up on their knowledge of the pertinent halachos of hadlakas neiros. But some halachos can be confusing, even to the point of being incomprehensible. The solution? Pe’er Halachah, Rav Dovid Hirsch’s beautiful work on Mishnah Berurah. Through clear, concise graphics that highlight his understanding of the finest distinctions of halachah, Rav Hirsch makes even the most difficult sections of Mishnah Berurah accessible to all. The man, the mission, and his methods.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

I remember Rav Dovid Hirsch from our days together in yeshivah. The sugya was Shnayim Ochazim B’Tallis (at the beginning of Bava Metzia), and we were all struggling with the Gemara and the intricate commentaries of the Rishonim and Acharonim. Sometimes the basic facts of the case were not entirely clear from the text — how much of the tallis each litigant was grasping, how much they would be awarded by beis din, and why. But Dovid had it all worked out — in drawings. The drawings were not only charming, they helped to resolve our doubts and clarify the sugya.

We were the first to benefit from his diligent doodling. Before many years were to pass, thousands of others would join us. It was to become his unique path in avodas Hashem, and an expression of the meticulousness in mitzvah performance that has become the signature of our generation.

As Rav Hirsch describes it in his introduction to Pe’er Halachah Al Arba’as HaMinim, the impetus for his work arose from a desire to clarify halachos.

“When I was learning Perek Lulav HaGazul and Hilchos Arba’as HaMinim , without even thinking about it, I would draw little pictures for myself in the margins of the page to help me remember ... I wanted to see with my own eyes what exactly was the meaning of murkav al shneihem of a hadas according to the Rosh? What was the exact location of the chotem of an esrog, according to the Rif, Rosh, and Rambam, respectively? Where is the tiyomes of the lulav, according to the Shulchan Aruch and the Rema, respectively? The little drawings accumulated, until it reached the point where my friends and rebbeim encouraged me to refine and complete them and gather them into a sefer for the benefit of everyone learning those sugyos, as it says in the Gemara (Shabbos 104a): “Make simanim for the Torah, and acquire it.” 

 

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
Evolution vs. Revolution
Shoshana Friedman I call it the “what happened to my magazine?” response
Up, Up, and Away
Rabbi Moshe Grylak What a fraught subject Eretz Yisrael is, to this day
Where Do You Come From?
Yonoson Rosenblum Could they be IDF officers with no Jewish knowledge?
Heaven Help Us
Eytan Kobre Writing about anti-Semitism should rouse, not soothe
Work/Life Solutions with Chedva Kleinhandler
Moe Mernick “Failures are our compass to success”
An Un-Scientific Survey
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Are Jerusalemites unfriendly? Not necessarily
Out of Anger
Jacob L. Freedman How Angry Lawyer was finally able to calm down
5 Things You Didn’t Know about…Yitzy Bald
Riki Goldstein He composed his first melody at eight years old
When the Floodgates of Song Open, You’re Never Too Old
Riki Goldstein Chazzan Pinchas Wolf was unknown until three years ago
Who Helped Advance These Popular Entertainers?
Riki Goldstein Unsung deeds that boosted performers into the limelight
Your Task? Ask
Faigy Peritzman A tangible legacy I want to pass on to my children
Are You There?
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Emotional withdrawal makes others feel lonely, abandoned
A Peace of a Whole
Rebbetzin Debbie Greenblatt Love shalom more than you love being right
Seminary Applications
Rabbi Zecharya Greenwald, as told to Ariella Schiller It’s just as hard for seminaries to reject you