[Post I’m reading: Rav Nir Ben Artzi Packs The House With Latest Predictions of Doom at Life in Israel]
About a year ago, I heard a prominent shul rabbi express disdain for the standard Torah articles published by yeshiva students on esoteric topics or analyses of the philosophy of legal minutiae. He would prefer they expend energy on new thinking, new ideas, and major issues.
I believe he would agree that writing these articles is valuable for the growth of the yeshiva students, as they develop their ideas more fully and learn to express them. And I think he would agree that minutiae, and legal theories, must be examined in the traditional ways, too, in order for one to understand how to rule on the more mainstream cases.
However, I agree with his critique when I contemplate my own possibilities for print publication. From time to time, people suggest publishing a book of derashos, or of shiurim. But – aside from the time investment – I am caught short by the question of why.
Whom would I be helping? Would it be for a resume? Would it just be for the sake of my own aggrandizement – look, that’s MY sefer, there on the shelf, with the faux-leather and gold-leaf and the articles with titles like בענין כשרות מילה בליל פסח מצרים? (Not to mention – doesn’t a blog with this many posts, not to mention WebShas and HaMakor and YUTorah audio shiurim and Koshertube video shiurim, count as some sort of publication?)
And then I walk into a seforim store and see how many seforim, written by people far more erudite and eloquent than I am, are ignored, gathering dust in piles. And I wonder: Would mine be any better, or deserve any better?
Certainly, there are sefarim I want to write, more along the lines of the “bigthink” writing that the above-referenced rabbi had in mind. I want to write a work on bioethics in which the medical, halachic and historical material are presented. I want to write a mussar sefer for Modern Orthodoxy. I want to complete the translation of the Aruch HaShulchan I started over a decade ago. And so on. And maybe one day I will.
But for now, whenever I think about cutting out some activity to devote time to writing, the answer that comes back is, “Why?”
Heed Kohelet 12:12 - There is no end to the production of books...