Librarian's Lobby
by Daniel D. Stuhlman
October 1999

A Visit with Rabbi Harold P. Smith

Recent gifts

A library user walked into the reading room saw all the boxes of books that we are processing and asked if we had an advertisement encouraging people to donate books to the Library. We don't. But from the number of gifts we have received in the past four months it certainly seems so. In the past month we received books that belonged to the late Rabbi Menachim M. Goodman. His collection included Judaica (including over 40 sermon books) and non-Judaica. Sermon books that duplicated what the Library owned were given to the CRC collection. Hazzan Abraham Mendelsberg donated hazzanut materials including sheet music, music books and audio records. His donation included music written by the masters of hazzanut, Pierre Pinchik, Max Janowski, and Abraham Moshe Bernstein. Books also came from the collections of the late Rabbis Albert Ellison and L. Feinberg.

Rabbi Berish Cardash and I visited the home of Rabbi Harold P. Smith1, former vice-president of HTC. He also served terms as president of the CRC and CBR. Rabbi Smith is donating his books to the Library. After showing us his books, he brought us to his dining room. Behind a room divider and under a cover there was a file cabinet with his all of speeches and sermons stored on 4" x 6" hand-written note cards. He said that while he can't give us the cabinet now, he wrote into his will that the file cabinet and its contents will go to the HTC Library. He gave samples of the sermons and permission to quote parts. My selections are in the next part of this column.

Selections from the Speeches of Rabbi Harold P. Smith
[Quoted with Rabbi Smith's permission]

Delivered at the Annual Banquet of Hebrew Theological College 1980

[Rabbi Smith talks about a visit with the editorial staff of the Chicago Tribune. An editor asked] "Rabbi Smith, it is apparent from our conversations that you have broad perspectives on many subjects. Why are all the articles you submit to us only on the subject of Israel?" ... I told my friends at the Tribune that in my judgment the very existence of Israel is greatly endangered by the menacing intentions of the hostile Arab countries ... I have to write the same article in different words with different approaches with the hope that some of your people will start listening.

Delivered to the faculty some time in the early 1970's

... " Ki-'esh 'ehad uba-lev 'ehad [As one voice and one heart]"; Rashi -- and that is the only way to build a Torah institution ....

Delivered before Yizkor Shemini Atzeret in the late 1960's 2

...which reminds us that Israel still has many problems, of which the hostility of her surrounding neighbors is one, albeit a very serious one. Lack of stability in several of the Arab states and Nasser's unconcealed ambitions appear to make [a] solution to this problem highly unlikely in the near future. The costs of [Israeli] defense are enormous. Israel can not relax its vigilance even for a moment.

There is the problem with water. The growing population and continued expansion of agriculture are draining Israel's fresh water supplies...

[Rabbi Smith continues with the need to invest in Israel Bonds.]

Recent articles

The current issue (October 1999 v. 32:8) of The Jewish Observer (pages 17-20) has an article, "The secular enforceability of a Beis Din judgment, " by Shlomo Chaim Resnicoff.3 He deals with the questions of, " Why would the American courts support the beis din process?; and Wouldn't enforcement of a rabbinic arbitration agreement violate some constitutional principle regarding the supposed separation of church from state?" These are no light matters. Under American law the Beis Din is under the category of arbitration. Two parties agree to have a third party listen to their case and decide it. The arbitration agreement must in writing and signed by all relevant parties. For "public policy" reasons courts in different locations may not enforce the same agreements that work in other locations. Child support or child custody are types of cases that are not uniformly enforceable.

Hazzan Macy Nulman, an expert in Tefilah and Jewish music, writes in Journal of Jewish Music and Liturgy ("The Greetings of the Jewish People." v. 21, 1998-1999 pages 6-19) about Jewish greetings. The article tells about the history of greetings and the differ-ences between Askenazic, Sephardic, and Hasidic exchanges. The greeting of shalom dates back to Biblical times. Several pages deal with Rosh Hashana greetings. The article concludes with the lack greetings on Tisha b'Av and to mourners.

1. Rabbi Smith wrote a book for children, A Treasure Hunt in Judaism, published by Hebrew Publishing Company in 1942 with a revision in 1950. This book explains Jewish customs and ceremonies for teenagers. Rabbi Smith retired from the Yeshiva in the early 1980's because of health reasons. He told me that he went to Switzerland for three years for treatments and then returned to Chicago. He showed us his entry in Who's Who. He had so many activities and honors, that his entry was three times the size as most others.

2. Rabbi Smith was the Rabbi at Agudath Achim of South Shore from 1949-1969. The Shabbat and holiday sermons were delivered there. Many of his books were lost when the synagogue closed. A chair in practical rabbinics was named in his honor at HTC. The plaque is hanging in his hallway. A rabbi told me that he remembers Rabbi Smith's homiletics class. Rabbi Smith's style was to write his sermons on 4 x 6 cards and spread the cards out on the lectern. When a card was completed he moved a new one on the surface. Rabbi Smith was known for his friendly speaking style. He had several favorite topics-- Israel, Jewish Education, Klal Yisrael, and Unity of Am Yisrael.

3. Professor Resnicoff is a musmach and a professor of law at DePaul University School of Law in Chicago.

4. Macy Nulman is the former director of the School of Jewish Music, an affiliate of Yeshiva University. Once, when passing through Chicago he visited our Library.

Daniel D. Stuhlman is president of Stuhlman Management Consultants, Chicago, IL, a firm helping organizations turn data and information into knowledge. We are looking for new clients and opportunities. Visit our web site to learn more about knowledge management and what our firm can do for you. Previous issues of Librarian's Lobby can be found at:

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 © 2006 by Daniel D. Stuhlman. All rights reserved.
Last revised May 25, 2006