Librarian's Lobby
by Daniel D. Stuhlman
March 1997
Books of Jewish Quotations
Several readers asked me to explain the use of some library reference tools that might be helpful when you teach or prepare sermons. There are two cases when you want to find sources-- 1) When you have an idea or concept; 2) When you have the exact words.

When searching for the source of an idea, it is useful to work with a tool that arranges the entries by subjects. Examples are:

Baron, Joseph L. Treasury of Jewish Quotations. New York, 1965.
Rosten, Leo. Treasury of Jewish Quotations. Philadelphia and New York, 1972.

Both of these books have an alphabetic arrangement of subjects plus indexes. They cover the full history of Jewish literature starting with the Bible and continuing with Talmud and rabbinic sources, medieval and contemporary sources. Baron gives a number to each entry. Rosten gives more narrative and explanations for each section of quotes. In the entry for "Rabbi" Baron has 42 entries to Rosten's 13. Rosten tells the reader which are his favorites with a fleuron { § }. Baron makes no evaluations.

Both quote Solomon Schechter, "Unless you can play baseball, you'll never get to be rabbi in America." Baron gives a reference, Time, Oct. 15, 1951; Rosten gives just Schechter's name.

Both books are easy to use. If you want narrative information and explanations of terms, Rosten is the better source. If you want exact sources with hopes to find further information then Baron is the better source. To look up a subject or idea one may flip through the book or use the indexes in the back of the books.

The Wisdom of Israel, by Lewis Browne (New York, 1945), the arrangement is by book quoted. There are sections for Tanach, Appocrypha, Talmudic period, medieval periods, and modern periods. The book has no subject index. Quotes do not always have sources. This book is good for getting a broad overview of Jewish literature, but has limited value when searching for a precise word or idea.

Analytical Concordance to the Bible, by Robert Young (22nd American edition. Grand Rapids, MI, 1970) is based on the English Bible. It is a concordance of words and phrases. Included in each entry are the Hebrew and Greek words with explanations of some words. If you know an English word and you are not quite sure of the Hebrew, this is a useful tool. If the English word has more than one Hebrew equivalent in the Bible, each is listed. The word "Rabbi" does not appear in Tanach. Since this tool includes the so-called New Testament, the entry for "Rabbi" defines the word and gives seven places in Matthew and John where it appears.

To use this tool look up the word using alphabetical order. The words are defined and then the sources are listed in cannonial order (i.e. Genesis, Exodus ...Chronicles). The explanations are long enough for a small encyclopedia. For example the entries for Aaron and Moses are each over 550 words, while the entry for "morrow" gives just the translation "boqer". This concordance gives a portion of the verse that contains the words.

The concordance contains an index to Hebrew words. The words are in transliteration with Hebrew on the right. The possible English translations are underneath.

Hebrew concordances, such as Korkodantsiah hadash by Even Shoshan list all the Hebrew words from Tanach. To use them one must know the root of the word you are searching for. In another column I will deal with Hebrew concordances and specialized Hebrew dictionaries.

If you know a Hebrew word and want to find a quote there are three books to look at depending on the scope of coverage. Otser imrei avot, me-et Tsvi Leriman (Jerusalem,1959) covers the Talmud, midrashim, Tosephta, Zohar, and books of the Reshonim. Otsar divrei hakhamim ve-pitgamim, me-et Aharon Heiman (Tel Aviv, 1956) covers the Talmud, midrashim, Tosephta, Zohar, books of the Reshonim, Kuzari, Rambam, Rashi, Ba'al Turim and more. Both are similar in their typography and directions for use. One just looks up a word. The word is the first word a phrase quoted in the book. The reader is given the word in its context and the source. If you look up emet in either book, - Both give the source as Berachot 12a. Leriman has 12 entries for emet , while Heiman has 18 entries. Both books are equally usable.

The final book for this month is: Otsar ha-agadah, me-et David Gross. Gross uses another format. He has broad concepts as entries. His entry: emet ve-sheker is the equivalent emet of the in the previous two books. Gross gives a quote to put the word into context and the sources are in footnotes at the bottom of each page. Use this tool for checking broad concepts since this is almost the equivalent of the two English quotation books mentioned at the beginning. This three volume work has a smaller coverage, (it does not cover contemporary literature) but covers the rabbinic works in great detail. Gross tries to get every example of the concepts he chooses, while Rosten and Baron are making a judgement and picking the quotes they want in their books. The entry rav ve-talmid is equivalent to Baron's "Rabbi". Gross has almost six pages of quotes with over 264 examples.

If you know the words that you need then, search for them using one of the computer CD ROMs. Dafka and Bar Ilan publish CD ROMS containing the Tanach, Talmud and rabbinic literature. Bar Ilan's disk also includes teshuvah literature, while Davka's disk includes more of the Jewish classics. The HTC Library has both of these programs. They do require a certain amount of skill to learn how to use them to full advantage. One may search for words or phrases using boolean logic (a method of looking up information in data bases using operators and, or, & not), or look up particular pages. While the computer programs are expensive, they are less expensive than owning the printed copies of the actual works.

Daniel D. Stuhlman is president of Stuhlman Management Consultants, Chicago, IL, a firm helping organizations turn data and information into knowledge. They are looking for new clients and opportunities. Visit their web page to learn more about knowledge management. Previous issues of Librarian's Lobby can be found at: He can be reached via e-mail at:


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