Artscroll Gedolim biographies

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    “the whole point with artcroll is that ashkenazi jews (and sefaradi jews) should be interested in learning about sefaradic gedolim (and ashkenazi gedolim)”

    The whole point is that Artscroll is a BUSINESS that is run by Ashkenazim.

    They know that books about Ashkenazim will sell. The formulaic Gedolim books sell. But books by/about sefardim don’t sell (as well). They did Rabbi Mansour and a haggadah because they would sell. Rabbi Mansour has some star power with his various internet outlets, and everyone appreciates the Hagaddah, the most widely published and commented sefer throughout history.

    Furthermore, as Ashkenazim from Eastern Europe, they will work with what they know. Nothing against Sefardim, Temanim, Mizrachim, Yekkes, etc.


    Yemenite Jews aren’t Sefardim. Why are the folks clamoring for Sephardic biographies not similarly demanding biographies of Teimanish gedolim???


    There is a difference between talking about someone whose brother became a reform rabbi and someone who as a teenager went to Yankee games and maybe went a little OTD.

    The former has no relevance to the Gadols life and how to get Chizuk from that and the latter shows how people can have struggles in life and come out stronger from them.


    btw, in my first post, i sarcastically wondered why artcroll never covered rav ben tzion abba shaul. i was wrong. they did in a book called “TORAH LEADERS A treasury of biographical sketches.” so i was wrong about that as well. Indeed, rav ezra attia, who i also mentioned, was covered in “NOBLE LIVES NOBLE DEEDS – VOLUME 3”

    Harav Yehuda Tzadka and Rav Yisroel Abuhasera were covered in volume one and Harav Rufuel Tolidano in volume 2.


    1. R’ Nosson Sherman, founder of Artscroll, has a daughter married to R’ David Sutton, a Sephardi. They also published his book, Aleppo: City of Scholars. This makes me think that he’s not so biased against Sephardim.

    2. Not considering how big a percentage the Sephardic Jews comprise of nowadays, it would still make a lot of sense for artscroll to bring to light Gedolim from all sects. No one mentioned that Gerrer chassidim make up X% of world Jewry, while Satmars make up Y% and Yekkes make up Z%. The reason is because a Gadol of any sect of Judiasm can inspire any other sect. Imagine if we could have a nice biography on the famous Chida, the Ben Ish Chai, Kaf Hachayim, Pri Chadash, Sdei Chemed, R’ Chaim Palacci (maybe he’s only useful for Kupat Ha’ir segulas), or R’ Ezra Attiah, the teacher to almost all recent Sephardic gedolim.

    3. Sushee incorrectly pointed out that there have been many more Ashkenazic gedolim in the last 250 years, and that this is reflected in the quantity of seforim published by and about them. Sushee never did his research properly. Sephardic Gedolim have churned out more seforim than possibly imaginable. The Chida, R’ Chaim Palacci, the Ben Ish Chai each wrote about 70-80 seforim. R’ Ovadia Yosef published about 50 seforim so far. This is definitely not a thorough list of all the seforim printed by Sephardim, though one must only take a peek at any tshuva from R’ Yosef to see the dozens of seforim that he quotes from Sephardic Achronim. Also one can find an inexhaustible amount seforim devoted to kabbalah, not necessarily making the NY Times best seller list.



    Artscroll is putting out a biography on Rav Ovadia Yosef.

    Discussion closed?


    I parted ways with artscroll early on. The first issue was a program they were running that to the man in the street, was an ugly market share ploy. They were offering their siddur in shul quantities at low or no cost, with the condition that they be flipped for the shuls other siddurim, delivered to A.S. with the covers removed. At the time I pinched myself and double checked that I had not misunderstood. The final straw was a comment by my rosh yeshiva about errors in punctuation in their tehillim. And the weight of an artscroll siddur is hazardous to your carpal tunnels.

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