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    Blessings on books – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Do Jewish books get a blessing before they are printed?

    A. Many books open with the commendation or blessing of a great scholar or scholars.

    In the case of rabbinic books this kind of commendation is called a Haskamah, an approval or approbation.

    In 16th century Italy the rabbis meeting at Ferrera decided that Hebrew books had to be approved by three rabbis and a layman prior to publication, with the aim of preventing offensive material being published and causing dissension in the community.

    Modern-day rabbinic writings often carry the Haskamah of one or more leading authorities as testimony to the religiosity and expertise of the author.

    Not all Jewish books bear a Haskamah but the same purpose is often served by a book launching in which a leading personality commends the book to the public.

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