Useless. Egocentric. Negligible. These are the words David Assaf, a professor of Jewish history at Tel Aviv University, used to describe a condition called “grapho-mania,” or excessive writing. The subject was at the center of a talk delivered March 28 called “Hasidic Grapho-Mania: The Strange Case of Rabbi Eliezer Shlomo Schick of Brooklyn-Yavne’el.” The program was part of a series of spring events hosted by the Institute for Israel & Jewish Studies at Columbia University.
“Rabbi Schick’s goal is to promote himself and his teachings,” said Assaf, speaking in a seminar room in Morningside Heights, about a religious figure who could best be described as a one-man publishing house. Assaf wagered that no other person in the history of Hasidism has ever published so much.
Just how prolific is he? Assaf described looking in the catalog of the National Library of Israel and finding 954 titles by Schick ― and these were just the ones in Hebrew.