Data entry has been going on for more than thirty years. Initially the system ran in batch mode on an IBM mainframe. Later, from 1979, it
usable in a time-sharing mode from terminals on the Bar-Ilan campus, as well
as from a growing number of terminals off-campus. At that time this was no small technological feat.
following the development of the CD-ROM, the immense database was
compressed into a single compact disk, and presently the system can be installed on almost any personal computer.
Version 1.0 of the new system was
completed in late 1992, and new versions have been issued more-or-less annually,
with the latest version, 20+, issued in April 2012. Each version includes new texts
the Responsa databases and improvements in the retrieval software.
In 2007, the Responsa Project was awarded the
prestigious Israel Prize for Torah Literature.
Release 20+ (2012)
Today the Responsa Project DVD contains more than 100,000 Responsa and more than
520,000 hypertext links between the databases, totalling more than 280 million words. The program uses an advanced,
user-friendly Windows interface, with powerful cross-referencing and search
options. Extensive biographical data on the authors of Responsa texts have been
added as well, along with a unique context-sensitive dictionary of
Many new and important books of Responsa and other Judaic texts have
been included in the most recent versions of the Responsa DVD. Among the Responsa Databases includes:
Bible and Bible Commentaries
Mishnah and Mishnah Commentaries
Bavli and Commentaries
Halacha and Minhagim
Mussar and Jewish Thought
Rambam and Commentaries (including
186 Commentaries - Friedberg ed.)
Tur and Beit Yosef
Shulchan Aruch and Commentaries
Sifrei Kelalim and Seder Ha-Dorot
For a more detailed list of the Responsa Databases and their contents see Contents
of Responsa Databases
Version 20+ includes new volumes of responsa; a significant
expansion in the Bible Commentaries including R. Obadyah of Bertinoro, R. Samson
Raphael Hirsch, Riva, Rosh, Tosafot and more; a significant expansion in the Commentaries on the Mishnah and Talmud
including Tiferet Yisrael, Rabbenu Chananel, Rabbenu Gershom, Shittat Ha-Kadmonim and more; the addition of the
part of the Birkei Yosef and Darkhei Moshe Ha-Katzar commentary on the Tur; 186
Rambam commentaries (Friedberg ed.), as well as
28 searchable volumes of the Talmudic Encyclopedia, a subject index to various Responsa and Poskim, and an index to articles about halachah.
In addition, a set of Encyclopedias were added – Biographies of Talmudic rabbis
and information about their teachers and disciples; Encyclopedia of Talmudical
concepts – 5000 entries of Talmudic foundations, rules, and concepts, explained
in a clear and easy style; Encyclopedia of Holiday Customs contains definitions
and brief descriptions of numerous customs related to Jewish holidays
About the Directors
The Responsa Project was
conceived by Professor
Aviezri Fraenkel, who founded it in 1963, when he formulated its aims and
He directed the Project until 1974.
Professor Yaacov Choueka, joined in 1966, and served as the Project's director from 1974
to 1986. (Professor Nachum Dershowitz directed the project during 1974-1975,
when Choueka was on sabbatical.)
The directors worked together with a large staff of dedicated Torah
scholars, researchers and assistants who specialized in computer science,
Judaic studies, and Hebrew computational linguistics.
Professor. Uri Schild
was the director of the project from 1990 to 1997. During his 1995-1996
sabbatical, the project was headed by
Professor Amihood Amir, Professor Shmuel
Tomi Klein was the director in 1997/1998.
For the past few years, the Project has been headed by
Rabbi Yaacov Weinberger, together with a small team of scholars and software
engineers. In 1991, an Academic Advisory Committee was appointed, whose
responsibilities were to recommend and oversee all the policies of the Project,
both in the contents of the Project and in decisions regarding which books and
publications will be used. In 1997,
Professor Yaakov Spiegel, from the Talmud
department in Bar Ilan University, was appointed to head this committee.
Other advisory members are Professor
Aviezri Fraenkel and Professor Leib Moskovitz.
Professor Hoz is the head of the Responsa
project and Rabbi Yaakov Weinberger is the manager.
Professor Yaakov Spiegel
is the head of the Academic Advisory Board and
Dr. Yonatan Schler is the head of
the Technical Advisory Board.