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ETS (Electronic Text Services) | Responsa Project: the database for Jewish Studies by Bar-Ilan University

Responsa Project: the database for Jewish Studies by Bar-Ilan University

The Responsa Project version 5.0 is an electronic collection of Torah texts, compiled and made searchable by Bar-Ilan University. It includes the Hebrew Bible, various commentaries, and Medieval through twentieth century Responsa.

Location: The Responsa Project is set up for use at the Hebrew workstation located on the fourth floor of the Joseph Regenstein Library, RR4.

I. How to load the database: Click on the Program manager icon and then double click on Maximize. Then click on the Bar-Ilan CD Rom icon and select Maximize. Next, double click on the Responsa CD #5 icon in the Bar-Ilan Window. This will open the Responsa Project Window.

II. How to browse a text: Responsa allows you to browse the works of a writer before you start searching. You can read texts on the screen and even compare related texts. To browse a text, go first to New Database to see a complete list of available texts. Select the text that you want to browse and then the specific book or section of that text. Then select Display Text. A window will appear which displays the selected text. It may also show options in the menu bar at the top of the window for comparing related texts. From the Commentaries option, you may select the commentary that you would like to compare. It will appear in a window below the main text and automatically scrolls as you scroll through the main text so that the corresponding commentary is always displayed along with the text. You may also select Citations from the menu bar at the top of the window to view a list of sources where the text is cited. The citations will appear in a lower window from which you may view any source listed by clicking on that source.

III. How to formulate a query: Choose the desired database and then enter your search terms.

  1. Database selection: Select Database from the menu bar at the top of the screen. From the window, select a text to be searched by clicking on it. You may also un-select texts by clicking on them. When you have selected the desired text(s), click OK. The selected text will be named in the title bar at the top of the window. You may select up to 10 databases at one time.
  2. Search Terms: Select Search from the menu bar at the top of the screen. The Regular Search window will appear. In the box, enter the word or phrase for which you want to search. You may select Clear to erase any search terms in the box

IV. Specifying Search Terms: There are a number of symbols that are available for more complex searches within the Regular Search window. Either type desired symbol(s) with search term in box or select appropriate option from the Search window. (Example pages can be found in the Responsa Project CD-ROM User's Guide.)

Each of these symbols may also be indicated by selecting the desired option bar from the search window. First type your search term in the box. Then double click on your search term and select the desired option bar. The desired symbol will appear on your search term in the box. To clear your search term of all symbols, click on the Single Form option bar.

V. Other Search Options:

  1. Complex Searches:Within the Regular Search, Responsa allows you to specify multiple search components within specific distances and within sentences, paragraphs, and documents. For these more complex searches, see the examples on pp. 28-31.
  2. Easy Search: You may select the Easy Search option from the Regular Search window by clicking on the corresponding option bar. The Easy Search window does not support the symbols listed above in IV. However, it does allow you to specify variants and multiple components in your search term. For examples, see pp. 31-33.
VI. Executing a search: To perform your search, select either Immediate Search or Filtered Search.
  1. Immediate Search: Select Immediate Search to perform a complete search in one step with no option for filtering out unwanted word forms.
  2. Filtered Search: Select Filtered Search to view a list of possible forms before completing search. You will see the first stage of searching take place. Then the Selection and Filtering window will display the forms located. The search terms are listed on the right side of the window and the forms retrieved from those terms are listed on the left side of the window. To continue without filtering out any forms, select Search. To filter out unwanted forms, select the search term whose forms are to be filtered out. Then select the individual forms to be filtered out. Alternatively, if you want to filter out a majority of the terms, you may select the forms that you do want to retrieve and then select the Invert option. Select Search to continue your search with the unwanted forms filtered out.

VII. Displaying results:
  1. Working in one text: To scroll through results, use the Page Down or Page Up key. To change the amount of text displayed, select Display from the menu bar at the top of the window. Select either Long (3-4 lines), Brief (1 line), or Sources (list of sources with no textual excerpts). To specify a number of lines to be displayed, select Number of Lines, enter the desired number, and then click OK.
  2. Comparing Texts: To preserve results or text windows while performing another search, select File from the menu bar at the top of the window and then select Lock Window. To arrange several text windows on the screen, select Windows from the menu bar at the top of the main window. From the pull-down window, select Window Manager. Select the titles of the windows to be compared and then select either Vertical Tile to view the texts in parallel vertical windows or Horizontal Tile to view the texts in parallel horizontal windows.

VIII. How to print and download results: To print your results, select File from the menu bar at the top of the window. Select either Print Window to print the screen as you are viewing it, or Print All to print all of your search results. To download your results to a floppy disk, select File from the menu bar at the top of the window, select either Save All or Save Window. In the Save As box, type a filename for your results and select OK.

IX. Exiting Responsa: Select File from the menu bar at the top of the screen. From the pull-down menu select Exit.

For more help, select Help from the menu bar at the top of the window, refer to the manual (Responsa Project CD-ROM User's Guide) located next to the workstation in RR4, or contact Catherine Mardikes, ETS Coordinator and Bibliographer for Classics and the Ancient Near East, JRL 471, 708-2783,