QUERY: Request for advice/help in using Otzar HaHochma

Justin Jaron Lewis's picture


I would be grateful to hear from anyone who has experience using the Otzar HaHochma database, not to read specific books, but to get a sense of the frequency and distribution of specific phrases and expressions.

To give a specific example, right now I am trying to figure out if the expression עבודה לשמה is common or rare in Jewish religious literature, and whether it is more likely to occur in Hasidic books than others. Using the Bar-Ilan Responsa database I find this easy to do. I get 19 hits for עבודה לשמה (with the option of grammatical prefixes on עבודה). The program divides them into categories including ספרי חסידות and so I can instantly see that 4 of those hits are in Hasidic books. Looking a little closer I find that the 19 occurrences are from only 10 different books or authors, 3 of them Hasidic. 

The same search on Otzar HaHochma, however, gives me, if I am even understanding the results correctly, occurrences of עבודה לשמה in 1321 books (out of a total collection of 120,118). I'd now like to check how many of those books are Hasidic, but at this point my skill set for using this program is at its limits.

If anyone reading this has more skills with Otzar HaHochma and could help me out, I would appreciate if we could arrange a zoom call to talk me through it.

I would also be interested in knowing of other searchable databases of seforim that anyone has found helpful. (I have not found Sefaria useful for this purpose though maybe I am not using it right!)

Justin Jaron Lewis

University of Manitoba


(204) 474-8696




Categories: Query