Wednesday, October 16, 2013

On the Great Wealth of the Shapira Brothers, owners of the Slavita Hasidic Printing Press

Yosef Perl in his brilliant satirical work מגלה טמירין Revealer of Secrets, notes at the end of his introduction the great wealth of the Shapira Brothers, owners of the Slavita Printing Press. The Slavita press was founded by R. Moshe Shapira, son of Rabbi Phinehas of Korets. Later R. Moshe's two sons, Shmuel Abba and Pinchas, took over the administration of the press. The press printed only religious works and legend has it that they dipped the printing presses in a Mikvah before putting them to use.

title page of the first edition of מגלה טמירין

Mention of the Slavita Press starts on the 4th line

Perl in attempting to show how the printing of holy books brought great wealth to it's publishers brings the Slavita Press as an example stating "with G-d's help they became extremely wealthy". On the flip side, the printers of Haskalah materials were forced out of business, at a great monetary loss, such as the printers in צידון. צידון has been suggested to be Tarnopol, Perl's hometown, see below the article by Yonatan Meir in Tabitz 2008, apge 564, footnote 34 discussing this. Perl himself printed a Haskalah orientated Calendar in 1814.

Though a satirical work, the book was intended (and succeeded for a while) to be taken literary by the Hasidim and the above statements were undoubtedly based in reality.

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