Monday, January 20, 2014

The Interlinear Hebrew-Yiddish school Pentateuch by Magil and his censoring of parts of the Bible

Magil's ליניען סקול חומש, Interlinear Hebrew-Yiddish school Pentateuch was one of the best selling books of his time, and was used and intended to be used by numerous Hebrew Schools in the early 20th century in the instruction of the Bible to students.
Interestingly, Magil removed the translations of selected portions of the Bible text which he determined were not suitable for children. One such portion, is the story of Yehuda and Tamar, which appear as such in the book:
the censored page, with no translation
The preceding page, uncensored

The Tragedy that occured in Kolomyia קולומיאה during Neilah of Yom Kippur in 1853

In 1914 זכרון לראשונים Zichron Larishonim was published, being a history of the Jews in the city of Kolomyia, Western Ukraine and the Takanot of the Hevra Kadisha in the town.

In the book, the author Chaim Tzvi Teomim relates a fascinating event that occurred in the town in 1853.
During the Neilah Prayers on Yom Kippur, some reckless people shouted Fire! Fire! in the ladies section of the packed synagogue, in an attempt to cause confusion and enable them to steal the womens' jewelry. The women rushed out of the synagogue and in the process 33 women and 2 children were trampled to death. An enactment was then made that the women shall no longer wear their jewelry on Yom Kippur.

On the custom of writing the list of Prenumeranten (pre-subscribers) in Hebrew Books

From the 18th century and on, many Hebrew Books can be found with Prenumeranten. It refers to people who ordered copies of a book before its publication. These pre-subscribers enjoyed the privilege of seeing their names in print in the list of prenumeranten included in the book. In Paks in 1903, a commentary on the Torah was published titled Zehav Mishkala זהב משקלה by Avraham Yehuda Klein, which was intended to be the first of 5 volumes.

Following the title page is a request for the readers to pre-subscribe to the future volumes, stating יש תועלת גדולה לנשמתו מי ששמו נדפס בספרים הקדושים
"There is a great benefit to the soul of one whose name appears in print in Holy Books"

תועלת גדולה לנשמתו מי ששמו נדפס בספרים הקדושים

Unfortunately, that doesn't appear to have been enough to entice supporters, as no other volume was published.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Publication of a "Kosher" Jewish Childrens book: My First Book of Kosher Animals

Bsdpublishers have just released their newest Jewish Childrens book, titled My First Book of Kosher Animals.

From the back cover: Early impressions are deep and lasting. What children see and hear contributes to their personalities and leaves an imprint of their souls. My First Book of Kosher Animals depicts exclusively kosher animals, preserving and nurturing purity of the child. (see Kav Hayoshor ch. 2).

The need for such a book arises from one of the Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, The Hebrew version, which is a direct translation of the Yiddish, can be found in Hisva’aduyos 5744, Vol. 2, pp. 487, 488, 489, 490. An English adaptation can be read in English online here. Here is an excerpt from the Sichah of the Rebbe, "Because what one sees leaves lasting impressions, especially on young children, the toys that a child plays with, and the pictures that he looks at, should not be of impure animals."

An excellent explanation of the Chabad view on this matter, can be found on asimplejew.

Are we over-censoring our children, or is our duty to protect them to any extent possible?

After the long pause we had following the marketing of the Kosher Tissue Paper, I can already sense an entire new horizon to the ever-growing Kashruth Certification Industry.

Hat-tip: Amram Elbaz

A 19th Century Hebrew Manuscript Prayer: Please G-d, May my wife not give birth on the Sabbath

I found recently an interesting handwritten prayer, seems to be c1860, perhaps from Germany. It is a lengthy prayer that a husband recites asking G-d that his wife have an easy birth and the child should be born healthy. Between the various requests for the health of the expecting woman, is written
 ושלא תלד אשתי בשבת שלא יצטרכו לחלל שבת חס ושלום בשבילה
"That my wife shall not give birth on the Sabbath, so that we shall not need to transgress the Shabbat for her"

The source for this custom is the Sefer Hasidim, siman 773 which states: מי שאשתו מעוברת והגיע חודש התשיעי, יתפלל שלא תלד בשבת,  שלא יחללו שבת. וכן על בתו וכלתו. ואחד היה מתפלל במנחה בערב  שבת שלא תפול דליקה
 בשבת, ושלא תלדנה הנשים בשבת״

The first mention I found of a printed version of such a prayer, appears in the Kitzur Shelah and a bit later in a different version appeared in the rather rare Kabbalistic Prayerbook, published by R.Aryeh Leib b. Mordecai Epstein (1705–1775) in 1765.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Is Artscroll instructing people to desecrate Jewish Books? "Tear off the covers of your chumashim"

Here is a recent offer from Artscroll Publications from their website:

"HERE’S HOW IT WORKS: You send us the front covers (only) of your shul’s worn Hebrew-English Chumashim—from any publisher—and we’ll send you the same number of pristine, brand-new ArtScroll editions (listed above) at 46% OFF the list price!"

To qualify for this offer, Artscroll requests that you tear off the front cover only of your Synagogues' Chumashim, from publishers such as Soncino, Koren, JPS etc and mail them to Artscroll. Seems to be that Artscroll is requesting you desecrate your current Chumashim and in the process render them useless and ensuring no one can ever put them to use again.

Several requests for a response from Artscroll have so far went unanswered.

Hat-tip: S. Appel

Correspondence between Rabbi Ephraim Greenblatt זצ"ל, and his publishers

click on images to enlarge

click on images to enlarge

click on images to enlarge

This passed week, we received the news of the passing of Rabbi Ephraim Greenblatt, זצ"ל, author of Rivevot Ephraim and a talmid muvhak of Harav Moshe Feinstein, זצ"ל, who passed away on Thursday evening at the age of 81. A brilliant Posek, he authored 9 volumes of Responsa, titled רבבות אפרים.

Above are images of correspondence R. Greenblatt had with his publisher, Balshan regarding the publishing of his Responsa. The letters were written by Rabbi Sholom Ber Pewzner of Balshan Printing house, and his partner and discuss the pricing for the first volumes of his work. The letters shed light on to some of the details behind the scenes that need to take place for such a monumental work to be published.

In the third letter, the publishers write that they attached $1000 as an advance for the book. I know of no other case where Rabbis were given advances for books such as this. The publishers bought out the rights of the book and published at their own cost and risk. They bemoan the rise of printing costs and excuse themselves for not being able to pay more for "Important Sefer".

Friday, January 3, 2014

2 Books written by Rabbis in an old age home in the Lower East Side: Agudas Anshei Mamod Ubeis Vead Lachachomim

 Chidushe Torah by Rabbi Meir Zachman

 זעירא דחברייא

I recently came across 2 books, written by authors who were members and residing in the Agudas Anshei Mamod Ubeis Vead Lachachomim, at 283 East Broadway, on the Lower East Side of New York, an old age home, for elderly Rabbis. The book: The synagogues of New York's Lower East Side : a retrospective and contemporary view by Gerard R Wolfe contains a nice description about the history of the Agudas Anshe Mamod, with several photos. Here is a scan from the book:

The 2 books I found, was Chidushe Torah by Rabbi Meir Zachman, printed in Munkatch in 1929 and the second was Vayosef Avraham by Rabbi Avraham Yekutiel Sukelik, published in Warsaw in 1938. Both authors describe themselves as זעירא דחברייא "the youngest/smallest of the society".

Vayosef Avraham by Rabbi Avraham Yekutiel Sukelik

 זעירא דחברייא
hat-tip: Elimelech Polinsky

An Illustration of a German Jew wearing Tefillin, published in Leitfaden fur den Religions-Unterricht in der israelitischen Schule by Nathan Bamberger

Here is an interesting illustration of a German Jew wearing his Tefillin, published in Leitfaden für den Religions-Unterricht in der israelitischen Schule, a guide for Religious Instruction in Jewish Schools by Nathan Bamberger, published in 1913.