Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Practice of Hungarian Schnorrers in America in 1934, described by Yosef Moshe Krumer

 Yosef Moshe Krumer was on of the most curious characters of the Yishuv in Jerusalem, and published several pamphlets in 1934 titled הצופה לבית ישראל prophesying the coming catastrophes to European Jewry and admonishing the Jews for their sins. Rav Kook game him an interesting Haskamah, writing that the author deserves moral support for his intent of bringing the Jews to Judaism.

R. Kook's Haskamah

On pg 6, he describes the practice of the Meshulachim of Kollel Hungariah who traveled to America to collect money. 
"...ומנצלים את שמו הקדוש של החתם סופר. שדרים אלה כשנוסעים לאמירקה הם מקצצים את זקניהם.....ולפני נסיעתם חזרה לירושלים הם מגלים את זקניהם. וכמה הם מרמים את העולם במשך כל ימי חייהם. וכי מי נותן עוד צדקה היום? רק יהודיים עניים..... על מעשה הרמאות של אנשים ידועים מן הכוללים אפשר לכתוב ספרים שלמים"

"They take advantage of the holy name of the Chatam Sofer. These schnorrers, when they leave to America, they cut their beards.. and before their return trip to Jerusalem, they let it grow back. And how much they cheat other people throughout their lives, for who is left today that gives charity, but poor people?..... On the stories of trickery of well-known people of the Kollelim we can write many books...."

Special Prayers for Allied Jewish Soldiers who died in battle defending their homelands - צידה לדרך האמת 1919

In 1919 in New York, an interesting edition of Ma'avor Yabok, comprising readings, laws, and customs relating to the sick, death-bed, burial, and mourning rites was published by Yehuda Leib Gordon. It includes several specific prayers, a reflection of the times. 
On page 72 appears a prayers 
בעד נשמות צעירי ישראל בארופה ובאמריקה אשר נהרגו במלחמה האיומה משנת תרע"ד עד שנת תרע"ט ולא באו לקבורת ישראל
For the souls of the youth of Israel in Europe and America which were killed in the brutal war from the years 1914-1919 and never received a Jewish Burial

On Page 70 appears a prayer 
בעד הרוגי הפרעות משנת תרע"ז עד שנת תר"פ
For those killed in the Pogroms of 1917-1920

The author singles out the countries Ukraine, Poland and Romania and begs G-d to avenge their deaths and punish these "wild savages".

On page 74 appears a prayer for the souls that died of hunger and murder in Eastern Europe. This time, the author singles out Poland, Ukraine and Hungary in requesting that G-d avenge their deaths.


A Jewish Blessing for King Hussein Kamel of Egypt and for George V of United Kingdom

Many Jewish Prayerbooks, especially 19th century European Ones, contain a prayer for the welfare of the King, traditionally set during the opening of the ark during Shabbat prayers. There has been many a discussion about when exactly the German Jews stopped reciting this prayer, after Hitler's rise to power, with some synagogues apparently continuing this practice until Kristallnacht. I recently found such a prayer, with an interesting combination of names and in an unusual setting.

This prayer was printed on the page preceding the title page of the Mesillat Yesharim printed in Alexandria in 1915, not in a prayerbook of any sort. Apparently, the publisher of this book, wanted to go out of his way to show his support for the new King, King Hussein Kamel of Egypt. Alongside King Hussein is mentioned George V, King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India. King Hussein was appointed by the British as the newly created Sultanate of Egypt.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Moving description of Rabbi Aryeh Leib Horowitz-Lipkin (son of R. Yisrael Salanter) by his wife

Rabbi Yisrael Salanter had several children, including the mathematician Yom Tov Lipman Lipkin, and Rabbi Aryeh Leib Horowitz. R. Horowitz used the last name of his mother, presumably because his parents were not legally married, a common occurrence with Jews in Eastern Europe at this time in history.

Aryeh Leib Horowitz (died 1896) authored several works which he left in manuscript, and his widow took it upon herself to publish his works, under the title of Haye Aryeh. The volume below was published in Vilna in 1907, with a lengthy introduction by his widow, Sarah Elka Horowitz, herself a daughter of the author of Oneg Yom Tov, R. Rephael Yom Tov Lipman Heilpern. She ends the introduction with thanks to R. Chaim Ozer Grodzinski, who married the author's niece, a granddaughter of R. Yisrael Salanter.

The introduction is a fascinating read, and her love and respect for her husband screams out between the words, quite a feat and unfortunately rather unusual for someone who spent nearly her entire life with the author. She appears to be fluent in Rabbinic terms and life in the Rabbinic world. It is worth reading in it's entirety, but here are some parts in her introduction which stand out to me:

בן לאותו צדיק קדוש ישראל ששמו הולך מראש העולם ועד סופו
He was a son to that righteous man Yisrael (Salanter), whose name traveled from one end of the world to the other

לא אוכל לעבור הפעם בשתיקה הפעם מלספר לדור אחרון מעט מזער מפרשת גדולתו וצדקותו של הגאון המחבר ז"ל בתורה וביראה האף אמנם לא תכיל גם מחברת שלמה פרטי מעשיו הטובים כח תורתו וצדקתו גם ידעתי כי לא לי להעריך ערכו וגדלו אולם רק השקפה כללית קצרה הכוללת דמות דיוקנו של אישי הרב ז"ל ואך דברים אחדים בתור פתח דבר לספרו זה....
I can not pass this time in silence and withhold from speaking to later generations a minute fraction of the story of the greatness and righteousness of the genius, the author, in his Torah and fear of G-d. Even though an entire notebook won't contain the individual's great deeds and the power of his Torah and righteousness, and I also know that it is not befitting me to value his worth and greatness, but just a small portrait of my great husband, the Rabbi ob"m, just small things to serve as an opening to this book of his....

יגיעתו הגדולה ושקידתו הנפלאה בתו"הק לא יאומן כי יסופר
His toiling and diligence in studying the holy Torah are too incredible to be told

על הלומד תורה לשמה נמצאו כולן במלואן בהגאון המחבר
The qualities of learning Torah for Torah's sake were all complete in the Gaon, the author

ממדת הכעס והגאוה היה רחוק עד קצה האחרון
והתרחק מלשון הרע ומהמתכבד מקלון חברו כמטחוי קשת
From the character traits of anger and haughtiness he was far removed to the extreme
and he would run away from slander and from someone who would disrespect his friend..

The city of dwelling given for Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Tzalel Yachin הרב צבי הירש קאהן צלאליכין in his book Imre Tzvi

Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Tzalel Yachin was a Rabbi and Wine Merchant/Vintner who came to Palestine with the First Aliyah in 1900. His commentary on the Talmud was published posthumously in Jerusalem in 1922, titled Imre Tzvi.

Interestingly, under his name on the title page, where traditionally the city of origin of the author was stated, appears "Menachato Kavod Behar Hazetim Beyerushalayim" His honorable resting place on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem...

Apparently, his city of residence, Rehovot, was not respectable enough for a Rabbi in that period and the publishers felt that it would be more appealing to use his final resting place, the Mount of Olives on the title page.

The Neat and handsome Handwriting of Maran Chacham Ovadia Yosef ob"m

They say that your handwriting says a lot about you. I have seen numerous Rabbinic handwriting, but scarcely do you see such neat and handsome handwriting as that of Chacham Ovadia Yosef. Notice that the pages below are unlined. Below are some scans of a collection of manuscripts of Responsa of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef that I recently purchased. 

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Alert for a mis-described Auction Item at PBA Galleries 02/09/14

Lot 32 of an Auction of rare books being offered by PBA Galleries is being described as the 1516-17 edition from the editio princeps of the Rabbinic Bible - the Mikraot Gedolot -  printed by Daniel Bomberg. A close look at the photo will show that this is actually the later and much less valuable 1568 edition, printed in שכ"ח.

In all likelihood, this is the work of an unscrupulous dealer, who purposely offered this edition through a non-Judaica specializing Auction House, and is hoping for an easy prey, who will rely solely on the description to make his purchase. I find it most likely that the auction house was describing based on the information supplied to them by the consignor, rather than deliberately be misleading.

Hopefully, if we point out enough such items, we will discourage crooks from attempting to go up this route again.

UPDATE 2/5/14: PBA GALLERIES have withdrawn the lot immediately after they were notified. Thank you.

Hat-tip: Yosef Goldman

A Memorial to a long-forgotten Tragedy - The Flash Floods in Tiberias in 1934

In 1935 Eliyahu Shahor published a curious little book titled בקשות מהאדרא זוטא קדישא : על הקבר רשב"י בל"ג בעומר, לקוטים מזוהר הקדוש גם שירי בר יוחאי
containing special prayers to be said at the grave-site of Rashbi in Meron on Lag Baomer. Shahor describes himself as a native of Tiberias, an official antiquities dealer, Jerusalem, Mahane Yehuda, opposite Bate Horodna.

At end of book appears a memorial to the victims of the flood in Tiberias, which occurred in 1934. In recent history, probably nothing has devastated Tiberius as much as flash floods, particularly a freak storm and flood that struck the town in May 1934, ostensibly after the Holy Land's rainy season. Five thousand residents were made homeless by the two days of flooding which led to mud and rock slides that cascaded down on the city, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency report at the time.  More than 30 people died.(1)

A main street in Tiberius. The worst flood struck in 1934. This photo is dated
1938. (pictures are from the University of Dundee's Unlocking the Medicine
Chest, Torrance collection)

(1) here

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Stamp in a book of an Iraqi Jew in CAMP ADEN, A Refugee Camp for Yemenite Jews enroute to Israel, in 1947

I found in a copy of שבחי ר חיים וויטאל a fascinating stamp of Zacharia Yahoo Hayeem Hassan, General Merchant Street No. 4, Camp Aden

The stamp appears to be of an Iraqi Jewish Merchant who traveled across the British Empire to sell his wares and found himself in Camp Aden.

During the Second World War, Jews from Yemen flocked in large numbers into the Colony of Aden while en route to Palestine, where they were placed in refugee camps, primarily for their own safety. However conditions in the camps were difficult and in 1942 there was an outbreak of Typhus. The need for the camps was apparent when in December 1947, following the UN declaration for the creation of a Jewish state, there were serious riots in Aden Town, where at least 70 Jews were killed and much of the Jewish Quarter was burnt and looted. Until this point nearly all the refugees had been from Yemen and the Aden Protectorate, but now after the growing violence against Jews in the Town itself, most tried to leave. This was shown by the population figures which from a high of roughly 4,500 in 1947 less than 500 were left in 1963. "The 1947 incident found Government policies at odds with the whole Arab community, including those who manned the police forces".(1)

In 1948, due to the Arab-Israeli War immigration into Israel was very difficult, as the Red Sea and Suez Canal were closed by the Egyptian government. By 1949 and after the declaration of a cease fire, 12,000 Jews from Yemen, Aden and the Protectorate were gathered in camps, from where they were airlifted on average 300 a day to Israel, in Operation Magic Carpet.

(1) R. J. Gavin. Aden Under British Rule. p.323. & Wikipedia

What do you do when publishing partners part in middle of a printing? Yalkut Shimoni, Polonnoye, 1805

In 1805, in Polonnoye, a handsome edition of Yalkut Shimoni was published, by the publishers Yosef HaCohen and Shmuel Madpis. In the middle of the printing, after some copies already have been printed, the partnership dissolved and the decision was made to erase the name of the printed Shmuel Madpis from the emblem which appeared on the title page of every copy.

Here is a copy with the original emblem

And here are 2 copies with the words Shmuel Madpis crudely crossed out.