Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Origin of the Mis-Attribution of Got fun Avrohom to Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev

The Prayer Got fun Avrohom is a prayer in Yiddish traditionally said on Motzae Shabbat for good luck and is attributed to R. Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev. The prayer predates him by centuries though and is found in early Ashkenaz Prayerbooks, for example in the 1723 Amsterdam ברכת המזון כמנהג אשכנז ופולין.

An early version of Got fun Avrohom in the Amsterdam 1723 Birkon
1727 Frankfurt Birkon also with Got fun Avrohom

The mis-attribution is a result of a book titled Shene Hameorot published in Kishinev in 1896. At the end of the book, the editor of the book writes how he found an old "trusted" manuscript in which it was written that this prayer was authored by R. Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev and he is certain that one who says the prayer 3 times prior to Havdalah is guaranteed to succeed. 

The editor apparently was not aware that the prayer was around for centuries, but his attribution to R. Levi Yitzchak stuck and from shortly after we see many other books attributing to him the prayer as well. Despite the error, the prayer has since been published in numerous Prayerbooks and Zemirot vols with the error in attribution as well. 

Title Page of Shene Hameorot, 1896 Kishinev

At end of book where the prayer is brought down

Below is Yad Shalom printed in 1910 in Piotrikov, quoting the Shene Hameorot and spreading the mis-attribution

An Entry in a Journal Book for the date of founding of state of Israel ה אייר תש"ח

title page of the Daily Planner/Journal from 1948
The handwritten entry in the Journal

Discovered in an old diary/daily planner from the year 1948 (תש"ח) is a fascinating hand-written entry, by a person who apparently did not view the founding of the Zionist State too favorably. In a play on words on the words of the Bible in Kings I chapter 6, the entry reads:
ויהי בשמונה שנה ושבע מאות שנה וחמשת אלפי שנה לבריאת העולם. בשנה ההיא בחדש זיו הוא החדש השני למלך השטן על נדחי ישראל ויבן הבית לכבודו, והבית אשר בנה המלך בן גוריון לכבודו אגורה שויו והרס אחריתו וקלון ובוז נפלתו .ואולם הכנסת על פני היכל הבית מחריב אומה יעודו על פני רחב הבית מעקר דת תורה על פני הבית

For comparison, here is the text from Kings I: ויהי בשמונים שנה וארבע מאות שנה לצאת בני ישראל מארץ מצרים בשנה הרביעית בחדש זו הוא החדש השני למלך שלמה על ישראל ויבן הבית ליהוה ב והבית אשר בנה המלך שלמה ליהוה ששים אמה ארכו ועשרים רחבו ושלשים אמה קומתו ג והאולם על פני היכל הבית עשרים אמה ארכו על פני רחב הבית עשר באמה רחבו על פני הבית

hat-tip:Menachem Silber

Pages from the 1523 Bomberg Edition of the Alfassi being used as a binding

In the binding of a copy of Berit Avot by Rabbi Avraham Coriat, published in Livorno in 1862 by Elijah ben Amozag, I found 2 pages from the 1523 Bomberg Edition of the Alfassi being used as backing for the covers.
The Alfassi survived centuries only to end up buried in a binding.
The 2 leaves are from Masechet Ketuvot.

Steimatzky סטימצקי‎, the oldest and largest bookstore chain in Israel sold at a $40,000,000 loss

Steimatzky סטימצקי, is the oldest and largest bookstore chain in Israel, founded by Yechezkel Steimatzky in 1925. Currently, the chain has over 160 stores throughout Israel. It is estimated that the company holds a 40% share in the Israeli book retailing market and employs over 700 people worldwide.

Perhaps a reflection of the current issues that bookstores worldwide are facing, Steimatzky recently sold after incurring heavy losses in the last few years. The chain was purchased only several years ago by markstone capital at $55 million, it currently is estimated to have debt amassing to over $90 million. The new purchasers are Yafit Greenberg and her investment group G. Yafit.

Steimatzky has gotten itself in to a burden of troubles recently, with several of the largest publishers in Israel withholding stock from the chain after their balances went unpaid. There were accusations hurled at it's president Iris Barel of misuse of funds and extravagant salaries as well.

It remains to be seen if Steimatzky will be able to survive the times and become profitable again.