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Bidding Information
Lot #    16598
Auction End Date    12/5/2006 12:32:00 PM (mm/dd/yyyy)
Title Information
Title (English)    Ethics of the Fathers
Title (Hebrew)    די לעהרען פון די פאטערס (פרקי אבות)
Author    [Avot - First Ed.] Yehoash Solomon Bloomgarden
City    New York
Publisher    Yehoash
Publication Date    1912
Collection Information
Independent Item    This listing is an independent item not part of any collection
Description Information
   First edition. IX, [1], 113 pp., 121:93 mm., nice margins, marbled end papers, on heavy stock, each page within frame. A very good copy bound in the original full leather boards, rubbed.
   Pirke Avot in Yiddish translated by Yehoash. Avot became a text for recital in the synagogue, it has been reproduced and reprinted more often than any other talmudic work. It is included in editions of the traditional prayer book. Since it furnishes teachings of what the Jewish sages considered fundamental aspects of life, and because these teachings were expressed in polished epigrams, Avot has been the best known talmudic treatise among non-Jews. It has been translated into Latin, English, French, German, Italian - probably into every language the prayer book has been translated into.

Yehoash Solomon Bloomgarden, (Yehoash, pseudonym; 1872–1927), Yiddish poet and Bible translator. Yehoash was born in Vierzbolavo, Lithuania, and as a boy he came under influences of both yeshivah and Haskalah. At the age of 17 he took his first Hebrew poems to Warsaw, where I.L. Peretz encouraged him to continue writing Hebrew and Yiddish lyrics. The following year Yehoash emigrated to the U.S. He made no headway either as a Hebrew poet or in various callings - bookkeeping, tailoring, peddling, and Hebrew teaching. For a decade he faced severe privations until he contracted tuberculosis and went to the Denver Sanatorium for Consumptives in 1900 to recuperate. There he remained for almost ten years, maturing as a Yiddish poet, publishing his poems, ballads, fables, and translations in leading dailies, periodicals, and literary almanacs.

In his early 30s, he undertook to translate the Bible into a modern Yiddish which would combine scholarly precision with simple idiomatic language, a task to which he devoted the rest of his life. While at work on this translation, he prepared, together with Charles D. Spivak, his physician and the co-founder of the sanatorium, a Yiddish dictionary, first published in 1911, which defined about 4,000 Hebrew and Aramaic words used in Yiddish and which went through many editions as a basic reference work. Returning to New York in 1909, Yehoash had to struggle to make a living, even though his fame was worldwide and Yiddish periodicals in many lands gladly published his contributions. In January, 1914, he left for Erez Israel and settled in Rehovot. He mastered classical Arabic and translated portions of the Koran and Arabian tales into Yiddish. When the Ottoman Empire entered the war he returned to New York and published the story of his experiences in three volumes of travel sketches, Fun New York biz Rekhovot un Tsurik ("From New York to Rehovot and Back," 1917–18), which were translated into English by Isaac Goldberg as The Feet of the Messenger (1923). His sojourn in Erez Israel as well as his knowledge of Arabic proved useful to him in his work on the translation of the Bible. Although he had published a Yiddish rendering of several biblical books including Isaiah and Job in 1910, he realized the inadequacy of this initial attempt and began anew. His more adequate rendering, starting with Genesis, appeared in installments in the New York Yiddish daily The Day from 1922. At the time of his death only the Pentateuch translation had been published, but the rest of the biblical books were printed from his manuscripts. His version was hailed as a contribution of national significance and perhaps the greatest masterpiece in the Yiddish language. It sought to be absolutely faithful to the original in content and in form. The translator drew upon idiomatic treasures of various Yiddish dialects, upon the Khumesh-Taytsh ("Yiddish translation of Pentateuch"), vocabulary used by melammedim ("teachers") in Ashkenazi schools for many generations, and upon expressions of the Ze'enah u-Re'enah, with its archaic patina. Yehoash was thus able to retain the rhythm and flavor of the Hebrew to a larger extent than preceding Bible translators. The two-volume edition, with parallel Hebrew and Yiddish texts, distributed in tens of thousands of copies, became a standard work for Yiddish-speaking homes throughout the world. In 1949, Mordecai Kosover edited Yehoash's notes to the Bible, which afforded an insight into the translator's many years of wrestling with the sacred text.

Yehoash, who also translated Longfellow's Hiawatha and the Rubiyat of Omar Khayyam into Yiddish, was in his own poetry far ahead of his time. When the first edition of his Gezamelte Lider ("Collected Poems") appeared in 1907, he was widely hailed as a first-rank artist. His lyrics were reprinted in anthologies and school texts, and were translated into many languages. An English translation, Poems of Yehoash, by Isidore Goldstick, appeared in 1952, and a Hebrew version (1957) was a cooperative venture by a number of significant Hebrew writers, including Jacob Fichmann and Dov Sadan. Yehoash's two later lyric volumes (1919 and 1921) linked him with Inzikhism, the modernist trend of introspection in post-World War I Yiddish poetry, the leaders of which acclaimed him as their forerunner. Yehoash was the first pure nature poet in Yiddish; he gave expression to his awareness of a divine force permeating the universe. He revivified in verse biblical and post-biblical legends, tales from medieval Jewish chronicles, and hasidic lore, versified fables from the Talmud, Aesop, La Fontaine, and Lessing, and created new fables of his own. He wrote romantic, ghostly ballads, but he also felt the spell of Peretz, his lifelong friend, and strove for classical purity and perfection in rhythm and rhyme.

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Listing Classification
20th Century:    Checked
America-South America:    Checked
Other:    Avot
First Editions:    Checked
Language:    Yiddish
Manuscript Type
Kind of Judaica