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Bidding Information
Lot #    5562
Auction End Date    9/16/2003 1:14:00 PM (mm/dd/yyyy)
          
Title Information
Title (English)    Shorshei ha-Levanon (Beit ha-Ozar)
Title (Hebrew)   
Author    [Haskalah] Isaac Baer Levinsohn
City    Vilna
Publication Date    1841
          
Collection Information
Independent Item    This listing is an independent item not part of any collection
          
Description Information
Physical
Description
   Only edition. XII, [1], 301 pp., 8 vo., 220:130 mm., usual light age staining. A very good copy bound in contemporary half leather boards, rubbed.
          
Detailed
Description
   On the Roots of Hebrew words and collected essays by Isaac Baer Levinsohn (Ribal, 17881860). Shorshei ha-Levanon begins with preface by Levinsohn, follwed by an introduction to Shir ha-Shirim (Song of Songs). Shorshei ha-Levanon has a separate label-title page; its text (1-184) is concerned with the roots of Hebrew words. Part two, Beit ha-Ozar, also has its own title page [185] and notes that it is concerned with various subjects. A table of contents [186] is followed by prefatory remarks from Levinsohn [189] and then the text (191-267) which is comprised of twelve essays. The volume concludes with Avnei Meluim, which is a supplement to Levinsohns Beit Yehudah. It too has its own title page.

Levinsohn is one of the founders of the Haskalah in Russia. A child prodigy, he began heder at the age of three and composed a Kabalistic work at the age of nine. At ten, Levinsohn was versed in Talmudic lore, and knew the Hebrew Bible by heart. He mastered the Russian language, an unusual achievement for a Russian Jew of that time. From 1813 to 1820 Levinsohn lived in Eastern Galicia, where he was befriended by such leaders of the Haskalah as Nahman Krochmal, Isaac Erter, Joseph Perl, and S. J. Rapoport. From 182023 he spread the ideas of the Haskalah as a private tutor in wealthy homes in Berdichev and other towns. He attempted to persuade the Russian authorities to mitigate the persecution of the Jews and to introduce reforms in the spirit of the Haskalah, including a plan for agricultural settlement of Jews. It was on his advice that the Russian authorities limited the number of Hebrew printing presses to three: Warsaw and Vilna in 1836, and Zhitomir in 1846 and imposed censorship on imported Hebrew books. In 1856, the Russian government decided to support him by buying 2,000 copies of his book Beit Yehudah and distributing them to synagogues and Jewish schools.

Levinsohns literary work was mainly polemical and propagandistic. He published a the first Hebrew grammar for Russians in 1817. Levinsohn wrote satires against Hasidim and their zaddikim. His most influential work is Teudah be-Yisrael, which is severely critical of traditional Hadarim which he calls Hadrei mavet (rooms of death) and opposes their talmudic-centered curriculum, as well as the use of Yiddish, favoring instead its replacement by pure German or Russian. In his second major work, Beit Yehudah (Vilna, 1838) Levinsohn, who follows Moses Mendelssohns Jerusalem, purports to reply to 35 questions asked by the great Christian nobleman Emanuel Lipen (the name is a scramble of the Hebrew letters Peloni Almoni, concerning the nature of the Commandments, the Talmud, the Karaites, the Pharisees, the Zohar, Shabbateanism, Hasidism, and poses the question: Is there still hope to reform the House of Israel and how? His contemporaries called him the Russian Mendelssohn.

          
Paragraph 2    . ' XII - IX: . : ( ... , "). : ... .
          
Reference
Description
   Vinograd, Vilna 502; EJ; JE; Waxman III pp. 202-12; Zinberg XI pp. 21-94; CD-EPI 0143254
        
Associated Images
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Listing Classification
Period
19th Century:    Checked
  
Location
Russia-Poland:    Checked
  
Subject
  
Characteristic
First Editions:    Checked
Language:    Hebrew
  
Manuscript Type
  
Kind of Judaica