||With a Yiddish translation.
In the introduction to this work R. Bahya divides the obligations incumbent upon the religious man into duties of the members of the body (hovot ha-evarim), those obligations which involve overt actions; and duties of the hearts (hovot ha-levavot), those obligations which involve not man's actions, but his inner life. The first division includes the various ritual and ethical observances commanded by the Torah, e.g., the observance of the Sabbath, prayer, and the giving of charity, while the second consists of beliefs, e.g., the belief in the existence and unity of G-d, and attitudes or spiritual traits, e.g., trust in G-d, love and fear of H-im, and repentance. The prohibitions against bearing a grudge and taking revenge are also examples of duties of the hearts. R. Bahya explains that he wrote this work because the duties of man's inner life had been sorely neglected by his predecessors and contemporaries whose writings had concentrated on religious observances, that is, the duties of the members of the body. To remedy this deficiency Bahya wrote his work, which may be considered a kind of counterpart to the halakhic compendia of his predecessors and contemporaries. Just as their halakhic compendia contained directions for the actions of the religious man, so Bahya's work contained directions for his inner life.
Hovot ha-Levavot was translated into Hebrew by R. Judah ibn Tibbon in 1161, and it became popular and has had a profound influence on all subsequent Jewish pietistic literature. Several abridgments were made of the Hebrew translation, and the work was translated into Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Yiddish. In more recent times it has been translated into English (1962), German (1856), and French (1950).
In 1847 the Shapira printing press was established by the three brothers Hanina Lipa, Aryeh Leib, and Joshua Heschel Shapira, sons of R. Samuel Abraham Abba Shapira, the printer in Slavuta. Until 1862 this was one of the only two Hebrew presses the Russian government permitted to operate in the whole of Russia, the other being in Vilna. This press had 18 hand presses and four additional large presses. In 1851 Aryeh Leib broke away and established his own printing press in Zhitomir. In these two establishments only sacred books of every kind were printed.