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Bidding Information
Lot #    9190
Auction End Date    2/15/2005 10:09:00 AM (mm/dd/yyyy)
Title Information
Title (English)    Group of Seven Works
Title (Hebrew)    7 ñôøé éöç÷ áòø ìòååéðæàäï
Author    [Haskalah] Isaac Baer Levinsohn
City    Russia-Poland
Publisher    Various
Publication Date    19th cent.
Collection Information
Independent Item    This listing is an independent item not part of any collection
Description Information
   First and second editions. 5 volumes, usual light age staining, various sizes and bindings.
   Te’udah be-Yisrael, Vilna 1855, second and revised edition by the author, 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, bound with;

Or le-Y"d, Odessa 1864, only edition, Judaeo-Christian polemic, bound with;

Efes Damim, Odessa 1864, second edition, on the Damascus Affair, a notorious blood libel in 1840 in which Christian anti-Semitism and popular Muslim anti-Jewish feelings came to a head. The work contains a series of conversations at Jerusalem between a patriarch of the Greek Church and a chief rabbi of the Jews, concerning the malicious charge against the Jews of using Christian blood.

Toldot Shem, Warsaw 1877, first edition, on the Hebrew language. bound with;

Bekurei Ribal, Warsaw 1888, collection of polemics and critiques of other Haskalah works.

Ohelei Shem, Warsaw 1893, first edition, on the Hebrew language.

Efes Damim, Warsaw 1903, seventh edition.

Isaac Ber 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 1820–23 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.

Levinsohn’s 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 Te’udah 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 Mendelssohn’s 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.

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Listing Classification
19th Century:    Checked
Russia-Poland:    Checked
Polemics:    Checked
Other:    Haskalah
Language:    Hebrew
Manuscript Type
Kind of Judaica