Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Shabbos, shabbos! in an English literary journal of 1860.

Toward the end of 1859, Marcus Heinrich (or Hyman) Bresslau, former editor of the London Jewish Chronicle, decided to make a go of his own Jewish literary periodical in English. The first issue of המאסף The Hebrew Review and Magazine For Jewish Literature appeared on October 21, in time for Simchas Torah 5620. It called itself a "New Series," since Bresslau viewed it as a continuation of the original Jewish literary periodical Hameasseph, which gave it its Hebrew name, as well as the short-lived גלאד The Hebrew Review and Magazine of Rabbinical Literature, a similar journal published by Morris Raphall in 1834-6, and which Bresslau was himself involved. Both of these periodicals contained many interesting original essays and translations of classic and not so classic material.

In the introduction in the first issue, Bresslau notes that at the time there are three French journals. There are journals in Italy, Russia and Turkey. In America there were four journals, two in English and two in German. Deploring the fact that England could not boast even one Jewish journal, he proposes that this will be remedied. Although it would feature original material, he also planned to feature translations of numerous works, a partial list of which includes portions of:
  • Moreh Nevuchim by Maimonides
  • Chovos Ha-levavos by Rabbi Bachya
  • Menoras Ha-meor by Rabbi Isaac Abohab
  • Binah Le-ittim by Rabbi Azariah Figo
  • Kuzari by Rabbi Judah Halevi
  • Meor Enayim by Rabbi Azariah de Rossi
and so forth. The Review also serialized parts of Zunz's Zur Geschichte und Literatur, as well as the first two parts of Mendelssohn's very interesting introduction to the Torah, the Or Le-nesiva.

In August of 1860 (toward the end of the run of Bresslau's journal) the following witty blurb was printed (presumably written by Bresslau) hoping that Jewish business owners will close their stores entirely on Shabbat in keeping with "resolution number 4 unanimously passed at Mount Sinai." Below is his statement as well as three subsequent replies printed in the journal (over three separate issues, but I put them all together). Two people hoped that these storekeepers will observe the sabbath personally, and not only keep their stores closed:


  1. Seems like it is not a new practice to sign anonymously.

  2. The "handelt nach meiner Predigt" line is priceless. It reminds me of Rav Hirsch's essay, reprinted in "Judaism Eternal," that was occasioned by the happy shout of Jewish schoolchildren whose religious classes had been cancelled for the day: "We have no religion today!"

  3. It says זכור ושמור בדבור אחד נאמרו in L'cha Dodi?

    I wonder how often Mr. Self-Righteous says it.



Related Posts with Thumbnails