Monday, December 05, 2011

In Paris to sell subscriptions to Rabbi Akiva Eger's Mishnah.

Here's an article in the Archives israélites Volume 7 advertising the fact that R. Binyamin Wolf, the son of Rabbi Akiva Eger, was then in Paris collecting funds to finish the publication of the Mishnah with his father's tosafot, four out of the six parts having already appeared.

It states that Rabbi Akiva Eger* was one of the most profound Talmudists and was not only a famed theologian, but he met all the qualities of a true minister of God, being charitable and unselfish to all, without distinction to religion. During a cholera epidemic the poor of all faiths came to him for amulets. Since trust is the beginning of healing (a reference to the placebo effect), there were many cured, and they revered him as a saint, and the king of Prussia sent him a laudatory letter after the plague abated.

The piece continues that like all men of heart and devotion, he did not hoard and therefore only left the memory of his righteousness to his family - except that he also left them his manuscript of his comment on the Mishnah, which is of utmost importance for Talmudists. It also is providing a good source of income for the family. His son has already received a good reception in Alsace and Lorraine, and the journal trusts that he will receive the same in Paris. It concludes with the address he is staying, with a Monseiur Weil.

*It refers to him as R. Jacob M. Eger, because that was his secular name. To take the name apart: it seems that Rabbi Akiva Eger used "Jacob" because it was the closest phonetic equivalent to "Akiva." The "M." is a reference to "Moses," or "Moshe." This was his father's name, and like many Ashkenazim of the time, he sometimes used his father's name as a second or middle name. Thus in secular documents he was known as Jacob Moses Eger.

Here's the title page for Nashim (Altona 1841):


  1. "Akiva" is, in fact, a variant of "Yaakov." I have a bit of a chuckle when someone I know is called to the Torah as "Yaakov ben Akiva."

    Then again, I know someone else who until I told him had no idea that "Koppel" was also "Yaakov."

    Both of them have secular names completely unrelated in origin to "Yaakov." It also surprises people to find out that "James" is also Yaakov, and that "Jack" isn't.

    What year is the French article from?

  2. It doesn't say "Jacob M. Eger", but "M. Jacob Eger" -- the M is for Monsieur.

  3. Eep. I have been making too many careless reading errors lately. I had seen a German blurb in the Allgemeine Zeitung des Judenthums, and there he was referred to as Jacob Moses Eger.

    Nachum, it is from 1846.

  4. Nachum:

    why the chuckle? Fact remains, they're two different names. Same as Aryeh Leib ben (first name, or even simply...) Yehuda. Or, Chiya ben Chaim. There are many many more examples like this. So unless the chuckle is your reaction to "hey, cool" there's no problem for those who are not accustomed to name after the living (father).

  5. Oh, of course. More of a "cool" thing.



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