Sunday, September 22, 2019


A hasidic best seller

In 1891-1892, a printing press in Berdyczów, published a five-part work dedicated to the Hebrew language: Otzar Hashorashim by “Mabit,” a pseudonym for Meshullam F. Tuchinsky (1846-ca.1900). Tuchinsky would go on to publish other works aimed at furthering Hebrew language skills: in 189,2 a book in Yiddish about learning Hebrew grammar, and in 1899, a collection of Yiddish phrases and possible Hebrew replacements. There must have been demand for Otzar Hashorashim, for immediately after its publication a second edition appeared in 1893-1895. Otzar Hashorashim included approbations from “the wise men of Berdyczów.” Two approbations were penned on the same day in 1890, one by the notable hasidic jurist Rabbi David Ortenberg (d.1910), and the other by Rabbi Yaakov Margaliyot who is described as a “moreh hora’ah” – a title used for a rabbi charged with responding to everyday questions of Jewish law. Not much is known about Rabbi Margaliyot.

A year after the publication of the second edition of Otzar Hashorashim, in 1896, Rabbi Margaliyot turned to the same printing press to publish his own work. The volume was entitled Kevutzat Yaakov, and it included seven short works – hence the title Kevutzat, the collection of, [Rabbi] Yaakov [Margaliyot].


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