Page 69 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 17 (1958-1959)

Basic HTML Version

G
lenn
— I
saac
B
aer
L
evinsohn
63
The play of words on the name “Uvarov” (
avar ov
) is very
illuminating. The original epigram (
michtom
) is found in
Levinsohn’s
Eshkol ha-Sofer,
page 56.
mi a ny id nosnn pop
by
mi jpbnb npn
isn
mix nn»m inn nntr: tayon
1ny-nny ,ny-“iny ,nyn mpn
The End of His Days
In 1858 Levinsohn felt that his days were numbered. Fearing
that after his death his works might be banned or destroyed by
the anti
-Haskalah
fanatics, he charged his nephew in Odessa,
Jacob Israel Levinsohn, his sister’s son who had adopted the
surname Levinsohn, to be his literary executor. At the same time
he sought public support for his unpublished work. Failing to
receive it, he appealed to the government and was granted 3,000
rubles. Two thousand were to be used for a new edition of
Bet
Yehudah,
which the minister of education wanted as a textbook
in government schools.
R IB aL died February 15, 1860, after a long illness. Lonely
but without complaint, he passed away in the obscure town of
his birth. Toward the end he indicated that his work, in a
polemical sense, had aided the
Haskalah
movement. But he
believed that his testaments to posterity were
Zerubbabel
and
Efes Damim.
He did not live to see the course of
Haskalah
and
the dramatic bifurcation of secularization into nationalism,
Zionism and the mass hegira of eastern Jewry westward.
On Levinsohn’s tombstone was engraved in Hebrew the
epitaph he himself had written in 1858 (
Eshkol ha-Sofer,
page
90).
Out of nothing God summoned me to life.
Alas, earthly existence has ended
And I shall sleep on Mother Nature’s bosom,
As testifies this stone.
With the enemies of God I fought,
Not with iron weapons but with words;
Revealing to the nations my people’s truth and innocence.
Zerubbabel
and
Efes Damim
bear witness thereunto.2
2 The epitaph composed by Levinsohn was:
rpn tpfis1? n v y n
d sxo
ivn n1? ion
s\y
n^n nn
»min p’nn nnp
jbmki
’nnsn my nt
bz
nnn
nnjjt* »nan^ 'n »n»*
ny
Dnow
}n n ptwn
k 1?
o’0^*7
ints” noin
.d’bt den
Hint? *?nnnr
n y