Page 112 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

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Rene
translations of which almost 200 editions are known, the
YIVO library has some of the later editions which Professor
Rhone Shmeruk singled out as showing significant linguistic and
literary changes in the use of the Yiddish idiom.9 To conclude
this sketchy survey of Yiddish Bible translations in the YIVO
library, we should mention that the rare copy of Mendel Levin’s
translation of Proverbs alluded to in the first report on the YIVO
library escaped German destruction and is now again in the
possession of YIVO. The book is a milestone in the development
of Yiddish letters in that it broke away from the canonized stere-
otyped Yiddish used in devotional literature and introduced
the spoken language as a literary idiom.
Devotional and Musar Books
Since the originals of early Yiddish literary classics are very
rare, the YIVO library endeavors to replace the damaged or
missing copies with facsimile editions or photostatic reproduc-
tions. One of the earliest samples of Yiddish devotional literature
in the library is a copy of
Slikhos
(Prague, 1552), compiled by
R. Yakov bar Elie Halevi of Teplitz, sexton of the Old-New
Synagogue of Prague. There are many more editions of
Slikhos
of the 18th century and some Yiddish prayer books of the 17th
century. In connection with Yiddish prayer books, the
Seder Tfilo
Derekh Yeshoro
by R. Yekhiel Mikhl Epstein should be men-
tioned. It is a bilingual book in which the author explains his
reasons for translating Hebrew into Yiddish. The YIVO has a
second, Frankfort on the Oder edition of 1703.
The “Musar” or moralistic literature is represented in the
YIVO library by various 17th and 18th century editions of the
classics of the period. Among others are first editions of
Simkhas
ha-Nefesh
(Amsterdam, 1707) originally written in Yiddish, and
first Yiddish translations of such Hebrew classics as
Menoras ha-
Meor
(Offenbach, 1721),
Khoyves ha-Levoves
(Amsterdam, 1716),
Hizuk Emuno
(Amsterdam, 1717), and
Shevet Musar
(Wilhelms-
dorf, 1726).
Characteristic of the “Musar” period are also historical compila-
tions. Among the most interesting examples in the YIVO library
are
Sefer Tsemakh Dovid,
translated into Yiddish by Solomon
Hanau and published in Frankfort/M in 1692, and the Amster-
dam 1743 Yiddish edition of
Yosifon.
It contains a supplement
Sha’aris Yisroelג
compiled by Menakhem Amelander and con­
9Rhone Shmeruk, “The East European Version of
Tsene-R ene ,
1786-1850,”
For Max Weinreich,
The Hague, 1964, p. 336 ff.