Page 88 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 36

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Malbim began writing serious wrorks at the age of 13. One
notes with fascination the following data in the introduction
to his first prin ted work
Ar tzot ha-Hayyim,
a compilation of
laws in the Shulhan Arukh, section of Orah Hayyim: “Among
my works in manuscript I have two collections of novellae on
the Talmud, commentaries on Maimonides’ “Laws of Sacrifices”
and “Laws of Impurities and Purities,” a collection of responsa
and novellae on the other sections of Shulhan Arukh, a collec-
tion of sermons, a commentary on the Torah , several smaller
commentaries on various works, a commentary on Behinat Olam
(book an ethics by Jedaiah ha-Penini, ca. 1270—ca. 1340),
a work on mysticism . . . I favor this present volume since, as
a compendium on Shulhan Arukh, it should be of practical
value to many people
. . . I began prepar ing this work at the
age of 15 . .
. around the year 5590 (1830) I decided to or-
ganize the material in systematic order (for publication) . . .”
Malbim was at the time of these notes barely 27 years old. Such
a diversified record of literary activity reflects the young
au thor’s breadth of interest coupled with an extraordinary talent
for writing.
Malbim was also a b rillian t lecturer, impressive in appearance,
self assured, and a master of the sources, capable of arousing
and intellectually stimulating mass audiences. This rare com-
bination of God given talents—the ability to communicate ideas
in prose, as well as in poetic form, and to deliver stirring
messages from the speaker’s platform—stamped him as one of
the leading personalities of the century.
Artzot ha-Hayyim
was ready for publication by 1834. In order
to obtain endorsements Malbim personally visited a number
of rabbinic personalities in Central Europe, including Shemuel
Bernstein in Amsterdam, Moses Sofer in Pressburg, and Solo-
moil Zalman T ik tin in Breslau. I t is surprising tha t he appar-
ently did not seek approval from the learned in Warsaw. The
first part of the work, on Orah Hayyim chapters 1—24, appeared
in Breslau in 1837. A second edition, Warsaw 1860, includes
additional materials through chapters 31. While awaiting pub-
lication in Breslau, Malbim delivered a number of public dis-
courses upholding the position of T ik tin in his b itter con­