||A genealogical study of the author's family, on both his father's and his mother's side. With approbations by R. Yisrael Berger of Jassy, R. Aharon Aryeh Halevi Heller, et al.
Yihus (genealogy) a common term for family records is first found in the later books of the Bible, where it means genealogical lists (e.g., I Chron. 9:1, "So all Israel were reckoned by genealogies"). After the return from the Babylonian exile, genealogies were evidently important because those who could not bring evidence of their ancestry, for example, were excluded from the priesthood (Ezra 2:62; Neh. 7:64). The word retained this meaning in the talmudic period where mention is made of a Megillat Yuhasin ("Book of Genealogies"), a commentary on Chronicles whose loss was considered "to have impaired the strength of the sages, and to have dimmed the light of their eyes" (Pes. 62b), where it is related that Simeon b. Azzai said, "I found a book of genealogical records in Jerusalem" (Yev. 49b). The importance of yihus is revealed in the statement of R. Hama b. R. Hanina that "When the Holy One, blessed be He, causes His Divine Presence to rest, it is only upon families of pure birth (mishpahot meyuhasot) in Israel" (Kid. 70b). There seems, however, to have been some attempt to counter the importance attached to yihus, as is revealed by such statements as "the learned mamzer takes precedence over the ignorant high priest" (Hor. 3:8). In later Jewish tradition considerable importance was attached to yihus in the matter of arranging marriages (see Sh. Ar., EH Chaps. 2–6). Lists of genealogical records were even printed with the express purpose of tracing the yihus of particular families. Examples of these are to be found in H. N. and D. Magid's Mishpahat Ginsburg (1899); S. Z. Kahana's Anaf Ez Avot (Cracow, 1903); and A. Epstein's Mishpahat Luria (Vienna, 1901). It was considered particularly valuable to be able to trace one's lineage back to King David. In the introduction to Migdanot Eli'ezer (1895), Rabbi E. Harlap of Poland published a family tree showing his descent from King David.