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Bidding Information
Lot #    7679
Auction End Date    7/13/2004 3:56:00 PM (mm/dd/yyyy)
Title Information
Title (English)    Sherei Mussar Haskeil
Title (Hebrew)    שירי מוסר השכל
Author    [Haskalah - First Ed.] Abraham Jacob Stern
City    Warsaw
Publisher    W. J. Lebenssohn
Publication Date    1835
Collection Information
Independent Item    This listing is an independent item not part of any collection
Description Information
   First edition of Stern's poetry (pp. 66-76). 76 pp., 165:105 mm., light age staining, nice margins. A very good copy bound in modern black cloth boards.
   Collection of poetry ascribed to R. Hai b. Sherira (939–1038) Gaon, most of which are prayers, selihot, and piyyutim, a few of them didactic poems on laws and etiquette and eulogies of contemporary personalities. Most of these are in meter and rhyme, but in form and content reveal very little similarity to Arabic poetry. For poetic power, pride of place should be given to a group of five selihot (not kinot) for the Ninth of Av; these are without meter and rhyme and voice a bitter and vehement complaint in the manner of Job against the suffering endured by the Jewish people in exile in the face of its great faith in G-d.

Followed by poetry from Abraham Jacob Stern (1762–1842), Polish maskil and mathematician. Stern was born in Hrubiesz\w (Lublin province) and then moved to Warsaw, where he was able to widen the scope of his education. While developing his interest in mathematics he also acquired profound talmudic erudition. He revealed his technical talents in his improvements in the mechanism of the watch and his invention of a threshing machine and a calculating machine (1812). The senator N. Norosiltsev introduced him to Czar Alexander I in 1815 and obtained an annual pension for him from the state treasury. Stern also wrote ethical and occasional poems of some linguistic originality. When the Committee for Jewish Affairs was established in 1825, Stern was a member of its consultative council. Submitting the project of the proposed rabbinical seminary to be established in Warsaw, he stressed its role in the campaign against Hasidism. In 1826, however, when he was offered the position of principal of this institution, he politely refused since he felt that it would produce rabbis who were not truly devoted to their religion and would be more active in Polonization than in propagating culture among the Jewish masses.

Remaining strictly Orthodox, Stern was opposed to assimilation, maintaining that rather than breaking with the past it was important to enrich general culture with the values of Judaism. He was one of the few maskilim who did not cut himself off from Jewish nationalism and because of his individuality was a popular figure in Warsaw. During his travels he visited various countries, especially Germany, and acquired a knowledge of foreign languages. The Poles and Russians respected his great erudition. He was the only Jew to be honored with membership in the Royal Society of the Friends of Science, where he demonstrated the operation of his calculating machine. Together with Jacob Tugendhold he also acted as censor of Hebrew. Stern was the father-in-law of Hayyim Zelig Slonimski, whom he influenced in the spheres of his interests and work.

Paragraph 2    ... לרב האי גאון זצ"ל. גם שירי קערת כסף לרב יוסף האזובי זצ"ל וכמה שירי מוסר מגדולים ... נקבצו ... ע"י אלכסנדר זושא גאזאן' בר' יהודה ליב זצ"ל חתן הרב הדין מ' צבי הירש ני' מפה ...

עמ' [5]-33: תולדות רבינו האי גאון וקורות ספריו, מאת ר' שלמה יהודה כהן ראפאפורט מתוך: בכורי העתים, שנה י, תק"ץ, עמ' 79-95. עמ' 67-75: שירים, מאת אברהם יעקב שטערן.

   CD-EPI 0118528; EJ
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Listing Classification
19th Century:    Checked
Russia-Poland:    Checked
Other:    Haskalah
First Editions:    Checked
Language:    Hebrew
Manuscript Type
Kind of Judaica