by Mordkhai V. Bernshteyn (Buenos Aires)
Translated by Janie Respitz
The book Machane Yehuda was published by the Shuldberg Brothers Publishing House in Warsaw in 1893. This book contains novel interpretations of venerated texts and subtle argumentation over finer points of Jewish law in three tractates: Something Profane (Secular), the Talmudic tractate Betzah, and Sukkah. The author is listed as: the Rabbi, the Gaon (Genius), the sharpest and best known of his generation, righteous and innocent in his deeds, our esteemed teacher Yehuda from the holy community of Zhetl. This book was brought to publication by his grandson. He was his grandfather on his father's side. He tells us his maternal grandfather was the holy Reb Levi Yitzkhak of Berditchev. His name is Dovid son of Yehuda Epshteyn from Zhetl.
Who was the author and when did he live?
The publisher of this book tells us in the introduction that he could not innovate any novel interpretations of venerated texts.
We have learned that the grandfather of the author, Reb Yehuda Kharif (Harif) who died more than one hundred years ago left behind Chidushei Torah. His grandson decided to publish these innovations to honour the memory of his grandfather.
Recommendations in the front of the book were written by: the Rabbi from Slonim, who writes under the name Naum Yosef, and the Zhetl rabbi Reb Borukh Avrom.
Both recommendations ask for financial support to help publish these writings. We learn from the Zhetl rabbi that the person publishing this work is not a wealthy man and it is difficult for him to carry this burden…we also see in the introduction the author's name was Reb Yudl Kharif.
This book contains 32 columns, 64 pages, numbered with letters and numbers. On page 62, under the title The Story of the Miracle the author recounts the miracle which happened to him.
We see this took place in 1783 on the 24th of Cheshvan (October) when after midnight a guest, a servant of a neighbouring nobleman, wanted to kill Reb Yehuda, whom he had allowed to spend the night.
He shot him but did not kill him. Disregarding this great danger, the author recovered and lived another 15 years after this event.
From the thanks the author expresses to those who helped publish his book we learn details about his family.
His mother's name was Golda, a granddaughter of Kdushat Levy. When the book was published she was still alive.
His wife, Khana Miriam, the daughter of Moishe was also a granddaughter of the author. His son's name was Alter and his daughters were: Mushka, Stirke and Yehudis.
He thanks his brothers in law: Avrom Yegal from Piesk, Shimshon and his sister in law Stirke.
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