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[Col. 219]

12. Publishers

Avraham Abele Parksan[1*] was a well-known name in the Jewish publishing world in the 1860's. In 1860, he began publishing the Mishnah in Warsaw.

[Col. 220]

In 1862, he opened a printer's shop in his home town of Suwalk. That same year, he printed the Masekhet Sofarim and in 1863, the haggadah “Geulet Yisrael” and “Hovot Halevavot”.

[Col. 219]

It is generally believed that only these three books were printed in Marksan's Suwalk establishment, but, in truth, he also printed a book of Psalms in 1863.

[Col. 220]

However, it seems that the business was not profitable and in this way, the Marksan Publishing firm closed in Suwalk.[1]

 

Masekhet Sofrim with commentary Mikra Sofrim, to explain the meaning of the articles; Veitur Sofrim to explain the novella contained in the tractate and the commentaries according to the annotations of Rabbi Elijah of Vilna, compiled by the youngest and most modest of the children of the city of Vilna – Yitshak Eliyahu Landa, son of the famous and glorious and one of the most important men of Vilna, Rabbi Shemuel Landa … Printed in the city of Suwalk in the printing house and publishing firm of Avraham Abli Marksahn, 1862.[1*]

[Col. 221]

Markson was a well-known publisher in Warsaw but it is less well-known that he was the founder of the well-known Warsaw printing house and publishing firm of A. Bamberg.[2]

 

Book of Psalm together with how to use the Psalms and other matters applicable to it, carefully and beautifully set and vowelized according to the Masorah and earlier writings. Printed here in Suwalk. Roedelheim {?} 623. Druk und Verlag von A. Marksohn in Suwalk, 1863.

One publisher, Nahman Goldberg, quarrelled with Avraham Abele Marksan because the latter had printed the novella of R'Akiva Eiger in his Mishnah. Goldberg argued that he owned the rights to these novellas. Rabbi Samuel Mohilewer, at that time rabbi in Suwalk, decided that Marksan was permitted to do so.

Marksan's name as a publisher was so well-known that sometimes he was not even mentioned by name. Rabbi Yitshak Eliyahu Landa, who charged that his manuscripts had been lost by Marksan, called him simply “the printer from Suwalk”.[3]

[Col. 222]

This same Y.A. Landa has a connection to Suwalk. The Landa family can be found on most of the subscription lists from Suwalk. One of them, “Rabbi Elhanan Dov, son of M. Yaakov Landa” helped Y. Yisrael Yafah, who was a cantor in Suwalk, to publish his book: “Ishe Yisrael”.

The book Torat Hovat Halevavot {of Bahya Ibn Pakudah} with commentary Pat Lehem and with the addition of a number of virtues {?}, part 2, Suwalk. Printed by R'Avraham Abli Marksahn, 1863

 

Markson was the Suwalk publisher but it is less well-known that the prominent family Yavets, which had in the sixties printed a large part of the Warsaw edition of the Talmud, and other books, had a strong connection to Suwalk. A member of this family, Eliyahu Yavets, identified himself as coming from Suwalk. On the title page of the book: “Toldot Rabenu Akiva Eiger” (Warsaw 635{1774-1775}, it says:

[Col. 223]

“Printed by R'Eliyahu Yavets of Suwalk”. From this, we learn that he was either born in Suwalk or that he lived there for a long time.

[Col. 224]

This R'Eliyahu was the son of R'Yehudah Leyb Yavets of Kolne, who was closely related to the Suwalk area.

Geulat Yisrael, a haggadah of Pesah…… Suwalk. Printed by R'Avraham Abli Marksahn. 1863

 

[Col. 223]

R'Yehudah Leyb, who settled in Jerusalem in 1854, founded a small yeshiva: “Ets Hayim” with a group of other Jews.

[Col. 224]

Many rabbis in Jerusalem came out with a charge that they were “attempting to teach Jewish children in Jerusalem “bildungs” {i.e. enlightenment}. These opponents published a special leaflet in which they wrote about R'Yehudah Leyb Yavets:

[Col. 229]

“This old man received a large sum of money every year from the province of Suwalk to distribute to students of Torah”.[4]

The name of Yavets may often be found on subscription lists from Suwalk or on subscription lists to books written by writers from Suwalk.

[Col. 225-226]

 

[Col. 227-228]

Hibat Yerushalayim…. Printed on the printing press owned by Moshe and Yehudit, by the rabbi and printer Yisrael, son of Avraham, here in the holy city of Jerusalem in the year 514{1753-1754}under the rule of our Lord Abdul Mejid, published by Mordekhay, son of R'Yehuda Hakohen, preacher formerly from Suwalk

 

[Col. 229]

Toldot Rabenu Akiva Eiger… Warsaw. At the printing press of Natan Shriftgiser. 1875.

 

R'Mordekhay, son of R'Yehudah Hakohen, who had been a preacher in Suwalk, is also credited with publishing books. Thanks to him, a new edition of the famous book about the Gaon of Vilna “Aliyot Eliyahu” (Stettin. 616{1855-1856} was published because the first edition published that same year went out of print very quickly. R'Mordekhay is the publisher of “Hibat Yerushalayim” by R.Hayim Halevi Hurvits (Koenigsberg 618{1857-1858} second ed). He also published “Nishmat Hayim” by Menashe ben Yisrael (Stettin. 611{1850-1851}

[Col. 230]

At the end of the book “Mesharet Moshe” by Simhah Shemuel (Navar), there are “some words of the proof reader, Mordekhay, son of Yehuda Hakohen, preacher in Suwalk”. He also proof-read “Netivot Hashalom”, published by Moshe Nahemiah, son of Meshulam Fayvish. (Koenigsberg. 619{1858-1859}) and the third part of “Ishe Yisrael” by Yisrael Yafeh (Warsaw 1854). R'Mordekhay Hakohen also published “Bet Avraham” by Avraham Danzig. (Koenigsberg 619{1858-1859}. He was assisted by his son Kopl who lived in Koenigsberg with his wife and child.

*

In 1846, a book was published in Berlin called: “Zikhron Yehudah” (response of Rabbi Yehudah, son of HRA”SH) by Yehudah, son of Aleksander Ziskind Rozenberg from Ratzk. He wrote in the introduction that he had come upon this manuscript: “500 years old” in Berlin.

Ten year later, he included in his “Kovets Maase Yede Geonim Kadmonim”, part.1 a commentary by Rabbi Hai Gaon on Taharot “which has been hidden away for 1000 years”. (Berlin 616{1855-1856}).

Sefer Rabenu Behya, commentary on the Bible, part 1, Genesis… Warsaw 612{1851-1852} printed by Tsevi Yaakov Bamberg.

 

[Col. 231]

In 1860, Roznberg published in Leipzig “Sheelot Utsehuvot” by Hayim Ashkenazi.

In 1846, R'Yehudah Roznberg was already an old man. In the introduction to “Zikhron Yehudah”, he complains that his hair is white and he has reached a time of life when there is no interest. He suffered from many illnesses, lay sick and neglected in Breslau and later in Frankfurt-am-Main and in Berlin. He died in Halberstadt.

Another man from Suwalk who came to Warsaw also had plans to publish “Holy books” but did not succeed. We have found only three books published by him: “Rabenu Babya” part one on Genesis (Warsaw 612{1851-1852}), published by Shemuel Nata, son of Rabbi Binyamin Bishkavits of Suwalk”. At the end of the book, there is an advertisement by the author in the form of a poem, asking people to buy his book. His second book was “Hovot Halevavot” with commentary “Pat Lehem” (Warsaw 610{1849-1850} and the third: “Heshbon Hanefesh” by Menahem Mendl, son of R'Yehuda Leyb (Satanover), (Warsaw 612{1851-1852} R'Shemuel Bishkavits lived in Psherosle for a long time.

Meir Aryeh, son of R'Yair Hakohen, was born in Saini. He published “Tsevaah” by Yosef Moshe Avraham (New York 712{1851-1952?}, second edition. The first edition was published in Warsaw in 1845.

Dov Berr Goldberg (B.G.) was born in Khludne near Ratzk in 1890. He was a researcher into old Yiddish literature and published precious manuscripts by famous scholars of old, for example, “Yesod Olam” by R'Yitshak, son of R'Yosef Yisraeli; “Birkat Avraham” by R'Avraham, son of Rambam (Lik.1859); and others. He died in Paris in 1883. In 1830, he was a private teacher at the home of the wealthy maskil, Litinski, in one of the villages near Suwalk. He published 17 books and pamphlets and hundreds of articles in the Hebrew press under his then, well-known pen name, B.G.[5]

Asher Margalit of Psherosle published Mendelssohn's “Phaedon” together with Barkman of Vilkovishk.

R'Yisrael Yafe, cantor in Suwalk for many years, published a third edition of “Shaar Hashamayim” by Avraham Cohen Iriri (Warsaw 1864).


Footnotes

    1. S. Viner in “Bibliografia der Oster Hagadah” New York 1949, reckons that this Hagadah was reprinted from an earlier edition in Breslau. In “Otsar Habeurim Vehaperushim” by Finhas Yaakov Hakohen (London 1952), it is related that the Masekhta Sofrim was published in 1864. If this is not a second edition, the “Otsar” is in error. See “Hakarmel” 1860 n°22; Dr. Y. Shatzki's “Kultur Geshikhte fun der Haskalah bay Yidn in Lite” in “Lite” v.1 p.755 and “Toldot Hadefus Haivri Befolania” by H.D. Fridberg, Tel-Aviv 706{1945-1946} p.11. Return
    2. In his monumental work “Geshikhte fun Yidn in Varshe”, Dr. Shatzki did not mention anything about this, but this may be clearly seen on the title pages of books – two of which are shown here, “Mishnayot (Zeraim) Warsaw 621{1860-1861} “ on the printing press of Av. Bamberg, founded by A.A. Marksahn of Suwalk” and a similar inscription on “Hidushe HaRashba”, Warsaw 629{1868-1869} Return
    3. “Derekh Erets Zuta”, with commentary “Derkh Hayim” by R'Yitshak Eliyahu Landa, Vilna 1872. Return
    4. “Kuntras Emet Vemishpat” Jerusalem 661{1900-1901} Return
    5. “Entsiklopedia Ivrit” Jerusalem-Tel Aviv 715{1954-1955}, v.10 p.382; “Entsikl. Yudaaika v.7 p.467. Return


Translator's Footnotes

    1*. Invariably Markson and Marksohn Return
    2*. It is impossible to transmit the full sense of the flowery language used by the author of the book to describe himself and his father Return

 

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