SHMUEL-ABA HORODETSKI (SAMUEL HORODETZKY) (August 27, 1871-May 25, 1957)
He was born in Malin (Malyn), Kiev region. He was the son of Yoysef-Moyshe and Tsipe, both of whom hailed from celebrated pedigrees—the Besht (Baal Shem Tov), R. Nakhman Braslaver, R. Nokhum of Chernobyl, and the victims of Slavuta. At age three he lost his father and was raised thereafter by his mother’s father, R. Gedalye. Later, his grandfather, R. Borekh Horodetski, took over his education. In 1892 he settled in Berdichev, working there as a treasurer in an office run by his aunt, Feyge Magazanik, and there as well wrote his first religious text Pealim letora (Deed for the Torah) (Odessa, 1893). While in Berdichev, he also studied on his own, reading modern Hebrew literature and speculative texts. He was also active in the Zionist movement, helped to found the “cheder metukan” (improved religious elementary school) in Berdichev, and served as a delegate to the Zionist Congress in 1908. Under the influence of Isaac Hirsch Weiss’s (Ayzik Hirsh Vays) Dor dor vedorshav (Each generation and its scholars), he began studying rabbinical literature and wrote his first works in the field: Shem mishmuel (a biography of Maharsha) (Drohobych, 1895), 39 pp.; and Kerem shelomo (a biography of Maharshal) (Drohobych, 1896), 40 pp. The success of his writings encouraged him to start a journal which was to serve as the organ for the scholarly study of Judaism. In 1897 he brought out the first issue of Hagoren (The threshing floor)—continuing until issue 10 in 1928)—to which numerous writers and scholars contributed and in which he published the majority of his own treatises on Hassidism and his monographs on rabbinical personalities. Over the course of his life, he published monographs, articles, travel letters, current events pieces, and reviews in: Hashiloaḥ (The shiloah), Tsiyon (Zion), Talpiyot (Fortresses), Luaḥ aḥiasef (Ahiasef calendar), Hatsfira (The siren), Hamelits (The advocate), Hatsofe (The spectator), Haolam (The world), Hatekufa (The epoch), Heatid (The future), Devir (Sanctuary), Netivot (Pathways), Kneset (Gathering), Moznaim (Scales), Hapoel hatsair (The young worker), Gilyonot (Tablets), Hadoar (The post), Sefer hashana leyehudi amerika (Yearbook for American Jewry), and more. In 1907 he left Russia to pursue his studies at the Universities of Zurich, Bern, and Berlin, and in 1912 he received his doctoral degree. He spent the years 1912-1939 in Berlin, and in 1939 made aliya to Israel.
In Yiddish he published in: Historishe shriftn (Historical writings) of YIVO, vol. 2 (on Shimon Dubnov’s genealogy); Tsukunft (Future) in New York; and Tog (Day) in New York. Among the books he published in Yiddish: R. shloyme lurye (rashal), zayn lebn un virkung (R. Shlomo Luria, Rashal, his life and impact) (Berdichev: Ezra, 1899), 27 pp. (reviewed by Y. L. Perets in Avrom Reyzen’s collection, Der tsvantsigster yorhundert [The twentieth century] and by Y. Kh. Ravnitski in Yud [Jew] 6 [1898/1899]); R. akive, zayn lebn un virkung farn folk (R. Akiva, his life and impact on the people) (Berdichev: Bnei Tsiyon, 1909); Der khsidizm un zayne firer (Hassidism and its leaders), 2 vols. (Vilna: Tomor, 1937), 292 pp.; Kabole umekablim (Cabbala and Cabbalists), 2 vols. (Vilna: Tomor, 1939), 228 pp. Also, his book Ḥasidizm (Hassidism) appeared in 1924 in a Yiddish translation (by R. Zeligman) (Berlin: Klal Publ.), 108 pp. He wrote about Hassidism in the most important journals in many languages, but mainly in Hebrew. He also contributed pieces to various encyclopedias. He was the author of over twenty works in Hebrew, the most important of them being: Haḥasidut vehaḥasidim (Hassidism and Hassidim), 4 vols. (Berlin: Devir, 1922), 687 pp.; Lekorot harabanut (The history of the rabbinate) (Warsaw, 1914), 223 pp.; Hamistorin beyisrael (The mystery in Israel), 4 volumes (Berlin-Tel Aviv, 1933/1934); Kivshono shel olam (Mysteries of the world) (Tel Aviv, 1950), 244 pp.; Shalosh meot shana shel yahadut polin (Three hundred years of Polish Jewry) (Tel Aviv: Devir, 1945/1946), 148 pp.; and more. He received a prize for the year 1947 from B’nai B’rith for his book Ole tsiyon (Immigrants to Israel) (Tel Aviv, 1947), and on his seventy-fifth birthday there was published a Hebrew anthology, Eder hayakar (The costly garment), with a bibliography of his writings, compiled by E. R. Malachi (Tel Aviv, 1947), 202 pp. A Festschrift was published in his eightieth birthday, Loyat ḥen (Garland of charm) (Tel Aviv, 1951). His Zikhronot (Memoirs) (Tel Aviv: Devir, 1957), 214 pp., appeared after his death. He also edited a scholarly publication (with lengthy introductions) on Sefer shivhe habesht (A book on “In praise of the Baal Shem Tov”) (Berlin: Ayanot, 1922); Sipure maasiyot (Tales [of R. Nakhman of Bratslav]) (Berlin: Ayanot, 1922); Torat rabi naḥman mibratslav vesiḥotav (The teachings of R. Nakhman of Bratslav and his conversations) (Berlin: Enot, 1923); Torat hamagid mimezritsh vesiḥotav (The teachings of the preacher of Mezritsh and his conversations) (Berlin: Ayanot, 1923); Torat hakabala shel r. moshe kordovero (The Cabbalistic teachings of R. Moses Cordovero) (Berlin: Eschkol, 1924), 387 pp.; Torat hakabala shel r. yitsḥak ashkenazi (ari) veḥayim vital (reḥu) (The Kabalistic teachings of R. Yitsḥak Ashkenazi, the Ari, and R. Ḥayim Vital, the Reḥu) (Tel Aviv, 1946/1947), 340 pp. The first five of these appeared in print first in Berlin, the last of them in Tel Aviv. His wife—who was also his cousin—Miriam Magazanik, who knew many languages, often translated her husband’s writings from Hebrew into other languages, among them Yiddish, and also translated his monograph on Hassidism (Der khsidizm un zayne firer) into English as Leaders of Hassidism (London: Hasefer Agency for Literature, 1928), 151 pp., with an introduction by Moses Gaster. He died in Tel Aviv.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1 (with bibliography); Yevreiskaya entsiklopediya (St. Petersburg), vol. 6, col. 707; Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (New York, 1941), p. 456 (with bibliography); D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah leḥalutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the founders and builders of Israel), vol. 2 (Tel Aviv, 1947), see index; Sh. Rozenfeld, in Tog (New York) July 11, 1931); Z. Verba, in Hadoar (New York) (October 30, 1931); Aharon Ben-Or, Toldot hasifrut haivrit haḥadasha (History of modern Hebrew literature) (Tel Aviv, 1951), vol. 3, pp. 288-94; obituary notice in Haarets (Tel Aviv) (May 26, 1957); M. Mevorakh, Deyoknaut sofrim (Portraits of writers) (Tel Aviv, 1955/1956); obituary notice in Tog-morgn zhurnal (New York) (May 27, 1957); Y. Avishov, in Letste nayes (Tel Aviv) (September 6, 1957); M. Ginzburg, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (June 2, 1957); Ginzburg, in Meksikaner lebn (Mexico City) (Junbe 22, 1957); L. Rokhman, in Forverts (New York) (December 7, 1957); A. Tsaytlin, in Tog-morgn zhurnal (July 19, 1957); Ḥ. Lif, in Bitsaron (New York) (Kislev [=November-December], 1957); T. Ben-Moshe, in the anthology Ḥokhmat yisrael bemaarav eropa (Jewish studies in Western Europe) (Tel Aviv, 1958), pp. 210-18; Ts. Sh. Rabinovits, in Haarets (Tel Aviv) (September 26, 1958); Sh. Dubnov, Geshikhte fun khsidizm, vol. 3, pp. 111-13; Who’s Who in World Jewry (New York, 1955).
E. R. Malachi