Tuesday 25 April 2017


            The grandfather of Sholem Yelin, he was born in Shedlets (Siedlce), Poland.  He attended religious elementary school and yeshivas, acquired the reputation of a prodigy, and prepared to become a rabbi.  After the traditional period of support from his father-in-law, he became a bookseller and worked at it until he was quite old.  He was the founder of the first Jewish lending library in his city, and although a religious man himself, he nevertheless influenced youngsters in the spirit of the Jewish Enlightenment.  His first published religious works were: Ḥanukat haḥashmonaim (Maccabees’ Hanukkah), adapted from various sources (Warsaw, 1864), 48 pp.; and Paḥ hashemen (The jug of oil) (Warsaw, 1866), 48 pp.—both written in Hebrew with a Yiddish commentary.  In both of these volumes he also published his own first proverbs in stylized Yiddish, which later, with a greater many more of them, appeared in a number of holiday prayer books published in 1870s and 1880s in Warsaw.  These were the proverbs known as “Proverbs of Jacob” and “Star of Jacob.”  He was also the author of Mishley oves (Proverbs of the fathers), “Ethics of the Fathers” with a homiletic Yiddish translation (Warsaw, 1872), 102 pp.; Midrash pelia (The midrash of Peliah) (Warsaw, 1895), 184 pp.; Vehaya mishna (Warsaw, 1876), 64 pp.; Am lemikra velemasoret (People of the text and tradition) (Warsaw, 1882), 96 pp.; Binat nevonim (Understanding of the sagacious) (Warsaw, 1885), 120 pp.; Sefer matamim (Book of delicacies) (Warsaw, 1889), 144 pp.; Shivḥe kneset yisrael (Praise for the congregation of Israel) (Warsaw, 1890), 290 pp., in Hebrew-Aramaic and Yiddish; Sukot shalom (Tabernacles of peace) (Warsaw, 1891), 108 pp., explanation in stylized Yiddish of the prayers and customs of Sukkot, the “ushpizim” [guests], and some of the religious laws); Sefer matamim heḥadash (New book of delicacies) (Warsaw, 1894), 108 pp.; Lekhay oylem (To the life of the world) (Warsaw, 1900), 162 pp., a shortened version in Yiddish of Maavar yabok (Fording of the Yabok); Meein haberakha (From the fountain of blessing) (Pyotrkov, 1911), many other editions as well.  He also published (either without the name of the author or under the pen name Y. M’s) prayers in Yiddish primarily for women, among others: Di tkhine fun resh khoydesh benshin (The prayer for the new month); and Tkhine tsu di heylige teg (The prayer for the holy days) (Warsaw, 1872), 13 pp.  He translated into stylized Yiddish Gedulat moshe (The greatness of Moses [Gedules moyshe]) in verse (Warsaw, 1876) and Di mesholim fun dubner magid (The proverbs of the Dubner preacher) (Lublin, 1893), 138 pp.  For many years he contributed work to: Hamagid (The preacher), Hamelits (The advocate), and Kol mevaser (Herald), among others.  He published correspondence pieces from Shedlets, poetry, puzzles, and liturgical poems (under such pen names as: Yitskhok, M’s, and Y’mishedlets).  He was dubbed in his town “the raffleman,” because to everyone to whom he sold a book he would also give a ticket which might win something valuable.  He thus procured buyers and also readers for his little library.  He died in Shedlets.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Bet eked sefarim; Y. Goldberg, in Tsum 25 yorikn yubiley fun der biblyotek bay der gezelshaft yidishe kunst in shedlets (On the twenty-fifth anniversary of the library of the society of Jewish art in Shedlets) (Shedlets, 1926), pp. 20-22; Goldberg, in Sefer shedlets (Shedlets volume) (Buenos Aires, 1956), pp. 582-84; Y. Kaspi, in Sefer shedlets, pp. 56, 74-76; information from Y. H. Fishman in New York.
Khayim Leyb Fuks

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