Sunday 21 January 2018


MOYSHE-SHMUEL NAYMAN (MOSES SAMUEL NEUMANN) (1769-November 27 [29?], 1831)
            He was born in the village of Ban, Austria-Hungary.  He was the son of a cantor.  He was early in life orphaned and at age ten became an apprentice to his uncle, a tailor.  At age eleven he traveled to Boskovits (Boskovice) to the yeshiva of Rabbi Shmuel Kalin, and later to Prague where he studied with Borekh Jeiteles sacred subjects and foreign languages.  Under the influence of his rabbi (a follower of the Jewish Enlightenment), he translated into German his rabbi’s work, Beur milot hahigayon leharambam z.l. (Explanation of the “Words of Logic” by the Rambam [Maimonides], may his memory be for a blessing) and began on his own to write in Hebrew.  He married in 1799 and tried to become a merchant in Kittsee, but in his struggle to earn a living he departed for Vienna where he worked as a tutor.  He mastered French and Latin and, at the initiative of the grammarian Wolfsohn, in 1805 he published a Hebrew-language play, Bat yifta (Daughter of Jephthah).  The play was divided into eight scenes and depicts the history of Jephthah’s vow.  In 1835 the play was published anonymously in Yiddish.

Daughter of Jephthah of Gilead,
the author on the lengthy path of troubles
A dreadful tale taken from the Book of Judges, wherein Jephthah of Gilead, the judge from (Israel), sacrificed his own daughter Hannah, because of a vow he had made and the vow was carried out; as well as the piety of the maiden Hannah.
From this story we learned how a person must take preventive steps before words escape his mouth, and thus how it is written (guard the entrance of your mouth), meaning one should guard the doors to one’s mouth.

In the first printing of this play (Vilna: Manes un Zimel, 18 paginated leaves), it is noted that it had been censored on March 29, 1831.  (It was republished in 1939, 1841, 1844, 1848, 1850, 1851, 1852, and 1862 in the Vilna publishing house of the brothers Romm.)  After the appearance in print of Bat yifta, Nayman returned home, where he took up lecturing and writing.  He wrote Hebrew and German textbooks for language, geography, grammar, arithmetic, and letter-writing which were published in numerous editions.  He also brought out a volume of poetry, Shire musar (Poems of morality), didactic poetry in Hebrew and German with the supplement, “Note on medicine”—concerning masturbation and its consequences—and a volume of stories entitled Hayashar vehabrit (The righteous and the covenant) (1821).  Among his textbooks: Magal yashar (Circle of righteousness), an elementary Hebrew grammar (1808); Ḥinukh lashon ever (Education in the Hebrew language) (1815); Mikhtav meshulam (Perfect letter); and Rosh emuna (The beginning of faith) (1820); among others.  He died after an eleven-month illness in Budapest (according to Zalmen Reyzen, it was in Kittsee).

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934), with a bibliography.
Yankev Kahan

No comments:

Post a Comment