Wednesday 21 February 2018


MORITS-GOTLIB (MOYSHE) SAPIR (MORITZ GOTTLIEB SAPHIR) (February 8, 1795-September 5, 1858)
            He was born in Lovasberény, Hungary.  He received ordination into the rabbinate in Prague, and he later settled in Obuda (Alt-Ofen, a section of Budapest), where he soon became known for his biting satire and his spiritually rich aphorisms which the opposition at the time in the Obuda Jewish community sought to make use of against the community’s leaders.  In 1820, before he debuted in print in German with his Papilloten (Pest, 1921), he wrote in Yiddish a play in two acts entitled Der falsher kashtan (The false Kashtan), a comedy about a wandering cantor who passes himself off as the then celebrated cantor Kashtan and thus fools the community of Obuda.  For a time this comedy circulated in numerous copies among the Jews of Alt-Ofen, but it was not published.  In 1900 for the first time someone named Ben-Eliezer published the comedy in the Hungarian journal Magyar Zsidó Szemle (Hungarian Jewish review).  According to Ben-Eliezer, Sapir was going to publish a second pamphlet: Di falshe katalani (The false Katalani).  Di falshe kashtan was written in Hungarian Yiddish and is full of obscenities, although the comedy possesses a wealth of material for studies of the Yiddish dialect in Hungary.  Sapir later converted to Christianity.  He died in Baden.

Source: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2, with a bibliography.
Benyomen Elis

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