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Three unpublished letters from the archives of Ahad Ha-'am: translation and commentary

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 December 2009


Yosef Klausner may be considered a fair representative of the younger generation of Hebrew writers at the turn of the century, both in education and in his aspiration to modernize Hebrew language and literature and to bring Jewish life into harmony with culture in general. He adopted a compromise point of view between the old school of Hebrew writers represented by Ahad Ha-'Am, and the new trend in Hebrew literature championed by Berdyczewski, which was concerned with the widening of horizons.

Copyright © School of Oriental and African Studies 1981

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1 Klausner (1874—1958) was a leading Hebrew writer on literary and historical issues. He occupied the chairs of Modern Hebrew Literature and Jewish History at the Hebrew University from 1925 to 1950, and was a candidate for the presidency of Israel in 1949.

2 The pen-name of Asher Avi Ginzberg (1856—1926), a Hebrew writer and Zionist leader, known for his opposition to political Zionism and his call for the establishment of a spiritual centre in Palestine.

3 M. J. Berdyczewski (1865–1921), one of the self-styled ‘young writers’, who demanded that Hebrew literature should be based on the needs of society and not devoted solely to discussions of Jewish questions. They also demanded that more attention should be paid to belles lettres.

4 The first important Hebrew monthly to be published after Ha-Shahar, which was edited and published in Vienna by Peretz Smolenskin during the years 1869–84 (only 12 volumes appeared), while Ha-Shiloah— which was named after the small river in Palestine ‘whose waters go softly’ (Isaiah, 8: 6)—appeared during the years 1896–1927, in Berlin, Cracow, Odessa and later in Palestine, and produced 46 volumes.

5 'Iggerot Ahad Ha-'Am, i, Tel-Aviv, 1956, 229Google Scholar.

6 'Arkhiyon Klausner, File 1281, 15 December 1896.

7 'Arkhiyon Ahad Ha-'Am, Pile 8681, 1901.

8 'Iggerot Ahad Ha-'Am, i, 279.

9 S. Bernfeld (1860–1940), a Jewish scholar, historian and publicist. He was a regular contributor to Ha-Shiloah and even edited the last three issues of volume VI, while Ahad Ha-'Am was visiting Palestine.

10 'Arkhiyon Ahad Ha-'Am, File 8681, 7 January 1902.

11 I. H. Rawnitzki (1859–1944), a Hebrew and Yiddish writer, critic, editor and publisher. One of his major achievements was the publication of the miscellany Ha-Pardes in Odessa between the years 1892 and 1896. Although only three volumes appeared, it played an important role in the development of modern Hebrew literature.

12 'Arkhiyon Ahad Ha-'Am, File 8681, 14 February 1902.

13 For further details on his linguistic work see his books Ha-'ivrit ha-hadashah u-va'yotehah, Tel-Aviv, 1956, and Ha-lashon ha-'ivrit leshon hayyah, Tel-Aviv, 1949.

14 See plates i–ii.

15 His honorarium for the critical article ‘Mi-yeme he-'avar ha-qarov’, which was published in Ha-Shiloah, II, 364–74.

16 At that time Klausner was a postgraduate student at the University of Heidelberg.

17 The article ‘Yesod ha-tenu'ah ha-hadashah be-yisra'el’ which appeared in vol. ii, 536–49.

18 The First Zionist Congress which was convened in Basel in 1897 and was attended by Ahad Ha-'Am. He criticized the Congress and its attitude towards the Jewish question in his regular column, ‘Yalqut qatan’, Ha-Shiloah, II, 568—70.

19 ‘Universal justice’, ‘Commissions’, and the ‘motley crowd of youngsters’ are expressions used by Ahad Ha-'Am in the article mentioned above.

20 The Jewish settlers in Palestine.

21 Ahad Ha-'Am replied: ‘I have never written what I wrote so that the young generation will look on me as a “god” (to quote your words), and I will never be restrained from writing what I believe is the truth, even if the young generation will say that I am a devil’, Iggerot A.H., I, 279.

22 Its publication was suspended from April to December 1897 to enable the editor and publishers to reorganize the business.

23 This statement was contradicted by Klausner himself who said later: ‘If I were really a student of Ahad Ha-'Am I would not have been an ardent admirer of either Tchernichowsky or Goethe, of Heine, Byron or Schiller, all my life,’ Darki Liqrat ha-tehiyah we-ha-ge'ulah, Tel-Aviv, 1945, 56.

24 The article was not published anywhere and Ahad Ha-'Am referred Klausner to his long article ‘Li-she'elot ha-yom ‘which appeared in three instalments in vol. iii. In it Ahad Ha-'Am explained his reasons for his severe criticism of the Zionist leadership.

25 Ahad Ha-'Am's policy was to publish in Ha-Shiloah only what appertained to Jewish matters.

26 M. Ehrenpreis (1869–1951), a regular contributor to Ha-Shiloah and an outspoken critic of Ahad Ha-'Am's policy in editing the monthly.

27 In his article ‘'Esah tovah’, Ha-Shiloah, i, 508.

28 Neither article was published in Ha-Shiloah, and according to the list of Klausner's works which appeared in Sefer Klausner, Tel-Aviv, 1935, there is no indication that they were even published at all.

29 A Hebrew weekly which was edited and published in Palestine by E. Ben Yehudah between 1901 and 1907.

30 Ha-Sefirah, Ha-Melis and Ha-Maggid were Hebrew periodicals. The first was published as a weekly from 1862 to 1886 and thenceforward as a daily until 1931. The second appeared as a weekly from 1860 until 1882 and as a semi-weekly from 1883 to 1885 and finally as a daily newspaper until 1905. The third appeared as a weekly from 1856 to 1903 with some intervals.

31 S. Tchernichowsky (1875–1943), a well-known Hebrew poet whose themes were drawn from all aspects of life, and Jewish life in particular.

32 Elhanan Segal (1876–1903), a close friend of Klausner. He published several articles under the name Asher Zusman.

33 Ahad Ha-'Am had rejected an article by Zusman because it was full of praise of Klausner. Zusman was so influenced by Klausner's style that Ahad Ha-'Am thought the article had been corrected by Klausner and he therefore blamed him for not deleting the exaggerated praise of his own talents (in a letter from Ahad Ha-'Am to Klausner, ‘Arkhiyon Klausner, File 1281, 15 December 1896).

34 See plates iii–vi.

35 The literary review which he wrote regularly for Ha-Bhiloah under th e title ‘Sifrutenu’ from volume vii onwards.

36 Ahad Ha-'Am wa s asked to report to the Odessa Zionist Committee on the state of the Jewish settlers in Palestine following his third visit in 1900. Because of his bad health this report was delivered orally, an d was later published by the Committee as a special pamphlet in Russian.

37 A Hebrew literary weekly which was published in Warsaw and printed in Cracow between the years 1901 and 1904.

38 The article referred to is: ‘Me'at sifrui’, Ha-Dor, 2–4, 1901.

39 Mendele Mokher Sefarim (pseud, of S. J. Abramowitz, 1836–1917), a Hebrew and Yiddish writer.

40 Y. H. Brenner (1881–1921), a Hebrew writer an d editor. He edited the periodicals Ha-Me'orer in London (19061907) and Revivim in Russia and later in PalestineGoogle Scholar.

41 Pseudonym of M. Rabinowitz (1854—1932), a Russian-Jewish writer and an outstanding figure of the ‘Hibbat Zion’ movement.

42 The article was published as a whole in vol. vii, 163–75.

43She'dot eres yisra'el’, extended over seven instalments in volumes vii and ix of Ha-Shiloah.

44'Emet me-'eres yisra'el’, the first article by Ginzberg. It appeared in Ha-Mdis (12 May 1889) under the name Ahad Ha-'Am.

45 Director of the Ahiasaf publishing company.

46 Mikhtav'el ha-'orekh’, Ha-Dor, No. 1, 1901Google Scholar.

47 David Frischmann (1860–1922), a Hebrew writer and critic who was appointed, against Ahad Ha-'Am's wishes, as editor of the weekly Ha-Dor in spite of his anti-nationalist attitude.

48 The first Hebrew publishing company in Warsaw. It was active during 1893–1924. It also published Ha-Shiloah, Ha-Dor and the annual Ludh Ahiasaf.

49 This article was published in three instalments in volume vii. It was written during the centenary of Luzzatto's birth.

50 A Hebrew annual which was edited and published by N. Sokolow (1861–1927) in Warsaw during the years 1900–3. Sokolow was a Hebrew writer, editor, journalist and a Zionist leader.

51 Sippurim hadashim,’ Sefer ha-Shanah, ii, 1901, 114–21, 126–7Google Scholar, and ‘Sifrutene ha-yafah be-shnal 1900’, ibid., 240–56.

52 Published in Warsaw in 1900.

53 A series of Hebrew books published under this title by the Tushiyyah publishing company which was established in Warsaw in 1894 and continued until 1914.

54 A Russian-Jewish periodical which appeared as a weekly and later as a monthly during the years 1881–1906.

55 ‘Spiritual Zionism’, on Ahad Ha-'Am and his doctrine. It appeared first in the monthly Voskhod, Nos. 7–9, 1900, 4264, 67–97, 128–51Google Scholar.

56 A. S. Kamenetzky (1874–1943), a writer in Hebrew, German, French and Yiddish.

57 The title was ‘Sifrutenu’ because Ahad Ha-'Am was not sure that Klausner would be able to provide him with an article every month.

58 See plates vii–x.

59 ‘Mosheh’, Ha-Shiloah, xiii, 131–42.

60 From the beginning of 1904 Ha-Shiloah was given at a reduced price (one-third of the normal price) to the subscribers of Ha-Sofeh, the Hebrew daily which was published in Warsaw in 1903–5.

61 Ben-Zion Katz (1875–1957), a famous Hebrew journalist and the editor of the daily and monthly Ha-Zeman.

62 The original plan was that Ha-Shiloah would be linked to Ha-Zeman, but some members of Ahiasaf favoured the link with Ha-Sofeh because they contributed large sums to its publication.

63 When Ahad Ha-'Am resigned the editorship of Ha-Shiloah at the beginning of 1903 he was worried that the new editor might change the policy of the monthly which he himself had devised.

64 The well-known poet Bialik, H. N. (18731934) was invited by Ahiasaf to assist Klausner in editing Ha-Shiloah from 1904Google Scholar . He edited the belles lettres section (2 quires) in volumes xiii-xxi, while Klausner was the editor of the remaining 4 quires.

65 A Jewish encyclopaedia in Hebrew whose publication was suggested by Ahad Ha-'Am in 1894. A large sum of money was donated for this purpose by K. Z. Wissotzky (1824–1904), but for a number of reasons the project did not materialize.

66 Beside his duties in editing Ha-Shiloah, Klausner was also the editor-in-chief of ‘Osar ha-yahadut’.

67 This was the subject of his doctoral thesis, and when he became editor of Ha-Shiloah he enlarged the work and published it in serial form from vol. xiii onwards.

68 Neumark, David (18661924), a Hebrew scholar and a regular contributor to Ha-ShiloahGoogle Scholar. He had at that time been appointed by Ahiasaf as editor of some sections of‘Osar ha-yahadut’.

69 Founded in Berlin, in 1903, by Jewish scholars from different countries.

70 I. M. Elbogen (1874–1943), E. E. Baneth (1855–1930), Z. P. Hayyuth (1876–1927) and Z. H. Malter (1867–1925).

71Osar ha-yahadut’, Ha-Shiloah, xiii, 13.

72Osar ha-yahadut be-lashon ‘ivrit ’, Luah Ahiasaf, xi, 1904, 333–46Google Scholar .

73 Iggerot A.H., iii, 297.

74 The owner of the Hebrew printing house in Berlin whereHa-Shiloah and most of the books published by Ahiasaf were printed.

75 At that time, Ahiasaf decided to reprint Ahad Ha-'Am's book, 'Al parashat deralchim, and Klausner accepted the responsibility for reading the proofs.

76 Y. L. Rabinovich (1862–1938), the last editor of Ha-Melis.

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