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Hebrew press in the United States.
new territories, acquired new vitality, and developed an amazing adaptability. Direct contact with other civilizations and new currents of thought broadened its horizon and enlarged its scope. Hebrew academies and seminaries sprang up and flourished everywhere, even in the most somber periods of the Middle Ages; incidental losses in one quarter were soon compensated by gains in another. The continuous drifting of Jewish settlements thus enabled the Hebrew literature to strike root in many lands of the globe.
With the invention of printing, which was enthusiastically welcomed by the Jews, their literary output in the early decades of the new era of the printed word became stupendous. The flood of Hebrew books has continued, unimpaired by vicissitudes, wherever Jews have settled, down to the present day.
Later, however, was the appearance of the Hebrew press in the United States, a fact deserving of note, since settlements of Jews had followed in the wake of the discovery of this continent, and the fathers of the new commonwealth professed a deep interest in the tongue in which the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament were written.
The first book printed in this hemisphere which employed Hebrew characters was a Hebrew grammar in English printed in Boston in 1735 by Judah Monis, an instructor in Hebrew at Harvard University. Its Hebrew title reads, "Dickdook leshon gnebreet (!)." In 1814, 79 years later, there appeared in Philadelphia a reprint of Athias's unpointed Biblia Hebraica (Editio prima Americana, sine punctis masorethicis. 2 vols.); in 1849, also at Philadelphia, Isaac Leeser's reprint of the Van der Hooght Bible was issued. But it was not until 1860 that the first genuine Hebrew book was printed in America, and this was the book "Abne Yehoshua," a commentary on Pirke Aboth, by Joshua Falk at New York City. Henceforth Hebrew books were published sporadically, Hebrew printing establishments having been founded in several of the larger cities. The first periodical appearing in the Neo-Hebraic lan
guage in America, "Hazofeh be-erez ha-chadashah," a weekly, was founded in 1870. It continued with intervals of suspension for about five years only, but it paved the way for other periodicals which sprang into life when the large immigration in the last two decades of the past century brought to these shores from eastern Europe numbers of readers of Hebrew books. It may be noted that no library in the world possesses a complete file of this first Hebrew weekly, which, by the way, contained many interesting contributions shedding light on local and contemporary Jewish history in this country. In fact, many items of Hebraica Americana of its early period are now valued as rarities.
Notwithstanding these somewhat inauspicious beginnings, Hebrew literature has now gained a firm footing in the United States. Numerous Hebrew books, representative of various fields from Talmudica to belleslettres, are being issued; several Hebrew periodicals of high literary aims and of scientific standing appear regularly. Many leading Hebrew writers and scholars have settled in this country, where they devote their energies and erudition to the promotion of Hebrew literature. Moreover, in American universities, colleges, and other institutions of learning interest in Hebrew studies is constantly growing, and modern Hebrew as a living tongue receives proportionate attention. It is therefore but appropriate that Hebraica Americana be well represented in the National Library of the United States so that bibliographical inquiries and demands for this Hebrew material both from here and abroad can be adequately met.
Examining all available bibliographies, we find that, with the exception of some periodicals and a very inconsiderable number of books, practically everything of moment that has been printed in Hebrew in the United States is contained in our Hebrew collection. It will be recalled that Hebraica Americana was one of the features of the Deinard collections, now greatly augmented by subsequent purchases and exchanges.
Useful additions were made during the past year to Judaica and Arabica. Chief among them are those relating to Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Egypt bearing on language, geography, history, agriculture, and industry, social and economic conditions, etc., subjects which are now engaging the attention of numerous students and investigators more than ever. Many of these Judaic books, published in different languages and various countries, were on our list of desiderata for some time.
Of the Arabica, the acquisition of the Hyderabad Arabic publications deserves notice. Of special value are the works dealing with the Ḥadith, i. e., the traditions of the Prophet Mohammed. The Ḥadith has been, next to the Koran, the subject of study and research, occupying as it does a preeminent place in the Arabic literature. It embraces in its scope practically everything that comes under the influence of religion, including the ritual, the law, the religious legends, and the ethical precepts and views. The most important documents and sources for the religious, ritualistic, and legal development of Islam are contained in the Ḥadith. Some of the books of the above-mentioned publications may be cited: Abu Ja'far Ahmad b. Muhammad at-Tahawi (d. 321 A. H.). Mushkil al-athar. 4 vols. On difficult legal questions based upon traditions. The author was one of the greatest Hanafi writers on law; Al-mu'tasar min al-mukhtasar min mushkil al-athar lit-Tahawi. Commentary on the collection of traditions by Tahawi: Ali al-Muttaqi al-Hindi (d. 975 A. H.). Kanz al-ummal fi sunan al-aqwal wal af'al. 8 vols. An enormous collection recording all traditions, whether genuine or not; Muhammad ibn Ahmad ad-Dahabi. (d. 748 A. H.). Tajrid asma' as-sahaba. 2 vols. A list of all people who knew the Prophet (8,809 in number). A useful index to larger works on the subject, such as the Usd al-Ghaba of Ibn al-Athir and the Isit'ab of Ibn Abd al-Barr; Muhammad ibn Musa al-Hazimi (d. 584 A. H.). Kitab al-'tibar. On traditions which are cancelled by others; Ali ibn Uthman al-Mardini (d. 750 A. H.). Al
jauhar an-nagi fir radd al-Baihaqi. 2 vols. Polemic against the collection of traditions by al-Baihaqi (d. 458 A. H.); Abu Da'ud Sulaiman ibn Da'ud at-Tayalisi. (d. 204 A. H.). Sunan. The oldest collection of traditions come down to us, arranged according to the names of the companions who heard the traditions from the Prophet. The author is one of the authorities of Bukhari and Ahmad ibn Hanbal; Muhammad al-Madani. Al-ithafat as-suniyya fil ahadith al-qudsiyya. Collection of traditions on worship; Ibn Abd al-Barr. (d. 463 A. H.). Al-isti'ab fi maʼrifat al-ashab. One of the oldest books of biographies of companions of the Prophet, with complete index. The work was one of the sources of the Usd al-Ghaba of Ibn al-Athir; Abu Bishr Muhammad ibn Ahmad ad-Dulabi. (d. 320 A. H.). Kitab al-kuna wal asma. 2 vols. The most useful work for tracing the names of traditionists of whom only the Kunya is named in chains of tradition, with complete index; Muhammad b. Abd Allah al-Hakim. (d. 405 A. H.). Al-mustadrak ma'a Talkhisihi. 3 vols. Traditions not incorporated by Bukhari and Muslim in their works, which are nevertheless trustworthy. Followed by the abbreviation of the work made by ad-Dahabi; Abu Fadl Muhammad ibn Tahir ibn al-Qaisarani. (d. 507 A. H.) Kitab al jam' baina rijal as-sahihain. 2 vols. Biographies of all traditionists mentioned in the Sahih of Bukhari and Muslim with alphabetical index; Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (d. 852 A. H.). Tahdib at-tahdib. 12 vols. The most comprehensive work on all persons named in the canonical books of traditions; Ta'jil almanfa'a fi rijal al-aimmat al-arba'a. Biographies not included in the Tahdib. By the same author: Lisan al-mizan. 6 vols. Criticism of the work of Dahabi entitled Mizan al-i'tidal, dealing with the trustworthiness of the traditionists. The work contains 14,321 references to traditionists; Mahmud b. 'Umar az-Zamakhshari (d. 538 A. H.). Al-fa'iq fi lughat al-hadith. Celebrated dictionary for traditions; Ahmad b. Muhammad alMaqqari. (d. 1041 A. H.). Fath al-muta'al fi madh an-ni'al. In praise of sandals with reference to traditions. The author is the celebrated historian of Spain;
Nazir b. Abd as-Sayyid al-Mutarrizi. (d. 610 A. H.). Al-mughrib. Dictionary specially for words occurring in Hanafi law books, with short grammar at the end; Muhammad ibn Ahmad as-Sarakhshi. (d. 483 A. H.). Sharh as-siyar al-kabir. 4 vols. Digest of Hanafi law, etc.
Mention may also be made of books such as Miftah as-sa'adat wa misbah dar as-siyada by Ahmad b. alMustafa Tashkupri Zadah. (d. 962 A. H.). Celebrated catalogue of books and their authors, one of the principal sources for the bibliographical dictionary of Haji Khalifa; Al-ashbah wal naza'ir. 4 vols. By Jalal ad-Din asSuyuti. (d. 911 A. H.). On grammatical questions, with extracts from many older works now lost or only accessible in manuscript; Ad-dakhira fi tahafut al-falasifa, by Ala ad-Din Ali at-Tusi. (d. 887 A. H.). Polemic against philosophers, composed at the command of Sultan Muhammad the Conqueror, and influenced by the work of Ghazzali entitled Tahafut al-falasifa, etc.
The Yiddish collection has been increased by several hundred old and new books, mostly published in Poland. A good number of them will be of particular service to those interested in the historical, political, and educational problems of the Jewish minority in that new republic. Yiddish books printed in this country generally enter the Library by way of copyright. As a rule all of the copyrighted Hebrew, Arabic, and Yiddish books, as well as those in cognate languages, are being catalogued and the proofsheets for printed cards read and revised in this division.
A constant increase in the number of copyrighted Hebrew and Yiddish books is noted
(From the report of the chief, Doctor Speek)
The number of publications in the Slavic section has been increased by about 1,500 volumes. A large order for Russian publications is pending.
The Library has purchased: A collection of Ukrainian publications of 246 titles; a complete set of a rather rare