Sephardic pentateuch published in Vienna by Yisrael Haim of Belgrade – the pioneer of Ladino printing in Vienna and ‘champion of the Ladino translation tradition in the 19th century’ (David M. Bunis, Histoire, Epistomologie, Langage).
Yisrael Haim was born in the second half of the 18th century in Belgrade. Following the invasion of the Dahijas in 1813 Haim was forced to flee Serbia and later settled in Vienna. Here he published most of his works and dedicated his whole life to his literary efforts and to serving the community. Through the first few decades of the 1800s Haim published many sacred Hebrew books such as prayer-books, pentateuchs,
moralistic works and others. His translations were intended not just for the Sephardic community in Vienna, but for Ladino speakers worldwide – to the descendants of medieval Spanish Jewry. Living side by side with the Ashkenazic community in Vienna and inspired by presses that published Yiddish works Haim began to publish Ladino new editions and new translations of Medieval Sephardic Hebrew classics. One of Haim’s main concerns was the lack of knowledge of Hebrew among the Jewish youth. Inspired by the prenumerantem system employed among the Ashkenazic community Haim offered wealthy members of his community the opportunity to sponsor his publication in return for their name to be recorded in the work, as can be seen in this publication’s title page: ‘Brought to Print by dear Honourable Lord Eliezer Ben Menachem HaCohen’.
Five volumes, octavo (19 x 12.5 cm). Vol I – title, [18 ll.], 79 ll.; Vol II – title, [1 l.], 86 ll.; Vol. III – title, 67 ll.; Vol. IV – title, 75 ll.; title, 70 ll. Text in Hebrew, with Ladino preface by Yisrael Haim. Contemporary brown calf with gilt floral and pomegranate patterns in oriental style and the name ‘Chaim’ embossed on front cover of volumes III and V., signature “Chaim” to some of the title pages. Overall good condition, some stains and wear. Preserved in a modern slipcase.
Stock ID: 93717