The Lost Yiddish Translation of Sefer Shivhei ha-Besht (Ostróg 1815)

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  • 1 Ben Gurion University of the Negev

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Sefer Shivhei ha-Besht is considered the central collection of hagiographic tales regarding Israel Baʿal Shem Tov (c. 1700–1760). It was first printed in Hebrew in Kopys in the latter part of 1814, and includes hundreds of stories that circulated orally and were heard by the author. The work was soon translated into Yiddish with significant changes, and three such translations have survived, each one very different to the others. The first translation, published in Ostróg in 1815, was believed lost. This article offers a brief description of the recently discovered edition, discussing its uniqueness in the context of the work’s printing history and on the background of Jewish publishing in Eastern Europe.

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