Monday, June 11, 2007

The Story of the Publisher of the Forged Yerushalmi Kodshim

Most are aware of the famous forgery perpetrated by Shlomo Yehuda Friedlaender at the beginning of the 20th century - the Yerushalmi on Seder Kodshim. (For background see here). Recently, R. Baruch Oberlander has written a series of articles, which appeared in Or Yisrael, further illuminating this episode.

Now, the great-grandson of the publisher (Ya'akov Weider who was killed in the Holocaust) of this Yerushalmi offers the story behind his great-grandfather decision to publish this book. (link) He also defends the decision of his ancestor to publish this work, noting that prior to publication he received approval from various Rabbinic authorities. Unfortunately, due to the large expense involved and that it quickly became apparent that it was a forgery, the great-grandfather lost a significant amount of money on this endeavor.

The article also notes that two announcements were published heralding the publication, one to Rabbis and the like and the other, a slightly different version to academics. It is worthwhile noting that not only were their two announcements, there were actually two editions of the Yerushalmi. One aimed at Yeshiva students and the like and again, the other, academics. The former was printed on poor paper and only contains a Hebrew title page. The latter was printed on good paper and includes a German title page (where Friedlaender becomes Dr. Friedlaender).

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