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Literary Notices

 

מאיר עין בני הנעורים A Hebrew and English Vocabulary, from a selection of the Daily Prayers, intended for the use of Schools and Young Beginners, by a Lady, revised by Sabato Morais, Professor of Hebrew, and under the sanction of the Rev. David Meldola. London. 5608, 12mo. pp. 109.—We are again indebted to a woman of Israel for an addition to our literature. It is certainly a singular phenomenon that the greater portion of those who of late have written for the Jews in the English language are females, and they have not disdained to lend their talents, and to devote the fruit of their education to the elucidation of their ancestral language and religion. Is it that our men need a wider field for the display of their talents? must they battle at the bar, or labour in the medical profession, or shine as writers in general literature, that they cannot be satisfied with the small modicum of approbation to be obtained as authors of strictly Jewish works? or is it the want of patronage which men have to fear if they should venture to lay the productions of their pens before the Jewish public? We are sorry to say that both the causes are probably operative in producing the result we have mentioned; but we imagine that it is chiefly the want of encouragement which keeps so many pens, which otherwise would be employed for us, in idleness, or wasting their strength in walks of literature where there are already over many actively engaged. It is disheartening that our people appreciate so little the services which the pen can render; that they appear insensible to the triumphs which it has achieved; that it is the weapon of modern times, more potent in its effects than the flashing sabre or the thundering artillery. If they are not conscious of this fact, let them look on the revolutions which have lately occurred, and they will readily acknowledge that they are owing to the silent workings on the mind which have been progressing for many years past, and now become visible through the symptoms of <<305>>awakening which no earthly power was any longer able to suppress.  Do our. brothers want to participate fully in the march of mind? Then let them evoke the talents which lie dormant among them; let them tell the friends of light that they need not conceal their inherent power, but that thousands will stand ready to welcome, to aid them, and to bid them “God be with you.”

The present little volume contains selections from the Daily Prayers, arranged in such a manner as to give in one column the roots of the words, in the second the form in which they are found in the prayers, and in the third the literal translation thereof in the English, by which means beginners may be rendered familiar with the signification of the words of the prayers, whilst they are taught the roots from which they are derived. The servile letters, or those which serve in Hebrew to supply the place of separate conjunctions, prepositions and pronouns in other tongues, are in many instances separated from the root by means of a Mackaph, or hyphen, whilst the words in the translation corresponding with those letters, are given in italics. For instance ו-תנ-נוand grant thou us,” where the initial ו signifies and, the final נו us, and the תנ the imperative from נתן “give thou,” whilst the first column has the root marked likewise. It is not to be expected that a child will be able to teach himself on this plan; but he will have an opportunity, with the aid of a teacher, to acquire a considerable fund of words, without and before using a dictionary, which is always an irksome labour to a young scholar, and not rarely even to older learners; and whatever facilities  study without impairing the industry of the student, is an advancement and, therefore, an improvement which should not be lost sight of.

The work is one of the kind that it will not be very easy to give extracts and examples; but we can freely say, that the plan is generally well carried out. We wish, however, to call the attention of the authoress to one thing, and this is the mode of rendering the present tense participle. It is true that with the personal pronouns it forms the present tense of the Hebrew verbs; but not as a regular tense, but more like the English form I am with the participle; for instance, I am thinking; thou art speaking. In the same manner אתה משמר is the participle keeping, joined to the the masculine singular, thou, with unusual הוה the participle of the verb היה to be, understood, or thou art keeping. If now this mode of rendering the participle is constantly persevered in, there will be no necessity of giving various methods to translate it, and the scholar will at once see the propriety of giving it either with a synonymous noun, or with the rela<<306>>tive, if it be combined with ה or at once as the present tense of the verb from which it is derived. So it would be apparent why אתה משמרה is given with thou dost guard it; מודה with acknowledging, and הנותן again with who giveth, the giver, which various words are all participles, and therefore have originally all the same relative signification, thus guarding, acknowledging, giving; and the other forms are merely paraphrases of this. There is indeed no radical difference in all the various methods of translating the participle; but if we adopt one as cardinal, the scholar will readily distinguish the reason for the various renderings to which it is subjected.—As an appendix, the volume concludes with a table of the prefixes and suffixes, with principal changes of points which they undergo.

We recommend this unpretending volume, which even appears without the name of the authoress, (though it is known to us,) to the kind consideration of our readers; and those who are engaged in education will do well to order it for the use of their scholars. We shall be happy to forward any orders to England, and we can promise a speedy supply.*

* The price is about 75 cents; but we are not sufficiently certain to state it with precision.

The Jewish Miscellany, No. XI.—Being No. 2, of the Path of Israel, from the French of J. Ennery, of Strasburg, by A. H. Bernal, revised by the Publication Committee of the American Jewish Publication Society. Philadelphia, 12mo, pp. 108. We beg leave to call the attention of the public to the series of books printed by the Society which was established in this city for the publication of useful works on the subject of the Jews, their religion, history, and antiquities, and other relevant matters. It has now issued eleven numbers, comprising about 1600 pages, every one of which, we are free to say, has something of interest to Israelites; indeed we know not a series of more useful little works than those embraced in the above; and we are certain that should our friends fully appreciate the benefits resulting from a diffusion of useful and agreeable knowledge, they would strive to place ample funds in the hands of the committee to persevere in the enterprise they have voluntarily undertaken. There has hitherto been a great difficulty experienced, in finding suitable books to be placed in the hands of our young people, which they could peruse without more or less injury to their religious impressions, or acquiring those which are hostile to our own views. This evil has in a measure been remedied by the Jewish Miscellany; and it is for the Jews at large to pronounce a verdict as to its life or death. How say you? shall it live? We look confidently for a favourable verdict.