Date of this Version
The Jewish Week
"The Book of the Covenant" (Sefer ha-Brit) was one of the most popular Hebrew books read by Jews in the Modern Era, reflected in its 36 editions, including three Yiddish and two Latino translations. It was first published by a relatively unknown Eastern European Jew named Phinehas Elijah Hurwitz. in Brünn, Moravia in 1797 and then in a much expanded edition in Zolkiev, Galicia, in 1807. The work purports to be an extended commentary on a popular Jewish mystical work called "Gates of Holiness" (Sha'arei Kedushah) written by Hayyim Vital (1542-1620), the well-known mystic and prominent figure of 16th-century Lurianic kabbalah. In this accessible work, Vital presented his readership a strategy on how to become a prophet even if one lives outside the land of Israel and in present times. The book was widely read and reprinted for centuries and was especially popular in Eastern Europe among traditional Jews including in chasidic circles.
Originally published in The Jewish Week by JWMG © 2011. http://www.thejewishweek.com/special_sections/text_context/behind_best_sellers
Ruderman, D. B. (2011). Behind the Best Sellers: A Scholar Revisits an 18th-Century Popular Tone—Reprinted for Centuries—That Mixes Science, Kabbalah and Ethics. The Jewish Week, Retrieved from https://repository.upenn.edu/history_papers/56
Date Posted: 25 August 2017