Altschul, Moses ben ḣanokh

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ALTSCHUL, MOSES BEN ḤANOKH (c. 1546–1633), early Yiddish writer. He was the author of the Brant Shpigl ("The Burning Mirror"), the first original comprehensive book of ethics in Yiddish. Printed by Conrad Waldkirch in Basle in 1602, it was based upon Altschul's earlier Hebrew ethical tract Mar'ah ha-Sorefet (1577). Brant Shpigl was part of the cycle of Yiddish didactic works appearing in the late 16th and early 17th centuries addressed primarily to women who could not read Hebrew. Altschul's volume emphasized women's duties and ideal moral behavior, and included chapters on such subjects as "how a modest woman should behave at home" and "how a woman should treat her domestic help." Three editions were published during the author's lifetime; it continued to be reprinted until 1706 and became particularly popular among German Jews. Other books followed in imitation of Altschul; for example, the Tsukht Shpigl ("Mirror of Modesty"), a rhymed, versified compendium of proverbs alphabetically arranged, selected by Seligman Ulma from holy texts (1610, and frequently reprinted); and Kleyn Brant Shpigl ("The Smaller Burning Mirror") edited by Judah b. Israel Regensburg. Its original title in 1566 had been Mishlei Kha khomim, but it was renamed as a result of the popularity of Brant Shpigl.


I. Zinberg, Geshikte fun der Literatur bay Yidn, 6 (1943), 179–82; J. Prijs, Die Basler hebraeischen Drucke (1964), 283 ff.; M. Erik, Geshikhte fun der Yidisher Literatur (1928), 287–99.

[Sol Liptzin]