Bloch, Samson (Simson) Ha-Levi

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BLOCH, SAMSON (Simson ) HA-LEVI (1784–1845), one of the early Hebrew authors of the *Haskalah in Galicia. He was, for a number of years, a student of Naḥman *Krochmal and a close friend of Solomon Judah *Rapoport In the early 1800s he settled in Zamosc, in Russian Poland. In 1809 he published a new edition of Iggeret ha-Rashba (Epistle of R. Solomon b. Abraham *Adret) against the study of philosophy, together with Iggeret ha-Hitnaẓẓelut (Letter of Defense) by *Jedaiah ha-Penini on behalf of philosophy. In his introduction, Bloch explained that Adret had objected only to philosophical studies at too early an age. In 1813–14, Bloch worked as proofreader of Hebrew books for the Viennese printer Anton Schmid. He published a Hebrew translation (from the German) of *Manasseh Ben Israel's Vindiciae Iudaeorum with the title Teshu'at Yisrael ("Israel's Salvation," 1814) with an introduction and the author's biography by David Franco-Mendes. Bloch won his place in Hebrew literature with his Shevilei Olam ("Paths of the World"), the first general geography in the Hebrew language. The first two parts of this work, on Asia and Africa, appeared during his lifetime (1822–1827); the unfinished third part, on Europe, edited by N.M. Schorr and published posthumously in 1855, under the title Zehav Shebah. Shevilei Olam, which ran into four editions, is, in the main, an adaptation of German geography books. However, Bloch was able to give his work a popular Jewish flavor by the inclusion of stories about unusual phenomena in far-off lands, mysterious tales and legendary anecdotes, and by special stress on the importance of each country for Jewish history. Bloch's style is extremely florid and stilted even for his own period, and the book as a whole suffers from numerous irrelevant notes. In 1840 Bloch published a Hebrew translation of Leopold Zunz's biography of Rashi, with important emendations and notes. Bloch spent his last years in solitude and illness in his native town of Kulikow (near Lemberg).


Klausner, Sifrut, 2 (1952), 350–68.

[Gedalyah Elkoshi]