Mezaḥ (Segal), Joshua Ha-Levi

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MEZAḤ (Segal), JOSHUA HA-LEVI (1834–1917), Hebrew and Yiddish author. Born in Lithuania in the Kovno region, near Zagare, Mezaḥ (whose pen name derives from the initials of "Mi-Zager Ḥadash") lived in many different Jewish settlements in Russia and Romania, and for the last 25 years of his life in Vilna. From 1861 he wrote for most of the Hebrew and Yiddish newspapers existing at the time. His first book was Ha-Emunah ve-ha-Haskalah ("Faith and the Enlightenment," 1874). A collection of articles containing descriptions of the social shortcomings of various Jewish communities was published as Mikhtavim mi-Sar shel Ya-M ("Letters from Yehoshu'a Mezaḥ," 5 vols., 1884–88). Tefaḥ Megulleh (1886), for the greater part written by Judah Leib *Gordon, was an attack upon Alexander *Zederbaum, the editor of Ha-Meliẓ. In Bamat Yiẓḥak (1890), Mezaḥ wrote about the Yiddish theater, and Ha-Eshel (2 pts., 1893–94) contains selections from his tales, poems, and essays. He also wrote two plays, Tummat Ivriyyah (1904) and Alilat Shav (1908). He edited Gan ha-Perahim (1891), and, together with Reuben Asher *Braudes, the short-lived biweekly Ha-Yahadut (1885). After the 1890s Mezaḥ wrote almost nothing in Hebrew; but he published many popular short stories and popular booklets in Yiddish which were circulated in hundreds of thousands of copies, sometimes anonymously and often without receiving remuneration. Mezaḥ spent the end of his life in poverty. A bibliography of his works in Yiddish was compiled by A.J. Goldschmidt, in Ẓ. Shabad (ed.), Vilner Zamlbukh, 1 (1917), 192–201.


Rejzen, Leksikon, 2 (1927), 366–74: Kressel, Leksikon, 2 (1967), 335–6.

[Yehuda Arye Klausner]