Dr. Aaron Lucerna Maor Katan

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Dr. Aharon Lucerna Maor Katan

Also Known As: "Ha Rofeh"
Death: January 01, 1643
Vienna, Austria
Immediate Family:

Son of Moshe Lucerna, haRofe Maor Katan and Kaila Maor-Katan (Teomim)
Husband of Raizel Maor Katan
Father of Miriam Öttingen; Levia Maor Austerlitz HaLevi; Loeb Lucerna Maor Katan and Moshe Lucerna Maor Katan
Brother of Mirjam Lucerna; Michael Maor Katan Lucerna and Jehuda Löb Maor Katan-Lucerna

Occupation: Physician
Managed by: Randy Schoenberg
Last Updated:

About Dr. Aaron Lucerna Maor Katan

Author(s): Henry Malter

Source: The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 2, No. 2 (Oct., 1911), pp. 271-279

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1451031

Jewish Quarterly Review.

RECENT JEWISH LITERATURE Jüdische Privatbriefe aus dem Jahre 1619. Nach den Originalen des k. u. k. Haus- Hof- u. Staatsarchivs im Auftrage der historischen Kommission der isr. Kultusgemeinde in Wien herausgegeben von Dr. ALFRED LANDAU U. Dr. BERNHARD WVACHSTEIN. Wien u. Leipzig, I9II. pp. xLIx +- 33 + 60. with 8 fcss. THE work under the above title forms the third volume of the "Quellen und Forichungen zur Geschichte der Juden in Deutsch-Oesterreich," a serial publication undertaken three years ago by the historical commission of the Jewish community of Vienna. It contains, in the first place, a collection of 46 (or rather 54, since 8 of the numbers contain 2 letters each) letters written by various Jews and Jewesses of Prague in November I619; shortly after the beginning of the Thirty Years' War. Only six of the letters are written in the Hebrew language, the rest are composed in Judeo-German, which was spoken by nearly all the Jews of Europe at that time. They are all addressed to relatives and acquaintances who resided in Vienna, but, as we see now, were not delivered probably because they were intercepted in the search for political documents. How the bundle of letters hap- pened to come into the state-archives of the Austrian govern- ment, where they remained unnoticed nearly 300 years, is a ques- tion to which the learned editors confess to have no answer. Certain it is that for a very long time the letters were left un- touched until the worms had done their work in eating away the material out of which some of the seals were prepared. The contents of these letters are of the utmost interest from many a point of view. They represent, to begin with, the first and, perhaps, the only collection of Jewish family-letters of mediaval times. In the variety of content, in the diversity of human relations that are uncovered before our wondering eyes, in the amazing richness of genuine sentiment displayed by tht various writers, revealing to us their loves and petty quarrels, their hopes and fears in their political, religious, social, com- mercial, and private life-these letters can hardly be equaled by any historical document that has been brought to light through the researches of any Jewish historical commission, with the ex- ception, perhaps, of the documents published by the Deutsche hist. Commission. We stand here, as it were, before a series of rapidly moving pictures, in which all classes of the Jewish com- munity of Prague in the year 16I9 are vividly presented. We see their business transactions, their social joys and sorrows, we see the cakes they like, the clothes, and-I beg your pardon- even the petticoats they wear. Forgetting ourselves for a moment we feel deeply moved in reading of the sufferings of the brave Roesel Theomim, daughter of a prominent representative of the Jewish community in Vienna, who had died three years before (1616). For some reason she was left with her children in Vienna, where the cholera had broken out, while her husband, Dr. Aaron Lucerna, or, as he is called in Hebrew, Aaron Maor- Katan, was practicing medicine and very busy in trying to fight off small-pox which was ravaging Prague at that time. She implores him to take her to Prague, as she would prefer to die near him, but owing to the insecurity of the roads in the times of war this was impossible. In a long affectionate letter, beginning with the words "Herzliebes Weib, ich hab deine Kines-brief erhalten, ich hab trerin driber gelosen," and so forth, he explains to her the great dangers of a journey at the present time andt begs her to wait until spring. At the end he does not forget to admonish her that she should not go out in the evenings alone, for, her husband being far away, people might talk evil about her. What happened afterwards we do not know, except that Dr. Lucerna died in Vienna in 1643. It would lead us too far to indicate the contents even of a small portion of these letters, that cover sixty pages in print. As mentioned before, they are written by men and women from all classes of the Jewish community. Of particular interest are two letters because they are written by no less a man than the famous Yomtob Lipman Heller, the author of the Tosefot Yormtob on the Mishnah, and his wife Rechle, born Theomim. The great Rabbi who writes here in plain "Jiidisch Teitsch" to his sister-in-law is very anxious to marry off his daughter. He promised to pay Iooo gulden for a son-in-law but would like now to reduce this sum if possible to 800 gulden. I do not know how far the miscarriage of his letter had interfered with the "Shidduch" and whether he succeeded in his attempt to lower the price of his future son-in-law. A conspicuous feature in all these letters is the spirit of love and cordiality in which they are written, the earnestness and religious piety that is discernible even in the ordinary business-letter. Though they were destined to be read only by the nearest relatives, there is nowhere an obscene word as is often the case in private letters written by Germans of that time. Nor is there to be found any harsh expression used by one member of the family against the other. Enoch Hamerschlag, a prominent citizen of Prague, rebukes his son Aaron who had married in Vienna, for devoting too much time to business, neglecting the study of the Torah which is more important than making money. "Had I. known that your father-in-law was going to engage you in business instead of making you study the Torah, as he had promised to do, he might have offered me all his fortune, I would never have consented to that marriage. I did not bring you up for business and am afraid that God will punish you for neglecting the study of the Torah. Therefore come back to Prague and I shall engage here the best teacher in town to assist you in your studies" (letter 3a). It is also noteworthy that two letters (Nos. 28 and 29) are written partly in cipher, an enigmatic combination of Hebrew characters contrived for the safe transmission of secrets. No clue whatever could at first be offered by the editors to this cryptography. Several months after the publication of the work, however, Dr. Wachstein renewed his efforts, and this time was rewarded by discovering the device used by the writer and getting thus behind his secrets. In a "Nachtrag" (=Supplement) to the work under discussion published separately during the same year (Leipzig 191I) he betrays them also to the reader, repro- ducing the two letters in a fully deciphered form. Those, however, who have suspected some extraordinary secret behind the occult letters will perhaps feel somewhat disappointed upon now learning their content. For the writer of letter No. 28 only inquires whether he could get in Vienna a loan of a thousand Schock (== about 1200 dollars) at "a low rate of interest for a whole year," while letter No. 29 (by the same writer) again shows us the flourishing business of match-making in the Jewish community of Prague. The writer, Judah Katz, obviously anxious to get the mediator's fee, very solicitously recommends to his uncle Abraham Katz in Vienna, a "good-looking learned boy of a fine German family of rabbis, not over fifteen years old" as a prospective bridegroom for the daughter of Abraham's father- in-law. In case the latter should not care for the match, the uncle should approach with the proposal a certain Aaron b. Solomon [Theomim]. The uncle is further requested not to initiate anybody else in the matter, which gives us a hint why the letter was written in cypher. The deciphered portion of the letter is, however, of historical importance, inasmuch as it throws some light on the genealogy and relationship of several prominent rabbis, among them Yomtob Lipman Heller, mentioned therein. A few words must be said also about the work of the two editors. Aside from a splendid general introduction, in which the historical importance of the documents is pointed out and the idiomatic as well as grammatical peculiarities of their language are minutely discussed, they give also a carefully prepared transliteration of the Hebrew characters with explanatory notes and very learned bio- and bibliographical discourses on most of the persons mentioned in the letters. Of great importance not only for the historian but also for the student of mediaeval German philology is the elaborate glossary in which the most difficult words are traced to their origin. The addition of eight tables showing the facsimiles of twenty letters, in full or in part, and of the seals with their inscriptions (in Latin and Hebrew characters) as they were used in the various families deserves special mention. Among the facsimiled letters is also the one written by Lipman Heller and the one written in cipher (No. 29). The learned editors evidently realized the great importance of their material and therefore felt justified in spending so much time and labor on its analysis and scientific fructification for the scholarly world, This view will be shared and their labor appreciated by every one who is interested in the history of medioeval Jewry.

"Die Grabschriften des Alten Judenfriedhofes in Wien" Band I, by Dr. Bernhard Wachstein-no. 283

"Die Familie Wolf" - by Ernst Wolf 1924

http://www.fpe.ch/stammbaum/ pg.111

pg. 5,129,143, 148-150

Studied at the Padua University.

About Dr. Aaron Lucerna Maor Katan (עברית)

מגלות היוחסין של משפחות יהודיות הונגריות- כרך ראשון

עורך- מונקאטשי