Title page of Ha-Boker or (The Morning Light), Warsaw, 1880. (YIVO)

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Boker Or, Ha-

(1876–1886), Hebrew literary monthly. Ha-Boker or (The Morning Light) was founded in Lwów by the writer Avraham Ber Gottlober as a counterpoint to Perets Smolenskin’s monthly, Ha-Shaḥar (The Dawn). Between 1874 and 1875, Smolenskin had used his monthly to publish sections of his collection of essays ‘Et lata‘at (A Time to Plant), which was devoted, in the main, to attacking the Berlin Haskalah founded by Moses Mendelssohn. Gottlober, a moderate maskil of the older generation, saw it as his duty to defend Mendelssohn’s honor, and in 1876 and 1877 Ha-Boker or provided a platform for Gottlober’s supporters. They were not opposed to Smolenskin’s maskilic, nationalist goals, and therefore concentrated their efforts on refuting claims that Mendelssohn was antinationalist, or that he was responsible for assimilationist trends among Jews.

Born in this bitter polemic, Ha-Boker or consolidated itself to become a regular journal and permanent platform for the maskilim. Its first three volumes (1876–1878) were printed in Lwów, which at that time was part of the Habsburg Empire, though the publication was meant primarily for readers living in Russia and Poland. After Gottlober acquired a license to publish within Russian territory, he transferred the journal to Warsaw, where the next three volumes appeared between 1879 and 1881. After a four-year break, he resumed publication, but the seventh volume, published in 1885–1886, was its last. Though Gottlober was the founding editor, he assigned most of the editing duties to others, while he himself traveled through Russia and Poland to seek subscribers to ensure the continued survival of his monthly.

The de facto editor from 1876 to 1879 was Re’uven Asher Braudes, who also published many of his own works in Ha-Boker or, including the popular novel Ha-Dat veha-ḥayim (Religion and Life). Braudes was succeeded by the Warsaw bookseller-publishers Eli‘ezer Yitsḥak Shapira and Avraham Zuckerman. Aside from works by Braudes and of Gottlober himself (fiction, poetry, and commentaries on public affairs), many other Galician and Russian maskilim also contributed to the journal. These included Mendele Moykher-Sforim, Ya‘akov Eichenbaum, Yehudah Leib Levin, Eli‘ezer Zweifel, and Salomon Buber. The younger generation was represented by David Frishman, who published his earliest works of poetry, fiction, and literary criticism, and by Y. L. Peretz, who presented his earliest poems.

Despite inconsistent literary standards, slack editing, an eclectic character, and an irregular publication schedule, Ha-Boker or was a significant vehicle for the literature of the late Haskalah, and came to be regarded as one of the first stages in the birth of a center of modern Hebrew literature in Warsaw.

Suggested Reading

Menuḥah Gilbo‘a, “Ha-Boker or,” in Leksikon ha-‘itonut ha-‘ivrit ba-me’ot ha-shemoneh ‘esreh veha-tesha‘ ‘esreh, pp. 256–258 (Jerusalam and Tel Aviv, 1992); Joseph Klausner, “Ha-Boker or,” in Historyah shel ha-sifrut ha-‘ivrit ha-ḥadashah, vol. 5, pp. 337–344 (Jerusalem, 1955).



Translated from Hebrew by David Fachler