Kalman Schulman ( Shulman)
(Some Information copied from the internet)
Born in 5579 Av 18th (9.8.1819), in old Bikhov (Mohilev Region -
greatly cared about his Talmud studies. soon after he came to the
Volozhin Yeshiva, he became Rabbi Itsele's most cherished student. Reb
Itsele knew languages. Like his father he spoke Russian and Polish
fluently. He was Interested in medicine, he was able to read and to
understand Latin. He would even check his students and tell them which
medications to take. However he did not inflate his expertise. In the
case of a serious eyes illness of his favorite student, the writer
Kalman Schulman, he sent him to Vilna to the renowned Professor
Poritshinski with an introduction letter, where the patient eventually
recovered. Kalman Schulman moved to Vilna permanently.
Kalman Schulman befriended many leading members of the community.
Amongst his dear friends were the young writers who introduced Hebrew
to their readers. He also befriended religious leaders of the
community, amongst them; Rabbi Yisroel Salant.
In 5608 (1848) a cholera epidemic, which claimed many lives, broke out
in Vilna. R' Yisroel marshaled his courage and convened many public
meetings, at which he aroused the people to do teshuva sheleimoh, and
to extend financial aid to the victims and their families.
On erev Yom Kippur 5609, he hung announcements in all of Vilna's shuls
and botei medrash instructing the people not to fast, to shorten the
piyutim, and then to go to the outskirts of the town to breathe fresh
After shacharis of Yom Kippur, R' Yisroel himself went up to the
bimoh, recited a borei minei mezonos, and ate in full view of the
entire congregation, so that all would follow suit.
That very same year, an edict was issued by the government to found
Rabbinical Seminaries in Vilna and Zhitomir. Schulman Kelman and other
communal leaders of Vilna sought to appoint R' Yisroel as a gemora
teacher in the new Beis Medrash, while he who had recommended him,
Kalman Schulman, was appointed a Tanach and Hebrew grammar teacher.
After some year Kelman Schulman became one of the most remarkable and
prolific "haskala" (Enlightenment) Jewish writers of his generation.
In 1859, Kalman Schulman began to publish his highly popular
translations/adaptations of Eugene Sue's Les Mystères de
Paris,"Mysteries of Paris" thus introducing the Hebrew reader to one
of the great popular adventure stories of contemporary French
literature. Works of literature of the 1850's formed the basis of
what might be called "the invention of Hebrew prose."
Kalman Schulman was a leading Enlightenment figures of his time with
his romantic style books. His subjects, the love of Zion, the love of
the Hebrew language, the splendors of the east and Jewish history .
His special place in the history comes not form his unique Hebrew
style, but for the enormous educational affect he had on his
generation. His large volume of works in numerous subjects introduced
the Hebrew readers to various general subjects.. Kalman Schulman's The
Ruins of Betar supplied Abraham Goldfaden's Play; Bar-Kokhba, with the
material he sought to write the play.
The first Maskil who was actively interested in German-Jewish
historical novels and stories was Kalman Schulman, best known for his
educational efforts to translate history and geography books for
eastern European Youth. August Ludwig Frankel, the Vienna Jewish
community's secretary, put together a collection of folk stories that
fascinated Schulman. The collection was created on the basis of notes
Frankel took of stories heard during a business trip to Jerusalem.
Frankel added the stories to his diary, making them the second part of
his Nach Jerusalem, Leipzig 1858. This voyage was planned for
establishing the Lemmel orphanage. In Schulman's book Havazelet
ha-Scharon, Vilna 1861, the second part is dedicated to these tales,
while the first is a set of fictional letters written to a friend,
answering philological and historical riddles in Talmudic texts. In
the first part, Schulman praises a miracle worker from Livorno, Italy,
who used his talents in Germany, in order to cut living people in half
and then put them back together again.
Those who read the first part of Havazelet ha-Scharon would not be
surprised to later find Frankel's tale about the Jewish mystic and
founder of the "Beit El" Yeshiva in Jerusalem in the 18th century, Sar
Shalom Sharabi. According to Frankel, Sharabi froze an Arab youth who
tried to chop his head off with a sword, simply by gazing at him.
Sharabi's gaze turned the boy into a column of salt , just like Lot's
wife in the Biblical story. In this story Schulman is not providing a
counter to the stories in Shivhei ha-Besht but rather reinforces them.
It is no mere chance that during the sixties Shivhei ha-Besht was
published in at least six editions in Lemberg alone. In Shivhei
ha-Besht we find the story of the Besht, who was attacked by a robber
(Hebrew: "Gazlan") who used an axe to try to behead him. However, as
the robber lifted his axe he was beaten by unidentified-invisible
forces and lost his power of speech.
Three years earlier, Schulman published Harisot Beitar (The Ruins of
Beitar), a Hebrew translation and adaptation of a book written in
German by Rabbi Dr. Samuel Meir from Achingen in: "Israelitischer
Musen Almanach". In the opening, Schulman added a historical
introduction for the Hebrew reader, describing the time (second
century) and the hero (Bar-Kokhva) according to the sayings of the
Jewish sages, Church fathers and the writings of fellow Maskilim such
as Zekharyah Frankel and Nachman Krochmal. By so doing, Schulman
opened the way for other publications portraying historical figures
and their noble or destructive deeds.
From the literary point of view, Schulman's achievement is interesting
because of the kind of literature it was the first to offer to readers
of Hebrew pastime literature, fiction in place of the serious writings
of the humanists. The enormous success obtained by this first work of
the translator, the repeated editions which it underwent, testify to
the existence of a public that craved light literature. Thenceforth,
romanticism was to occupy the first place, and the Melizah style was
appropriated for the purposes of fiction, to the delight of the
friends of the Bible language.
In spite of his small originality, it happened that Kalman Schulman
contributed more than any other writer to the achievement of securing
a place for Hebrew in the hearts of the people. For the length of a
half-century, he was regarded popularly as the master of Hebrew style.
Romantic and conservative in religion, enthusiastic for whatsoever the
Jewish genius produced, naïve in his conception of life, he let his
activity play upon all the fields of literature. He published a
History of the World in ten volumes ; a geography, likewise in ten
volumes; four volumes of biographical and literary essays on the
Jewish writers of the Middle Ages; a national romance dealing with the
time of Bar Kokbah (a composite made up of a number of translations) ;
and curious Biblical and Talmudic essays.
His language is the Hebrew of Isaiah. The artificialities and the
undue emphasis of his style, his childlike views, his romantic
sentimentality in all that touches Jews and Judaism, which appealed
directly to the hearts of the simple readers who constituted his
public, explain the success of this writer, well merited even though
he lacked originality. His books were spread broad-cast, by the
millions of copies, and they fostered love of Hebrew, of science, and
knowledge in general among the people. By this token, Schulman was a
civilizing agent of the first rank. His work is the portal through
which the Maskil had to pass, and sometimes passes to this day, on the
path of development toward modern civilization.
Kalman Schulman's "Divrei Y'mei Olam", "The world History" is known
among his important books. Harisot Beitar, Land of Russia,
Schulman also had translated and edited many books. He died in 5659
Shvat 5th (15.1.1899), in Vilna.
His son; Michel
Feiner, S. Kalman Schulman: The Father of the Bestsellers [in Hebrew].