No biographical data is known for Eliezer Favir. It is
only known that he was secretary of the Jewish kehilla
(community council) in Zolkiew, near Lemberg, Galicia.
Gershon Beder recalls that
in 1787, when the Austrian government issued the law
that every Galician Jew must have a family name, a Jew
came from a village near Zolkiew and said that he is
called "Shmuel from under the shrankn," and he is a
farmer in the field of employment. The overseer of the
names was given the name of his surname, "Poyer." By
mistake it became "Paver." This was already after his
son Eliezer was an adult.
(The premise is already in
doubt that the "overseer of the names" would certainly
have written the name "Bauer," with a "B" [and not with
a "P"], because all names even had to be marked in
German by the Jewish metric leaders.)
According to Bader, Eliezer
from his early youth went to a yeshiva in Zolkiew, or in
Lemberg, and Became a scholar and a writer with a unique
Hebrew style, which in that time of the Haskalah
(Enlightenment) melitse [style common in Hebrew
literature in the 18th and 19th centuries) could serve
as a template.
Later he became the official
writer for the Zolkiew kehilla and directed all the
Jewish affairs in the city. However when they had the
need to write a report for the government, he had to use
the help of Christians, because he didn't know any
Bader further recalls that
F. became the provider of siddurs, machzors, khumash,
and other books, which they then had to bring in from
Prague, or from other German cities, because with the
Russian Jews at that time, no connection was made.
Initially when they opened a Yiddish print shop in
Zolkiew, F. published several Hebrew books, which he
then went around to sell. On the request of his mother,
that he also should really print in Yiddish, that the
wives should also know how to read. He adapted in
"Hebrew meaning" the "story book" by R' Asher Anshel, by
Reb Layzer the cantor, approximately 40 stories out of
the 354 original ones printed in 1800, under the name, "Sipore
In 1801, under the name, "Gdules
yoysef (The Grandeur of Joseph)," there was published in
Zolkiew his shortened Yiddish translation of the Toliver
Magid Chaim Avraham ben Arye-Leyb haCohain's "Milkhome
bshalom (War and Peace," a typical Hebrew morality
drama, in two parts.
In the "Archive of the
History of Yiddish Theatre and Drama" (Vilna 1930, pp.
151-158), Dr. Shatzky noted that in various editions of
the Yiddish translation there was published from 1801
As Zalman Reisen remarks (in
1931), there is found three additional publications of "Gdules
yoysef" in the Vilna University Library, from the years
1842, 1845 and 1849.
According to Avraham Yeri in
Tke"u (1812), there was published in Zolkiew, or in
Lemberg, F.'s Yiddish translation of "Shabkhi bal shom
tov," seen with an introduction by the translator,
written in Tke"u (1811). This is to be seen in 1811 that
F. was still alive.
F. wrote several books in
Zalman Reisen maintains
"F. was a pioneer of the
Yiddish folk literature in the beginning of the
nineteenth century. One of the first Yiddish writers
who, after Mendel Lepin and his friend, Yosef Perle
(sp), tried to overstate the fledgling traditional "High
German" -- the then accepted literary language of ours
-- and used in his essays the living Yiddish. No
original work is known of him, but in his work he
expressed a sense of popularism for a "book of books,"
as well as for the modern maskilim drama, as well
as for the classical moral book."
Dr. Jacob Shatzky sets
himself apart on the drama, "Gdules yoysef":
"The Yiddish edition was
very much liked by the people. (A.J.) Papirna recalls in
his memoirs that among the beloved books that the wives
have read, that were stories of the old Jewish history,
such as "Gdules yoysef" -- a romantic, legendary history
of Joseph the Beautiful [?] [Yosef dem sheynem].
"Mendele (Mokher Sefarim)
also mentions in his autobiography 'Shloyme reb khayims
(Shloyme, the Son of Reb Khayim),' this book, 'Gdules
yoysef': "Read one for the children, the story of Yosef
Hadik [The Mighty Joseph?] with his brothers, in a
Hebrew translation. People enjoy themselves, they marvel
at the heroism of Judah.
"These dramatized stories
that our babies and their loved ones so much enjoyed in
Yiddish were part of a much larger number of
publications than in Hebrew. ... About the translator,
the original editor, let us say that he composed a few
books in Yiddish.
"The dramatic construction
of 'Gdules yoysef,' as well as Eliezer Favir's
achievement in the translation of the drama, 'Milkhome
bashalom,' deserves a special treatment. Here I just
want to remind you that the basis of all the subsequent
'Sale of Joseph plays' is not the text that Schudte (sp)
published in his 'Yidishe merkvirdikeytn (Yiddish
Remarks),' but rather the Yiddish version of 'Milkhome
bashalom' -- the book 'Gdules yoysef.'
In his bibliographical list
then, according to Dr. Shatzky, the publications also of
the 'Sefer mekhire yoysef (Book of the Sale of Joseph)'
(Vilna, 1893), is strongly influenced by 'Gdules yoysef,'
oder, 'Mekhire yoysef-shpil,' that it's 'based,' said
the judge -- plagiarized from this drama in the form of
a few scenes, special for the second part."
Z. Reisen -- "Lexicon
of Yiddish Literature," Vol. III, pp. 6-9.
Dr. Jacob Shatzky --
Di yidishe oygabes fun der drame, "Milkhome bashalom,"
"Archive," Vilna, 1930, pp. 151-158.
Avraham Yeri --
Yidisher visnshaftlekher institut, "Krit sefer,"
Jerusalem, Shana Shminit, A, pp. 80-81.
Z. Reisen -- Tsu der
geshikhte fun der yidisher haskalah-literatur, "YIVO
Bleter," Vilna, March 1931, pp. 200-201.
Gershom Bader -- Fun
foyer iz gevorn paver, un fun paver iz aroys a
galitsianer shreyber, "Morning Journal," N.Y., 3