In 1865 he left his father's
backing, because of a need for a livelihood, he created
(or set up) a yeshiva, where he studied Gemora with
students from the yeshiva, but due to his founding of a
library in the city, and due to his articles in "HaMelitz,"
people are sending dedications to the government, and
when he published in the winter of 1866-67 in "HaMelitz"
articles about reforming the Shulchan Aruch [code of
Jewish law], he was boycotted with his entire family,
and he had to leave Wilkomir. On 3 October 1869 L.
arrived in Odessa, where he spent the winter writing.
In 1871 L. began his
publicity activity in Yiddish, and on Tsederbaum's
initiative he became a co-editor of "Kol mevaser
In 1876 L. issued his
autobiographical "Hatat geurim," a book in which they
were almost drawn to all the future Yiddish writers and
businessmen. In 1878 L. published in a socialist
journal, "Asefat ḥakhamim," a satire "Mishat elisha ben
abuyah," in which he brings to publish (in he form of a
parody on the language of the Mishnah), his socialistic
ideas. But in 1881, during the pogroms in Russia, he
became a fanatical follower of the yishuv a'i (?).
L. also attempted to use his
powers for the Yiddish stage and wrote a play with the
name, "Dvoyezshonyetz" ("Der bigamist"), which in the
eightieth year of twenty y'h was staged. About the play
and the offering Jacob P. Adler recalls in his memoirs:
"In Yelisavetgrad the
repertoire of Yiddish theatre was rich. For the first
time in its short history we were (the troupe of
Rosenberg and Naftali Goldfaden) receiving plays just
from Goldfaden. First we got a play from the well-known
Hebrew publicist, mashkhil, epicurean and (later) father
of Russian Zionism, Moshe Leib Lilienblum, although he
had, like all mashkhilim, not a great deal of sympathy
for the Yiddish reality, and understanding this, also
not for Yiddish mameloshn (native tongue), where where
one read for the then really poor Yiddish theatre,
nevertheless our troupe for him received a play, "Der
dvoyezshonyetz" (The Two Wives, the Bigamist). This is
what Lillienblum's first theatre piece was called."
In another place, Jacob P.
"Got to know him (L.). I got
through the Yiddish play, which he then had wanted to
put on in Odessa. 'Der dopl vayberrnik,' or ''Dvoyezhonietz.'
This is a play that portrays the lives of the slave
traders, and Lilienblum did not miss the goal. For that
time in Odessa, and in other southern Russian cities,
there was a kind of plague from Jewish slave traders,
which used to annoy Jewish daughters, and they were sold
to shame in Constantinople, and Lilienblum's with his
play out, the masses against those unfortunates were
warned. The play made an impression, but there was no
success to be had, although the godly Mogulesco had in
her played the main role (just a tragedy). The quiet,
gentle Lilienblum had, however, for the failure of his
play, taken it for love, and there was no murmur against
An entirely other scene
about the offering, according to B. Gorin in his
"History of Yiddish Theatre":
"The Russian name had to be
closed, that this was a translation, but the actors who
still remember the time when this piece was performed,
were under the impression that it was an original play,
and it is incomprehensible why he had to arrive at such
a Russian word, which is not needed by the Jews in
Russia. For the first offering of the cited play,
Lilienblum was behind the scenes with a great tension.
There were tears from his eyes when it came to the
climax in the third act. But here he suddenly saw
something like this that confused him a bit. Before the
close of the act, a scene appeared that was entirely
strange to him. In the first minute, not knowing what it
was like, and from where it came, but soon he was
guessing what it was, and from where it came, but soon
he wondered what that was. The two comedians, who had
played in the piece, Mogulesco and Weinblatt, did not
ask the composer, alone interrupted a comical scene that
had absolutely not been adopted. Lilienblum did not feel
so good about this, so that he disappeared on the spot."
In his propaganda for the
Eretz Yisroel community L. also wanted to exploit the
stage and wrote a play, "Zrubavel, oder, Shivas tsien, a
drama in five acts, composed by Moshe Leib Lilienblum,
Odessa 1887" (55 p.), which was given as a supplement to
his book of collections, "Der yudisher vekker."
Soon thereafter the
published play was staged in London through Caesar
Grinberg, who adapted and added his songs and music, a
year later (1888), the Hebrew translation was staged
through the students of the Lemel School in Jerusalem,
which was thought of as the first Hebrew production in
According to Sh. Mayzels,
both of L.'s plays were presented on the Yiddish stage,
not through Goldfaden's troupe, but only through
Lerner's. Mayzels also translated by mistake the name "Dvoyezhenets"
as "Di tsveyte khasene (The Two Weddings)."
B. Gorin also registers that
L. named the play, "Der shkontist (The Discount
Banker)," when the play, "Der skhkontist," or, "Der
diskontist," or, "Der protsentnik" just belonged to
After Jacob Gordin's death,
L. appeared in Peterburg's "Der fraynd," with a sharp
attack against G., reminding him of his propaganda for
the society "Biblical Brotherhood." An apologetic
comment for Gordin, Noakh Prilutski became involved in
this matter and made an apologetic comment in his
article "M. Lilienlum and Jacob Gordin."
According to Sh.L. Zitron in
his memoirs, L. had in Levi's "Folkstsaytung" written
about Yiddish theatre in Odessa.
On 12 February 1910 L.
passed away in Odessa.
Z. Reisen -- "Lexicon
of Yiddish Literature," Vol. 2, pp. 154-62.
B. Gorin -- "History
of Yiddish Theatre," Vol. 1, pp. 31-32; Vol. 2, p.
Noakh Prilutski --
"Yiddish Theatre," Vol. 1, pp. 46, 98-101.
Sh. Rosenfeld --
"Yiddish History," New York, 1928, Second Part, pp.
Sh.L. Zitron --
"Three Literary Generations," Vol. 3, p. 155.