Sefer HaChaim – The Book of Life by Reverend B. H. Ascher, London 1847

9 book of life_0001Rabbi Benjamin Henry (Binyomin Chaim) Ascher was born in Posen in 1812 and emigrated to London in 1840. He was the ‘Kabbronim’ Rabbi  the funeral Rabbi of the Great Synagogue in Dukes Place, London.  His job was to visit the sick and dying and to attend funerals and comfort the bereaved.  he was the first Rabbi to visit convicts in prisons, providing them with kosher food on Pesach.  When he died, the Jewish Chronicle said that he was a man about whose personality there inevitably hung mournful associations.  The greater part of his public life was spent in attending funerals and 9 book of life_0002houses of mourning.  However, his intellectual abilities marked him out for a more grateful vocation.  He was an effective preacher and a scholar in the days when the Jewish community in England had few of great Hebrew learning.  He demonstrated scholarship, and this is shown in his “Book of Life”.  He died in London in 1893.

the Book of Life is a compendium of prayers and supplications for the sick, whether recovering or dying, and for their visitors and those who attend them in their dying moments.

It has a very complete description of funeral and similar laws and ceremonies for mournful occasions.

The subscription list at the end (see below) is interesting and includes leading personalities of British Jewry in 1847.

After an introduction, Sefer HaChaim starts with a page of dedication:

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At the end of the book is an interesting subscription list:

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