Begilufin – Fergangene Welten – Past Worlds about Chassidim and Folklore, by Rabbi Yehoshua Szpetman, London 1951.

Begilufin01This is a very readable (if you read Yiddish) book by Rabbi Joshua (Shiya) Szpetman (pronounced Shpetman). He was a native of Lublin, in Poland, who had already been a Rosh Yeshiva (Head of a Rabbinical Academy)  when he emigrated to London on the 1930s. He was the “red rabbi”,  writer, author, orator, and preacher, who was, for 35 years, the Rabbi of the Nelson Street Sefardishe Synagogue in the East End of London.  He was a regular contributor to the London Yiddish daily newspaper Di Zeit, and also to A. N. Stencl’s monthly Yiddish literary magazine Loshn un Lebn.  His background was Chassidic and he was a follower of the author and thinker Hillel Zeitlin, who had translated the Zohar into Yiddish.

I have written about Rabbi Szpetman before:

His book: Chevelei Haneshama UMusar HaYahadut (1938) and

Likvod Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur (1957)

The word ‘Begilufin’ can be translated as slightly drunk and confused.  This book is called in English “Past Worlds, and consists of two sections.

The first is Rabbi Szpetman’s memories of Chassidim and Chasidus – how the Chassidim lived in Eastern Europe.  He depicts Chassidic observance of happy and social occasions.

The second section consists of six emotional articles, entitled ‘folkstimlichkeit’ – folklore – written after the Holocaust.

Here is Rabbi Szpetman’s introduction:-


I have chosen three short chapters – about Purim as celebrated by the Chassidim, about Lag B’Omer with the Chassidim, and from the second section a short essay – “Idisher Techter” – “Jewish daughters, in honour of our beautiful Jewish daughters from the camps and ghettos in Eastern Europe.”


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