Do You Know Yourself by Rabbi Joseph Shapotshnick, London 1927.

ShapKnow01This is a book in English, on psychology, by the controversial Rabbi Joseph Shapotshnick, the self-titled Chief Rabbi of the Rabbinical Association.  As I have written before, Rabbi Joseph Shapotshnick was like Marmite – you either loved him or hated him. He came to London in 1913 and settled in the East End, where he soon became a well known chassidic character. He was already a published author in Europe, and when he came to London became amazingly prolific.

Rabbi Shapotshnick was brilliant, well-meaning, flawed and ultimately discredited in the eyes of the Charedi community to which he belonged.  You can read more about him in Rabbi Pini  Dunner’s excellent essay, entitled Rebel Rabbi of London. 

However, this book is not about a religious or rabbinical topic at all.  It is subtitled ‘A Study in Human Psychology in all its stages”

The book claims that it is “One Thousand Questions on Human Psychology”, but my copy only goes up to 884 questions on page 96 – I do not know if it was published this way or if I am missing pages.

ShapKnow02One can wonder how the Rabbi managed to write so well in English, which was not his native language, using a very wide and erudite vocabulary, and surmise that he had some help.  The book also says that it was printed by Ben-A Sochachewsky.

Ben-A Sochachewsky (1889-1958) was not a printer but a journalist, poet and teller of Chassidic stories.  He was born in Lodz, Poland, and arrived in London about 1913. He was on the editorial staff of Di Zeit, the London Yiddish newspaper, of which I have written about here. His actual name was Yechiel Meir or “Chil Majer” Sochachewsky, but he used the pen name Ben-A.


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