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HA-SHAḤAR (Heb. הַשַּׁחַר), Hebrew journal which was published and edited in Vienna by Peretz *Smolenskin from 1868 to 1884. During these 16 years, 12 volumes of Ha-Shaḥar were published. In theory Ha-Shaḥar was a monthly; in practice, however, the financial and organizational difficulties caused prolonged interruptions in its regular appearances. In his first article "Petaḥ Davar" ("Preface") Smolenskin describes its aims: the diffusion of *Haskalah ; war against its Orthodox opponents, especially the Ḥasidim: war against assimilationists and religious reformers; and defense of the national values of the nation and the Hebrew language. Smolenskin molded the image of Ha-Shaḥar as an independent and militant journal. Ha-Shaḥar was initially designed mainly for Russian Jews. Because of Russian restrictions against the Hebrew press, however, it was published in Vienna, from where copies were sent to the offices of the censor in Russia before distribution through agents in Russia. Sometimes, an article which the censor was liable to reject was published in a special supplement, and sent to the subscribers in Russia in sealed envelopes separately from the regular copy. Outside Russia as well, Ha-Shaḥar acquired a large audience of readers, especially in Austria, Galicia, and Romania. The number of subscribers to the annual fluctuated between 800 to 1,300.

Subscriptions covered only a part of the expenses even though the publisher did not pay fees to his writers and carried out himself a large part of the proofreading and the distribution of the copies to the subscribers. Smolenskin invested his own money in Ha-Shaḥar and was supported by contributors from among the well-to-do maskilim, and subsidies from the *Alliance Israélite Universelle in Paris and the Ḥevrat Mefiẓei ha-Haskalah ("Society for the Dissemination of the Haskalah") in St. Petersburg.

Ha-Shaḥar published belles lettres and articles dealing with Jewish scholarly matters and current affairs. Among the Hebrew writers of the generation who contributed were M.D. *Brandstadter , R.A. Broides, the poets J.L. *Gordon , A.B. *Gottlober , J.L. *Levin (Yehalel) , I. *Kaminer , S. *Mandelkern , and M.M. *Dolitzki . There, too, Smolenskin published his novels (Ha-To'eh be-Darkhei ha-Ḥayyim, Simḥat Ḥanef, Kevurat Ḥamor, Ha-Yerushah, Nekam Berit). The works are written mainly in the flowery maskil style. Most condemn the rabbinical orthodoxy of the time and especially the Ḥasidim, but at the same time assail the assimilationist maskilim. Socialistic undertones are heard especially in Yehalel's poetry ("Kishron ha-Ma'aseh," and others).

In the area of Judaic studies Ha-Shaḥar published works of scholars from Western and Eastern Europe, including Solomon *Rubin , David *Kahana , Y. *Reifman , S. *Buber I.H. *Weiss , S. *Sachs , Meir *Ish-Shalom (Friedmann) , A. *Jellinek , J.H. *Gurland , A.E. *Harkavy , Ḥ.Z. *Lerner , A. *Krochmal , E. Shulman, and D. Holub. Ha-Shaḥar also published letters of Jewish scholars and authors of the early Haskalah: S.J. *Rapoport , S. *Luzzatto , and J. *Perl . Most of the book reviews were written by Smolenskin.

Of prime historical importance were the articles which dealt with current problems. Smolenskin himself published his major articles on Jewish problems in which he introduced his nationalist ideology. These views, and especially his attack on *Mendelssohn , the cultural hero of the Haskalah, alienated many of his supporters, and by the end of 1880 Smolenskin was forced to discontinue publication. With the rise of the Ḥibbat Zion movement in the wake of the pogroms of 1881, Smolenskin renewed the publication of Ha-Shaḥar which now openly advocated the Ḥibbat Zion program for Jewish settlement in Ereẓ Israel. Smolenskin filled Ha-Shaḥar with dozens of articles on the new movement. He attacked the Alliance Israélite Universelle, which had once supported him, for their opposition to Jewish settlement in Ereẓ Israel. E. *Ben-Yehuda , M.L. *Lilienblum , A.S. *Friedberg , A.A. Sirotkin, and others now wrote in Ha-Shaḥar. In spite of his weakening state of health, Smolenskin continued to publish Ha-Shaḥar until his death, after which his brother, Y.L. Smolenskin, published the last four copies, completing the 12th volume.


Klausner, Sifrut, 5 (19552), index; A. Sha'anan, Ha-Sifrut ha-Ivrit ha-Ḥadashah li-Zerameha, 2 (1962), 44–47; A. Kristianpoller, Die hebraeische Publizistik in Wien, abt. 3 (1930).

[Yehuda Slutsky]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.