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Serl Bas Jacob ben Wolf Kranz

SERL BAS JACOB BEN WOLF KRANZ (18th century), author of Tkhine imohos min Rosh Chodesh Elul (Tkhine of the Matriarchs from the New Moon of Elul). Serl was the wife of the rabbi and apothecary Mordecai ha-Cohen Rappoport, head of the rabbinical court of Novy Oleksiniec and author of Imrei Noam (Oleksiniec: 1767 or 68). Since it is known that Rappoport was the son-in-law of the famed Maggid (Preacher) of Dubno, Jacob ben Wolf Kranz (1740?–1804), it seems likely that Serl's father, named on the title page of her tkhine as "the famous Rabbi, our teacher Jacob Segan Levi of Dubno," was the Maggid. The text of the first part of the tkhine also contains an authorial acrostic that reads: "Serl, daughter of the rabbi, the great luminary, his honor our teacher Rabbi Jacob."

Tkhine imohos min [or: fun] Rosh Chodesh Elul was published in several 18th century editions, in various recensions, and under slightly varying titles; among the earliest are Lvov, 1783/4, and Frankfurt-an-der-Oder, 1789/90 (under the title Tefillas imohos, an altered text but clearly a variant of the original). There are also numerous undated editions, and, as is usual for Eastern European tkhines, the bibliographical history is difficult to establish. The text contain four sections: a tkhine on the theme of repentance for sins to be recited every day of the month of Elul; a tkhine to be recited on Rosh Ha-Shanah when the Torah scrolls are taken from the ark and the Thirteen Attributes are recited; the "tkhine of the Matriarchs for the shofar"; and an addendum containing the prayers for tashlikh and yizkor with Yiddish translation and interpretation.

There are several notable aspects of this text. The first section of the tkhine, in addition to its alphabetical acrostic, alternates between short Hebrew sentences, some of them biblical verses, and paragraphs in Yiddish that expand on their themes, demonstrating Serl's knowledge of Hebrew. The material for the recitation of the Thirteen Attributes expands on the themes of the Torah and haftarah portions of Rosh Ha-Shanah. In addition, the Torah scrolls themselves are asked to advocate for the worshiper in her quest for forgiveness and long life, as well as on behalf of redemption for the people of Israel. Finally, and most distinctively, the "tkhine of the Matriarchs for the shofar" draws on biblical and midrashic themes to characterize the four biblical matriarchs. Moreover, each mother of Israel is requested to act as an intercessor for the worshiper in a manner appropriate to her own life. For example, Rebecca, who had to leave her parents at an early age, is asked to protect the life and health of the worshiper's parents.


H. Liberman. Ohel Raḥel (1979 or 80), 432–54; C. Weissler, Voices of the Matriarchs (1998), 145–46, 177–78.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.