Here we will briefly mention a few writings in Yiddish which reflect some of the ideas we have been discussing. There are very few original texts in Yiddish on our topic, as anyone truly interested in it was assumed to have learned to read the original sources, in Hebrew and in Aramaic. The most popular Yiddish religious book, Tseina u-Reina, was first published in Lublin, Poland in 1616. A commentary on the fifty-four Torah portions of the five books of Moses, it from time to time contained exerpts from other books based on the ten sephirot (which we learned about in the later sections). These exerpts were from two commentaries of the fifty-four Torah portions which were almost completely based on the sephirot; these were the Yiddish books Nofet Tsufim and Nakhlat Tzvi. (These two books' contents and language are similar, but not identical). Unlike Tseina u-Reina, these two books were not originally written in Yiddish; rather they were translated from Aramaic sources.
Yiddish is a dialect of German, written with Hebrew letters, and containing a number of Hebrew, as well as a few Aramaic, words and expressions. Although Yiddish pronunciation and grammar sound strange to the purely German speaker, the words that aren't Hebrew are easily recognizable German words. The grammar also follows the German model, although somewhat simplified. A person familiar with both Hebrew and German, would have little trouble reading texts in Yiddish.
In the 1940 Nazi movie, Der Ewige Jude ("The Eternal Jew"), the Jews portrayed are heard speaking Yiddish throughout. The filming of the Jews took place in Poland in 1939, after the Nazis had taken over Poland. Poland, in particular Warsaw, held the highest concentration of European Jews, perhaps around three million. These Jews, all Yiddish speakers, were to perish in Nazi extermination camps such as Auschwitz.
Sefer Nofet Tsufim
Nofet Tsufim (Lublin, Poland, 1893, main text)
Nofet Tsufim (Lublin, Poland, 1893, additional text)
Nofet Tsufim (Vilna, Lithuania, 1865)
Sefer Nakhlat Tzvi
Nakhlat Tzvi (Frankfurt, Germany, 1711)
Nakhlat Tzvi (Breslau, Poland, 1660)
Nakhlat Tzvi (Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1820, part i)
Nakhlat Tzvi (Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1820, part ii)
The 1940 German Nazi propaganda movie, Der ewige Jude
Original German movie (very large, 176MB, in MKV movie format).
Same movie, with English subtitles (284MB, in MP3 movie format).
It is difficult to say to what extent Yiddish will recover, after almost six million Yiddish speakers perished under the Nazis during the 1930s and 40s. The most popular Yiddish religious book, Tseina u-Reina, was common in Yiddish speaking Jewish households before World War II. Today, however, only a very small percentage of the world's Jews are still interested in it or able to read it, although old copies of it are still widely found in synagogue libraries and other places.
There was one more important book of stories written in Yiddish, which was an attempt to clarify these ideas to the average person who could easily read the everyday language, Yiddish, but not Hebrew. The author was convinced that they could clarify the concepts of kabbalat ha-ari to those who could otherwise not possibly understand them, through thirteen simple, every-day Yiddish stories that anyone reading them would be able to understand.
The 13 stories, in Yiddish
The 13 stories (Lemberg, Lviv, Western Ukraine, 1902)
The 13 stories (Warsaw, Poland, 1881, different style of Yiddish)
MS Word file
Note: In the PDF files above, we have tried to put the clearest copies at the beginning.